One of the big problems with climate change policy is that the government has refused to let local authorities use our major piece of environmental regulation to reduce emissions. Since 2003, local bodies have been explicitly forbidden from considering the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in their planning documents, and in consent decisions. But now, those restrictions have been repealed:
Coal mines and fossil fuel power plants could be a thing of the past in New Zealand after the Government passed a law which allows environmentally-damaging projects to be refused.
The amendment to the Resource Management Act closes a loophole which allowed consent for new builds without consideration for the environment.
Sadly, this part of the law won’t come into effect until 2022, so there’s far too much time for dirty polluting infrastructure to be consented and its emissions locked in before then. Also, the parallel provision in the EEZ Act is still in place, so we’ll still have the ludicrous situation of the EPA being forbidden to consider climate change impacts when deciding whether to consent new gas wells. But hopefully that will now become a priority for repeal.
The government will supposedly be developing a National Policy Statement on climate change to guide local authorities and their plans. They’ve been promising that since at least the mid-1990’s and the Stratford Power Station decision, and again in 2003 when they passed the ban on considering climate change in the first place. But if they don’t, then the courts will effectively do it for them.