03 May 2018

Update to Parliament - May 2018

Tēnā koe,

In March I released my first report as Commissioner. In A Zero Carbon Act for New Zealand: Revisiting Stepping stones to Paris and beyond, I added my support to that of my predecessor Dr Jan Wright for a UK-style climate change Act and independent Climate Commission in New Zealand.

In my report, I identified the things that make New Zealand’s climate challenge very different from that facing the UK, and explained why physical progress in New Zealand will be harder than it has been in the UK. Nonetheless, I maintained that there is no reason the system cannot be made to work here.

In a recent public lecture, hosted by the Victoria University School of Government, I expanded on the points I consider most critical as this legislation progresses, and I invite you to listen to that lecture here.

I have also produced my first commentary piece as per my role in New Zealand’s environmental reporting system, as defined in the Environmental Reporting Act 2015. I directed my commentary on Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017 to the Secretary for the Environment and the Government Statistician – and you can find it here.

Under the terms of the Act, the Commissioner may also consider the implications of environmental reports, and recommend responses to the findings in those reports. Our atmosphere and climate 2017 contained information showing a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the New Zealand economy since 1990. In light of this, I have written a series of letters to Government Ministers to ask what action their Ministries and Departments are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

I am pleased to have also released my Strategic Intentions for the coming three years. This document contains information on my current and future work programmes, as well as the measures by which I shall be reporting on the performance of my office; you can find it here.

I have enjoyed my early interactions with the Environment Committee and the Officers of Parliament Committee, as well as a number of productive meetings with individual Members. Hearing directly from Members of Parliament about their concerns and expectations is critically important to me and I look forward to engaging with as many of you as I can. Indeed, my door remains open to any Member who wishes to share his or her particular perspective on the range of environmental issues facing New Zealand. 

With kind regards

 

Simon Upton

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment