Here you will find media releases, parliamentary newsletters, speeches, presentations, and other material relating to the Commissioner's work.
14 FEBRUARY 2024Govt to spend $3.6 billion on environment in 2023/24 fiscal yearThe Commissioner has released his third annual estimate of environmental expenditure which covers the spending of 20 central government agencies mapped against six enduring environmental outcomes.Read more23 JANUARY 2024Rethinking the RMA: the need for enduring reformThe Resource Management Act was on the statute book for 32 years and 32 days. Its successors, the Natural and Built Environment Act and the Spatial Planning Act, survived just 123 days.Read more22 NOVEMBER 2023Address at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Tax ConferenceAre environmental taxes the perfect solution that nobody wants? This address discusses considerations of the five possible environmental taxes suggested by the Government’s Tax Working Group: increasing solid waste charges, congestion charging, water takes and water pollution.Read more16 NOVEMBER 2023Carbon stored in marine sediments needs protection, says Commissioner for EnvironmentA new report released today reveals how much organic carbon is stored in marine sediments in New Zealand waters and how vulnerable this is to disruption from bottom trawling.Read more20 OCTOBER 2023Address at the Wilding Pine Network Conference 2023: Wildings in the backyardThe Commissioner's address outlined important lessons in managing invasive species learned from the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme.Read more6 SEPTEMBER 2023Improved process needed for emissions reduction plans, Commissioner saysTo ensure we meet our climate objectives, the Government needs to improve the way it assembles New Zealand’s emissions reduction plans.Read more29 JULY 2023Address at the Forest & Bird Centennial Conference: 100 years of conservationThe Commissioner's address at Forest & Bird's Centennial Conference focused on how the organisation's experience and expertise, together with local people and knowledge has created real environmental change.Read more16 JUNE 2023Fair comparisons needed for major electricity investmentsThe Commissioner has released modelling results that illustrate what four different future electricity system pathways might mean for New Zealand electricity consumers.Read more23 MARCH 2023Address at the Environmental Defence Society Conference 2023: Pivot PointThe Commissioner's speech focused on the need for foundational investment in environmental monitoring and research.Read more16 MARCH 2023The start of a series on annual environmental expenditureThere is an absence of comprehensive information on the magnitude of public spending on the environment, and how the funds that are spent are allocated to address specific environmental issues.Read more16 MARCH 2023Levelling the playing field – green spaces as vital urban infrastructureAs we densify our cities to accommodate population growth, we must not lose sight of the environmental benefits that urban green space provides.Read more1 MARCH 2023Address at the New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference 2023The Commissioner's speech focused on the scale of the challenge facing livestock farmers as they attempt to meet the legislated target to reduce biogenic methane emissions by 10% by 2030 and 24–47% by 2050, relative to the 2017 level.Read more17 FEBRUARY 2023Resource management reforms falling shortThe reforms proposed by the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill amount to a far-reaching reorganisation of environmental management in New Zealand.Read more31 JANUARY 2023Concern over pace of system-wide energy strategyNew Zealand is on the cusp of the greatest energy system transformation for generations. How we produce, transmit and consume energy will be a key factor in whether the country meets its climate change commitments over the next three decades. How we manage agricultural emissions will be the other.Read more9 JANUARY 2023Dr Jan Wright made Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of MeritDr Wright was Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment for two terms from 2007 until 2017.Read more18 OCTOBER 2022Environmental decisions: Do we know if we're making a difference?The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, is calling for improved public accountability to get better outcomes for the environment.Read more13 OCTOBER 2022Governing an unimaginable futureFor those who work on environmental issues, the evidence suggests that we have set in motion forces well beyond our control. It is an unimaginable future that will be ours whether we like it or not.Read more6 OCTOBER 2022How much forestry would be needed to offset warming from agricultural methane?The Commissioner questions the rationale behind having a net target for long-lived greenhouse gases and a gross target for biogenic methane.Read more23 SEPTEMBER 2022Keynote address at the Resource Management Law Association annual conferenceIf anything is to be learnt from our experience of the Resource Management Act, it is that placing aspirational words on the face of a statute is no guarantee of their ambition being realised.Read more26 AUGUST 2022Space invaders at select committeeThe Environment Committee invited the Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and regional councils to respond to the Commissioner's report on native ecosystem weeds. The Commissioner then addressed these comments in a submission.Read more3 AUGUST 2022Address at the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute national education and training seminarOn 3 August, the Commissioner gave an address at the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute national education and training seminar, Changing Landscapes 2022 via Zoom.Read more13 JULY 2022Simon Upton reappointed as Parliamentary Commissioner for the EnvironmentThe Commissioner’s second term of five years will commence on 9 October 2022.Read more3 MARCH 2022Media release – Knowing what's out there: Regulating the environmental fate of chemicalsThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, is proposing changes to the way New Zealand manages chemicals to make sure their environmental impacts are not overlooked.Read more14 DECEMBER 2021Media release – Wellbeing budgets and the environment: A promised land?Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, is questioning whether the Government’s budget process is able to take into account the complexities and long-term nature of many environmental problems.Read more11 NOVEMBER 2021Media release – Turning back a silent invasionParliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, is calling for the Government to lift its game in protecting native ecosystems from the thousands of exotic plants spreading throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.Read more2 SEPTEMBER 2021Oral presentation to the Environment Committee on the Natural and Built Environments BillOn 2 September 2021 the Commissioner made an oral presentation to the Environment Committee about the Natural and Built Environments Bill parliamentary paper.Read more17 AUGUST 2021Address at the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management One-Day ForumOn 17 August 2021, the Commissioner gave an address at the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management One-Day Forum in Hamilton.Read more11 AUGUST 2021Media release – Findings of Overseer water quality model review ‘devastating’The Commissioner has expressed relief that two and half years after he requested a review of Overseer, its results have finally become public. He says that the findings of the Science Advisory Panel are “devastating”. Read the Q+A about what else the Commissioner thinks of the review findings and government response.Read more21 MAY 2021Media release – Funding to plug environmental data gapsThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has welcomed the Budget 2021 initiative to upgrade the environmental monitoring and reporting system.Read more26 MARCH 2021Address at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association Conference 2021On 25 March 2021, the Commissioner gave an address at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association Conference 2021 at Te Papa in Wellington.Read more18 MARCH 2021Address at the Otago Tourism Policy School annual forumOn 18 March 2021, the Commissioner gave an address at the Otago Tourism Policy School forum at Heritage Hotel in Queenstown.Read more18 FEBRUARY 2021Media release – Not 100% – but four steps closer to sustainable tourismThe Commissioner is urging the Government to take advantage of the pause in international tourism to transform the sector to one with a substantially smaller environmental footprint.Read more9 DECEMBER 2020Media release – A review of the funding and prioritisation of environmental research in New ZealandThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, is urging the Government to reconsider the way it funds environmental research in New Zealand.Read more11 AUGUST 2020Animation – Estuaries: Waste traps or taonga?Watch this animation to learn about how if we manage our estuaries ki uta ki tai – from the mountains to the sea – our estuarine habitats will thrive for years to come.Read more11 AUGUST 2020Media release – Managing our estuariesThe Commissioner is calling for an approach to managing estuaries that treats estuaries and the waterways that feed into them as a single entity from the mountains to the sea.Read more3 JULY 2020Tribute to Dr Edward HearnshawFor two years from July 2018 to June 2020, Dr Ed Hearnshaw was a much-loved friend and colleague. His untimely death was a huge loss for all staff – both personally and professionally.Read more21 APRIL 2020How we think about 'after'?There is no doubt that it is easier in times of crisis to sweep away institutions and rules than in normal times. This can cut both ways for the environment.Read more18 DECEMBER 2019Media release – Pristine, popular... imperilled?Environment Commissioner Simon Upton warns that increasing numbers of tourists – both domestic and international – are putting our environment under pressure and eroding the very attributes that make New Zealand such an attractive country to visit.Read more15 NOVEMBER 2019There are no costless ways forward on carbonSupport for the Zero Carbon Bill shows our action on climate will have to disrupt the status quo, writes Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton. That will mean new opportunities – and costs.Read more7 NOVEMBER 2019Media release – ‘Huge’ data gaps undermine environmental stewardshipEnvironment Commissioner Simon Upton says ‘huge’ gaps in data and knowledge undermine our stewardship of the environment and is calling for concerted action to improve the system.Read more30 JULY 2019Animation – Farms, forests and fossil fuels: A policy perspectiveThis animation explores some of the concepts introduced in 'Farms, forests and fossil fuels: The next great landscape transformation?', and looks at how policy decisions could affect Aotearoa New Zealand's landscapes.Read more29 MAY 2019Address at the EMANZ/TSS ConferenceRead more1 MAY 2019Address at the 2019 Wind Energy ConferenceRead more26 MARCH 2019Media release – Climate policy needs a landscape approachA report about taking an alternative ‘landscape approach’ to Aotearoa New Zealand’s long-term climate change targets and policies has been released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton.Read more12 DECEMBER 2018Media release – Transparent Overseer needed to regulate water qualityA report on whether Overseer is suitable for use in regulation to help clean up Aotearoa New Zealand’s rivers and lakes has been released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton.Read more6 DECEMBER 2018Address at the New Zealand Society of Soil Science conferenceRead more29 NOVEMBER 2018Address at the 6th OECD World ForumRead more13 NOVEMBER 2018Keynote address at the 2018 New Zealand River AwardsRead more14 SEPTEMBER 2018Address to the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science Inc. ForumThe Commissioner's address to the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science Inc. ForumRead more30 AUGUST 2018Media release: Commissioner releases research on the contribution of New Zealand’s livestock methane to global warmingThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has today released new research on the impact methane from New Zealand’s livestock has on global warming.Read more2 AUGUST 2018Address to the 2018 Environmental Defence Society ConferenceThe Commissioner's address to the 2018 Environmental Defence Society Conference.Read more12 JULY 2018Media release: Environment Commissioner questions merit of biodegradable plasticsParliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton has urged the Government to take a lead in in dealing with the confusion surrounding biodegradable and compostable plastics.Read more3 MAY 2018Newsletter to Parliament - May 2018The Commissioner's quarterly update to members of ParliamentRead more26 APRIL 2018Public lecture: A Zero Carbon Act for New ZealandIn this public lecture, hosted by the School of Government at Victoria University, the Commissioner discusses his recent report 'A Zero Carbon Act for new Zealand'.Read more7 MARCH 2018Media release: Zero Carbon Act is the right choice for New Zealand, says Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has today added his support for a UK-style independent Climate Commission to that of his predecessor, Dr Jan Wright.Read more9 NOVEMBER 2017Address to the 2017 Science New Zealand ConferenceThe Commissioner's address to the 2017 Science New Zealand Conference.Read more27 JULY 2017Media release: Time to take a historic step for climate change, says Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has issued a rallying call to MPs of all parties: it’s time to come together to tackle climate change.Read more13 JUNE 2017Newsletter to Parliament - June 2017I recently released a report titled Taonga of an island nation: Saving New Zealand’s native birds.Read more31 MAY 2017Media release: Native birds in desperate situation, says Environment CommissionerIn a new report, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says New Zealand’s native birds are in a desperate situation.Read more20 DECEMBER 2016Newsletter to Parliament - December 2016The festive season is upon us again, and I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on what has been a busy year in my office.Read more19 OCTOBER 2016Media release: We need to work together on climate change and farming, says Environment CommissionerNew Zealanders must work together and start tackling the complex problem of the biological greenhouse gases from agriculture, says Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.Read more8 SEPTEMBER 2016Media release: Environment Commissioner congratulates Minister on strong decision for longfin eelsThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has congratulated the Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, on his decision to make big reductions in the catch limits for longfin eels in the South Island.Read more29 JUNE 2016Media release: Commissioner releases mixed report card on environmentThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a mixed report card in her assessment of the state of New Zealand’s environment.Read more31 MAY 2016Media release: Environment Commissioner welcomes step toward saving longfin eelsThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has welcomed a decision by the Government to remove a barrier to saving the country’s top freshwater predator, but warns that more is needed to ensure its long-term survival.Read more19 MAY 2016Newsletter to Parliament - May 2016It has been a busy start to the year for my office as no doubt it has been for you. We have been gainfully employed responding to various environmental policy proposals and Bills.Read more10 MAY 2016Media release: Commissioner supports streamlined pest control regulationsIn a letter to the Minster for the Environment, the Commissioner has outlined her support for a recent proposal to streamline the regulatory regime for pest control.Read more28 APRIL 2016Media release: Environment Commissioner calls for bold leadership on climate changeThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has called for bold leadership on climate changeRead more20 APRIL 2016Media release: Protect our most precious and vulnerable waterways first, says Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has welcomed the Government’s latest discussion document on water quality, but has called for councils to give priority to the most precious and vulnerable rivers and lakes.Read more22 MARCH 2016Media release: Electric cars not solar panels, says Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has today called for people to take heed of a report showing that electric cars help combat climate change, but solar panels do little.Read more14 MARCH 2016Media release: Take care amending the RMA, warns Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment acknowledges the concern about housing that lies behind many of the proposed changes to the RMA. But she warns that some go too far.Read more11 MARCH 2016Media release: Let’s not waste another chance to protect our oceans, says Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment today urged New Zealanders not to squander another chance to protect New Zealand’s oceans.Read more18 FEBRUARY 2016Media release: Keep eyes on our climate goal, says Environment CommissionerThe Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has today supported moves to strengthen New Zealand’s climate rules, but has highlighted the need to focus on the end goal.Read more12 FEBRUARY 2016Newsletter to Parliament - February 2016A Happy New Year to you all. I look forward to engaging with many of you this year, particularly those of you newly appointed to environmental portfolios.Read more9 FEBRUARY 2016Media release: Commissioner supports proposal to separate South Island eel stocksIn a letter to the Ministry for Primary Industries, Dr Wright has outlined her support for a proposal to separate South Island eel stocks.Read more