The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report (AR6) highlights that an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels is the best way to avoid the planet overshooting 1.5°C and risking total climate catastrophe.
Despite this, the Government's recent decision to extend fossil fuel subsidies through the petrol excise tax exemption redirects ETS revenue earmarked for climate change mitigation and adaptation towards supporting a continued reliance on fossil fuels. This is alarming and reprehensible.
No doubt, New Zealanders are struggling with rising costs and they should be supported. However, subsidising our ongoing use of fossil fuels is short-sighted and will only result in more economic, social, and environmental burden in the coming years. As the IPCC report highlights, there are other ways to support Kiwis struggling to make ends meet – alternatives that are both cost-effective and nature-positive.
In just one lifetime, humans have altered three-fourths of our ice-free land, overfished our oceans and rivers, polluted every surface of the planet with plastic, seen a 69% drop in wildlife populations, and already raised global temperatures by 1.1 degrees.
We still have time to put a stop to catastrophic climate change, but it requires real ambition and real action. We can't keep treating climate change as a tomorrow problem. It's a yesterday problem – and urgent transformational action is needed today.