Open letter to Jacinda Ardern

We sent a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, with copies to the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw, Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and opposition leader Christopher Luxon

Wellington, May 2022

Kia Ora Ms Ardern, 

On 22 April, Earth Day 2022, climate activists in Wellington delivered their requests for action at parliament. ‘Invest in the planet’ and ‘Planet and people before profit’ were the themes for this Global Day of Action for Papatuanuku.

We note that you were in Singapore on Earth Day. As part your press conference you stated:

“We cannot collectively simply return to a high carbon emission business as usual approach. Globally, we have entered what must be an age of action, and that includes the private sector as well. No Government can do this alone, it takes a strong joint effort and I know the business delegation that is travelling with me agrees with this.”

Yes, we are in the age of action but that action needs to be to safeguard our world as best we can. Climate change is here. 

 Yes, we cannot continue our high carbon emissions return to ‘business as usual’. 

Yet you headed to Japan and met with one of the Toyota bosses to arrange for the hydrogen-fuelled car partnership about to hit the streets of Auckland. 

You have missed the mark if we are heading for more business as usual in a car-centric Aotearoa, albeit one that is a bit less polluting. Affordable public transport for all is far more effective lever for reducing emissions.

Missing the mark on the handshake, a fist bump or a straight handshake, with Japan’s PM, although hilarious, is sadly symptomatic of our continued lagging behind on climate targets in Aotearoa.

“A high five would have been better,” you mumbled once a handshake was established. 

Today we bring you our ‘High Five’ to include in a bold Emission Reduction Plan, a key component for a liveable planet for all.

We sincerely hope we, in Aotearoa, do not miss the mark. We do want to shake hands of agreement with our leaders on the ERP to signify the “strong joint effort” on climate action you spoke off in Singapore and that “No Government can do this alone”.

Unfortunately, we cannot at this point in time have a joyous ‘high-five’ moment with you Minister Ardern. The ERP and the new budget do not get close to the mark that is required to change our ‘highly insufficient’ status on the International Climate Tracker. 

What we can say – it is good to now have a plan in place and a commitment to work across the major political parties. We urge your government to take a bolder approach.

Climate change is here now.

Violet Chong, Francesca Pouwer and Mick Hillman 

Fridays For Future Aotearoa New Zealand

Our ‘High Five’ to deliver emission reduction

Do not let agriculture off the hook. This has a crucial role to play. We need transition to sustainable ways of farming to repair and maintain Aotearoa’s lands, waters and wild places which we depend on for food and life. 

  • Halve the herd by 2030 and cut out synthetic nitrogen across all agriculture and horticulture. We need to tackle the huge methane burden Aotearoa imposes on the atmosphere, and this is the most efficient way. 
  • Use R&D to support transition and explore alternative and sustainable agricultural products such as wheat. (We currently import 90% of our wheat for human consumption because we only grow wheat for animal feed.)
  • Make the biggest polluters do their fair share and incentivise them to be part of the solution.
  • For Fonterra to: stop using coal by 2028; invest in clean energy production and transition to an alternative income stream, not a low-value product like milk powder that wastes precious water. 
  • For Ravensdown to: stop the sale of synthetic fertilisers by 2028 and develop capacity to upscale production of natural fertiliser/compost for Aoteroa; to become a training company for sustainable farming.

Double the spending on electrified public transport (buses and trains) and micro-mobility options, and permanently reduce fares. The proposed ERP for transport favours individual car ownership of electric cars rather than public transport, and still invests in buying diesel buses for the next 3 years 

Zero tolerance to waste, starting now.

  • Overhaul waste management and recycling to 100%  recycling capacity by 2030
  • Policy development to have 100% sustainable food packaging by 2025
  • Policy development to bring back a repair culture and make it mandatory for businesses to carry spare parts by 2028
  • 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Use ‘people power’ to heal the planet. 

Spearhead a campaign that encourages our team of five million to massively reduce emissions by 2040 and incentivises community and business initiatives to commit to a sustainable future. For example –

  •  Support schools to create tiny forests nearby, to teach children about native trees and shrubs, to watch the native birds and insects come back into the city. We refer you to
  • Break down the monopoly of electricity companies to allow community initiatives to create clean energy.  
  • Support viable recycling businesses in the community. 

Downsize our economy in a way that doesn’t impose serious hardship on the most vulnerable members of society. We need a politics capable of managing equitably not only a finite carbon budget, but a finite material and energy budget as well. We refer you to the Pathways to Survival