On February 25, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the New Zealand government would be collaborating with conservation groups—the World Wild Life Fund and MAUI63—and major fishing companies—Moana New Zealand and Sanford Limited—on a new initiative to protect the critically endangered Maui dolphin.
On September 5, New Zealand announced plans to enforce greater protections on its waterways in response to pollution from farming and tourism. The new measures include restrictions on farming intensification, conversion of lands for dairy farming, and the use of synthetic nitrogen pesticides. A surge in tourism and the farming industry has taken a toll on New Zealand’s once pristine waters. Experts say New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are now some of the most polluted among OECD countries.
On May 8, New Zealand's government introduced legislation to tackle climate change. The bill would reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and includes a target for cutting methane emissions from livestock by at least 10% by 2030. According to the United Nations, livestock farming alone is responsible for up to 18% of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-newzealand-climatechange/new-zealand-….
On December 5, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, announced a new $69.28 million green investment fund that is aimed at boosting private-sector participation in efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The fund will likely target electric vehicles, manufacturing, farming practices, and energy-efficient commercial buildings. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-newzealand-climatechange-investment/n….
Earlier this month, the New Zealand government granted Te Awa Tupua, the country’s third largest river, the legal status of a living person. The Maori tribe, who have been fighting for this recognition for 140 years, considers the river as an ancestor, which has been the basis of their legal argument. The law means that harm inflicted on the river is considered equivalent to inflicting harm on members of the tribe. The new law now reflects the worldview of the Maori.
New Zealand announced that it plans to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, set to be one of the world’s largest, through a full ban on fishing and mining. The sanctuary will be 239,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of France. The area is currently home to endangered species such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. The announcement came as a surprise to New Zealand’s seafood industry and mining firms because it will preclude companies from gaining rights in the protected area.
The New Zealand Court of Appeal rejected a South Pacific Islander’s request for asylum as a “climate change refugee.” Ioane Teitiota is from Kiribati, a chain of low-lying islands that are seriously threatened by sea-level rise, and had made his appeal on the grounds that he and his family would face serious harm from climate change if forced to return home.
The Japanese government said that it is concerned about its likelihood of obtaining a fair hearing from a case brought against it by Australia, saying that "serious anomalies" have arisen from the admission of New Zealand as an intervenor in the case on Australia's side. Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice over its Antarctic whaling hunt, saying that its so-called scientific whaling breaches a moratorium on commercial whaling.
New Zealand will not commit to a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, according to Climate Change Minister Tim Groser. Groser announced that New Zealand will pledge under the United Nations Framework Convention along with nations responsible for 85% of the world's emissions. While the minister announced the country stands behind its existing Kyoto commitment, he said that the government had decided it was in "New Zealand’s best interests" to join China, Japan, the United States, and other heavy carbon polluters under the Framework.
The captain and navigator of a cargo ship that ran aground were each sentenced to seven months in jail on Friday for their involvement in what authorities have called New Zealand's worst maritime disaster. The two had already pled guilty to operating the ship dangerously and to altering documents, and a preliminary report by transportation investigators found that they had taken shortcuts to reach the port by deadline, eventually causing the ship to run aground on the Astrolabe reef.