The Green Party is smarting after Labour decided to delay enacting changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that would see climate change considered in consenting decisions.
The changes would have come into force on December 31 this year, instead, after a decision at Cabinet, the changes will come into force on November 30 next year.
Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw said he was “disappointed” by Cabinet’s decision to push back the enactment of the changes. He said he disagreed with the delay when the Greens were consulted about it ahead of the change going to Cabinet.
“Obviously I’m disappointed by the decision to delay the enactment of climate change amendments to the RMA. The Greens disagreed with there being any delay at all during consultation,” Shaw said.
“The Green Party have fought for years to put climate change back in the RMA, so that consents for big polluting projects can be blocked, and Aotearoa NZ builds a cleaner, climate-friendly future.
“In my view, the delay to making these amendments is both unnecessary and contrary to the urgency with which the Government has agreed to tackle the climate crisis.
“We must do everything we can to lower our emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – any decision inconsistent with that aim is, frankly, nonsensical,” Shaw said.
The changes would have allowed consents for large projects to be declined if they had significant climate change implications that are inconsistent with the Zero Carbon Act or Paris Agreement obligations.
Previously, climate change could not be considered when weighing up whether to grant consents for new projects.
Environment Minister David Parker said the extension would “allow for further targeted engagement with the commercial building sector on the possible inclusion of fossil fuel-fired space and water heating assets in the proposed national direction instruments”.
A national direction instrument directs how the RMA is used by local governments.
He said it also “give time for engagement on an exposure draft of the national direction instruments – a National Policy Statement and a National Environment Standard – before they are gazetted”.
Parker said stakeholders and local government had been calling for “further guidance and direction” to “ensure consistency in the interpretation of the provisions”.
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