Syllabus Section- Environment and Ecology


Why in News

New Zealand’s government will decide next week if a climate emergency should be declared in the country or not. The country's prime minister JacindaArdern will introduce the motion in the parliament next week and if passed the move will be a symbolic announcement about the government’s commitment towards doing more for the climate and bringing climate change to the centre of policymaking.

Zero Carbon Act

Ardern’s Labour Party won nearly 49 per cent of the votes in the general elections last month, which was the biggest victory for her party in about 50 years. As prime minister, Ardern has been vocal about climate change and last November, the parliament passed the Zero-Carbon Act, which commits New Zealand to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.

What is the meaning of a climate emergency?

In its ongoing online petition, Greenpeace New Zealand is urging the government to declare a climate emergency since people are “facing more extreme weather events, catastrophic loss of wildlife and a crisis over access to freshwater and food”.

In 2019, the Oxford dictionaries declared “climate emergency” to be the word of the year, a word that reflects “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance”. It defines climate emergency as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”.

But even before the New Zealand government planned to declare a climate emergency, some of the regions in the country had already started declaring it since last year. Even so, such a declaration is only symbolic and does not have any legal weight because of which critics have said that such announcements don’t do enough and are, in fact, "hollow".

Some of the countries that have declared a climate emergency in recent years include the UK, Portugal, Canada, France and, most recently, Japan.


Source – Indian Express