Government changes 1 billion tree target to half a billion

NZ Herald reports:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is denying that the Government is backtracking over its goal to plant 1 billion trees over 10 years, saying it was always going to be in partnership with the private sector.

Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told the National Business Review today that the Government was going to plant about half of the 1 billion trees, while the private sector would plant the rest.

“[The one billion goal] is not something that is going to be pursued in isolation from the industry. If we work together, if they continue with their 50 million [a year] over 10 years and we continue with 50 million [a year] over 10 years, you get to a billion.”

This is pretty dishonest. Had the government partnered with the private sector to plant the billion new trees over the next 10 years, that would be fine.

However, the 50 million trees planted by the industry are only planted to replace trees that they’ve already cut down. That’s net zero trees from the industry. In fact, we’ll need to be planting more than that, as the trees planted in the 1990s have been forested.

This is just more fudging of the numbers. Half a billion isn’t enough, hence the promise of 1 billion. It’s quite disappointing to see this from a promising government.

Greenpeace:

In response to the Greens’ climate policy announcements today, Greenpeace climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the Greens should be applauded for their climate policy.

‘It’s exactly the sort of response to the biggest threat facing humanity that we need to see from our leaders. All political parties should be adopting this policy, aiming for New Zealand to have 100% renewable electricity, to be carbon neutral by 2050, and with clear legislative plans to get us there.’

The choice is clearer than ever. Climate change is hurting every generation now. While Jacinda talks the talk, Labour policy only tinkers around the edges. Let’s not forget that Labour still supports drilling for oil.

‘While Labour’s climate policy, released on Friday, has the bones of a good climate policy, and also aims for New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050, it lacks the Greens’ will to immediately put a stop to polluting activities, like burning oil, coal, and gas, that we know are the driving force behind climate change.’

‘It’s pretty disappointing that Labour can’t just commit to killing National’s deep sea oil exploration programme. The industry is on its last legs anyway, and we don’t need a climate commission to tell us that this is the frontier oil that would tip our climate over the edge if it’s burnt. For us to have a future, the oil industry must have no future. Government policy must actively hasten the end of oil.’

Greenpeace is totally correct. If we want to become world leaders in progress like we once were, we need to take real action on climate change. New Zealand depends on it, the next generation definitely depends on it, and the entire bloody world depends on it.