It’s time for New Zealand to take charge and be a leader in climate change negotiations, says Caritas in a submission on the Government’s climate change target.
In its submission, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development said the Government’s consultation document “too narrowly sees our climate change contribution as a financial cost to households. There is no consideration of the costs of doing nothing or not doing enough to counter climate change.”
“The cost of inaction is too high,” says Lisa Beech, Advocacy and Research Manager for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.
This year, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia were hit hard by Category 5 cyclones that left a number of people dead and thousands homeless. In the past month on our own shores, extreme rainfall in Dunedin and Wellington caused many to be evacuated from their homes and businesses and brought public transport to standstill.
Caritas is currently researching the human and community costs of more such weather-related emergencies – and other environmental impacts – in a follow-up to its ground-breaking Pacific environment report released last year – Small yet strong: Voices from Oceania on the environment.
The submission also highlights costs to the country that have not been factored into the Government’s climate equations, including increased insurance costs and the cost of opening our doors to increasing numbers of environmentally displaced people.
“But there are also costs to people outside Aotearoa New Zealand, especially our Pacific neighbours – and to future generations. The most important objective for our negotiators should be to ensure the world collectively takes the action required to reduce emissions and eliminate the threat climate change poses for our planet and all its peoples,” says Ms Beech.
“Life for New Zealanders and all our human family will change whether we want it or not, and whether we are prepared for it or not. This is our opportunity to take charge, to be leaders of the change we wish to see.”
Caritas, along with many Catholics and people of goodwill around the world, eagerly look forward to Pope Francis’ encyclical (letter) on the environment, expected to address these issues and sustainable development later this month.