New Zealand Passes Zero Carbon Bill

Leaders provide a model that others can copy and improve upon. Finally, one nation has formally passed a zero-carbon bill that will, by law, move its population into a sustainable lifestyle.  Here’s an article reporting about that law and some of its spin-offs. If you’ve visited New Zealand, you know that it’s beautiful, and that their people value the beauty and richness of their environment.  They live with Earth, yet sacrifice nothing in terms of their lifestyle.

Then … I’ll add suggestions about what we can do if our country has no such “official legislation.”

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Ardern says New Zealand on ‘right side of history’ as MPs pass zero-carbon bill


Centre-right opposition National party throws support behind the legislation that has been applauded around the globe


Eleanor Ainge Roy in Auckland


The Guardian

7 Nov 2019


Jacinda Ardern’s landmark climate legislation has passed in New Zealand parliament, with historic cross-party support, committing the nation to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and meet its commitments under the Paris climate accords.

The climate change response (zero carbon) amendment bill passed on Thursday afternoon with the centre-right opposition National party throwing their support behind it late in the day, despite none of their proposed amendments being accepted. The bill passed 119 votes to one.

Climate change minister James Shaw said the bill, which commits New Zealand to keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, provided a framework for the island country of nearly 5 million to adapt too, and prepare for the climate emergency. Shaw said …


“We’ve led the world before in nuclear

disarmament and in votes for women,

now we are leading again.


“Climate change is the defining long-term

issue of our generation that successive

governments have failed to address. To-

day we take a significant step forward in

our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions.”


Prime minister Jacinda Ardern told MPs New Zealand was on the “right side of history”. She said:


“I absolutely believe and continue to

stand by the statement that climate

change is the biggest challenge of our time.


“Undeniably, our sea levels are rising,

and undeniably, we are experiencing

extreme weather events; increasingly so.


“Undeniably, the science tells us the

impact there will be on flora and fauna,

and yes also the spread of diseases in areas

where we haven’t previously seen them.”


The bill will enshrine a new 2050 greenhouse gas reduction target into law and require that future governments have plans to meet the target. It will also establish a climate change commission and ensure future government’s plan and budget for adaption and mitigation.

The reduction target will have two separate plans. One for biogenic methane, or that which is produced by living organisms, and another for all other greenhouse gases.

The legislation has been applauded by environment groups around the globe, who said New Zealand was leading the world in its pragmatic and leveled approach to climate change.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the bill was only a first step …


“Now we need to see a path to carbon

neutrality that has protecting and

restoring nature at its heart.”


“The bill is only a first step on

climate change. We need concrete,

urgent, climate action to save our most

vulnerable native species and

restore native ecosystems.”


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Let’s begin by asking,


“What are we not seeing or hearing

about with regard to New Zealand?”


When Europeans were colonizing other regions of the world, they did not conquer the Maori; they worked with the native population.  And both groups shared a love of the environment and a value for education.  They boast 100% literacy, where many nations – including the U.S. – have declining literacy.  And they enjoy their natural resources more, frequenting their national parks five times more than do U.S. citizens.

So, while nothing is perfect, political rivals did come together to support their education system and their protection of natural resources.

And we do not see:


  • Rioting in their streets, over governmental abuse.


  • Air quality that causes respiratory problems.


  • Food shortages, malnutrition and starvation.


  • A high percent of budget on war machinery.


  • Toxic chemically-laden home water supply.

Is New Zealand free of all problems? Of course not. But they do seem to care about and are taking positive steps toward leading a healthier lifestyle.


If our government isn’t taking such 

positive steps, what are our alternatives?


Rather than “learning about sustainability,” start living sustainably. Some easy steps work with Earth and also give us a better lifestyle for less cost:


  • If you have any direct sun hitting your home (or your site,) add photovoltaic panels, so you’re electricity comes from solar power. It’s actually the cheapest form of power generation.


  • For most homes, a 3 kW system provides 100% of your power. And 30% of the cost is a cash deduction off your next tax bill. And as a 3 kW inverter (that changes direct current to alternating current for a 110 ac use) costs the same as a 5 kW inverter, get the larger one.


  • Be sure your next car is electric. In 2018, over half the new car sales in Europe were electric, and the percentage is growing. Just as gas cars have gages telling you when to refuel, so do e-cars. In five years, I’ve never come close to running out of electricity. Maintenance runs us $230/year – far less than tune-ups for gas cars. And with PV panels, we’re driving without any cost, whatever. And a huge range of new e-car models are now exploding onto the market.


  • If you’re renovating your kitchen, replace your gas range with an induction electric, and disconnect your home from natural gas. It costs less and never requires maintenance.


  • If you’re renovating your HVAC system, go all-electric, using power from your PV panels. Less cost and less maintenance.


  • Cutting grass into lawns is the one ground-cover we can comfortably walk on. But if you’re not walking on some area of your site, use plant materials that require no chemicals and far less maintenance. For example, we’ve used gold-tipped “carpet junipers” in front of our home; no watering, minimal maintenance, greater beauty.


  • Plant trees wherever possible. They add beauty, provide shade, and improve air quality and ground water retention.


Last week, I was startled by a comment that one of our home’s visitors made. He was under the impression that to live sustainably, you had to compromise your quality-of-life experience. He said that when he sees homes on TV shows that illustrate off-grid living, he asks himself if he’d want to live in any of those homes.

He would not!

When he saw that our home – which uses zero fossil fuels and only has a utility bill for our internet and phone service – was as beautiful as any he’s seen, his previous assumption was shattered.  “Sustainable living” means living 100% with what Earth provides, which we can now do for less cost – and – we can enjoy an even better quality-of-life experience. It’s a true “win-win.”

One of the signs being carried by a recent climate change protester said:


“The greatest threat to our planet is 

the belief that someone else will save it.”


If our government doesn’t take action – and even New Zealand’s could probably go even further – it’s up to each of us. Changing long-held habits can be uncomfortable. But when you make these changes, you’ll discover that there’s really no downside to any of these steps.

It’s better living for less.

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