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New Zealand's new climate change zero carbon law has passed its final hurdle in Parliament.

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The new law sets out the country's commitment to prepare and adapt to the effects of climate change and to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees

Mick Tsikas

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes her country has done the right thing for the environment.

AAP: Mick Tsikas

New Zealand's new climate change zero carbon law has passed its final hurdle in Parliament. 

It sets out the country's commitment to prepare and adapt to the effects of climate change and to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it a "historic moment" and told the House New Zealand would not be a "slow follower" when it comes to climate change action. 

"We're here because our world is warming. Undeniably, it is warming," she told Parliament today. 

"Undeniably, our sea levels are rising. Undeniably, we are experiencing extreme weather events. Undeniably, the science tells us the impact on flora and fauna - yes, also the spread of diseases in areas where we previously haven't seen them. 

"The question for all of us is, 'What side of history will we choose to sit on in that moment of time?'

"Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. For us in Aotearoa, New Zealand, that means for this generation this is our nuclear moment.

"Today, we have made a choice that I am proud of, that will leave a legacy and that I hope means the next generation will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history."


The third reading of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill saw a highly anticipated revelation by National that it would support the law change through its last stage, after proposed changes were rejected in Parliament last night. 

Leader Simon Bridges said there were still aspects of the bill he disagreed with, but said "we have taken a bipartisan approach to climate change but we will continue to fight for the changes we think will make the law better". 

He pledged to implement National's proposed changes if it were to govern after next year's election. 

Only an hour earlier, Climate Change Minister James Shaw was asked by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters of National's voting intentions. 

"I understand that the National Party caucus had a meeting last night, and they've kept me sweating about where they stand on the bill," Mr Shaw answered. 


Today, Mr Shaw, who brought the bill to Parliament, told the House, "some things are too big for politics, and the biggest of them all is climate change". 

"The intent of Zero Carbon Bill was, is and always should be to elevate climate change policy beyond petty politics. To transcend and transform a problem so wicked and so stuck that we have made virtually no progress on it in the 30 years we have been aware of it."

He finished his speech with a message to his nephew Luca, who was born this morning. 

"I hope when you are older, you will look back on this day and you know we did our best for you."

The law change moved swiftly this week, with the second reading held on Tuesday. 

All parties except ACT supported the law change throughout all readings, with ACT leader David Seymour saying "it will not be effective at reducing carbon emissions" during the first reading in May.

"It hasn't worked in the UK; why would it work here?" he asked the House. 

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill sets out a 10 per cent reduction target for biological methane emissions by 2030, and "aims" for a 24-47 per cent reduction by 2050.

It proposes limiting global warming no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The bill creates a Climate Change Commission, which is intended to give "advice, guidance and regular five-yearly 'emission budgets'", Mr Shaw said. 

The bill takes a split gases approach, with "long-live gases and short-live". 

The original timeline had anticipated the new law to be in force by April 2019.

The bill came under fire by former Greens co-leader Russell Norman, who said in May there was no way to enforce the 30-year climate change policy.

Earlier today, Mr Shaw told the House that the Zero Carbon Bill was the idea of youth climate organisation Generation Zero in 2016. 

The bill had more than 10,000 submissions from the public and almost 1500 people requested to present their submission.