To all local authorities and the New Zealand Parliament –


It is overwhelmingly clear now that we have very little time left to reduce greenhouse gases and make the urgent, major changes needed to avert runaway climate and ecological catastrophe.

Yet in New Zealand the coal industry is planning further expansion!

CANA strongly supports calls being made for local councils, regional authorities and the New Zealand Parliament to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Why is this so urgently necessary?

The evidence is staring us in the face – a slew of recent authoritative reports from IPCC, UN, World Wildlife Fund etc bear out scientists’ worse predictions about the danger our planet is now in1. The IPCC (a conservative source) says that in order to keep warming to 1.5˚C we need to get all fossil fuels out of our electricity supply by 2040, starting with coal, and fully decarbonise our energy systems by 2050.  That means we have to start dismantling our fossil fuel reliance TODAY.

Yet the coal sector currently plan major expansion (eg Buller Plateau, Albury) in response to demand generated by the expansion of intensive, high volume, low value dairying. Coal and dairy expansion are both significant contributors to rising emissions in NZ. They are also contributing to the destruction of Aotearoa’s land, water and biodiversity.

It is critical for local authorities and central government to take a lead on this NOW,   Unlike private companies, government at all levels is accountable for the safety and wellbeing of the people and the whenua.  If our elected representatives do not take this responsibility seriously, who will?

Right now the most urgent thing is to make the public aware of the situation.

Various organisations are calling on local authorities and central government to declare a climate and ecological emergency. 

We fully support this call.

Many people have limited information about the climate and ecosystem crisis – local and central government is in an authoritative position to inform the public so that they understand the need for urgency,

Local bodies can also effectively lobby central government to make the same commitment. This will help local authorities deal with the climate change challenges they face.

A declaration of climate emergency is not the same as declaring, say, a civil emergency with the legal ramifications that brings.

Rather it is a powerful symbolic statement that shows understanding of the gravity of the situation and a public commitment to tackle it.

We don’t need to have all the answers about what must be done before we commit to action – we already know the direction we need to travel, and there are so many answers once we start looking.

But we do need a public statement that we must and shall all work together as a community to find these answers and to swing this crisis round before it is too late.

We therefore urge all local authorities and central government to heed the calls for the declaration of climate and ecological emergency.

In doing so, our elected representatives will be in good company – such a declaration has already been made by London, Vancouver, Ottawa, the UK Parliament and many other governmental bodies around the world2.

About Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA)

CANA is a national organisation working to phase out coal mining and coal usage in Aotearoa/NZ by 2027 (when most current permits expire). The mining and burning of coal Is the biggest threat to the world’s climate system and there needs to be a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.


  1. Recent research reports include
  1. Climate Emergency Campaign; Climate Emergency Declaration in Australia