A Challenge to our Leaders: Generation Zero on why we need a clean energy plan

By jay

Ahead of the national election, Generation Zero is calling for leadership and a shift in New Zealand’s direction on climate change. Its new report says that a clean energy economy is achievable, affordable and offers great opportunity for New Zealand

‘A Challenge to our Leaders: why New Zealand needs a clean energy plan’, the first in a series of reports by youth action group Generation Zero, comprehensively puts the case for action on climate change in New Zealand.

Paul Young, lead author, says the report focuses particularly on the need for political leadership and policy action in New Zealand to accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy.

“But of course, leadership is not just the responsibility of politicians. We hope the report is a call to action for leaders of all types in New Zealand, including those in the business sector.

“Members of SBN are already showing the kind of leadership we are calling for – through developing and providing new low carbon solutions and transforming their own businesses, and also through using their influential role in communities to spark or promote the bigger conversations about New Zealand’s energy future.

“We need more of this to get NZ on the right track, so we hope you all find our report a welcome challenge!” he says.


Here are five key points we learnt from the report:

  1. It’s not too late for action to avoid disastrous climate change.

The world can keep global warming under the agreed safe limit of 2˚C if countries act with urgency to cut carbon pollution, towards achieving net zero CO2 emissions globally by around 2070.

Everyone must play a part. Although New Zealand’s emissions are a small percentage of the global total, simply asking bigger countries to do more to reduce their emissions carries little moral weight unless New Zealand is out in front of them – particularly when these countries are less wealthy than us.

  1. A clean energy economy is achievable.

Denmark is already implementing a comprehensive plan to phase out fossil fuels by 2050. The Danish Government has worked with business and industry to form a long-term roadmap.  There’s no reason why New Zealand can’t do the same, especially when we have the highest renewable energy potential per capita in the world.

  1. A clean energy economy offers great opportunity for New Zealand

A clean energy future offers a huge opportunity to transform New Zealand’s economy.  Opportunities include an estimated potential market share of the global green economy of $22 billion annually (double current dairy export earnings), energy efficiency savings estimated at $2.4 billion per year, and substantial benefits for health and quality of life.

Another benefit is improving energy security. Increasing energy efficiency and transitioning to secure, renewable energy options that will never run out are essential for future energy security and economic resilience.

  1. Current climate change policy is doing very little to transition from fossil fuels.

Official projections show our carbon emissions will continue to grow, with current policies reducing total emissions by just 0.4% in 2030 compared with taking no action at all.


  1. New Zealand needs a Clean Energy Plan and this will require leadership and political will.

This report is a call to action for leaders of all types in New Zealand to use their influence to put climate change and the required energy transition at the forefront of the conversation about our country’s future. 2014 is election year, so it’s an opportunity for all parties to step up. Generation Zero is calling on parties to commit to implementing a comprehensive Clean Energy Plan that will put New Zealand on track to phase out coal, oil and gas by 2050.

In March the Royal Society called for a shift to a green economy in New Zealand in its paper, ‘Facing the future: towards a green economy for New Zealand’. Read our article with our opinion on what we should do next and examples of businesses that are already taking action.