We are fortunate to have one of the most unique environments in the world, with beautiful beaches, rivers, forests and landscapes. It is our heritage that we should treasure for generations to come. Kiwis are passionate about our environment, and in today’s world, it is one of our defining characteristics as people.
But we are squandering our inheritance. Our rivers are polluted. Monitoring shows we can only swim safely in 40% of the rivers – otherwise we risk getting sick.
Old growth native forest, even in protected areas, is still being destroyed for short-term profits from mining. Our unique native birds evolved without mammals, but now 80% face extinction.
In Auckland, we are still allowing raw sewage to flow into Judges Bay and our magnificent harbour when it rains heavily, and commercial fishing practices are damaging our marine life. And we are failing on climate change — instead of reducing our emissions as we promised in international treaties, New Zealand’s emissions have actually risen by 20% since this government came into office in 2008.
“We won’t have an economy if we destroy the environment.”
We can do so much better. Protecting our natural heritage is not only good for our enjoyment of our environment, it is also good for our economy.
Tourism is founded on our environment, investors come because this is where talented people want to live, and consumers across the world want natural, safe and healthy products.
Most of our exports are derived from our natural resources and they benefit from our clean green brand. We should protect and invest in our reputation, instead of undermining it, especially since other countries are lining up to position themselves as champions of sustainability. We should be leading the world in sustainable business, low emissions farming and high value natural products.
This year we face a decisive election. The Green Party have shown that we are the only political party that consistently champions the environment. Our political pressure has pushed all governments to do more. Now we need your support to get more Green MPs into Parliament. This is important for us, but also for our children and grandchildren. Vote Green Party at the election on Saturday, 23 September.
Barry Coates is a Green Party Member of Parliament and candidate in the Epsom electorate.
Barry Coates MP, Green Party
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