Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern Wins Historic Victory Following Science-Based Leadership on COVID and Climate

Politics
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern Wins Historic Victory Following Science-Based Leadership on COVID and Climate
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declares victory during the Labor Party Election Night Function at Auckland Town Hall on Oct. 17, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Hannah Peters / Getty Images

Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister who has emerged as a leader on the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, has won a second term in office.


Ardern's Labour Party secured a historic victory in New Zealand's general election Saturday, earning 49 percent of the vote and an estimated 64 out of 120 parliamentary seats, The Guardian reported. It is Labour's biggest victory in 50 years, and the first time any party has won a large enough majority to govern alone since 1996, according to BBC News. Ardern's popularity has been attributed in part to her pro-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Guardian. She acted to close down borders and institute a national lockdown, and the country saw a total of 25 deaths and less than 2,000 cases.

"Science and clear communication around Covid-19 have won the day against Trumpery and fake news — people have clearly seen how the government looked after us," Labour supporter Christine told The Guardian Sunday.

The election has also been seen as a mandate for Labour's climate policy, according to Climate Home News. During Ardern's first term, Labour governed in coalition with the Greens and the populist New Zealand First party. The government banned future offshore oil and gas exploration and passed a historic bill pledging to get the country to zero emissions by 2050.

However, some of Ardern's climate ambitions during her first term were curtailed by her partnership with New Zealand First, which blocked ideas like a tax on imported fossil-fuel cars and a subsidy for electric vehicles.

This time around, New Zealand First has lost all of its seats in parliament while the Green Party has increased its share of the votes from six to eight percent. While Labour has secured enough votes to govern alone, Ardern has said she is open to forming a coalition government, according to The Guardian, and Green Party leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson said they hoped to be included in order to move the government in a more progressive direction.

Before the election, Labour had promised more environmental policies if it won, including achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 instead of 2035. Labour's main opposition, the National Party, only secured 27 percent of the vote, down from 44 percent, according to Climate Home News. The party had run on reversing the oil and gas drilling ban as well as rolling back protections for freshwater ecosystems, according to Greenpeace New Zealand.

"The election result has delivered a strong mandate for the transformational climate action that the Prime Minister promised," Greenpeace New Zealand wrote.

Nearly 80 percent of New Zealanders are worried about the climate crisis and support a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which has thrown New Zealand into its first recession in 11 years, according to BBC News.

Recovering from that recession will be a major challenge for Ardern's second term. In addition, she no longer has the excuse of New Zealand First holding her back from more ambitious climate policies.

"NZ First was often blamed for slow progress on environment policies, and sometimes this was true. With Winston Peters and his party gone, we expect to see immediate moves to tackle agricultural climate pollution, to invest in rail and cycleways, and to protect the oceans from overfishing," Greenpeace New Zealand director Russell Norman told Climate Home News.

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less