Peeni Henare: Youth Parliament 2019 focuses on climate change

Opinion 19/07/2019

By Peeni Henare, Minister for Youth, Labour MP for Tāmaki Makaurau.

The capital was buzzing with 120 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members who came together over two days on July 16 and 17 to deliver Youth Parliament 2019.

This is the most diverse Youth Parliament yet. It really reflected the face of Aotearoa.

Youth MPs took part in Question Time, Select Committees, Legislative Debate and General Debate, and Youth Press Gallery members covered the action.

The environment and climate change featured repeatedly throughout proceedings. The mock bill topic proposed by Youth MPs, the Sustainable Energy Bill, was examined and debated thoroughly.

The purpose of the Sustainable Energy Bill is to provide a framework to encourage the sustainable use of energy sources in New Zealand. It aims to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources and to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions through provisions that:

  • encourage a focus by government and society on the sustainable use of energy by setting interim and long-term targets into law;
  • facilitate political accountability against the sustainable energy targets; and
  • require transparent reporting on the sustainable use of energy.

Passionate, intelligent and innovative viewpoints were shared by Youth MPs.

The mock bill eventually passing with 71 Aye votes.

Youth MPs chose the ten topics which were considered in Select Committee hearings.

The Youth Parliament Environment Select Committee asked what steps New Zealanders should be taking to try and lessen the effects of climate change. The Committee made the following bold recommendations to the Government:

  • Establishing a seat for a Youth representative on the Independent Climate Change Commission, which the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Act intends to establish.
  • Further investigate how to reduce the amount of methane produced by the agricultural sector.
  • Phase out the New Zealand production of non-essential plastics and non 1 and non 2 plastics with a ban set for 2025.
  • Invest in sustainable technology and practices.
  • Establish a contingency fund for climate change mitigation action.
  • Ensure Māori and Pasifika consultation when considering climate change strategies.

It was amazing to see rangatahi rise to the occasion.

I applaud each and every one of you for participating. You are our future leaders; we are the lucky ones.

Peeni Henare is Minister for Youth and Labour MP for Tāmaki Makaurau.