Adjusting New Zealand’s economy to climate change should not be feared, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
Speaking to a breakfast at Westpac’s Headquarters on Friday morning, the Prime Minister said as well as the substance of any changes, it should also be seen as a positive branding experience for the country.
The Government had a priority of a “clean, green carbon-neutral New Zealand”.
“I don’t see this as something we should fear but something we should grasp as an opportunity. This is a brand exercise for New Zealand.”
While the environment was “fundamental” to who we are as New Zealanders, it was also a business proposition for a lot of our exporters, she said.
Highlights from the Prime Minister's speech:
Ms Ardern said government was establishing frameworks to work towards becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.
Transport was 18% of the country’s carbon profile so work was underway to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
Ms Ardern said leaders from the rest of the world had been asking how New Zealand was going to tackle carbon emissions from agriculture – which showed there was an opportunity to develop and lead the sector.
Speaking to the group of business leaders, the Prime Minster recognised the dip in business confidence following the change of government. She said business confidence surveys were like “seeing the notes passed about you in class” but she wanted “perception to meet reality”.
“Growth is forecast to sit around 2.9%, unemployment is forecast to drop to an incredibly low 4%...Debt is tracking down…. the forecast is good but business is still carrying an umbrella with them.”
Ms Ardern said the government’s economic priority was to generate and share prosperity. They would do this by focusing on training and development, which would also have benefits for productivity.
Making sure everyone was either “earning, learning, caring or volunteering” would develop the workforce and increase engagement, she said.
Research and development was also a major focus. The Prime Minister said New Zealand spent 1.3% of GDP on R&D but the government aimed to get that to 2% within 10 years.
Watch full speech below (26 mins)