New Zealand passes bill to be carbon neutral by 2050

New Zealand passes bill to be carbon neutral by 2050
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New Zealand lawmakers passed a law Thursday that will aim to make the country carbon neutral by 2050.

The bill had sweeping support and passed by a count of 119 to 1, NPR reports.

"We have to start moving beyond targets. We have to start moving beyond aspiration. We have to start moving beyond statements of hope and deliver signs of action. That is what this government is doing and proudly so," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in front of Parliament. 

"We have made a choice that I am proud of, that will leave a legacy, and that I hope means the next generation will see that we in New Zealand were on the right side of history."

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The new law provides New Zealand's government a foundation to create new climate policies that work towards the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

New Zealand's 2050 goal is ambitious. By 2050, the country has to have reduced all greenhouse gases — except biogenic methane, emitted by plant and animal sources — to net zero.

The island nation is already trending in the right direction, as it already produces 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources. It's believed that this percentage will only increase by 2035 as the country phases out off-shore oil and gas.

Additionally, the country has reportedly pledged to plant a billion trees by 2028 and is putting $14.5 billion into transit, biking and walking infrastructure over the next decade.

The fine print of the bill, however, gives New Zealand a decent-sized loophole.

While methane traps roughly 30 times as much heat in the atmosphere as CO2 does, it also decays within decades, whereas carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for centuries.

By 2050, New Zealand only hopes to cut its biogenic methane emissions by 24 percent to 47 percent.  

Not surprisingly, agriculture, where biogenic methane comes from, accounted for 48 percent on the country's greenhouse emissions in 2017.

Countries such as Sweden, France, Germany and the U.K. have all implemented similar legislation. 

Meanwhile, the U.S., China and India, the world's biggest producers of greenhouse gases, have yet to pass anything similar.

The passing of the bill also comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE formally agreed to start the yearlong process of leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. Once the withdrawal is complete, the U.S. will be the only country in the world not part of the accords.