More than 200 businesses, leaders and community groups have signed a letter backing the Government's fresh steps toward a zero-carbon 2050 - and compelling it to keep moving forward.
The open letter was delivered to Climate Change Minister James Shaw this morning by representatives from WWF-New Zealand and youth group Generation Zero.
Among the signatories were Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, DB Breweries, Fuji Xerox, Garage Project, Sanford, Les Mills, The Body Shop, Auckland Zoo, Amnesty International, the New Zealand Green Building Council, Anglican Advocacy, Kathmandu, climate scientists Dr Jim Salinger and Professor James Renwick, the Tindall Foundation, and Meridian Energy.
It congratulated the Government on setting "a new, bold, ambitious goal of getting our country to net zero emissions by 2050" and expressed confidence that this goal is 100 per cent possible.
The Government's proposed Zero Carbon Act would act as a legal framework based on the UK's Climate Change Act, requiring year-on-year reporting and a plan towards a long-term target of zero net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by 2050 or sooner.
Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand has already pledged to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels and 11 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.
The Government has also begun setting up an independent Climate Change Commission, tasked with recommending interim emissions reduction targets and providing advice on issues, including how to transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.
"Now is the time for government to build the legal and policy framework to ensure that this happens, and to make sure that the transition is fair and just for all New Zealanders," WWF-New Zealand chief executive Livia Esterhazy said.
"Two years ago, we delivered another open letter on climate change to the previous climate minister, Paula Bennett. It was signed by 65 businesses, community groups and influential Kiwis.
"We're blown away to have more than three times as many signing this time."
It comes as the Government begins a nationwide series of public meetings to hear peoples' views on the Zero Carbon Bill, as part of wider consultation around the legislation.
"We all know that making a plan for climate action now will pay off in the long term," Shaw said.
"Communities, businesses, farmers, iwi and ordinary New Zealanders up and down the country are already doing what they can to reduce emissions or are ready to get on board and help draw up our plan to reduce New Zealand's impact on the climate."
Under present projections, the sea level around New Zealand is expected to rise between 30cm and 100cm this century, while temperatures could also increase by several degrees by 2100.
Climate change would bring more floods; make our freshwater problems worse; and put more pressure on rivers and lakes; acidify our oceans; put even more species at risk and bring problems from the rest of the world.
Climate change was also expected to result in more large storms, compounding the effects of sea-level rise.