The Government is inviting the public to help decide new climate change law.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced last week that the next major step aimed at reducing emissions and building resilience to climate change had begun, as he launched a six-week public consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill.

Specific issues included whether a new emissions reduction target for 2050 should treat all gases that cause climate change the same, or whether a different approach should be taken to different gases depending on whether they cause short-term or long-term warming, how certainty might be provided for businesses and communities, the "balance of power" between the Independent Climate Change Commission and the government of the day, how the impacts of climate change might be managed and a plan to adapt developed.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says making a plan and taking common-sense action now will help avoid sudden changes in the future. Photo / File
Climate Change Minister James Shaw says making a plan and taking common-sense action now will help avoid sudden changes in the future. Photo / File

Shaw said the Zero Carbon Bill was about providing stability and predictability, by setting out a clear path and a plan to upgrade the economy and help ensure a stable climate for the future.

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"We want to hear people's views on what the Bill should do to help New Zealanders reach a low emissions future," he said.

"The impacts of climate change are already real, with more damage caused by storms, droughts, coastal and river floods, which don't just affect property but also have impacts on where and how New Zealanders live and work.

"Making a plan and taking common-sense action now will help avoid sudden changes in the future.

"That's why we want an independent Climate Change Commission to take a long-term view as we plan our economic transition.

"The economic analysis we've done shows that our economy can continue to grow as we reduce emissions, and underlines the importance of innovation and planting trees. We know that taking action sooner will reduce costs in the long-term, and also that action to reduce our impact on the climate will lead to less traffic congestion, cleaner water and cleaner air.

"This is New Zealand's chance to upgrade our economy.

"Businesses across many sectors, from energy generation to manufacturing to agriculture, are already taking action or committing to action," he added.

"We can develop new jobs in areas like forestry, alternative energy, electric vehicles, agricultural research and more so we can take advantage of the change.

"We have looked at what's worked overseas, in places like the UK, and we've listened to experts in New Zealand, like the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Productivity Commission, and now it's time for all Kiwis to have their say.

"There's no doubt that the change we need to make is significant, but planning ahead gives us the best chance of maximising the opportunities and minimising the impacts of change so our transition is just and fair for people.

"A strong 2050 emissions reduction target will show the world we mean what we say, and give us a moral mandate to encourage other bigger countries to do their bit too."

For more information on consultation, ending July 19, including dates of public meetings and hui, go to www.ourclimateyoursay.nz