There are three factors affecting population: immigration, natural increase and the departure and return of NZ citizens. Climate First is aiming for a static or steady population with no growth. This derives, as does all our policy, from the RERP (Required Emission Reduction Pathway). Holding the population steady is one of the best ways to stop emissions increase, when you consider that every new person will live our NZ lifestyle and emit double the world average greenhouse gas emissions per person.
There has been much emotional debate around the issue of refugees and immigration, but it is possible to look at it from a whole-world perspective. If world emissions are to reduce to zero, then it is clear that population will have to fall first.
If unrestrained, humans will eventually cover every empty place on the planet, and probably cut down all forests to get farm land to grow food. New Zealand is a relatively empty country and Climate First would like it to stay that way at about 4.6 million.
One problem is that if NZ takes immigrants from overpopulated countries, then these countries’ populations will continue to grow, to replace those that have emigrated. The difficulty is that those countries are not sustainable, being unable to feed and house their people, being prone to drought, flooding, storms and sea-level rise, all due to get worse with climate change. New Zealand, on the other hand, can easily sustain its current population. The question is, how should we share our surplus resources with those under-resourced countries. But in another way New Zealand is not sustainable either, using up more than our fair share of the world’s resources and sinks on a per-person basis.
As well, if New Zealand plants the 1.36 million hectares of trees necessary to adequately increase the forest sink, there will be less room for extra people.
Immigration scams around students in language schools would be more thoroughly investigated.
Population growth will also make it harder to pay for the UCI.
Official refugees make up a very small proportion of our current record population increase. Climate First would increase our refugee quota to a level similar to that of other countries with a similar standard of living to us. A figure between Labour’s 1,500 per year and Greens’ 5,000, but definitely more than National’s 1,000 sounds reasonable. Based on an average of Germany, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Croatia for example, that would give 2,000 refugees per year.
Climate First would encourage parents to have only one or two children, by initiating an unthreatening and non-coercive promotion programme. Posters showing one or two child families could be placed in schools and doctors waiting room etc. The message would be that small families are better for the planet. A strong contraceptive and sexuality education programme in schools would also be a priority, with the aim of reducing the number of people under 20 having children.
Myths around immigration
Climate First would: