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'This is it' - Shaw, Greens throw down gauntlet on climate change

Co-leader James Shaw speaking at the Green Party AGM in Auckland Saturday.
Co-leader James Shaw speaking at the Green Party AGM in Auckland Saturday. Photo: RNZ / Giles Dexter

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has survived this year's co-leadership vote at the party's Annual General Meeting in Auckland.

Shaw's position was re-opened for nominations at last year's AGM, effectively ousting him as co-leader. He later regained the position unopposed.

This year, however, delegates opted to re-elect Shaw by a comfortable margin.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Shaw said he was confident he would remain co-leader, and he had spent more time over the past 12 months meeting with members.

Marama Davidson was also re-elected co-leader.

This year was the first in-person AGM for the Greens in two years, after they opted to hold the 2022 AGM over Zoom due to Covid precautions.

Shaw described the mood as "buoyant" and delivered a speech largely focused on climate and the environment.

In his speech, he referred to figures this week showing the hottest day ever experienced on Earth since records began.

"There are no excuses now. No time for half-measures. No room for marginal improvements. This is it. The time is now," he said.

Speaking to members and delegates, Shaw hailed the gains the Greens had managed to achieve in government, such as the Zero Carbon Act and the Emissions Reduction Plan.

But, taking aim at Labour, he acknowledged there were things he wanted to progress further and faster.

"What stopped that was not an absence of ideas, or ambition, or fight, but a majority government that had other priorities."

Despite that, Shaw said Cabinet had recently agreed to put work on reviving native ecosystems into its global climate goals.

It would mean wetlands, peatlands, mangroves and other non-forest land uses are recognised in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

"In practical terms, that means that in the not-too-distant future action to restore our native wildernesses should count towards our efforts to stop the climate crisis."

He warned members that a National government "beholden to the ACT Party" would undo that, and more.

"Everything we have achieved, from putting climate targets into law, to ending the use of coal to heat our schools and hospitals, to finally putting nature at the heart of our climate response will be dismantled, and we'll be back where we were thirty years ago."

The co-leaders have continually run the line that they want more Green MPs, and more ministers around the Cabinet table.

Shaw said he had not set a target on how many ministers, nor had he identified which of his current MPs he would earmark for ministerial roles.

"We've always been pretty reluctant to be too specific about those things, because there is a democratic choice that needs to be made first."

He said the recent resignation of MP Elizabeth Kerekere had not come up.