New Zealand passes 'zero carbon' law in fight against climate change.

New Zealand has passed a law to reduce its emissions in a bid to become mostly carbon neutral by 2050.

The Zero Carbon bill aims to tackle climate change by setting a net-zero target for almost all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Methane from animals will carry more lax requirements, which allows some leeway to farmers who bring in much of the country’s foreign income.

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Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she sometimes despairs at the pace at which other countries are making changes to fight global warming and vowed that New Zealand would be a leader.

“We’re here because our world is warming. Undeniably it is warming,” she said. “And so therefore the question for all of us is what side of history will we choose to sit on.”

Finding food on the front line of climate change

Show all 17

Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger
Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger
Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home
Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Finding food on the front line of climate change

Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

1/17 Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

At nine months’ pregnant with twins Balkisa Zakow, 25, feared she wouldn’t have the energy to give birth. A devastating drought made Balkisa’s harvests fail, made food prices soar, and then forced her family apart. Her husband migrated in search of work to earn money to provide for his young family, leaving her heavily pregnant and alone. “Sometimes if my husband had money he sent it to me so I could eat. Sometimes the money just doesn’t come,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to give birth.” But seven-month-old twins Hassan and Ousseni are lucky, they were born the night after Red Cross support came to Tombokiery village, Niger. The Niger Red Cross provided the family with a small cash grant. “A Niger Red Cross volunteer told me to go first because she saw how exhausted I was. I used the money to buy food, then I went back home to sleep feeling relieved. Before sunrise I had given birth to my twins.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

2/17 Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

Last year’s drought made Aissa’s crop fail, leaving the family with nothing to eat. In the Sahel rainfall has become erratic and wet seasons that people rely on are shrinking. The Sahel has one of the driest climates in the world, people who live here have always been incredibly resilient, are now having to adapt and survive to ever harsher conditions. The region is almost one degree hotter than in 1970 and could rise by several degrees by the end of the century. Record hot spells, desertification, loss of crops and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are reducing people’s ability to feed themselves. Mothers are forced to eat just one meal a day so that their children can eat.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

3/17 Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

“When we had enough we ate three times per day, but during the shortage we only had one meal a day. The children were always following us, crying because of their hunger but we had nothing to feed them,” said Aissa. “But the Niger Red Cross brought us a cash grant. We bought millet and some rice, and with that we chased the hunger away.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

4/17 Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Six-month-old Aicka is struggling to gain weight. It’s been a month since her mother died and her grandmother Rabi has brought her to the Red Cross nutrition centre for help. The centre provides support to mothers and babies, weighing infants and measuring their upper arms for signs of malnutrition. The pair are two in a long queue waiting for help but a shortage of the nutrition supplement plumpy nut means that Aicka is still not at a healthy weight. Rabi said: “I had been feeding her cassava flour but I noticed didn’t help her much. When she has plumpy nut it helps a lot but sometimes there isn’t any. It has made my life very hard to bear. You can’t take care of a child properly if your own life is not good.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

5/17 Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava, which are given to families of malnourished children visiting the Red Cross nutrition centre.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

6/17 Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Aboul, four, is small for his age because severe malnutrition left him physically stunted. Across the Sahel 1.5 million children are acutely malnourished, one in five will die before their fifth birthday. “His body was very weak and he was so thin,” said his mother Ai Naliguido. “It was just Garri I was feeding him made with some corn-meal, or millet.” “I took him to the hospital every week and they gave him plumpy nut. I’m so relieved that he got the help he needed to get stronger. He has gotten a lot better.” She said. Niger Red Cross volunteers from the nutrition centre visit communities to show mothers how to get the most nourishment from millet flour and drought tolerant root vegetables like cassava, which helps to keep children healthy.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

7/17 Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

8/17 Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

First the drought made the harvests fail and then food prices inflated so high even the very basics became unaffordable for Hassi Seyni and her family. Her husband, like many others, was forced to leave to find work to earn enough money to feed the family. “We got really fearful because many men fled and left the women on their own,” said Hassi. “When he (her husband) has some money he sends it to us. This is how we lived.” “With support from the Red Cross we bought some bags of millet and corn. We bought some vegetables and some condiments. When your conscience is free from problems and you get to eat. Then you can think about the future.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

9/17 Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

10/17 Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

Millet is a drought resistant crop. Stems are stripped by hand and the grain pounded into flour which is slowly mixed with boiling water to make two, a thick white paste which is a staple across the region. Alternatively, water can be added to the flour to make porridge. Millet is a good source of carbohydrate but eaten alone lacks the vital nutrients needed as part of a balanced diet. When it’s available sauces are added to give flavour – such as the leaves of the Baobab tree. The mill is run by a women’s cooperative group and allows the whole village to buy grain at a cheaper price than in the market, it also helps to ensure the price is less volatile in the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Millet being hand stripped

11/17 Millet being hand stripped

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

12/17 Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

During the lean season a shortage in food forces the prices up to unaffordable amounts for many families. The market garden helps the local community to grow their own food and helps to stabilise prices during the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

13/17 34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

Ouma Azzika has seven children to feed. She received this goat from the Red Cross as part of a project supporting women to provide enough food to feed their families during the lean season when food is most scare. As well as providing milk, the goat can be sold at the market to earn money to buy food.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

14/17 An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

15/17 A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

16/17 A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

17/17 Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

1/17 Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

At nine months’ pregnant with twins Balkisa Zakow, 25, feared she wouldn’t have the energy to give birth. A devastating drought made Balkisa’s harvests fail, made food prices soar, and then forced her family apart. Her husband migrated in search of work to earn money to provide for his young family, leaving her heavily pregnant and alone. “Sometimes if my husband had money he sent it to me so I could eat. Sometimes the money just doesn’t come,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to give birth.” But seven-month-old twins Hassan and Ousseni are lucky, they were born the night after Red Cross support came to Tombokiery village, Niger. The Niger Red Cross provided the family with a small cash grant. “A Niger Red Cross volunteer told me to go first because she saw how exhausted I was. I used the money to buy food, then I went back home to sleep feeling relieved. Before sunrise I had given birth to my twins.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

2/17 Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

Last year’s drought made Aissa’s crop fail, leaving the family with nothing to eat. In the Sahel rainfall has become erratic and wet seasons that people rely on are shrinking. The Sahel has one of the driest climates in the world, people who live here have always been incredibly resilient, are now having to adapt and survive to ever harsher conditions. The region is almost one degree hotter than in 1970 and could rise by several degrees by the end of the century. Record hot spells, desertification, loss of crops and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are reducing people’s ability to feed themselves. Mothers are forced to eat just one meal a day so that their children can eat.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

3/17 Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

“When we had enough we ate three times per day, but during the shortage we only had one meal a day. The children were always following us, crying because of their hunger but we had nothing to feed them,” said Aissa. “But the Niger Red Cross brought us a cash grant. We bought millet and some rice, and with that we chased the hunger away.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

4/17 Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Six-month-old Aicka is struggling to gain weight. It’s been a month since her mother died and her grandmother Rabi has brought her to the Red Cross nutrition centre for help. The centre provides support to mothers and babies, weighing infants and measuring their upper arms for signs of malnutrition. The pair are two in a long queue waiting for help but a shortage of the nutrition supplement plumpy nut means that Aicka is still not at a healthy weight. Rabi said: “I had been feeding her cassava flour but I noticed didn’t help her much. When she has plumpy nut it helps a lot but sometimes there isn’t any. It has made my life very hard to bear. You can’t take care of a child properly if your own life is not good.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

5/17 Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava, which are given to families of malnourished children visiting the Red Cross nutrition centre.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

6/17 Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Aboul, four, is small for his age because severe malnutrition left him physically stunted. Across the Sahel 1.5 million children are acutely malnourished, one in five will die before their fifth birthday. “His body was very weak and he was so thin,” said his mother Ai Naliguido. “It was just Garri I was feeding him made with some corn-meal, or millet.” “I took him to the hospital every week and they gave him plumpy nut. I’m so relieved that he got the help he needed to get stronger. He has gotten a lot better.” She said. Niger Red Cross volunteers from the nutrition centre visit communities to show mothers how to get the most nourishment from millet flour and drought tolerant root vegetables like cassava, which helps to keep children healthy.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

7/17 Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

8/17 Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

First the drought made the harvests fail and then food prices inflated so high even the very basics became unaffordable for Hassi Seyni and her family. Her husband, like many others, was forced to leave to find work to earn enough money to feed the family. “We got really fearful because many men fled and left the women on their own,” said Hassi. “When he (her husband) has some money he sends it to us. This is how we lived.” “With support from the Red Cross we bought some bags of millet and corn. We bought some vegetables and some condiments. When your conscience is free from problems and you get to eat. Then you can think about the future.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

9/17 Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

10/17 Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

Millet is a drought resistant crop. Stems are stripped by hand and the grain pounded into flour which is slowly mixed with boiling water to make two, a thick white paste which is a staple across the region. Alternatively, water can be added to the flour to make porridge. Millet is a good source of carbohydrate but eaten alone lacks the vital nutrients needed as part of a balanced diet. When it’s available sauces are added to give flavour – such as the leaves of the Baobab tree. The mill is run by a women’s cooperative group and allows the whole village to buy grain at a cheaper price than in the market, it also helps to ensure the price is less volatile in the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Millet being hand stripped

11/17 Millet being hand stripped

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

12/17 Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

During the lean season a shortage in food forces the prices up to unaffordable amounts for many families. The market garden helps the local community to grow their own food and helps to stabilise prices during the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

13/17 34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

Ouma Azzika has seven children to feed. She received this goat from the Red Cross as part of a project supporting women to provide enough food to feed their families during the lean season when food is most scare. As well as providing milk, the goat can be sold at the market to earn money to buy food.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

14/17 An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

15/17 A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

16/17 A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

17/17 Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Net zero, the new goal for most greenhouse gases, is where the amount of emissions produced is equivalent to the amount absorbed by the atmosphere.

Methane emissions would be reduced by 10 per cent by 2030 and by between about a quarter and a half by 2050 under the bill.

The New Zealand government has also promised to plant a billion trees over 10 years and ensure the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy by 2035.

The bill establishes a Climate Change Commission which will advise the government on how to reach its targets.

Read more

The law was spearheaded by the liberal government but in the end was supported by the main conservative opposition party, which nevertheless promised changes if it wins the next election.

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Climate change minister James Shaw said the new law would help ensure a safer planet for everybody’s children and grandchildren.

“We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes for women, now we are leading again,” he said.

Agriculture is key to the economy of New Zealand, which is home to just under five million people but more than 10 million cows and 28 million sheep.

Read more

Those animals emit methane, resulting in an unusual greenhouse gas emission profile for the country. Almost half of total emissions come from agriculture.

The bill says the lower targets for methane reduction reflect that it stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide, although scientists point out that methane is far more potent while there.

It also aims to fulfil New Zealand’s obligations under the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement to keep in check rising global temperatures.

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The UK passed a net-zero emissions law this June, as pledged by Theresa May before she left office.

However, the government has been criticised for not doing enough to fulfil its promise, with MPs warning the target will be missed with “dire consequences” without new climate policies.

In September, environment experts said money pledged to help the UK reach its net-zero goal is 0.1 per cent of what is needed.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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