Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern walked out of parliament, making an impassioned plea to “please take the politics out of climate change” during her tearful final speech.
Ms Ardern stunned New Zealand earlier this year when she announced she was stepping down as prime minister and retiring from politics, saying she no longer had ‘enough in the tank’.
Clad in a korowai – a traditional Maori feather cloak – Ms Ardern recalled her humble beginnings in a working-class family and how she never expected to lead the country.
“It was a cross between a sense of duty to steer a moving freight train… and being hit by one,” she quipped during her valedictory address, reports RTE.
But she chose the climate crisis as the defining issue of her time in politics.
“Climate change is a crisis. It is upon us. And so one of the very few things I will ask of this house on my departure is that you please take the politics out of climate change,” she said, reports RTE.
The 42-year-old, once the world’s youngest female leader, choked at several points during her speech, which began and ended in the Māori language.
Her voice was full of emotion as she recalled the pain caused by the Christchurch attack, which she said had “bereft” her.
She said, “Having sadly seen our nation in horrific moments of grief, I’ve concluded that countries don’t move on from tragedy, rather they become part of your psyche,” reports RTE.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who attended the first Christchurch call summit, said he had been reassured by Ms Ardern to continue “fight terrorist and violent extremist content online”, reports RTE.
Ms Ardern will also become a Trustee of Prince William’s Earthshot Award, which seeks to address the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Despite her stellar reputation on the international stage – she graced the cover of Time magazine in 2020 – Ms Ardern was not universally liked at home.
She became a lightning rod for online abuse as her premiere wore on and was regularly targeted in social media posts filled with derogatory and sexist language, reports RTE.
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