Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


NZ energy policy: fiscal idiocy, atmospheric self-harm

NZ Govt energy policy: fiscal idiocy and atmospheric self-harm

Blogpost by Rosalind Atkinson - April 2, 2014

As the IPPC report predicts dire consequences for New Zealand, our politicians talk only about ‘adaptation’ to Climate Change while carving up NZ for more fossil fuel exploration and maintaining an 'all of the above' approach to energy that even Simon Bridges thinks is just good rhetoric.

On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - a whole bunch of extremely smart scientists - released their highly anticipated report on climate change impacts. The increased focus on issues for humans, not just the environment, and the havoc a changing climate looks set to wreak, is rightly setting off alarm bells across the globe.

"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said, and Professor Neil Adger of Exeter University similarly doesn’t mince words: "Climate change is happening, there are big risks for everyone and no place in the world is immune from them." Here in NZ that means increased flooding, fires, sea level rise, storms, and biodiversity loss, as well as the effects of increased conflict and increases in food prices.

This is not an ‘oh well, never mind’ situation, yet the best our Climate Change Minister Tim Groser can offer is to talk about ‘Adaptation’. When he says this, what does he actually mean? What does he envisage? That we will move cities? Redirect roads? Abandon regions? As George Monbiot points out, it’s a wonder whether Groser knows what he’s talking about at all.

But perhaps most unbelieveably of all, in the very same week as this unprecedented warning about the risks of failing to take action, our associate Minister for Climate Change, Simon Bridges, is preparing to offer up vast swathes of land and ocean for Oil and Gas exploitation.

Today, Bridges will be announcing the 2014 ‘Block Offer’ of land and sea areas for further fossil fuel exploitation, at the Advantage NZ Geotechnical Petroleum Forum. He’s already told us that his ‘all of the above’ approach to energy is nothing but hollow rhetoric, but in the face of the new IPCC report, the government’s project of aggressive fossil fuel expansion is not just economically misguided but criminally irresponsible.

This is not a case of environment versus economics. The necessary shift away from fossil fuels represents a massive opportunity for renewable energy and a thriving clean economy, as shown byGreenpeace, Pure Advantage, The NZ Royal Society, and others. Investing New Zealanders’ money in a wild goose chase after dwindling fossil fuel reserves is fiscally idiotic as well as atmospheric self-harm. Failing to take the opportunities mitigation offers us now will mean immense costs later, in terms of both money and wellbeing.

Other governments around the world are responding to the challenge with renewed vigour and vision. UK Secretary of State Edward Davey says: “This evidence strengthens the case for early action in the UK and around the world to lessen the significant risks posed by climate change. We cannot afford to wait.” I find it deeply painful to read our own climate change Minister’s statement that the report is a “useful contribution” that affirms “adaption” as a response.

“Adaptation” in this context means wilful inaction in the face of an era-defining opportunity. We’re one of the highest emitters in the world on a per capita basis and with current settings that’s only going to increase. We need more than a few individual choices. We need strong and visionary leadership. One of the report's lead authors, Macquarie University Professor Lesley Hughes, is clear that the ‘wait and see’ approach is not going to cut it, reminding us that "it's not all doom and gloom if we get a wriggle on and do a lot about it." I can’t believe that the best our Ministers can do is remind us of New Zealand’s tiny size and inability to affect global emissions.

We weren’t always treated to this kind of nihilistic fatalism. Back in 2007, we heard something different. “I have faith that New Zealand can influence the world”, said this politician, “and I have faith that New Zealanders can rise to this global economic shift…. I want to reward Kiwi good-mindedness by leading a Government that acts in an economically sound, principled and visionary way to tackle the greatest environmental challenge of our time... We believe a strong New Zealand voice on climate change is vital to the “brand” our exporters rely on, and can be a key force for rallying the global troops.”

Who was this crazy lefty? The same man who yesterday flatly told the nation that “we can only do so much and that’s a pretty small amount,” and that our small size is an excuse to continue to do basically nothing. Also known as John Key, our Prime Minister. For shame.

Once upon a time, Key was “hugely hopeful about New Zealand’s ability to maximise the opportunities presented by this global challenge” (2007 again). Now his Ministers are dangling pieces of our country in front of the increasingly desperate fossil fuel industry and ignoring the opportunities that come with decisive climate action. They’re stuck in a dinosaur model of business as usual and it’s not going to cut it.

There’s a chance to change course here for a prosperous and less risky future. But those at the helm are sailing us straight into the storm. “This is the critical decade,” says the IPCC’s Professor Hughes. Are we willing to believe our leaders when they tell us we’re powerless, and obediently just ‘wait and see’ what happens?

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On Andrew Little’s Debut, Mockingjay, And Drunk Texting

John Key’s credibility has taken a hammering this week – at least among the 50% of the electorate who have always had doubts about him on that score.

The other substantial story of the week has been about Andrew Little’s debut as Labour leader, which has received top marks, especially among the 25% of the electorate still voting Labour. According to some reports, the Labour caucus has been ‘in seventh heaven’ about Little’s success this week in taking it to the government in the House. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Government Arrogance

Right now, National is ramming anti-terrorism measures through Parliament. This legislation will grant the SIS the power to carry out 48 hour bouts of surveillance on anyone without a warrant, and will bestow on government the power to unilaterally revoke anyone’s passports and thus deny them the freedom to travel. More>>

ALSO:

Glenn Inquiry: Report Offers Solutions To Family Violence

The People’s Blueprint unveiled today by Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence outlines a new, more cohesive and effective system for reducing New Zealand’s alarmingly high family violence rates. More>>

ALSO:

Environment Commissioner: Changing Climate And Rising Seas - Understanding The Science

A rising sea will be with us for a long time to come – one way or another we will have to adapt. But how high and how fast the water rises will be influenced by the speed at which the world – including New Zealand – reduces greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. More>>

ALSO:

Key Texts With Whale Oil Released: PM Can’t Be Trusted Over Dirty Politics Defence - Greens

John Key’s answers to questions about dirty politics can’t be trusted, after he was forced to admit that he had misled journalists and Parliament about contact with attack blogger Cameron Slater, said the Green Party today.. More>>

ALSO:

Temporary Release Crackdown Continues: Corrections Review Of Phillip Smith Case

“The review by Corrections’ Chief Custodial Officer reveals that the plan for Smith’s series of temporary releases was overly ambitious and misinformed. He’s a highly manipulative and deceptive person who although technically eligible, should not have been considered for temporary release." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news