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 Populism And Labour 2017

For many people on the centre-left, populism is a dirty word, and a shorthand for the politics of bigotry. In this country, it has tended to be equated with the angry legions of New Zealand First. Who knew they were not just a reactionary spasm, but the wave of the future?

Certainly, at the end of this week, the next US President will have won office (at least in part) thanks to his proven ability at (a) scapegoating refugees and migrants (b) wooing neo-Nazis and racial supremacists (c) attacking journalists and judges (d) threatening to jail his opponents (e) urging nuclear proliferation and (e) by promising to restrict women’s rights to control their own fertility.

On the face of that campaign record, there wouldn’t seem to be much in common between Donald Trump and say, Spain’s centre-left populist party, Podemos. Yet arguably, the similarities could be instructive for the Labour/Green partnership here. More>>

 
 

Oxfam: 30% Of NZ Owns Less Wealth Than Our Two Richest Men

The research also reveals that the richest one per cent have 20 per cent of the wealth in New Zealand, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth. The research forms part of a global report released to coincide with this week’s annual meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More>>

ALSO:

Hospitals: Resident Doctors Set To Strike Again

Despite discussions between the DHBs and NZRDA over safer hours for resident doctors progressing during the last week, the strike planned for next week appears set to proceed. More>>

ALSO:

Not So Super Fund: More Burning Ethical Questions For Steven Joyce

Greens: Radio New Zealand reported this morning that the New Zealand Superfund has $77 million invested in 47 coal companies that the Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund – the largest sovereign fund in the world – has blacklisted. More>>

Activism: Greenpeace Intercepts World’s Biggest Seismic Oil Ship

Greenpeace crew have made contact with the world’s biggest seismic oil ship after travelling 50 nautical miles on two rigid-hulled inflatables off the coast of Wairarapa... Greenpeace radioed the master of the Amazon Warrior to deliver an open letter of protest signed by over 60,000 New Zealanders. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Why Tax Cuts In 2017 Would Be A (Proven) Bad Idea

Ever since the world fell prey to the mullahs of the free market in the 1980s, no amount of real world evidence has managed dispel one key tenet of their economic faith. Namely, the idea that if you cut income taxes and taxes on small business, a wave of individual enterprise and entrepreneurial energy will thus be unleashed, profits will rise and – hey bingo! – the tax cuts will soon be paying for themselves ... More>>

Liquor Sponsorship: Researchers Call For Ban On Alcohol Sponsorship Of Sport

“Due to alcohol sponsorship of sport, New Zealanders, including children, were exposed to up to 200 ads per hour they watched televised sport, and people watching football and tennis saw alcohol ads for almost half of each game,” says Associate Professor Signal. More>>

ALSO:

Mt Albert: Ardern For Labour, Genter For Greens

At the close of nominations, Jacinda Ardern was the sole nomination received for the position of Labour’s candidate for the Mt Albert by-election, says Labour General Secretary, Andrew Kirton. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news