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Great vision, Helen, but no sign of action

Great vision, Helen, but no sign of action

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says there is no sign of the bold actions needed to deliver on Helen Clark's vision expressed to this weekend's Labour Party conference that NZ could be the first country to be truly sustainable.

"It's a great vision - and the Greens have been setting out how to do it for three decades - but it won't happen without massive changes in government policy. For starters, the Government has to stop having a kneejerk reaction to every adverse comment from the less progressive members of the business community, and it also needs to massively upskill government departments about the issues involved.

"Much needs to be done. In per capita greenhouse gas emissions we are the 11th worst in the world. Government policies over recent years have increased our carbon emissions and current plans will increase them more. A low efficiency coal burning power plant for instance, is planned for Marsden Point, with no discouragement from Government.

"We also have one of the oldest, least fuel efficient vehicle fleets in the world and measures to ensure that from now on we import more efficient cars are still a long way off and not guaranteed.

""There is no economic incentive to use renewable energy - or to use energy more efficiently - because environmental impacts are not being reflected in the price. Even business columnists are calling for a price on carbon, but the Government cancelled that plan last December. Meanwhile, Michael Cullen is pouring billions into new roads but won't fund key public transport infrastructure in Auckland, even though use of trains and buses has mushroomed, and they can't cope with demand.

The "Living Planet" report, released on Wednesday by WWF, puts us 9th worst in the world in terms of per capita consumption. This report measures 'ecological footprint' - resources consumed and wastes released into the environment.

"If the Prime Minister's statement is to be more than just words the "Sustainable Water Programme of Action" needs to contain some actions. The Waste Strategy needs more than voluntary measures. The loopholes in the Fisheries Quota Management System need to be closed so fish stocks and the marine environment are sustained. The Government needs to act urgently to end the completely unsustainable practice of bottom trawling

"If Labour is to have any credibility on its newly found goal, it will have to address unsustainable farming practices that lead to nitrogen loading in soil and water, erosion and flooding.

"There is no sign that Government departments have the depth of knowledge or the will to develop the policies Labour needs if it is to realise this vision. And it is hard to see how they will make much progress when they are dependent for support on parties who have much less knowledge about and commitment to sustainability even than Labour does.

"This appears to be a war of words with National, who recently released their "Blue Green vision". It would be more useful if they competed on real actions.

ends

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