Nick Smith and the government’s insistence that a sensible emissions target for 2020 is too expensive to even contemplate is coming under more pressure with the release today of a report [PDF] prepared by the Green Party, which they claim shows that big cuts are affordable. Announcing the release of the report, Greens climate spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said [Scoop]:
“The Government says it can’t be done, but careful research shows it can be done. Environment Minister Nick Smith says it’s too hard and too expensive to set a responsible target, but the facts and the science say something different,” Ms Fitzsimons stated. “In the absence of leadership from the Government on this issue, weâ’e done the work. There’s a way to be optimistic and constructive in the face of a major international challenge but it seems the Government is taking a different path.”
A key part of the Green strategy involves a major commitment to tree planting and pest control in native forests, both of which Smith seems keen to ignore or misrepresent — as his response, headlined Bold 2020 target comes with high price demonstrates. Smith is content to trot out his current mantra, “We need an ambitious but achievable goal for 2020 that balances the environmental risks of climate change with the economic impacts on New Zealand of reducing emissions”. The minister is of course completely correct, but since he lacks ambition, gets the “environmental risks” completely wrong and continually overstates the cost of action, I expect the government’s goal to be too soft — and therefore immensely damaging to New Zealand’s long term interests.
Update 5/8: Jeanette Fitzsimons at Frogblog on Nick Smith’s response to questions in the House today:
Not a single question of mine answered, not a single point in our report addressed, but finally, the last refuge of someone with no arguments, a personal attack […] NZ deserves a “can do” minister, not a “can’t do, won’t try” government.