As expected, the New Zealand government’s response to the IPCC’s Working Group 3 report on mitigating climate change pays lip service to the science, while maintaining that NZ is doing all that can be expected. Climate change minister Tim Groser’s press release said that the IPCC report’s call for intentional cooperation meant that NZ is “on the right track in pressing for a binding international agreement on emissions beyond 2020” but failed to note the urgency explicit in the report.
Groser also repeated the government’s standard response when challenged on government inaction on climate policy:
“New Zealand is doing its fair share on climate change, taking into account our unique national circumstances, both to restrict our own emissions and support the global efforts needed to make the cuts that will limit warming.”
Groser’s response to the WG2 and WG3 reports so angered Pure Advantage founder Phillip Mills that he announced he would make a $125,000 donation to the Labour and Green parties. Mills, who has been working behind the scenes for the last five years, lobbying cabinet ministers and National MPs to build a business case for climate action and clean, green business growth, told the NZ Herald:
I’ve been trying impartially to deal with National. I’ve met with John Key around this a number of times … and really I held the hope that I and groups that I’ve been involved with would be able to get National to see sense.
Continue reading “Lip service: it’s all climate action ever gets from Key & Co”
Last week business lobby group Pure Advantage launched [Herald, Stuff] a specially commissioned report, Green Growth: Opportunities for New Zealand, which presents, they say, “an exhaustive, objective economic argument for embracing green growth”. The report was produced by a London-based economics consultancy in conjunction with the University of Auckland Business School, and is the culmination of two years work to identify the most effective ways of implementing green growth business strategies in NZ.
Launching the report, Pure Advantage (PA) chairman Rob Morrison said:
We firmly believe on the basis of this significant macroeconomic report that New Zealand has the potential to generate billions of dollars in new high-value economic growth, whilst at the same time improving New Zealand’s environmental performance.
Morrison said that PA intends to use the report as “a basis to establish, in consultation with industry, seven industry-specific green growth programmes”. The seven key ‘advantages’ are (links go to PA web explanations):
- Home Advantage: Retrofitting an efficient building environment;
- Geothermal Advantage: Creating a significant geothermal export industry
- Agricultural Advantage:
Investing in sustainable and efficient agricultural technologies
- Waste-to-Energy Advantage: Installing bio-energy and waste-to-energy infrastructure
- Biofuel Advantage: Establishing a woody mass biofuel and bio-products industry
- Smart Grid Advantage: Installing the building blocks of a smart grid
- Biodiversity Advantage: Establishing a world-class biodiversity driven ecotourism and conservation education programme.
PA note that the report was “not driven by environmental idealism or fear of climate change”, yet the recommendations look a lot like the sort of joined up thinking on environment and emissions policy that has been so lacking from the present government. By making the business case for green growth, perhaps PA can start a bottom-up change of economic direction that will do for NZ what the government will not. It’s certainly a worthwhile effort, but while there are other lobby groups out there promoting rampant population growth as the way to stop economic decline, it will continue to be an uphill struggle.
Simon Johnson, in his recent Hot Topic post, challenged the failure of Pure Advantage’s report New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race to highlight the importance of putting a price on carbon, and Duncan Stewart offered a robust response. It’s not my purpose in this post to pursue that topic, but rather to dwell on the strong central message of the document — that New Zealand has a much brighter economic future as a green growth economy than as one stuck with the fossil fuel dependance we remain reluctant to address. The report considers government action is necessary to drive the change, but at the same time sadly recognises that the government is currently stuck in a different and inadequate strategy which is hindering advance.
Just how much we are failing to measure up to our proclaimed green image is revealed in the sobering reality check the report performs on various economic fronts.
Continue reading “Pure Advantage’s strong central message”
Duncan Stewart manages the Pure Advantage programme and in this personal guest post addresses Simon Johnson’s criticism earlier this week that the new green growth report, New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race, fails to take carbon emissions reductions as seriously as necessary. Duncan is a director of investment and advisory firm The Greenhouse, an executive director of environmental compliance software company CS-VUE, and a board member of New Zealand’s electric vehicle association APEV.
The report is “good in parts” eh…? Well partly thank you. The headline provides some insight into your analytical approach; focus on carbon and dismiss the other environmental issues. OK, but in doing so you may have missed the point. NZ’s environmental performance is characterised by many different metrics — greenhouse gas emissions are just one of them. It’s certainly an important one, but no one is going to argue that the loss of native biodiversity is less important, or that methane trumps water quality.
These issues are all interconnected and need to be dealt with through a systemic change in the way we value and manage our natural capital.
Will the ETS fix declining water quality? I doubt it.
Will it provide healthier homes for kiwis? Probably not.
Therefore if clean/green New Zealand is an aggregate of a range of environmental performance metrics, it makes sense for Pure Advantage to identify and focus upon all of the key problem areas. The appropriate green growth solutions may be quite different for each, which is why it makes sense to use a cluster model to deliver these (or butterflies emerging from a chrysalis — whatever is easier to understand). Crosscutting issues such as education also need to be applied to address problems collectively.
Continue reading “Pure Advantage: green growth is bigger than just carbon”
Mr February (aka Simon Johnson) examines the latest Pure Advantage report promoting green economics. It’s all great sustainability stuff except that it fails to mention carbon pricing (emissions trading schemes or carbon taxes). How seriously can we take the Pure Advantage “green growth” message on climate change, when they are not upfront about their position on a price on carbon?
Pure Advantage, the green business advocacy group, have just released a new green growth report titled ‘New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race’. Hot Topic has posted about Pure Advantage before and PA founder Phillip Mills provided a guest post on how NZ needs a bold low-carbon business strategy.
The report has three goals: to define green growth, to summarise New Zealand’s uninspiring environmental and economic performance, and to propose “a process for developing a green growth recipe for NZ and a strategy for delivering it” (page 27). The basic idea of the report is clear from this graphic — where ‘Green Growth’ starts as an amorphous brain storm of ideas, which then gets focused through the ‘NZ Green Race’ report and an economic analysis, before emerging like a butterfly from a chrysalis as a number of strategies and policies.
Continue reading “Pure Advantage report good in parts, but silent on carbon pricing”