Last week’s Great Climate Voter Debate is a must view for anyone wanting to understand NZ’s mainstream political parties stance on policies to address carbon emissions and climate change. Moderated by TV3’s Samantha Hayes, the debate features climate change minister Tim Groser, Labour’s deputy leader David Parker, Greens co-leader Russel Norman, NZ First’s deputy leader Tracey Martin, John Minto from Internet-Mana and Nancy Tuaine from the Maori Party. The ACT Party and Conservatives couldn’t be bothered to send representatives — no surprises there.
It’s an excellent discussion, covering all the bases. Every NZ voter should take the time — only two hours — to watch it through.
This guest post is by David Tong, an Auckland based community lawyer working on his Master’s in Law on the UN climate talks. He chairs the P3 Foundation and co-chairs the Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association, and last year tracked New Zealand’s climate negotiators as an Adopt a Negotiator Fellow.
Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics and the subsequent revelations have shaken New Zealand’s Government. On Saturday, Minister of Justice Judith Collins resigned, facing allegations of interfering with Serious Fraud Office investigations. On Sunday, the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence summonsed the Prime Minister — or perhaps just his Office — to appear before a hearing into the Dirty Politics allegations on 11 September 2014, just nine days before the election.
But three key ministers have escaped remarkably unscathed from the scandal: Ministers Tim Groser, Nick Smith, and Amy Adams. Tim Groser, our Minister for Climate Change Issues, has danced past the scandal without a speck of dirt. Minister for Conservation and Housing Nick Smith, who resigned as Minister for the Environment after admitting two relatively minor indiscretions must be spitting mad at how many final warnings Judith Collins flouted before resigning. Of the three, only Amy Adams faced a substantive allegation in Hager’s book, which alleges that she printed, scanned and forwarded an invitation accidentally sent to her by the Labour Party to Judith Collins, who then leaked it to the far right blogger at the heart of the scandal.
But compared to the other allegations in Dirty Politics — or even the past conflict of interest allegations levelled at Adams — these matters are minor. Hager’s book only mentions climate change once. Other emails show at most that Slater ran an ineffectual smear campaign against Generation Zero, which may or may not have been encouraged by Government figures. All this could be interpreted to mean our Government plays cleaner on climate change than it does at home.
That suggestion is wrong. Our domestic and international politics mirror each other. Dirty politics at home are mirrored by dirty tricks at the climate talks. The last few rounds of negotiations brim with examples.
Continue reading “We Play Dirty at the Climate Talks Too: New Zealand’s Dirty Politics of Climate”
The NZ Emissions Trading Scheme has failed and should be replaced by a carbon tax, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman told the party’s annual conference yesterday [NZ Herald, Stuff]. Outlining the Green’s new Climate Protection Plan (pdf) Norman told delegates that the government’s mismanagement had “hollowed out and weakened [the ETS] to the point of redundancy, accelerated deforestation and driven up emissions.” If in government after September’s general election, the Greens would replace the ETS by a suite of policies built around a levy on greenhouse gas emissions, with revenues recycled to business and consumers through cuts in income taxes.
The key points of the new policy are (from the policy document):
- Set New Zealand on the path to be carbon neutral by 2050.
- Establish a Climate Commission to provide expert and independent advice to the government on: carbon prices, carbon budgets, and complementary measures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
- Phase out the failed Emissions Trading Scheme and set an initial price on carbon:
$25 per tonne on CO2 equivalent emissions for all sectors except agriculture and forestry. Dairy emissions will pay $12.50 per tonne. Forestry will be credited at $12.50 per tonne.
- Recycle all revenues raised from a carbon charge back to families and businesses through a $2,000 income tax-free band and a one percent company tax cut. A Climate Tax Cut. Households will be better off.
- Introduce a suite of complementary measures to support the rapid transition to a carbon neutral economy.
The tax and dividend scheme has been costed by independent economists BERL (report here). An average household will be over $300 better off per annum.
Continue reading “NZ Greens launch new climate policy: replace ETS with carbon tax and dividend”
New Zealand political reaction to the IPCC’s WG2 report has divided along expected lines: the Green Party and Labour used the findings to call for more action, the National-led government “welcomed” the report but said it is already doing enough, while the fringe right wing ACT party issued a press release making the abolition of the emissions trading scheme a condition of its support for any future National government. If the Scoop web site is to be believed, none of the other political parties with seats in parliament or hopes of election could be bothered to issue a press release in response to a report that makes it plain that climate change is here now, and set to get very much worse in future.
Continue reading “Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action”
Over the last few years I’ve documented the current NZ government’s lackadaisical attitude to climate change policy. They’ve gutted the emissions trading scheme and dismantled sensible initiatives, ensuring that NZ emissions are on course to grow steeply. Last night, TV3 News asked three senior cabinet ministers whether they believed in the reality of climate change, and two of the three couldn’t quite find it in their hearts to endorse simple reality. Here’s my transcription of their responses:
Gerry Brownlee (minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Transport, Leader of the House, #3 in the hierarchy):
Well, I think climate change is something that has happened always, so to simply come up and say, look, it’s man-made, is an interesting prospect.
Bill English (deputy PM, finance minister, #2 in the hierarchy):
There’s some impact…  we should uncritically follow the Green’s extreme views about these things, well, many of us don’t.
By way of contrast, climate change minister Tim Groser was unequivocal:
Absolutely, the evidence is overwhelming — you’d have to be denying reality…
Given that I’ve been critical of Groser’s stance on NZ climate policy, it’s refreshing that he feels free to be so blunt in his acceptance of the reality of the problem. He is, after all, a skilled diplomat, and knows that if he were to tell the world that climate change was “an interesting prospect”, his peers in the international community would consider him to be a complete tit. It’s perhaps a good job that English and Brownlee don’t have to front up to the world on climate matters, or their self-esteem might suffer.
Continue reading “Lip service: NZ government infested with climate denial”