Goff balks at the task

It doesn’t look as if we can expect transformational leadership from Labour leader Phil Goff so far as climate change is concerned.  Readers of my review of  David Orr’s Down to the Wire, may recall that Orr stated that one of the challenges of such leadership in the time ahead is to help us understand the connections between our energy choices and ecological consequences. Goff appears to be backing off from that before he starts.  In this morning’s Herald he nominates two initiatives of the previous government on energy use as “mistakes”.  One was the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, the other encouraging builders to restrict hot water flow through showers.

“We’d stopped listening to what people’s priorities were and seemed to be working on issues they thought were sideshows.”

Ecological consequences?  That’s a bit much for politicians to be expected to handle.  Electoral consequences, now that’s something we know about.  New Zealanders don’t like those funny eco-bulbs.  Therefore we were silly to try to make them standard.

It wasn’t silly at all.  It was important and would have made a significant difference to our level of electricity use. It provides a large immediate gain in energy efficiency. Many other countries have seen this and are phasing out incandescent bulbs, including the EU, Australia, Canada, Argentina and parts of the US.  Gerry Brownlee’s action in reversing the decision was ignorant and irresponsible.  Goff should be saying so.

Another function of Orr’s transformational leadership is that it prepares the public to understand the scope, scale and duration of climate destabilisation. Goff doesn’t seem to want a bar of this:

“…people thought Labour should have been more focused on what really counted for them, such as the struggle to make ends meet.”

I was a little shocked by the degree of caving-in Goff’s remarks seem to indicate.  He could have said the public mightn’t have liked what we were proposing, but they were small but important steps in combating climate change, there would have been a lot more to come because this is an issue of enormous consequence for the human future,  and we’re going to keep making that absolutely clear in opposition.  Evidently they’re not.  Sad for us all if that proves to be the case.

7 thoughts on “Goff balks at the task”

  1. Although i agree with you, the fact is Labour can’t win the next election without winning back some of the middle ground… in listening to what turned those voters off Labour have had to concede some its policies were unpopular. The good news is this will also shift some labour voters to the greens and there is no chance of Labour governing without the Greens support.

  2. Jennette has a good post on the same theme on frogblog. The NACT govt actions are just cynical. The first steps towards mitigating GGE are tripped up by “political expediency”.

  3. Jeanette Fitsimon’s response to Phil Goff’s statement is certainly worth reading. I particularly appreciated her statement that codes and standards are the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions world wide. Amid all the hoo-hah surrounding the passing of the ETS into law a year ago the willingness of the then government to also move on the regulation front, albeit cautiously, was to my mind an equally important sign that they might be serious. I hoped that by the time he gave his conference speech on Sunday Goff might have dropped this particular apology, but no. Lightbulbs and showerheads squeaked in at the end of his list. David Parker must be feeling sore. Gerry Brownlee is presumably feeling vindicated.

  4. Russell Brown also has his say:

    Setting energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs isn’t the nanny state, or a “sideshow”: it’s a practical step with a manifest economic benefit. The sideshow wasn’t the policy; it was the consequent wave of pseudo-scientific alarmism and confused appeals to liberty that greeted it.

    This episode confirms my belief that politicians who attempt to govern by focus group are incapable of leadership.

Leave a Reply