The scientific yardstick for political policy

I was pleased to see the Labour Party’s announcement that it is opposed to the Southland lignite development planned by Solid Energy, and went looking for more detail in the party’s climate change policy.  The opening paragraph of the policy statement struck me as more direct than I expected:

Climate change poses an enormous global threat and severely threatens our way of life. It is occurring more rapidly than previously predicted. Humankind is pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere on a scale far greater than the ability of the environment to absorb them.

Against this background the decision to oppose the lignite development in spite of its claimed financial benefit makes perfect sense: Continue reading “The scientific yardstick for political policy”

Oxfam NZ Election Debate: Climate change

Environment minister Nick Smith, Labour’s David Parker and the Green Party’s Kennedy Graham debate climate policy in these edited highlights from the first of Oxfam NZ’s election debates, held last week in Auckland. Debate ranged from whether New Zealand can become carbon-free to the likelihood of a cross-party agreement on long-term issues that last more than an election cycle, and from the effect of investing in roads to the question of bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

More on the debate from Oxfam NZ’s Jason Garman below the fold…

Continue reading “Oxfam NZ Election Debate: Climate change”

Dismissing Greens’ plan out of hand not justified

The immediate government reaction to the Greens’ announcement yesterday of their “100,000 green jobs” policy was to defend the economic status quo.

The Prime Minister John Key:

“They are talking about putting enormous taxes on New Zealand that would send a lot of businesses bankrupt.”

Transport Minister Steven Joyce weighed in:

“What they’re proposing is to add lots of costs, add lots of taxes and then magically, supposedly, all the jobs would be in place.”

The Greens’ proposals for raising the money to fund the green jobs initiative include a capital gains tax, a temporary levy on income to fund the rebuilding of Christchurch, a cutback on new motorway spending, and a toughening up of the generous subsidies offered by the ETS in its current form. I presume these are the costs and taxes that so alarm Key and Joyce. Continue reading “Dismissing Greens’ plan out of hand not justified”

Hansen in NZ: final roundup

Here’s a high quality video of Jim Hansen’s talk at the University of Canterbury last month (excellent work by the audiovisual team at UC). Well worth watching, if only because it provides a succinct summary of Hansen’s current thinking. As Dr. Chuck Kutscher of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US said:

If you want to know the scientific consensus on global warming, read the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But if you want to know what the consensus will be ten years from now, read Jim Hansen’s work.

Hansen has also published his open letter to John Key (at HT here), with added observations on his time in New Zealand. I particularly enjoyed his heartfelt reference (in a footnote) to his minder, former Green Party leader Jeanette Fitzsimons:

[…] slave-driver Jeanette Fitzsimons unceremoniously routing me out of bed at 6 or 7 AM every day to get moving to the next town – not exactly a case of sipping piña colada on a beach.

See also: R0B at The Standard draws attention to a podcast of Hansen’s talk at Otago University, who notes that he described his meeting with Environment Minister Nick Smith as “a very unpleasant discussion”. With the recent news that John Key has given his support to lignite mining in Southland, it’s clear that the disconnect between reality and the New Zealand government is growing ever greater.

[Climate Show interview with Jim Hansen here. Hat tip to Jason Box for the Kutscher quote.]

10:10 trumps 50:50

Imagine this: the prime minister and his entire cabinet, the opposition front bench and the largest other party in Parliament all sign up to make personal emissions cuts of 10% in 2010. Not 10% in 10 years, — 10% next year. Not in NZ, sadly, but that’s what has just happened in Britain. The 10:10 campaign, created by Age Of Stupid producer Franny Armstrong and her team, was launched last Tuesday. Armstrong is impressed by the rapid response:

“It’s amazing that within 48 hours of the campaign’s launch, the leaderships of the three main political parties have committed to cut their 10%. Who said people power was dead? These politicians clearly recognise that each person in Britain must start cutting their emissions as part of a national war-effort-scale response to the climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s government flounders around trying to find support to water down the emissions trading scheme. Rod Oram in today’s Sunday Star Times considers National’s options:

..almost anything is possible because National has dissembled, prevaricated and otherwise failed to reveal its true beliefs on climate change in opposition and so far in government.

Time for a 10:10 campaign in New Zealand. Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party should jump to join in. Rodney and ACT are obviously a lost cause, but if enough people signed up — the momentum in Britain has been impressive, and the Greenpeace Sign On campaign here has done well — the pressure on Key and Smith might force them to do the right thing. But I won’t be holding my breath.