Lip service: it’s all climate action ever gets from Key & Co

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.

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The wrong road to take

It’s difficult not to become repetitive when blogging about climate change. The basic science is well-established. The dangers global warming poses to human society are clear and in some places present. The solutions lie with drastically cutting the level of greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to changes already unavoidable.  The mitigation solution in particular continues to be resisted by vested interests and their political allies. I’m conscious of having expressed each of these facts many times over in a variety of forms over the past three years. And now I’m about to repeat myself within a month of last writing about the contradiction in New Zealand government thinking.

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NZ needs a bold low-carbon business strategy

This guest post in Hot Topic’s election series comes from Phillip Mills, one of the founders (with Rob Morrison, Lloyd Morrison, Sir Stephen Tindall, Joan Withers, Prof Sir Paul Callaghan, Jeremy Moon, Rob Fyfe, Chris Liddell, Sir George Fistonich, Geoff Ross and Justine Smyth) of Pure Advantage, a group set up to promote green growth strategies for New Zealand. It was first published in a slightly different form in the NZ Herald last week.

We’ve seen during the past two months what this country is capable of when we all pull together. In this election, we should demand that our politicians give the same level of strategy, planning and commitment to our economic future. New Zealand’s environmental reputation continues to be tested. The Rena saga, followed by a second fossil fuel-related blow with the Vector natural gas pipe rupture is feeding public unease about how prepared we are to manage New Zealand’s green brand.

A 2008 study showed that a 5% reputational loss in primary products and international tourism will cost the New Zealand economy more than 22,000 jobs, annual direct losses of $455 million in primary product sales and $155 million in international tourism sales.

However, the long-term damage to New Zealand’s brand will not come from Rena, or even the risks of a tanker accident or deep-water drilling disaster should we decide to go down that track, but from a failure to take up the opportunities we have to shift more of our resources and talent pool into the low-carbon industries that will drive the future global economy.

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