Substance versus rhetoric on climate change

The prime minister frequently says climate change is her generation’s nuclear issue. But so far there has not been much substance beyond the rhetoric. Certainly oil and gas exploration has been stopped, and conservation has got more funding. Meanwhile James Shaw talks a lot about climate change, and many of his suggestions scare the right of New Zealand politics. In any event if climate change is a central issue the policy can hardly be driven by a minor party. The leadership has to come from the top, from the prime minister herself.

Is there an opportunity to develop a set of climate change and environment policies that will genuinely take New Zealand into a new future? Not policies that set one section of society against the other but are seen as much more uniting than that? Such policies can’t be primarily about telling us how bad we are, but rather need to appeal to our more optimistic natures.

There are indications that a unifying approach is possible. Todd Muller of National, a supporter of the Climate Change Commission, seems to envisage that. Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has spent his life thinking about these things.

In other countries such as Denmark, Finland and Israel, where the innovation challenge was thought about much more seriously than in New Zealand, there was a unified approach that lasted beyond any one government. But the principal credit belonged to the prime minister who was in charge at the inception of the challenge and who was seen as the principal motivator and organiser of the key policies.

It is already clear that the same opportunity exists with climate change and the environment. Most New Zealanders know things have to change, and they are comfortable with the notion that New Zealand should be a leader, not a follower. It is part of our nation’s ethos.

When there is a $5.5 billion surplus, you might expect a more serious government commitment, say doubling the environment-focused budget to $2 billion. Sure, there are lots of competing priorities for the surplus, but the prime minister has put climate change and the environment among her highest priorities.

As Ardern has said, this is the year of delivery for the Government. She has to start delivering on her own rhetoric soon. Her talk versus walk is becoming a common observation.

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16 Comments

  1. Finbaar Rustle

     /  March 1, 2019

    The left has cornered the market with regards climate change.
    So the left is regarded as the climate change party.
    The major problem is that the right i.e. National see it
    as their duty to oppose any thing the left does
    so National opposes climate change for no other reason than it is Labour led.
    That is the real problem with regards a unified approach to climate change.
    Hating on the opponents policies simply because they are the opposition
    remains a sad indictment of NZ politics,

    Reply
    • Mother

       /  March 1, 2019

      MMP was supposed to encourage political parties to work together.

      If hating on opponents’ political policies is a problem, where did the hate come from?

      BTW, I don’t think National are hating on policies as a matter of course. They’re stuck in the conundrum of MMP while vocal minorities hate on National’s conservative policies.

      It helps to figure out who is suffering victimisation for real before you offer glib comments about unity. Are you a PCANZer?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 1, 2019

        When did ‘on’ become pointlessly attached to hating ? Does anyone say liking on, admiring on or disliking on ?

        I think that the PM, in her fluffette way, has misunderstood the Nuclear Free thing, which was declaring NZ to be a nuclear free zone, a fait accompli and not an aim. If she thinks that NZ will change the climate, she’s in for a rude awakening.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  March 1, 2019

          New Zealand vernacular English is steadily morphing into New Zealand/Australian vernacular American. It might be piss poor proper English but it’s pointless to rail against it because American floods the airwaves, English language classes in schools overseas where the teachers are American or Americanised (eg Philippines), and it’s everywhere – on telly, in movies and on the internet.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 1, 2019

            Where’s a nice desert island ?

            I really cannot see the point of ‘hating on’. It’s senseless. Who’d say ‘I like on apples.’ ? Or even ‘I really hate on almond icing.’ ?

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 1, 2019

              I must say that Finbaar’s logic doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. National do not oppose ‘climate change’ (the attempt to do something about this ?) and wouldn’t just because Labour is all enthusiastic.

              The Greens want shops that use plastic bags to be fined more heavily than major crimes would be.

            • Gezza

               /  March 1, 2019

              Get used to people talking about “getting off of” things, saying ” the thing is, is that”, or “the point is, is that…” & “hating on” things or people. 1ewe’s current crop of tv reporters say these things regularly already.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 2, 2019

              Philistines.

              Anyone can see that these additions are pointless and senseless.

            • Gezza

               /  March 2, 2019

              The ejakayshin sistim’s got a lot to arnsa for. Just lissen to ower politishins.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 2, 2019

              Lige the PeeEmm? Absoludely,

  2. David

     /  March 1, 2019

    Well they didnt do too well with the nuclear issue, we learned to live with them like we will to weather.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 1, 2019

      Where are NZ’s nuclear ships and nuclear power stations ?

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  March 1, 2019

      Western powers removed nuclear warheads from their ships-except missile subs. That’s something that was achieved so that US Navy ships that visit are truly nuclear free

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 1, 2019

        Exactly. Nuclear-Free was a fait accompli, so JA’s statement was just silly.

        Reply
  3. Sunny

     /  March 1, 2019

    Hard to feel bothered about climate change or social justice for that matter, if the head of the Green Party goes jet setting around the world clocking up more expenditure and more climate damage than any other mp, yet brushes it off as no big deal as he threw a few of our bucks at tree planting to offset it. So no more work to be done. Just book that next flight in business class…..conscience clear.

    Reply
  4. david in aus

     /  March 2, 2019

    I have to agree with Jacinda’s premise that Global Warming (repackaged as Climate Change) is this generation’s nuclear issue.

    In both cases, NZ’s stance made no difference to the world situation and both issues allow politicians to grandstand.

    Reply

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