Macron: No planet B rebuke to Trump

A day after putting on a show of bonhomie and unity with Donald Trump the French President Emmanual Macron switched to plan B in a speech to the US Congress, criticising a number of Trump policy positions.

Macron spoke against isolationism and nationalism, and one of his biggest rebukes was over climate change, saying there was no planet B.

RNZ: Macron attacks nationalism in speech to US Congress

French President Emmanuel Macron has used his speech to the joint houses of the US Congress to denounce nationalism and isolationism.

Mr Macron said such policies were a threat to global prosperity.

The speech was seen as rebuking Donald Trump, who has been accused of stoking nationalism and promoting isolationism through his America First policies.

Mr Macron said the US had invented multilateralism and needed to reinvent it for a new 21st Century world order.

The French president was given a three-minute standing ovation as he took his place in the chamber for his speech.

On isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism:

Mr Macron said isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism “can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears. But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens”.

He added: “We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.”

He said the UN and the Nato military alliance might not be able to fulfil their mandates and assure stability if the West ignored the new dangers arising in the world.

On trade…

…Mr Macron said that “commercial war is not the proper answer”, as it would “destroy jobs and increase prices”, adding: “We should negotiate through the World Trade Organization. We wrote these rules, we should follow them.”

On Iran…

…Mr Macron said his country would not abandon a nuclear deal with Tehran that was agreed by world powers when President Barack Obama was in office but which Mr Trump has branded “terrible”.

Mr Macron said: “This agreement may not address all concerns, and very important concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something more substantial instead.”

Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never.”

On the environment…

… he said by “polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying biodiversity we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no Planet B”.

Trump has not responded yet. Prior to Macron’s speech:

I haven’t heard that reported anywhere. Instead Washington is abuzz with Macron’s plan B.

A lot to learn about a serious renewable energy strategy

Whatever may happen with the climate a shift to as much renewable energy as possible makes sense (but don’t forget energy conservation as a key part of a more energy sustainable future).

Anna Berka, a research fellow in the University of Auckland’s Energy Centre, suggests that New Zealand has a lot to learn about successfully moving in this direction. She writes What NZ should learn about renewable energy:

Political and social science research on climate change shows some countries have been far more successful than others in orchestrating state-led transition to renewable energy over the past 40 years.

Without exception, it is countries that have fully embraced climate change objectives into industrial policy that have succeeded. They have seen clean technology as the ticket to new domestic technology and service markets, employment, and new export markets, as well as a means of addressing specific domestic issues such as regional development and resilience of electricity supply.

Conversely, very little tends to happen where climate change policy is not crafted around social and economic benefits directly relevant to domestic stakeholder groups. The reason? Tax payers, established industries and the media are consumed by the short term costs of climate change policy, blind to generally more diffuse and long term benefits.

And those who do promote long term benefits are often vague and sound more idealistic evangelistic rather than realistic. The New Zealand public has not been convinced that any urgency is required.

And what has already been announced by the new Government has been poorly thought through.

Announcing a moratorium on oil and gas exploration as the first agenda item in the Government’s climate change policy – without linking it to a broader programme that convinces New Zealanders they can and will benefit from the Government’s climate change objectives – could alienate both industry and the public and set a dangerous precedent.

Delivering winning climate change policies is a careful balancing act that requires a willing-to-learn government with ears on the ground. The Government must serve as a knowledge broker and matchmaker, using grants and public loans to bring existing expertise out of the woodwork, putting in place incentives to invest, regulations and public procurement programmes to guarantee demand that can scale up pilot projects.

This involves working with all stakeholders and independent research institutes to design policy instruments and set technology standards. So while market players ultimately do the heavy lifting, the role of central and local governments is essential. They need to nudge, prod and finance for a period of years, to steer the rate and quality of technological innovation in a desirable direction before market dynamics can take over and drive down costs.

It needs to combine the efforts of a smart Government and smart financial decisions with smart businesses.

A cogent argument is hindered by the zeal of some of those promoting a transition away from fossil fuels, in particular their insistence that ‘capitalism’ be scrapped in order to achieve a sustainable energy future. Linking an energy revolution with rapid  political and social revolution makes it much harder if not impossible to win public trust and support.

Our Government is deciding on the main elements of New Zealand’s climate change strategy. Once the key objectives are confirmed, policy design must be decided at political level, leaving implementing bodies to carry out specific mandates.

Countless examples show climate change policy tends to become ineffective where implementing bodies are left on their own devices to make complex trade-offs between different objectives and different stakeholder interests.

The Government seems poorly prepared for making major changes. This was highlighted with differences in expectations about the future of coal between the Minister for Climate Change and the Minister of Energy and Resources – see Ministers differ on banning coal.

The next challenge for the Government will be to bring ministries, key industry stakeholders and regulators on board and in alignment. This process won’t be helped by the fact that climate and energy policy is not integrated under one ministry.

For example, making the electricity market accessible to small-scale citizen-owned storage or generation assets is likely to require regulated power purchase guarantees, priority dispatch and buy-back rates as well as new channels to bridge the wholesale market with distributed electricity and ancillary services.

This will require full co-operation of MBIE, the market operator NZX, Transpower, distribution line companies and the Electricity Authority, who will need to adapt industry codes.

Win-wins are possible: That is, if our Government is ready to believe in the mission, rally the troops, and empower its people.

Making grand statements about new generation ambitions, bragging in Europe with incorrect claims, and imposing change without consultation as happened with the oil and gas permit announcement (followed by some rapid damage control) looks ad hoc and amateurish, and Ministers seem at odds.

The Government looks nowhere near ready to explain and implement a comprehensive and co-ordinated ‘mission’ on a transition to renewable energy.

And there is a substantial elephant in the energy revolution room – there is no obvious future without any reliance fossil fueled cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships.

Those who say we must change must first explain a lot more details about what we must change to, and how.

We don’t currently have the technology to time travel everyone to a miraculously fossil fuel free 2050, so we need to see a realistic way of getting there.

‘Nuclear-free moment’ a bad climate analogy

Dave Frame, Professor of Climate Change and Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington, says that Jacinda Ardern’s analogy of climate change being this generation’s ‘nuclear-free moment- is a bad analogy.

Climate change is a slow burn rather than a mushroom blast.

Newsroom: Climate change a slow burn issue

The Government has promised to make climate change a priority area, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arguing climate change will be this generation’s “nuclear-free moment”.

This is a bad analogy, for several reasons. One is that leadership implies followers, and in the case of the nuclear-free policy no country explicitly followed our lead. Much more significantly, it confuses a short-term political momentum issue (the nuclear-free declaration) with a long-term political structural issue (decarbonisation).

Climate change shares far more in common with other slow-burn issues like pension reform, intergenerational tax and benefit arrangements, and monetary policy than it does with suffrage movements or the nuclear-free policy. ‘Moment’ movements are predicated on single-shot legislative change. Slow-burn issues depend on the ability of democracies to resist the temptation to indulge now and pay later (or ask others to pay later).

Decarbonisation will take several decades, at least.

That sounds realistic – something some Green MPs and especially supporters should have a good think about.

Globally, it will involve concentrated costs on those leading the decarbonisation, while the benefits are diffused. This is just the sort of problem in which there are political incentives, often strong incentives, to renege on your commitment to conduct ambitious climate policy.

True bipartisanship is a commitment to a process. It requires mutual forbearance and the sharing of burdens and benefits.

Bipartisanship is not just a good idea; it’s the only plausible way to manage the socioeconomic transformation climate change demands.

Ardern is right that we should look to policy innovations in our past. But to look at politically divisive single-shot total victories would be a mistake.

And we should ease up on the idea that those who don’t share our specific vision of a low-carbon economy are moral degenerates.

All of that points towards a long-term, bipartisan commitment towards the development of institutions capable of creating and sustaining broad support for prices and regulations where the temptation to overturn those policies will be strong.

This is going to take serious, sustained leadership rather than announcing analogies that may sound catchy but miss the serious points that need to be worked on.

Labour-Green oil and gas naivety questioned

The Government announcement last that no more off shore oil and gas exploration permits would be granted was celebrated by the Greens and their allies (like Greenpeace), but it hasn’t received wide support. Questions are being asked of the possible negative effects, and the lack of planning or substance on the transition from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy.

Listener: Is the Govt’s ban on new oil and gas exploration brave or naive?

Just transition or heart over head?

The decision to stop issuing offshore oil and gas exploration permits was not pre-election policy. Although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was musing privately months ago about the politics of such a move, it is barely a month since she broke from her formal programme to accept a petition from Greenpeace on the forecourt of Parliament.

Always with an eye to powerful imagery, Greenpeace backed the moment with pictures of history-changing Labour leaders of the past: Savage, Kirk, Lange and Clark. Ardern could enter that pantheon with a huge symbolic gesture designed to make real her claim that climate change is “this generation’s nuclear-free moment”.

She has done so, in a move that is at once measured and justifiable yet also naive and arguably cavalier with a major industry. No other country with a significant oil and gas industry has made such a decision.

…the naivety of the Government’s new policy is that it will not, of itself, reduce global carbon emissions, but could increase New Zealand’s if it leads to more coal use in the meantime.

It is disingenuous to claim that existing permits might sustain a healthy oil and gas sector until the 2040s. The fruitless hunt for major gas fields in the Great South Basin since the 1960s proves the point that exploration is expensive and usually unsuccessful.

But perhaps the biggest risk is the promise of a Government-led “transition” to new industries of the future. Airy ministerial talk of capital being redeployed to new activities is a carbon copy of Rogernomics-era rhetoric. Capital was redeployed, but not necessarily in New Zealand.

The Government is talking a big game on its ability to direct the emergence of such new industries, but its capacity to deliver this upside of transformative change is untested and the value of the industries it is disrupting is all too measurable.

While radical change was necessary then ‘Rogernomics’ was executed hurriedly with more hope or desperation than planning.

Tim Watkin takes the similarity with Rogernomics style reform-and-hope policies, as opposed to David Lange’s ‘anti-nuclear moment’ – Oil be alright. But has Labour learnt the wrong lesson from its past?

Jacinda Ardern has drawn on our national pride in New Zealand’s nuclear-free stance to rally support for her decision to end offshore oil drilling. But her announcement has echoes of Douglas and Prebble as much as Lange and Palmer

When Jacinda Ardern was asked to justify her government’s decision to stop issuing oil drilling permits forthwith she drew on a memory that sits deep in her party’s – and our country’s – soul. Our nuclear-free status. The decision for me, however, recalls another controversial move by that same fourth Labour government.

For Ardern and her team, so long out of government, it is a chance to do the sort of thing they expect Labour government’s to do. The moral thing. Policies that show vision and make the world a better place. What’s more, it shows leadership in the Pacific.

As with our nuclear-free policy, the decision to leave the oil where it is gives New Zealand the moral high ground, a sense of mission and it gets us noticed. It’s also similar in that it will also do next to nothing in the short term to change global behaviour or make the world safer.

Our nuclear-free stance has been largely symbolic, as will this stance be, unless or until the rest of the world follows suit.

Like Rogernomics, last week’s decision was announced with no real consultation and ruthless speed. There was no time for opponents to circle the tankers. Like Rogernomics, it moved Labour away from the safe centre and took it to the edge of mainstream politics. And like Rogernomics, they have shown no sign that they have planned for the consequences – forseeon or unforseen – of this policy.

Talk to members of the fourth Labour government today and few resile from the thrust of the economic reforms, but almost all wish they had done it differently. More slowly, with transition funding and re-training upfront. With more consultation. More commitment to not leaving some people on the scrapheap.

Sadly, there’s no sign this government has heeded that lesson. Not yet anyway. The announcement came with the zeal of the nuclear-free dream, but without the legwork. There was no transition fund announced. No plan to find new purposes for the people and their skills. No three year grace period, for example, in which the country’s fourth largest export-earning industry could start on what Greens co-leader James Shaw has promised will be a “gentle transition”.

One could forgive Shaw and the Greens for being naive, given their lack of experience in power. The same could be applied to Ardern – but as Prime Minister she should be better advised. She seems to have believed her lofty hype over leading a generational change on climate change.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the new Government was woefully unprepared for taking over. They have taken some quick and bold moves – like committing to major spending (handouts) for fee-free tertiary education – and leading the charge against climate change without any sign they know where this will take New Zealand economically.

But by embarking on this in a sudden, even sneaky, way and without a considered and consulted transition plan, it’s undermined the ‘what’ by buggering up the ‘how’. Labour has failed to learn from its own history. Or, at least, the part of its history Ardern says inspired this bold move. The question now is whether the government moves rapidly and with proper thought to live up to its promise of that “gentle transition”.

There is time for getting it right, or at least better and less risky, but there is no sign of this being recognised by the Government.

Another unlikely critic is Brian Fallow: Exploration ban a pointless, self-righteous policy

Resounding cheers greeted Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw when they went to Victoria University last Thursday to explain that morning’s announcement that no more offshore oil and gas exploration permits will be granted.

Gratifying to their ears, no doubt — but entirely undeserved.

This policy is self-righteous nimbyism, environmentally pointless, economically costly and politically counter-productive to the Government’s own agenda on climate change.

Tossing a trophy to the Green Party base, perhaps in the hope of reducing the risk that the Green vote gets wasted in 2020, smacks of ad hoc partisan politics as usual.

It is utterly at odds with the careful, consultative, consensus-seeking approach being pursued over the larger climate agenda.

James Shaw has set up a committee (according to National the 75th committee/group of this Government) to consult over climate change transition but as pointed out in Climate Change Committee announced, significant omissions this notably lacks direct representation from the key farmer and oil & gas industries.

Is there anyone in Labour capable of doing the hard work necessary to make such a transformative  policy work successfully without too many risks and adverse effects?

With Shaw in charge of the Climate Change ministry the only Labour MP (apart from Ardern) with related responsibilities is Megan Woods as Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Science and Innovation, things that will be (or should be) a prominent part of the climate change/fossil fuel transition.

Climate Change Committee announced, significant omissions

James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change, has announced the members of the Interim Climate Change Committee. The members have a wide range of relevant experience, but notably there is no farmer or oil and gas industry or transport representation.

The Minister for Climate Change today announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“We need work to start now on how things like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), and we need planning now for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035,” says James Shaw.

“The Interim Climate Change Committee will begin this important work until we have set up the independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

“The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the Climate Change Commission,” Mr Shaw said.

Committee members have been chosen because of their expertise across key areas related to climate change: agriculture, agribusiness, climate change science and policy, resource economics and impacts, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo me ona tikanga Māori and Māori interests, international competitiveness, and energy production and supply.

Dr David Prentice, the Interim Committee Chair, was most recently the CEO and Managing Director of infrastructure firm Opus International Consultants.

He led his company through the Global Financial Crisis and has a sound understanding of economics and international markets.

He is joined by Deputy Chair, Lisa Tumahai, who has significant governance experience and is Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. She is a person of significant mana and standing in the Māori community.

The committee members are:

  • Dr David Prentice, Interim Committee Chair
  • Lisa Tumahai, Deputy Chair
  • Dr Harry Clark, a New Zealand expert on agricultural greenhouse gas research
  • Dr Keith Turner, former CEO of Meridian and professional director
  • Dr Jan Wright, former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
  • Dr Suzi Kerr, an internationally renowned expert in the economics of climate change policy and emissions trading.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.

“Setting up the Interim Climate Change Committee is a great step in that direction,” says James Shaw.

Typical Green style gender balance with a significant Māori position. generally it seems a reasonable mix of experience – but notably, no farmer representative, and neither is there any representative from the oil and gas industry or from transport interests. I think these are major omissions.

Not quite a ‘nuclear free’ moment on climate change

Jacinda Ardern ramped up climate change and fossil fuel debates this week when announcing a freeze on any more off-shore oil and gas exploration licenses. While she may have put the cart before the horseless carriage this is really just the beginning of ‘a conversation’ – aka consultation – on New Zealand’s future energy use.

Nadine Higgins: Jacinda’s ‘nuclear-free moment’ puts Government one step ahead of the public

On the campaign trail, Jacinda Ardern declared climate change was this generation’s “nuclear free” moment.

When her Government this week announced new offshore oil and gas exploration permits would no longer be granted, the pundits went further, asking, was this her nuclear-free moment?

But I think the answer is no, not quite.

I can’t be sure whether Jacinda smelt fossil fuels on anyone’s breath, but the clear difference is New Zealand’s opposition to nuclear weapons was driven by public opinion. Even as US relations were dealt a major blow, the majority still supported the Government drawing our nuclear-free line in the sand.

This line in the sand, however, appears to have been drawn before the public has caught up, if the outcry from oil-reliant regions, mayors, companies and motorists is anything to go by.

That feels like it’s all round the wrong way.

It is round the wrong way – it’s notable that the Greens have applauded the move while seeming to conveniently forget their commitment to sound democratic processes. It seems that if the cause is important enough (for the Greens) then due democratic process doesn’t matter.

I think this highlights an arrogance from the Greens – they think that their cause is so just that if they push it through the public will automatically support it and vote for them in hordes. That is not based on any history or facts.

So, the move away from reflectorship back to leadership is a little jarring, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

There have been many reforms that went against the tide of public opinion at the time but were later lauded as a seminal moment in history that happened not a minute too soon.

I think about the reform that legalised homosexuality in the 1980s and can’t believe it was ever illegal in my lifetime.

The Civil Union Bill in the 2000s drew thousands of protesters out into the street. Yet a little over a decade on, civil unions barely even rate a mention because of the passage of the Marriage Equality Act.

While important as social reforms they were on a far different scale to a massive move away from the fuels that the last century and more of progress has been built on.

It might not feel like it now, but we’ve got a bit of time to figure this out, and time to get the public on the right side of this history-making line in the sand.

I think Higgins is right here.

After making her announcement (with mixed messages, especially from Shane Jones) and getting an immediate and strtong reaction Ardern launched into damage control by sending Andrew Little to New Plymouth to try and win over people who had twice refused to vote him in as their MP.

There is time to get this right. Ardern has to step up and show leadership here, and that means more than regular photo ops.

This is a flagship change policy for the Green Party, so it’s important that they put aside their self righteousness and arrogance and engage in explanation and debate with the public rather than dictation, and indignation at any criticism.

James Shaw has championed climate change as his big thing. He beamed at the announcement on curbing exploration a few days ago.

Shaw needs to convinced his Green supporters that promoting their cause will be enhanced somewhat if they engage with the general population, and persuade their case rather than impose it. And they need to learn to not throw hissy fits if questioned or criticised – that’s not how good democracy functions.

And Shaw needs to make his case to the wider New Zealand audience, beyond his Green bubble.

With such a wide ranging change being promoted Greens need to widen their scope somewhat. I remember being disappointed before the 2014 election when Greens announced a solar energy subsidy policy. I asked them why they didn’t include energy conservation through subsidising double glazing retrofits, and they said it wasn’t their current focus. That was disappointing tunnel PR vision.

If Shaw and Ardern fail to get the public on their side their grand ambitions may fall over as soon as the 2020 election.

Good should come out of their push for more energy alternatives, but if they want to succeed with a major transformation in Kiwi attitudes and energy use they need to practice what they preach, transparency and sound democratic processes.

They have time to get it right, but the need to get it right, or their big aims will be put on hold or overturned by a grumpy bunch of voters.

We await concrete Green action, and can do without the nutters

The Labour led government banned oil and gas exploration on Thursday, sort of, permits anyway, in the future. It has dismayed NZ First and the Greens are ecstatic, in what may be a largely symbolic move. But it has risks, including:

  • It could deter investment in the existing and non-banned fossil fuel recovery industry based largely in Taranaki
  • If it stops future gas recovery it could increase our reliance on existing dirtier coal energy if the Greens don’t get their way and ban that too)
  • It could force New Zealand to import more expensive energy to meet our needs.

Green co-leader James Shaw followed up yesterday launching a ‘preliminary survey’ of finance for climate related economic activity.

“There are huge opportunities in the clean economy. Today I’m launching a report into how we can finance the transition to net zero emissions, creating jobs in new industries and upgrading our economy to be more resilient.”

The greens claim that alternative energy offers huge business opportunities – see Green report – climate finance in New Zealand.

But there is still a lack of concrete proposals on post fossil fuel clean green optionn. Green ideals need to be translated into viable opportunities.

Shane Cowlishaw (Newsroom): Real climate challenge lies ahead

Tasked with creating many of those next steps will be a new, independent watchdog.

The climate commission will be established under the Zero Carbon Act, with an interim committee soon to be announced while the permanent body is set up.

Alongside its job of holding the Government to account for its progress on greenhouse gas emissions, it will also provide advice on setting targets, reducing emissions and addressing climate risks.

It has its work cut out for it.

On the face of it, the decision to ban new offshore exploration permits will have little effect on our use of oil and gas.

Until people’s habits change or new taxes on fossil fuels are introduced, the country will continue to import what it needs from overseas.

Last week Jones was in Taranaki to soften the exploration ban blow, announcing $20 million of spending for the region.

It included $150,000 on new energy initiatives, but the major money was for the restoration of a cathedral and better walking tracks.

That won’t replace the loss of the oil and gas sector. New industries will be needed.

Shaw told media he believed the end of exploration would be a boon for the economy rather than a hit, as clean energy industries surged forward.

“It does represent, I think, the greatest economic opportunity in at least a generation for the creation of new jobs and new technologies that our dependence on fossil fuel has held back for too long.”

At this stage, however, talk is cheap and unless real solutions are put forward the Government risks watching the exploration ban thrown out at the next election.

The Greens have talked up their vision for a vastly different energy and economic environment to what we have now.

They have succeeded at getting into Government. They have succeeded in making a mark with the ban on future oil and gas exploration permits.

They have a much bigger task ahead of them – proving their ideas are not just unrealistic ideals, and coming up with concrete alternatives.

And no Robert, I won’t just give the promoters of the revolution a blank cheque and ‘trust the Greens’.

In principle I support many of their aims. I think that we need to make a much better effort in transitioning away from our reliance on fossil fuels, for a number of reasons, including pollution, the environment, the climate, and the economic risk – a war in the Middle East could throw New Zealand into chaos. We have already had major change forced on us by the oil shocks in the 1970s.

But I have concerns about some of the Green aims, and what impact their ideals could have. Some of them can’t avoid having adverse effects, any major change does.

It’s time now for the Greens to step up and prove their worth. They have only just begun and are a long way off having a convincing alternative at this stage.

One thing that would help them gain support is to ditch extreme targets. Zero carbon, zero road deaths, zero poverty are so fanciful they are easily dismissed as pie in the polluted sky.

They need to convince the people of New Zealand that there are benefits from radical change – and that will mean not being too radical, at this stage at least.

A goal of halving emissions would be difficult enough – and even that is too vague for people living everyday lives.

Trying to force things like bikes and trains on people risks resistance.

Greens need leadership that works with the people, for the people rather than for the few percent of their loyal supporters.

Green zealots who think that their way is the only way, and who are  are intolerant of criticism and being held to account, are likely to continue to be detrimental to the cause.

If the Greens want to win the PR battle they need to start by convincing their own of a reasonable approach to radical change. Otherwise they risk being dismissed as nutters.

Green report – climate finance in New Zealand

This morning I asked if the Green Party has any sort of plan for transitioning to a non-fossil fuel New Zealand. I don’t think anyone came up with anything, but coincidentally James Shaw launched a report that looks at financing climate change measures.

The report: Climate Finance Landscape for Aotearoa New Zealand: A Preliminary Survey

This report, prepared by consultancy Mōhio, examines climate finance in New Zealand. It includes a snapshot of key existing climate finance flows and a look at the instruments available to the Government and private sector such as grants, debt and bonds.

The report also outlines the enabling environment required to better facilitate the flows of finance toward low emissions and climate-resilient outcomes. This includes considerations such as information flows, tracking, regulations, organisational forms, and wider alignment across innovation, research and development and other environmental and social outcomes.

Notably it suggests what appear to be public/private partnerships of sorts (but not called that): “Finance is blended in the sense that public investments are used to catalyse private investments (or vice-versa)”.

However even if you have finance available you need to have viable energy alternatives to invest in.

Executive Summary (edited)

The transition by financial markets to a low-emissions global economy has already begun. Global capital is increasingly being channelled in directions that prioritise and enable climate-aligned projects to deliver mitigation and adaptation benefits. These capital flows are what we call climate finance; that is, investment and expenditure – public and private, domestic and transnational – that demonstrably contributes to climate mitigation, adaptation or both.

As a country that operates openly in the global economy, New Zealand faces immediate, medium and long-term decisions about how to engage with this transition toward a low-emissions economy, in a way that maximises the advantages of our unique geographic, cultural and political circumstances. Although this transition will require new kinds of investment, this climate-aligned expenditure provides opportunities to create new jobs and industries, to spur growth in different parts of the economy, and to crowd-in new capital from diverse sources through emerging frameworks of impact investment.

The primary focus of this report is domestic climate finance – that is, finance flows that are internal to New Zealand by having domestic use-of-proceeds for climate-aligned projects and activities. (This contrasts with international climate finance, where investment flows from developed to developing countries to support sustainable, climate-aligned development.)

This report shows that there are already a range of financial flows within New Zealand that meet climate finance definitions that meet climate finance definitions. Nevertheless, there are significant opportunities to increase the volume and effectiveness of climate finance flows in order to better align with New Zealand’s international obligations and expectations, not least the collective agreement to reach global net zero emissions by the second half of this century.

Improving the quantity and quality of climate finance is not only a challenge for New Zealand but for all signatories to the Paris Agreement, due to the major global shortfall of adequate climate investment. However, creating a more enabling environment for climate finance flows will not only help New Zealand to meet its international obligations, it will also position New Zealand favourably within the global economy as the transition to lower emissions activities gathers pace.

This report further examines domestic climate finance through the lenses of natural capital and impact investing.

The potential here is captured by the motto: blended finance for integrated impacts. Finance is blended in the sense that public investments are used to catalyse private investments (or vice-versa); and integrated in the sense that finance is directed towards combined social, environmental and economic benefits.

From this perspective, New Zealand Government can play any combination of at least four roles:

  1. As a direct investor, the New Zealand Government already provides multiple grants in areas like energy efficiency and sustainable land management
  2. An investment manager role would emphasise the importance of financing pipelines for climate-aligned projects and companies to nurture innovation to maturity, to provide growth capital for ideas that work.
  3. A market maker role would recognise the New Zealand Government’s capacity to support climate-aligned projects and companies by being first purchaser, or a large-scale purchaser, of climate-aligned goods and services.
  4. A trail blazer role would recognise the New Zealand Government’s capacity to lead the way globally, especially in those sectors where New Zealand has unique mitigation opportunities, such as land use and transport powered by renewable energy.

To enhance New Zealand’s climate finance system, this report identifies ten recommendations  – from low-hanging fruit to more elaborate interventions – that would create a more facilitative enabling environment for climate finance. These are:

Full report (PDF)

This is a ‘preliminary survey’. I would have hoped plans would have been more advanced on how to finance climate change related projects by now.

Immediate action on climate change could save $billions

Both the environment and business could benefit in New Zealand if early action is taken on climate change.

NZH: To act now or later: the $30 billion climate change question

Immediate action on climate could save New Zealand tens of billions of dollars, according to a Westpac report.

Based on research conducted by EY and Vivid Economics, the report shows the New Zealand economy could benefit by $30 billion by 2050 if government and business take early action on climate change.

It also shows that New Zealand could simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and achieve economic growth.

The report models two scenarios, one that involves an earlier and smoother transition to a lower carbon economy, while the other hypothesises a decade-long delay in action followed by a shock event that forces the nation to act.

The report makes a business case for acting immediately.

Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean said the report shows the need to take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The alternative is waiting and taking action later, but that is likely to require more drastic changes in behaviour and over the long-term hit people harder in the pocket,” he said.

“The average gross domestic product growth is forecast to be 2.015 per cent per year until 2050 if industries take early action on addressing climate change. If substantive action is delayed and companies have to play catch-up later, this falls to an average of 2.005 per cent. The cumulative difference is $30 billion.”

While the report shows that action on climate change will result in a reduction of the economic contribution of some industries – including forestry and fishing, dairy meat and other food products and non-renewable energy generation – these will be countered by significant gains in renewable energy generation.

Inaction is unlikely to insulate food production businesses from the market changes due to climate change mitigation.

This trend is already being reflected in the financing decisions being made by Westpac.

“Our lending to green businesses that are helping to provide solutions to climate change stands at $1.5 billion. We’ve set a new target to lift that to $2 billion by 2020,” said McLean.

Since 2012, Westpac has also reduced lending to companies involved in fossil fuel extraction and production by 55 per cent to $318 million.

McLean said Westpac commissioned the report to get better insight into the risks facing the bank from climate change.

“We believe businesses need to be thinking about and planning for climate change now, not only from a risk perspective but also for the growth opportunities it presents to many parts of the economy,” he said.

“Smart companies should start focusing on those opportunities as part of their business strategy.”

Businesses planning for their futures need to be considering the possible effects of climate change, and the certain effects of market changes.

Trans-Pacific Partnership “may affect people’s health”

On climate change, health implications, and  ‘a fairer society’.

Newsroom has an article by two academics on Trade agreement may affect people’s health:

The new Trans Pacific Partnership agreement will have an undeniable influence on the future health of New Zealanders and needs the full attention of the nation’s health professionals.

The rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP) pays lip service to broader social and environmental concerns, but privileges transnational and foreign investors over human and environmental health.

This article focuses on the CPTPP in the context of the global climate crisis and its potential impacts on health.

There is scientific consensus on the harmful effects of climate change on health – so much so that it is identified as the most serious threat to global public health this century. Direct impacts include death, illness and injury due to extreme weather events. Indirect impacts include shifting patterns of infectious disease, air pollution, freshwater contamination, impacts on the built environment from sea level rise, forced migration, economic collapse, conflict over scarce resources and increasing food insecurity. Mental health impacts are also significant, particularly within indigenous and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

Fast forward to their final statement:

Such an assessment is particularly critical as climate change poses such clear risks to the health of New Zealanders, and the constraints on climate action conferred by the CPTPP (as presently formulated) would prevent important steps to protect our health and create a fairer society.

Fair enough to consider health implications, even if contentious.

But I view very subjective considerations like “create a fairer society” from academics with some suspicion.

This was from:

Associate Professor David Menkes is from the Department of Psychological Medicine and Dr Rhys Jones is from Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, both at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The original, more extensive version of this article appeared in New Zealand Medical Journal on 9 March, co-authored by Wellington solicitor Oliver Hailes and two Christchurch-based doctors, clinical microbiologist Joshua Freeman and forensic psychiatrist Erik Monasterio.