Climate change rulebook ‘breakthrough’

A ‘robust set of guidelines’ for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement have been agreed on after extended sessions at COP24 in Poland.

Minister of Climate Change James Shaw says that the agreement on a rulebook is ‘a breakthrough’, while National spokesperson Todd Muller describes it as a “solid step forward”.

However agreement could not be reached on how to operationalize market mechanisms. Countries will try to finalise agreement on this at COP25 next year.

United Nations: New Era of Global Climate Action To Begin Under Paris Climate Change Agreement

Governments have adopted a robust set of guidelines for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The implementation of the agreement will benefit people from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable.

The agreed ‘Katowice Climate Package’ is designed to operationalize the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement. Under the auspices of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, it will promote international cooperation and encourage greater ambition.

The guidelines will promote trust among nations that all countries are playing their part in addressing the challenge of climate change.

The President of COP24, Mr. Michal Kurtyka of Poland, said: “All nations have worked tirelessly. All nations showed their commitment. All nations can leave Katowice with a sense of pride, knowing that their efforts have paid off. The guidelines contained in the Katowice Climate Package provide the basis for implementing the agreement as of 2020”.

The Katowice package includes guidelines that will operationalize the transparency framework.

It sets out how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that describe their domestic climate actions. This information includes mitigation and adaptation measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.

The package also includes guidelines that relate to:

  • The process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards to follow-on from the current target of mobilizing USD 100 billion per year from 2020 to support developing countries
  • How to conduct the Global Stocktake of the effectiveness of climate action in 2023
  • How to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology

The UN’s Climate Chief, Ms. Patricia Espinosa said: “This is an excellent achievement! The multilateral system has delivered a solid result. This is a roadmap for the international community to decisively address climate change”.

These global rules are important to ensure that each tonne of emissions released into the atmosphere is accounted for.

In this way, progress towards the emission limitation goals of the Paris Agreement can be accurately measured.

“From the beginning of the COP, it very quickly became clear that this was one area that still required much work and that the details to operationalize this part of the Paris Agreement had not yet been sufficiently explored”, explained Ms. Espinosa.

“After many rich exchanges and constructive discussions, the greatest majority of countries were willing to agree and include the guidelines to operationalize the market mechanisms in the overall package”, she said.

“Unfortunately, in the end, the differences could not be overcome”.

Because of this, countries have agreed to finalise the details for market mechanisms in the coming year in view of adopting them at the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP25).

Euronews: What is the COP24 climate change rulebook and why do we need it?

The landmark 2015 deal aims to limit global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius.

The talks hit several stumbling blocks and went into overtime on Saturday.

“It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical”, chairman of the talks, Michal Kurtyka, said.

A consensus was finally reached when ministers managed to break a deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the accounting rules for the monitoring of carbon credits, deferring much of the discussion to next year.

So it is a work in progress.

Some countries and environmental groups say the COP24 rulebook does not provide a sufficient response to the impacts of climate change.

“COP24 failed to deliver a clear commitment to strengthen all countries’ climate pledges by 2020,” Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said in a statement.

“Governments have again delayed adequate action to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. The EU needs to push ahead and lead by example, by providing more support to poor countries and increasing its climate pledge before the UN Secretary-General Summit in September 2019,” the group’s director, Wendel Trio, said.

NZ Herald: Green Party co-leader James Shaw says new climate change rulebook is a ‘breakthrough’

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who was co-facilitating some of the talks, told reporters this morning that the newly agreed rulebook was “a breakthrough.”

Shaw said the rulebook would help “galvanise action” as it puts every country in the Paris agreement on the same playing field.

“The Paris agreement said what we wanted to do, it didn’t say a great deal about how we wanted to do it.”

The new rules do this and would mean the momentum towards action on climate change should be increased, he said.

The 2015 Paris accord put a 2020 deadline on all countries to increase the commitment they are making towards lowering net emissions.

“I think this [the rulebook] is quite a big breakthrough in terms of ensuring we get the momentum towards that.”

Shaw said one of the single greatest parts of the rulebook was the rules around transparency.

Now, countries would be accountable for doing what they said they would do in terms of policies put in place to cut emissions.

“If you have a robust transparency regime it means the Paris rulebook has a very solid central spine to it,” Shaw said.

Muller, who also attended the conference,  said it was a “solid step forward”.

Muller said the gains around transparency were very important.

“New Zealanders are keen to see that we do our proportional effort… but it’s important we see other countries put their shoulder to the wheel too in terms of genuine change.”

One of the major sticking points in the talks was agreeing on how developed countries would help developing countries meet the goal.

He said it was “challenging” to hammer out rulebook with some many different countries at the table.

“Given how long we have overrun and how difficult it got, the fact that [the rulebook] is as good as it is, is a very pleasant surprise.”

Donald Trump had pulled the US out of the Paris agreement so the US didn’t sign up.

“I know the US has a problematic relationship with the Paris agreement, but pretty much everyone else in the world is just getting on with it,” Shaw told reporters when asked about the US’ absence.

The US is a major emitter so this is a notable absence.

Russel Norman is not happy with the COP24 outcome.

Greenpeace NZ Executive Director, and former Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said although the rulebook was agreed, there was no clear collective commitment to enhance climate action targets.

He is called on the Government to bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme – something the Government is in the process of considering.

The rulebook is a step, but each country needs to take tangible action, including New Zealand. Agricultural emissions are a contentious issue here.

 

 

NZ plummets in energy investment ranking, Government happy

New Zealand has dropped from 14th to 46th in a ranking of attractiveness to energy investors. This isn’t surprising after the Government put significant limitations on oil and gas exploration.

‘Green’ or alternative energy prospects don’t seem to rate – I’m still unclear how we will meet al our energy needs if we transition away from fossil fuels completely as some want.

NZH:  Survey of top energy executives shows NZ has become a lot less attractive for investors

An annual survey of the world’s leading oil executives, which ranks the ease of investment into oil and gas producing countries, shows New Zealand has dramatically dropped down the list in terms of its attractiveness to investors.

The Fraser Institute, which has run the survey every year for 12 years, asks executives to rank provinces, states and countries according to the extent to which barriers to investment in oil and gas exploration and production are present.

New Zealand’s attractiveness to investors has dropped from the 14th highest country/region to 46 in the space of a year.

“This drop is based on poorer scores with respect to political stability, environmental regulations and protected areas and taxation in general,” the report said.

The Opposition is critical.

National’s Energy spokesman Jonathan Young put the blame for the drop squarely in the lap of the Government.

In April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand with the exception of Taranaki.

The ban took the industry by surprise because it was not part of any confidence and supply or coalition agreement and had not been explicitly promised by Labour during the election campaign.

According to some industry players surveyed in the Fraser Institute report, this was a key reason for the drop in New Zealand’s attractiveness.

“New Zealand’s move to ban new offshore exploration is a deterrent for investors,” one said.

“Jurisdictions that are openly hostile towards resource development, like New Zealand, cause investors to take their investment dollars elsewhere,” said another.

Young was not surprised by this and said the ban had “scared off” potential investors and would cost the economy tens of millions of dollars.

It’s not surprising – it looks like to an extent at least it was the intent of the ban, or it must have been at least a predictable consequence.

Energy Minister Megan Woods is unrepentant:

“We’re incredibly proud of the fact that New Zealand is leading the world on a managed, long term transition to a clean energy future.”

Hardly. The Government has limited fossil fuel exploration possibilities, but I have seen little of the other side of the equation – alternatives.

“International investors will consider a range of information when making decisions about where to invest, including the likelihood of a discovery and the likely value of any potential discovery.”

Climate Change Minister James Shaw was not surprised by the survey.

He said because oil and gas exploration was being phased out in New Zealand, there was not actually much more investment in the sector that was needed.

“So it’s unsurprising that investors in that industry would be saying that over the long term it’s not a place they wanted to end up.”

Shaw needs to come up with a credible path to sufficient alternative energy to replace fossil fuels, otherwise we will either have an energy shortfall, or will have to rely more on more expensive imports of fuel.

I’d love to see polluting fuels phased out, but I would also love to see a realistic and viable plan for what will replace them. At the moment I see little more than pie in the sky idealism.

Energy of dreams – ban them, and alternatives will come. Maybe.

 

“This is an existential question for us, and our very survival as a culture and as a people is at stake”

Minister of Climate Change James Shaw has been at the COP24 conference in Poland (he is still there, having extended his stay in the hope that something might be decided). Anything agreed on will govern countries’ efforts in adhering to their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

RNZ – Climate talks: ‘The levels of concern are so different’ – Shaw

One of the sticking points is whether efforts under the Kyoto Protocol will count towards Paris. Essentially, countries can’t agree on how they’ll count their greenhouse gas emissions, or their efforts to reduce them.

Mr Shaw told reporters this morning these were technical matters negotiators had been grappling with for three years. “Frankly, they should’ve gotten past that kind of detail before all the ministers showed up for the final three days,” he said.

Broadly speaking, Mr Shaw said a big frustration for him was the differences in countries’ commitments to fighting the effects of climate change.

“On one side you’ve got countries who are saying that they want a set of rules that are quite permissive and lets them do things, because they’re worried about the potential impact on their Gross Domestic Product.

“On the other hand, you’ve got a group of countries who are saying ‘this is an existential question for us, and our very survival as a culture and as a people is at stake’.”

That’s a big statement. perhaps Shaw is right, or maybe he just believes that everyone has to change to his way of thinking and living or they are doomed. It’s a bit like a religious thing – if you don’t believe in Green heaven you will go to hell.

 

 

EU aims for net-zero emissions by 2050

This looks similar to New Zealand’s net-zero emissions by 2050 goal.

If they are going to reduce energy imports by 70% they will need to make significant progress towards alternative energy, if they don’t ramp up nuclear power.

Net-zero emissions a big goal but a long way out – 2050 is over thirty years away.

I wonder if they would be better having shorter term goals – five year and ten year targets – with realistic plans (that can be explained and sold to the public) to attain them.

 

Threats of sea level rise, security implications of climate change

An Otago University research paper warns that the effects of sea level rise will impact most on vulnerable people (that’s likely), while a Defence Assessment “identifies climate change as one of the most significant security threats of our time”.

While it is still debatable how much the sea level is likely to rise there is no doubt it has been (slowly) rising over the past half century.

Some still say nothing should be done about climate change, but academics and officials are at least thinking and writiing reports about possible effects and implications.

RNZ:  Sea level rise threatens major NZ infrastructure – report

The burden of sea-level rise will weigh on the most vulnerable unless a new approach is developed and legislated, a new report says.

The paper, written by University of Otago Associate Professor Lisa Ellis, is part of research from the Deep South National Science Challenge. It looks at how New Zealand distributes the risks of sea-level rise.

It proposes an “ethically robust” policy to adapt to the risks of climate change.

Tens of thousands of buildings, infrastructure including airports, railways, and roads, and more than 100,000 residents are at risk of serious loss and damage associated with sea-level rise within the next century.

Dunedin’s airport is low lying, and has already flooded.

Image result for dunedin airport flooded

Flooding on the Taieri Plain, 1980 (airport in lower half of photo)

Rising sea levels and predicted more rain and storms would make this sort of ‘100 year flood’ more common.

South Dunedin in also low lying (it is reclaimed swamp) and has flooded in recent years.

Prof Ellis said sea-level rise was entirely predictable but if New Zealand was proactive about adaptation to climate change, peoples’ wellbeing would not be threatened.

But she said it was possible existing inequality would be exacerbated and the cost of adapting to climate change would rise if the status quo remained.

Her report recommended a government resource about adapting to sea-level rise nationwide, so community resilience did not vary with ratepayers’ ability to pay.

At local level the public should be engaged as early and deeply as possible.

Also from RNZ:  Sea level rise threatens major NZ infrastructure (audio)

Local Government New Zealand: Young and vulnerable shouldn’t shoulder sea-level rise burden

A report released this morning by the Deep South National Science Challenge supports LGNZ’s call for a national framework to deal with sea-level rise, saying that New Zealand’s youngest and most vulnerable are at risk of shouldering the burden if we don’t act now.

“Preliminary findings from our upcoming sea-level rise report shows that billions of dollars of local government roading, water and public transport infrastructure is at risk from as little as half a metre of sea-level rise.  That’s not including private buildings and houses, including potentially billions of dollars in residential real estate,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.

“Areas like South Dunedin illustrate just how difficult it is to adapt to climate change without hitting lower socio-economic families in the pocket, so we need a national plan that doesn’t leave anyone behind.”

“Local government stands alongside our communities on the front line in the fight against climate change, but we can’t do it alone – we need central government to set stronger, national rules around risk and liability to property owners in the path of sea-level rise.”

Research from NIWA reveals that sea level rise in New Zealand has increased from 1.7mm a year over the past century, to 4.4mm a year since 1993, which is higher than the global average.  In combination with more severe weather events, storm surges and king tides, sea-level rise presents a huge problem for coastal businesses and residents.

“We need to treat sea-level rise the way we do earthquakes, and that requires a national strategy that gives councils a stronger platform on which to make decisions about building in high-risk areas.”

Ministers of Defence, Climate Change: Defence Assessment on Climate Change and Security Released

Minister of Defence Ron Mark and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw have today released a Defence Assessment on the security implications of climate change.

The Climate Crisis: Defence Readiness and Responsibilities explores the implications of climate change for New Zealand Defence Force operations.

It identifies climate change as one of the most significant security threats of our time, and one that is already having adverse impacts both at home and in New Zealand’s neighbourhood.

“This Government is committed to ensuring New Zealand does its part to address climate change,” says Ron Mark.  “This means both contributing to mitigating climate change itself, and working with our international partners to respond to the intensifying impacts climate change will bring.

“Earlier this year the Government’s Strategic Defence Policy Statement recognised climate change will have a big impact on Defence operations, particularly in the Pacific.

“It proceeded to highlight that disruptive weather patterns are causing an increased frequency and intensity of weather extremes such as cyclones, rainfall events, droughts, and flooding from sea level rise. In addition, the state of the Southern Ocean is changing, meaning our current vessels are getting close to the limits of being able to operate safely.

“Therefore it stands to reason that we needed to look deeper in order to better understand the social and security implications of climate change, and what our Defence Force will face when it responds to these weather events.

“The Coalition Government already has a work programme underway to help alleviate the effects of climate change.  This includes re-energised Pacific policy settings, the development of a new climate change law, and the commitment to make 100 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity renewable by 2035,” says James Shaw.

The assessment has been produced by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with the New Zealand Defence Force, other New Zealand agencies, Pacific partners and academics.

https://www.defence.govt.nz/publications/publication/the-climate-crisis-defence-readiness-and-response

There is certain to be a lot of ongoing talk about the possible effects and implications of climate change and sea level rise, but it is yet to be seen whether there will be any significant action.

‘Green’ carbon-neutral transition investment fund launched

A $100 million fund has been launched to promote growth in low-carbon business to help “transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand”.  It is called New Zealand Green Investment Finance Ltd so the Greens get to promote their name along with the business orientated fund.

This has come from the Labour-Green Confidence & Supply Agreement, which included:

4. Stimulate up to $1 billion of new investment in low carbon industries by 2020, kick-started by a Government-backed Green Investment Fund of $100 million.

It is a one-off sum that is intended to “operate independently from Government and work in a market responsive and commercially focused way” in contrast to NZ First’s much larger $1 billion per year Provincial Growth Fund that Shane Jones keeps dishing out as he promotes himself as a champion of the provinces.

It is a sizeable amount of money, but is probably a worthwhile trial to see if James Shaw’s aim of a establishing a ‘green’ economy.

Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw: $100 million investment fund launched to invest in reducing emissions

Business and the Government will jointly tackle climate change with the launch of New Zealand Green Investment Finance Ltd; a $100 million fund to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, announced today.

The fund is a central plank in the Government’s plan to transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand and it delivers on a Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement commitment.

“Tackling climate change is a priority for this Government and business involvement is crucial to our success. No one can opt out of the impacts of climate change. This fund helps business to opt in to the solution,” Jacinda Arden said.

“Lowering emissions will require innovation and action from all sectors.

“This fund means the Government is bringing cash and know-how to the table to partner with business to deliver a clean, green future for everyone.

“This new investment fund is an important component of New Zealand’s plan to build a clean, sustainable, low-carbon economy that has both lower emissions and profitable enterprises,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealand Green Investment Finance will be a commercially focused investment company which will work to invest with business to reduce emissions while making a profit,” said James Shaw.

“The Government’s $100 million start-up capital injection is intended to stimulate new private sector investment in low-emissions industries; with returns over subsequent years expected to pay back the Government’s investment and see  NZ Green Investment Finance stand on its own commercial footing.

“More and more investment dollars are looking for clean, sustainable ventures to invest in. Establishing this fund positions New Zealand to attract its share of that investment capital.

“New Zealand faces a big job in upgrading our economy and infrastructure. New Zealand Green Investment Finance will help deliver financial backing to help ensure that the upgrade is fit for purpose,” Mr Shaw says.

FAQs:

What will NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd do?

NZGIF will bring financial and technical emission reduction expertise together into one organisation with the sole aim of increasing investment into low-emissions projects.

It will act as a bridge between investors and key industries and sectors, and identify low emissions projects ready for upscaling, commercialisation and use.

Why is NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd being established as an independent entity?

NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd is being established as a company under Schedule 4A of the Public Finance Act 1989 so that it can operate independently from Government and work in a market responsive and commercially focused way.

What will NZGIF finance?

NZGreen Investment Finance Ltd will have the flexibility and mandate to focus on sectors and industries where the greatest impact on emissions reductions can be made.

Potential opportunities include things like electric vehicles, manufacturing processes, energy efficient commercial buildings and low-emissions farming practices.

With New Zealand’s electricity supply already using around 85 per cent renewable sources, NZGIF will focus on tackling other sectors.  However, there may be opportunities to back smaller scale renewable energy projects; where they are smart and can contribute to making our electricity supply more sustainable as demand for electricity rises.

As a commercial entity, NZGIFwill likely focus on solutions that already exist; for example, knowledge and technology being used internationally where there is scope for use in New Zealand.

The Budget 2018 announcement referred to the NZ Green Investment Fund. Why has it changed to Green Investment Finance Ltd?

Use of the word ‘Finance’ is a more accurate reflection of the purpose and market-leading role NZGIF will play.

Why isn’t the private sector financing these sorts of investments?

New investment markets take time to develop and investors rely on good information to assess viability and risk.

They also need financial products which are structured in a way that fits the market.

As a result, there is limited activity initiating and funding low emissions or ‘green’ investment deals here.

The establishment of NZ Green Investment Finance Limited, which will focus on accelerating private sector investment into emissions lowering projects, will fill this gap.

More details about NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd are available here.

The government funded company may take a few years to prove if there is good business in low-carbon initiatives.

 

 

Grant Robertson rejects ‘spending spree’

Yesterday the Government announced a much larger than expected surplus of $5.5 billion ($2.4 billion more than forecast)- see Government announces strong surplus.

James Shaw called on a big spend up:

Green Party Co-Leader James Shaw is calling on the Government to use the money from its “extremely healthy” books to invest in New Zealand’s public sector.

“What good is a surplus if you have people living in cars or garages – that makes no sense,” he told the Herald.

“Frankly, a surplus is inefficient if you don’t use it.”

Shaw said the Government should be using that money to invest in New Zealand’s “massive infrastructure deficit”.

“New Zealand’s debt levels are well within what the international markets would deem to be prudent, interest rates are historically low and we have a massive infrastructure deficit; to me, that just all points in the direction of using that surplus for infrastructure investment in particular.”

That investment, he said, should come from both the surplus and the 2.1 per cent headroom the Government has before it reaches its 30 per cent spending limit – a combined total of $11.5 billion.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=12139642

But Minister of Finance Grant Robertson is trying to dampen down spending expectations.

Is this a one off result? Surely Treasury has adjusted it’s budget forecasts after this unexpected result.

Gareth Hughes versus Megan Woods on oil and gas exploration

Green MP Gareth Hughes has made it clear that he and the Green party disapprove of a concession given to the oil and gas exploration industry, as announced by Minister of Energy Megan Woods.

Hughes in a speech in parliament in March:  End Oil Exploration, General Debate Speech

While the media debate the pros and cons of oil exploration you can’t debate the physics of climate change.

Scientists warn we can’t afford to burn 75% of the fossil fuels we’ve already discovered if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.

A study in Nature Communications last year found if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest climate change in 420 million years!

Exploring for more oil is like pouring petrol into an already filled gas tank and lighting a match.

This is the nuclear-free moment of our generation.

We find ourselves at an important historic turning point – will we continue exploring for new oil and gas that we can’t afford to burn?

To get there we need to transition away from fossil fuels like oil.

Given some existing permits don’t expire until expire 2046 we need to stop granting more.

That’s why I’m calling on the government to stop offering new exploration permits for fossil fuels.

Our future isn’t more oil rigs off our coasts it’s wind turbines on our hills, insulation under our roofs, solar panels on top; modern public transport in our cities and sustainable zero-carbon jobs in our regions.

I support the end to exploration.

On Monday: Bill to end new offshore oil and gas permits a win for the planet

The Green Party welcome the introduction of the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill, which will legislate to officially stop new offshore oil and gas exploration permits.

“This is a special day for the planet, and proof that this Government are now meaningfully acting to address climate change”, Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

“This is Greens in Government at its best and represents an important step to stopping new offshore permits, so that our environment is better protected.

“We’re looking forward to the upcoming wider review of the Act. We will push hard to change the purpose of the Act so that exploration is ‘regulated’, not ‘promoted’ by this Government.

Surprisingly given the Green Party’s in ending the use fossil fuels and ending oil and gas exploration it looks like they were blind sided by Woods’ announcement on Tuesday:

Mining companies with existing licenses for drilling have a time limit on when they can explore. If they reach the time limit, their permits are handed back to the Crown.

Oil drillers shouldn’t be offered special treatment to extend or waive that time limit. I struggle to see the point in banning offshore exploration for oil and gas if existing companies with huge blocks can hold off from exploring until way later down the track.

Hughes followed up in Parliament yesterday:

Question No. 7—Energy and Resources

7. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she stand by her reported statement that she will “consider giving the oil companies more time to fulfil their commitments on the permits”; if so, which permits are currently facing a “drill or drop” decision in the next two years?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Energy and Resources): Yes, I am in discussion with officials regarding the possibility of exercising my statutory powers, as the responsible Minister, to make changes to petroleum exploration permits. Any such change would be made on a case by case basis under the current law. There are 16 permits with “drill or drop” decisions in the next two years. More information about all active petroleum exploration permits, including “drill or drop decision” points, is publicly available on the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website. As the member is aware, our Government is committed to a long-term transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, and the introduction of legislation this week reflects exactly that commitment.

Gareth Hughes: Does she stand by the Government’s historic decision to halt offshore oil and gas exploration, and if so, does she think a long tail of up to 16 active permits undermines this decision?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: In answer to the first part of the question, yes, and in answer to the second part, no. As we’ve been clear, the Government is committed to a long-term transition away from fossil fuel exploration and a clear plan for our future. We’re achieving this by issuing no further offshore exploration permits, while also protecting the existing exploration permits that cover 100,000 square kilometres, to enable a smooth transition over the coming decades. This is a sensible approach that allows regions, communities, industry, and the workforce a just transition to a low-carbon future and avoids sudden economic shocks like we saw in the 1980s.

Gareth Hughes: Does she agree with recent comments by our climate ambassador Jo Tyndall that this Government has sent a clear signal to industry that we are phasing out oil and gas extraction, and if so, does relaxing the work programme deadlines on permits undermine that message?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I do agree and am proud that we are ending offshore exploration and are committed to a just transition, and we’re not relaxing those conditions.

Gareth Hughes: If the Minister grants extensions to any offshore permits, will she limit their duration, and if so, what time frame will she use?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As I indicated in my primary question, each of these needs to be on a case by case basis, and I will consider those applications on a case by case basis.

Gareth Hughes: Will the Minister commit to passing more wide-ranging changes to the Crown Minerals Act (CMA) this term to ensure New Zealand does transition away from fossil fuel extraction?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As the member knows, the first tranche of the CMA reforms was introduced this week. This legislation is to give effect to the Government’s decision about the future of offshore petroleum exploration. Our intention is to begin tranche two following the passage of this legislation, and we’ve long signalled that tranche two will involve a comprehensive review of the CMA and will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose as we make this transition. The Government’s decision about—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! That’s enough. That’s enough.

Hughes followed that up:

Hughes is the Green Party spokesperson for Energy & Resources. It seems odd that he hasn’t been closer to Woods and what she is doing and announcing on this – has she ignored Hughes and the Greens?

Surprisingly there is no mention of fossil fuels or oil and gas in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

And as Climate Change Minister where is James Shaw on this? Last week in an email to party supporters – James Shaw promoting Green achievements

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

It seems that they didn’t get as much as they thought they had.

 

James Shaw promoting Green achievements

The Green Party were always going to achieve far more than in their years in Opposition now they are a part of Government, albeit outside Cabinet and the junior party.

Small parties often struggle to be seen to be having significant wins in the shadow of the major party in particular, and Greens are also in the shadow of Winston Peters.

Party survival is an important consideration.

Promotional emails seem to have slowed down, but co-leader James Shaw has just sent one out. It is quite self applauding, and solicits donations, but this is how he sees Green achievements (remember that this is a sales pitch targeting party members and supporters):

I am so proud of what the Greens have achieved at the heart of government. Your support has enabled us to do so much.  It’s YOU and people like you, who make the difference for the Green Party.

Because you gave us the chance – in government – to realise the dream of becoming a country where our natural heritage and our communities are at the heart of decision-making.

You’ve given us a shot at a country where every person has a place, a community, a sense of belonging, a country where every person is treated with dignity and fairness.

These are the values we bring to the new government and that we will continue to fight for.

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

This was possible because we are partners of this Government, because we are committed to transformational change, and because we can influence what happens at the highest levels.

Here’s what else YOU gave us the chance to accomplish:

  • Secured $14 billion funding package for walkway infrastructure, cycle-ways, buses and light rail
  • Real progress on taking climate action – with more than 15,000 submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill
  • A Green Investment Fund: $125 million dollars in Budget 2018 to set it up
  • Secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes
  • A big increase of $15 million into the Sustainable Farming Fund
  • A commitment that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making
  • Negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years
  • Phasing out single use plastic bags
  • Funding for the world’s first Predator Free Capital
  • A world first to provide workplace leave for the victims of domestic violence
  • Over $10 million dollars to pilot a programme to ensure young people have access to timely, quality, mental health services
  • Warmer Kiwi Homes initiative funding two-thirds of the cost of insulating the homes of people on low incomes across Aotearoa
  • Committing to end the gender pay gap and representing women properly in the public sector and on public boards
  • Making headway on country-of-origin food labelling to re-include bacon
  • Leading the way on more open and transparent government – we’re pro-actively releasing our Ministerial diaries so people can see who we’re meeting and why we’re meeting them
  • Leading the way on a more accessible government – we’re on the verge of securing accessibility support for people with disabilities to be able to participate more easily in our democracy
  • Shaping the terms of reference for future trade agreements, so that they actually support and enhance our social and environmental goals, not undermine them.

And that’s not all!

When Jeanette Fitzsimons, a previous Co-leader, left Parliament she said in her valedictory speech, “… we need to find better ways of measuring our economic success, and that the aim should be a better economy, not just a bigger one.”

And now New Zealand Treasury and Statistics NZ are working to set up a comprehensive framework for measuring – not just economic success – but social, and environmental, and cultural wellbeing too. So, in next years budget the Minister of Finance will be required to report on our wellbeing, not just our economic through-put.

It will be interesting to see how ‘wellbeing’ is measured and reported alongside all the budget numbers.

Shaw, Mitchell question Mark on extended Middle East deployment

In Parliament today Green co-leader James Shaw took Minister of Defence Ron Mark to task after the deployment of New Zealand troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was extended.

4. Hon JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Defence: Is it his intention to continue the deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq beyond 2019?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Ultimately, those decisions are for Cabinet to make. This Government will undertake a strategic reassessment in early 2019. All options will be on the table at that point in time. Those decisions will be made around the strategic situation, our values, our independent foreign policy, and how we think that this Government might make a difference to the lives of the Iraqi people.

Hon James Shaw: Does he agree that continued military involvement of outside forces has actually further destabilised the region and made it easier for terror groups to recruit and has led to an increase in violence rather than a decrease?

Hon RON MARK: No, we don’t. We’re confident that the independent, principles-based decision that Cabinet made yesterday was the right thing to do. I think I would add that for Iraq to become a prosperous nation once again, for its people to enjoy a quality of life that we enjoy, and for them to enjoy the well-being and the support of a good Government such as we enjoy, they need security. Security is paramount to the well-being of the people of Iraq, and I think that is the greatest contribution we’re able to make at this time. But, again, come next year, this Government will reassess the situation.

Hon James Shaw: Does he agree that if New Zealand were to play a role beyond 2019, then the New Zealand public would rather it be focused on building schools and roads and hospitals rather than a seemingly never-ending military engagement?

Hon RON MARK: Mr Speaker, we understand that that is the view of some people, and we would share those views that ultimately that is where we would like Iraq to be. Right now the most important thing is to guarantee security. Right now where we can make a strong contribution, along with our Australian partners, is to improve the quality of the security forces there and thereby lend greater security. For NGOs to be able to deliver to those people, they need security. We’ve seen examples in Sudan where the wonderful efforts of NGOs have been interdicted by the lack of security. I would also point out that in Afghanistan alone this Government over the years since 2001 has put in over $100 million in aid. There’s another $2 million to the UN Development Programme and there is about $3.5 million going into the UN Development Programme around technical assistance for de-mining support.

Hon James Shaw: Well, would he agree that the money that we spend on these military deployments would be better spent on humanitarian aid and reconstruction?

Hon RON MARK: I guess a quick add-up of the cost of all of the deployments that the Government has just announced comes to a grand total of about $31.4 million, bearing in mind that a couple of those deployments are for two years, not one year. Ultimately, the Government will in time—and I think next year—look at how we can make a contribution. It may well be that there may not be a military contribution; the focus may be on humanitarian assistance. Of course we’d like to build hospitals. Of course we’d like to help build schools. Of course we’d like to help re-establish the infrastructure. Iraq, in particular, is looking at a $100 billion bill for reconstruction, but $31.4 million is not going to build a new school, it’s not going to build a new hospital, and it’s not going to rebuild the infrastructure. It can make a substantive difference to the NGOs who are delivering that sort of support and thereby enhancing security.


National’s defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell also questioned Ron Mark.

Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney): Has he seen the quote “Does he not realise that he sent our brave New Zealand soldiers to Iraq on a fool’s errand, and that training the Iraqi Army to stand and fight is literally Mission: Impossible?”, and does he agree with it?

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can the member read the question, please? Read it again.

8. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Defence: Has he seen the quote “Does he not realise that he sent our brave New Zealand soldiers to Iraq on a fool’s errand, and the training the Iraqi Army to stand and fight is literally Mission: Impossible?”; if so, does he agree with it?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Yes, I recognise that quote.

SPEAKER: No. The member will finish answering the question.

Hon RON MARK: Yes, I recognise that quote, and on the information I had at the time, I still stand by that statement.

Hon Mark Mitchell: How does the Minister reconcile his statement on Morning Report today that there was never any attempt by the previous Government to work across parties, when New Zealand First declined a briefing, an invitation, to visit troops in Iraq with Gerry Brownlee, Andrew Little, and myself in 2016?

Hon RON MARK: I have never received an invitation from Mr Brownlee or from that member on any visit, and, in fact, that member can enlighten people about the conversation that he and I had on the telephone where that member apologised for not inviting me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether it’s a fact that, contrary to being asked, with respect to consultation, the troops were already there before the invitation was sent to the New Zealand First Party in the first place?

SPEAKER: Order! That is not something the current Minister has responsibility for.

Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There appears to be some confusion. The Minister stood up and said that he’d never personally received an invitation—and I was very clear about the fact that the invitation went to New Zealand First—and the Deputy Prime Minister then stood up and contradicted him and said that we did receive an invitation. Which is correct?

SPEAKER: You’re not serious? Stand up and ask a supplementary, if the member wants to.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why didn’t the Minister consult with or brief either the New Zealand National Party or the ACT Party before a decision was made to deploy our New Zealand Defence Force men and women into theatres of war?

Hon RON MARK: On numerous occasions, I have taken National Party representatives with me. In fact, I took Mr Simon O’Connor into Iraq and into Afghanistan. In those conversations that we had on that trip, it became very apparent and very clear to me what the National Party’s view was on the deployment. In fact, one would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know that the National Party supported a continuation of that deployment, unless, of course, it’s just now changed its mind.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Has the Minister consulted with the ACT Party?

Hon RON MARK: No, I have not had consultation, but I would say this to that member also, and I would say it to Mr Seymour: the way that we have operated my office is that we make the door wide open. In fact, the member has been into my office for a briefing.

Hon RON MARK: We will always keep the door open, and I am fully ready, at any time, Mr Seymour, to give a full background briefing. Members of the National Party sat in on the bilateral conversations with the Prime Minister of Iraq. They sat in on the bilaterals with the Minister of Defence of Iraq and visited Afghanistan and sat in on the bilaterals with the NATO ambassador to Afghanistan. A member of the National Party has participated at all levels of those conversations and has made it very clear to me that the National Party support it. To Mr Seymour: the door’s open. I apologise for not getting round to you. I would have done that after the announcement.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Mr Speaker, can I just seek some guidance from you, because—

SPEAKER: No, you can’t. The member can ask a supplementary question or, if he has a real point of order, he can do it, but if he trifles with me again, he’ll be losing his supplementary.

Hon Mark Mitchell: It is a point of order, because—

SPEAKER: Well, the way the member does it is stand up and say, “Point of Order!”

Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The point of order is simply this: the Minister is talking about taking other members away on trips. That’s not the question. The question was around consultation with Opposition parties before decisions are made on deploying New Zealand Defence Force men and women.

SPEAKER: Between the last two supplementaries, that has been very clearly answered.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why hasn’t he applied his own high standards to himself in terms of a cross-party consultation and consensus in an MMP environment?

Hon RON MARK: Right at the outset of being sworn in as Minister, I think I made it very, very clear that I sought, for the benefit of the men and women in uniform, to gain as wide a cross-party consensus on defence matters as we possibly can. It is for that reason that we have gone out of our way to invite National Party representatives to attend briefings. It’s for that reason that I have never refused a request from the Hon Paula Bennett. I think there are about two or three National Party members who’ve sought permission to go on to military bases and talk with Defence Force personnel, unlike what happened to me when I was specifically blocked by the National Government at the time.