95% of vehicles need to be zero-emission by 2050

Minister of Climate Change James Shaw has a very ambitious target for “the ground vehicle fleet” (cars, trucks, buses and trains) – he says that 95% need to be zero emission by 2050. That means electric, person powered or powered by some other zero emission fuel.

RNZ: Carbon neutral goal reliant on electric cars – Govt

If New Zealand is to meet its zero carbon pledge, nearly all the country’s cars will have to be zero-emission by 2050, Climate Change Minister James Shaw says.

Mr Shaw said achieving the country’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 was reliant on significantly boosting the uptake of plug-in vehicles.

“We can’t get to the zero-emissions carbon goal without switching over the ground vehicle fleet to electrics. You just can’t get there,” he said.

“We think that means about 95 percent of vehicles in the year 2050 will be zero-emissions vehicles.”

That’s an ambitious target given the current use of electric vehicles.

As of June, roughly 8700 plug-in cars are on the road of a total fleet of more than four million.

That’s about 2%, so a long way to go.

Not only will it mean a huge increase in electric vehicles, it will also mean disposing of a large number of petrol and diesel fueled vehicles.

Associate Transport Minister Julie-Anne Genter dismissed the suggestion that was unrealistic.

“What is possible in 2030 will be far different from what we imagine being possible today.”

We simply don’t know what will be possible in 2030, or in 2050.

Not only will it need a massive change in vehicle type, and if the Greens achieve what they want a massive shift to public transport, it will require a large increase in electricity production.

Zero emissions will need to apply to vehicle manufacturing as well.

There is unlikely to be a major change to hydro capacity because flooding land is not very popular these days.

Wind and solar energy are only a part of the solution.

The target is unrealistic until the Government comes up with a viable plan.

Growing support for New Zealand’s ‘Zero Carbon’ goal

New Zealand is seriously working towards dealing with reducing carbon emissions.

As James Shaw has been touring the country consulting on his ambitions for getting New Zealand to ‘Carbon Zero’ (net emissions) by 2050, support for the goal in principle at least is growing, with both National leader Simon Bridges and farming leaders committing to work with the government towards achieving some sort of goal.

Bridges last month Speech to Fieldays on climate change. And:

Three days ago (Stuff): Farmers on zero carbon: let’s do this

In a symbolic show of unity, the Farming Leaders Group has published to joint editorial statement with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, published today by Stuff.

While the piece is described the zero carbon initiative as “a very ambitious and challenging target” and said questions remained about what it meant for food production, it makes commits to working to achieving the goal.

“Today, farming leaders with the support of the Government are stating their support for this goal and the agri-food sector playing its part in achieving it,” it reads.

“The farming sector and Government are committed to working together to achieve net zero emissions from agri-food production by 2050.”

While the Farming Leaders Group is new and describes itself as “informal”, its members are luminaries of the sector, including the leaders of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb, the Meat Industry Association, the Fonterra Shareholders Council and Irrigation NZ.

It also has representation from major private companies, the Federation of Maori Authorities and Agriculture Trade Envoy Mike Petersen.

Today from Stuff: What is the NZ Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and will it do anything?

New Zealand politicians have a complicated history with climate change.

There has been little in the way of US-style denialism, but the debate on what to do about it has been just as fiery.

That debate has led to a series of arguable half-measures – like an Emissions Trading Scheme that omits our largest emitter – and no certainty for the country on what we are going to do to reach the far-off targets we have signed up to.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw is trying to fix all this and depoliticise the issue  so that, long after his Government is gone, parties from the Left and Right can continue efforts to fight climate change without it becoming a political football. He wants to do that by setting up a completely new legal and institutional framework for climate policy, with a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Change Commission. Here’s what that would actually mean.

What exactly is a Zero Carbon Act?

At its most simple, a Zero Carbon Act would set greenhouse gas emissions targets into law.

Greenhouse gases are the primary cause of human-influenced climate change. Long-lived gases like carbon dioxide are the big ones globally, but down here in New Zealand we also have to worry about short-lived gases like methane from cows.

The argument goes that actually setting these targets into real law will give businesses certainty about the direction of the country, so they can plan long-ahead without having to worry about a new government changing the rulebook from under them.

But it is complicated, politically, economically and environmentally.

This is an ambitious long term goal and it will take a lot of work top get all significant players on board and on track.

 

 

Hard lefties oppose National cooperation on climate change

Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment” (in a campaign speech in August 2017).

Simon Bridges won’t go that far. On Q+A yesterday

CORIN DANN So certainty. Is climate change the nuclear-free issue of your generation?

SIMON BRIDGES I would not go that far. Is it the most significant environmental issue? Is it an important long-term issue that we need to deal with and deal with seriously and provide certainty on? Yes.

Bridges was vague about where he actually stands on a number of climate issues, and is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but National have signalled a willingness to work together with other parties – National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission.

But how genuine are they? Not at all according to some on the left.

MickySavage asked yesterday: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

His post concludes:

If this is what National and Simon Bridges is promising then all good and the Government can get on with things.  But if this is merely a replacement of outright denial with a more nuanced approach designed to delay urgent action being taken then he should rethink this.

Bridges has just been reported criticising National MPs expressing doubts about climate change.

Many comments at The Standard didn’t trust National and didn’t want them involved. Petty partisan politics is so ingrained some people can’t countenance cross-party cooperation.

Gabby: “Much easier to wreck things from the inside.”

Robert Guyton: “National’s funders will say, nah.”

Jess: “Bi-partisan means two parties. National wants to regress to Nat vs Labour with Nat as the bigger party, instead of a coalition. Or if they really see Govt and opposition as two parties, their perspective is going to be no help whatsoever (no surprise there).”

Kat: “Agree with you Jess in that National just want to maneuver into a position of taking out the coalition in 2020 by appearing to be genuine about serious issues.”

marty mars: “Simon is insincere imo. The gnats don’t care. Last throw of the die in many ways.”

Stuart Munro: “Trying make a wedge to peel off a few blueish Green voters.”

Jenny: “Feeling the ground shifting under them, National’s corporate sponsors desperately need a bipartisan consensus to do nothing meaningful about climate change.”

Draco T Bastard: “Translation: He wants Labour and the Greens to compromise and accept National’s position. And National will not budge from its position.”

What I think DTB really means is that he doesn’t want Greens to budge from their position – ignoring the reality of an MMP Parliament that requires agreement (and compromise) from at least three parties.

I joined in and said: This is the best opportunity ever for cross party cooperation on dealing with a major issue facing New Zealand and the world. Getting pissy about shunning parties because they don’t measure up to ideals (non of them do) is a bit pathetic given what is at stake.

Robert Guyton:

“Moving towards doing something”
Shuffling their feet so they aren’t considered dead.
That’s all.

I queried Robert: What approach do you think is best Robert – MMP democracy, or petty partisan politics? Greens will get closest to what they want if they’re prepared to work hard with all other parties in Parliament to get the best out of all of them – kinda like the James Shaw approach.”

Robert:

James is handling this issue beautifully, in the way a snake-handler manipulates vipers. Still vipers though.

This was Shaw’s response to National’s announcement they would work with other parties ion climate change:

Fortunately commenters on left wing blogs don’t run things in Parliament, but as Eugenie Sage found out, they can kick up a stink when Ministers follow laws and procedures and allow something activists don’t like.

Wayne Mapp also joined in:

Thank goodness the commenters here are not actually in govt. Most of you would not talk to National on anything (except for terms of surrender).

In reality in a range of issues governments and oppositions co-operate. For instance on national super, various environmental issues, a number of national security isssues there is dialogue and adjustment to get a bipartisan (sometimes multi partisan) consensus.

In fact John Key’s initiative in Opposition was to do the anti-smacking deal with Labour.

But hard lefties seem to hate dealing at all with the political ‘enemy’. In response:

Stuart Munro: “Well you’re a pack of lying assholes.”

One Anonymous Bloke: Here’s a radical idea to improve your public image: stop lying and killing people.

Fortunately people like that are nowhere near real political decision making, all they have is futile vitriol in social media.

This morning on RNZ:

National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

National have had a rethinks and have done a bit of a u-turn, now saying the support having a Climate  Commission. This makes strong cross party support for addressing climate issues.

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement supports a Climate Commission:

  • Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The number one point in the Labour Green Confidence and Supply agreement was setting up a Commission:

Sustainable Economy

1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050, with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form, energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission

b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.

c. A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.

d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

In a step towards that in April Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced an Interim Climate Change Committee:

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.

“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.

Last week Shaw announced Zero Carbon Bill Consultation Launch.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges tweeted:

Bridges spoke on this – Speech to Fieldays on climate change

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister and James Shaw, offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission.

I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bi-partisan progress on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.

The Commission would be advisory only, with the Government of the day taking final decisions on both targets and policy responses.

There are a number of details I want to work through with the Government before the Commission is launched – such as ensuring the Commission has appropriate consideration for economic impacts as well as environmental, and that the process for appointments to the Commission is also bipartisan.

But I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

This is a significant and a good move by Bridges and National.

With all the multi-MP parties working together positively on climate change issues New Zealand should make good progress on addressing climate change issues.

Greens in Northcote – tactical, or signs of slump?

The Greens raised eyebrows (especially Labour supporters’ eyebrows) when they decided to stand a candidate in the Northcote by-election.

Should Green eyebrows be raised over the slump in Green support? Or can it be dismissed as tactical voting?

Rebecca Jaung stood in both the last general election and the by-election.

  • 2017 general election 2,457 votes 6.73%
  • 2018 by-election 579 votes – 2.90%

Turnout (based on by-election night results) was about half that of the general election, but the Green share of the vote was more than halved.

Was it due tactical voting?

I didn’t see the Greens promoting tactical voting for the Labour. perhaps they did it quietly, but why would they? There was not a big chance for the Labour candidate, and Greens had more to lose by doing poorly.

Jaung sounded like she was seeking votes for herself – Rebel without the yell: the Greens’ Northcote candidate

“I think Northcote needs a voice like mine,” she said, and I asked, like what?

“One promoting Green ideas. A young woman. Also, the fact that I’m a doctor, that helped in some of the debates.” In the 2017 election, which she also contested, she was able to call out the sitting member, then-health minister Dr Jonathan Coleman.

She did well in 2017. The Greens ranked their top 41 candidates and she wasn’t among them, but she generated a better party vote than 28 other non-MPs who were. Her candidate vote held up too.

But really, why is she standing this time? She’ll be very lucky to get even 10 per cent of the vote and doesn’t she risk spoiling it for Labour’s Shanan Halbert? She said she didn’t believe that.

“To start with, I don’t accept that every Green voter would vote Labour if I wasn’t here. There are Blue-Green voters. Me being here gives them someone to vote for.”

But only 2.9% of voters chose her.

I think that the Greens should be concerned about this slump in their Northcote vote.

It could be a sign of a bigger problem. Stacey Kirk: Is it time to plaster the Green Party caucus on the side of a milk carton?

It seems the good old cage-rattling Greens have been lost to the halls of the Beehive. Where on earth are the Tibetan flag waving Greens? The Trans-Pacific Partnership protesting Greens? The spy-base hating, tree-chaining, parliament scaling and benefit fraud condoning Greens?

Actually, that last one went too far.

Ever since former leader Metiria Turei sent her party on a downward spiral by proudly admitting her historical benefit fraud ahead of the election, they’ve not been a team.

The election of Marama Davidson as co-leader appears to have changed very little.

Selecting Davidson may have accentuated the division in the Greens.

Meanwhile, Shaw is in danger of falling down the same ministerial rabbit hole as former Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell – becoming engrossed in the importance of his ministerial work, while hoping that speaks for itself.

Flavell, and his party’s brutal demise, is proof that it doesn’t. But in co-leader Marama Fox that party still had an outspoken wild card that was prepared to speak out – at times forcefully – against the Government.

But if consistent polling, showing the Greens on a slow march down the same path as Flavell and Fox, isn’t enough to wake them from their stupor, then it’s not just their problem but the Government’s.

Shaw seems too busy promoting his climate change ideals and a halt to oil and gas exploration – these may not be widely popular either, especially to the degree Shaw wants.

It’s early days for Davidson as co-leader but is seen more as a hard left radical rather than an appeal to soft green votes.

And the Northcote election result suggests that Green support is vulnerable.

This means Greens are increasingly vulnerable to being a one term government party, and risk missing the cut next election.

This makes Labour very vulnerable too.

Public input into ‘net zero emissions by 2050’

James Shaw and the Green Party are encouraging public input into what can be done to address climate change:


Consultation is underway

We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change and it’s not just an environmental issue – there are social and economic implications too.

You have a part to play in deciding how New Zealand responds to climate change. The Zero Carbon Bill will set the long term commitment to transition us to a low-emission, climate resilient economy.

For information about our specific proposals for the Zero Carbon Bill read the discussion document Our Climate Your Say. Consultation on the Bill runs until 5pm 19 July.

Eat less meat

I eat a lot less meat than I did ten-twenty years ago. A lot less.

I enjoyed a very nice meat-less burger at urio Bay yesterday (I admit i didn’t realise it was meatless until i couldn’t find any in it).

But James Shaw wants everyone to consider eating less meat, like one more meatless meal per week. That is unlike to be bad for anyone, and will probably be good for some of us.

Newshub: Climate Change Minister James Shaw wants you to eat less meat

Climate Change Minister James Shaw wants you to stop eating so much meat.

“Ninety-five percent of new Zealanders consume meat, and it is fairly obvious there is a lot of water, a lot of energy and a lot of land use that goes into protein production that way,” the Green Party co-leader told TVNZ’s Q+A.

“If somebody wanted to have an immediate impact, they could eat one less meat meal per week. We’re not encouraging that as a Government. What we’re trying to do is to ensure that there’s settings right across the economy that make sure people are supported, that they’re really clear about the direction of travel, that there are sufficient incentives to support that transition, right?

“And then essentially what consumers do is really up to them.”

This is a good approach – encourage without compulsion.

Mr Shaw says encouraging Kiwis to say no to beef and lamb won’t harm our agriculture-led economy.

“New Zealand has enough land to feed about 40 million people with current production methodologies. We know that the middle classes in China and India and in parts of Europe and so on, there is a huge demand for our food products.”

The study, conducted at the University of Oxford, found while meat only supplies 18 percent of the world’s calories, it takes up 83 percent of farmland and produces more than half the agricultural sector’s emissions.

The most efficiently produced beef takes 36 times more land to produce than peas, according to the research, and created six times the emissions.

So easing back on meat consumption is mostly a good thing.

New Zealand farmers may have to adapt anyway if world meat consumption declines.

How will we get to net zero emissions by 2050?

A goal of Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050 is the number one policy for Green co-leader James Shaw, but Shaw either isn’t sure how to achieve it, or seems unwilling to openly say what he wants – a drastic cut in cow and sheep numbers.

Net Zero Emissions was number one on the Labour-Green C&A agreement.

Sustainable Economy

  1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050,
    with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form,
    energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent
    Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions
    and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission
b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.
c.  A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.
d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

It seemed like an idealistic pledge without much of a plan.

But it is still far from certain about how this might be achieved. Shaw is looking for ideas, and points at some, but even they say “how we plug the gap between 95% and 100% in New Zealand isn’t obvious yet.”

Briony Bennett claims “Changing land-use from dairy, sheep and cattle farming to new forests or low-emissions crops and horticulture (growing fruit, vegetables and flowers) is key to achieving carbon neutrality in New Zealand by 2050.”

That seems to be something that Shaw and the Greens are not prepared to come out and push openly.

Bennett has a Masters in Energy Economics and Policy from Sciences Po, Paris. She moved back to New Zealand in late 2017.

Before Christmas, the new climate change minister and Greens’ party leader announced the Government’s intention to pass a Zero Carbon Act, whereby the New Zealand economy would achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Industry, think-tanks and public sector officials have produced huge volumes of data, modelling, analyses and arguments since then. Within the last few weeks, the Interim Climate Change Commission was announced and the Productivity Commission published a 500-page draft report on the transition to a low-emissions economy. We all want to know what do we need to do to reach net zero.

It seems that Green co-leader James Shaw made the pledge first, and is now looking for ideas on how to achieve it.

This points to Bennett as a Guest Writer at The Spinoff:  NZ has pledged zero carbon by 2050. How on earth can we get there? (abbreviated):


100% renewables

Around 85% of New Zealand’s annual electricity supply is generated from renewable sources. Gas or coal-fired generation is used to meet winter demand peaks and back up supply in low rainfall years. Hydroelectricity constitutes more than half of the national power mix. In a high hydrology scenario, with good seasonal rainfall and snow melt, hydro-power can meet up to 65% of our annual power needs, but dry years present a great challenge and a barrier to reaching 100% renewables.

Under current resource management laws, it is highly unlikely that a new large-scale hydro-power scheme would get built in New Zealand. We could feasibly expand lake storage in current schemes, but not double it, which is what would be required. Further, this would do little to address the main barrier to reaching a 100% renewable power supply, which is our dry-year risk.

Wind power

At an emissions price of $75 or greater it will be economic to build enough wind farms to reach about 95% renewables in New Zealand, according to Concept Consulting.

Today, a significant number of wind projects have actually been consented, over 2.5GW according to the NZ Wind Energy Association, but project developers are waiting for prices to rise before starting construction. However, wind power cannot ensure our power supply is 100% renewable in a dry year since it is not guaranteed to be available during winter peaks when demand is at its highest.

Grid-scale or rooftop solar exacerbates the seasonal storage challenge as it only generates during periods of low demand and has a much higher output during the summer. We need power sources that are as flexible as coal and gas-fired power plants to meet seasonal demand.

Big batteries

Grid-scale battery storage projects have been making headlines around the world. Tesla installed a massive battery in South Australia after Elon Musk made a promise to do it in 100 days or for free on Twitter. Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) lithium-ion battery price index shows a fall from US$1,000 per kWh in 2010 to US$209 per kWh in 2017.

Nevertheless, this technology cannot economically provide seasonal or dry-year power storage of the scale required at present. They just do not pack as much punch as hydro storage.

…this suggests we need 400 million batteries, or over 250 Tesla Powerwalls per household. Even at a discounted price of just US$2000 this would require an investment of over US$500,000 per household or US$800 trillion in total. More than four times our current GDP. We could spend that money more wisely to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Car culture

Power sector emissions have declined 13% since 1990 and make up less than 10% of total emissions. In the same period, transport emissions rose 70% and constitute 20% to New Zealand’s emissions. Car ownership reached its highest level ever last year, at 774 light vehicles for every 1,000 New Zealanders.

This is the beast we must tackle. Electrification is the key pathway with existing technology to cut the majority of transport emissions. To charge electric passenger vehicles and e-buses, electrify trains, and reduce fossil fuel usage for heating, a reliable and affordable electricity supply is crucial.

Power outlook

With more wind, batteries and additional geothermal power plants, it is technically feasible to reach the 100% renewables target when we have average or high rainfall. This would be achieved at great expense and put significant upwards pressure on power prices. Other flexible technologies, such as demand response or renewable power-to-gas, hold great potential to help New Zealand reach 100% renewables. Biomass or tidal power generation could emerge as affordable means to generate electricity in New Zealand in the next few decades.

Solar and wind offer a comparatively low-cost pathway to reduce emissions in most countries that currently have a high share of coal and gas-fired generation, but how we plug the gap between 95% and 100% in New Zealand isn’t obvious yet.

Planting trees

All pathways to net zero, require forestry to play a major role. Afforestation is like a credit card, buying us time to develop alternative technologies to replace current agricultural and industrial processes. A methane vaccine for animals or other biological inhibitors that can be mixed with their feed are being researched, but these technologies remain unproven. Selective breeding, though it can take decades, will also continue reduce the amount of methane produced per animal.

Farming

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is our main tool for encouraging decarbonisation. The scheme requires emitters to pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas produced – this is called an emissions unit. Farmers are currently exempt from participating in the ETS, which covers energy, waste and industry. To achieve net zero this will have to change since agriculture contributes over half of our emissions. To ensure a gradual transition for farmers, they should receive free emissions units upfront and have trading at the full emissions price phased in over time.

Changing land-use from dairy, sheep and cattle farming to new forests or low-emissions crops and horticulture (growing fruit, vegetables and flowers) is key to achieving carbon neutrality in New Zealand by 2050.

This implies that fewer sheep and cattle will be farmed in the future. Reducing, though perhaps not eliminating, dairy and meat exports raises important questions about food production. The carbon footprint associated with a diet rich in animal protein is an issue that is likely to loom larger in public debate.

There are few affordable means to cut emissions from pastoral and dairy farming without reducing herd populations at present.

If all sectors are covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme, businesses that reduce their emissions will be rewarded and pay for fewer emissions units. It is the main tool we have to encourage the changes and innovation required in all sectors to dramatically cut our emissions and reach net zero by 2050 in New Zealand.


So Bennett largely explains that it will be difficult to attain 100% renewable power – and she promotes electric vehicles as a way of reducing fossil fuel emissions, but this would require substantially more electricity.

She is basically saying planting a lot of trees is one way of getting to zero net emissions, but that’s only a short term solution,

Her primary suggestion is effectively applying the Emissions Trading Scheme to farming to drastically force cow and sheep numbers down.

Is this what Shaw and the Greens want? If so they should come out and say it.

Possible double referendum – cannabis and euthanasia

The prospect of a referendum to accept or reject legislation decided in parliament for the personal use of cannabis has already been raised – with the referendum possible by late next year. See Cannabis legislation and referendum in 2019?

Now it has been suggested that a similar democratic process be used for euthanasia.

Newshub: Kiwis could vote on euthanasia and cannabis at the same time

New Zealand First said it would support the voluntary euthanasia Bill currently before Parliament if a conscience vote allowing a binding referendum on the law could be held.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said if the referendum goes ahead, it could make sense to combine the two referenda.

“If you’re gonna do one, you might as well do a job lot,” he explained. “It would make sense to not have to spend a lot of money on a succession of referenda.”

It does make sense to have a combined referendum.

And for conscience issues like these it makes a lot of sense to have Parliament decide on possible legislation – with the usual public input via submissions and lobbying – and then to put that to referendum to let the public vote to accept or reject the legislation.

This is a very good way to improve public participation in politics.

It should also help focus MPs in Parliament on coming up with the best possible legislation for any given issue.

There’s no decision yet on when the referendum on cannabis will be held.

“Cabinet just hasn’t got around to considering the details of it,” Mr Little told Newshub.

“Obviously, when we consider a date for it, we need to weigh up [whether] we run it at the same time as the general election – there would be some cost saving with that – or the other question is, do we want the general election dominated by the referendum?”

Important public issues like cannabis and euthanasia would be better addressed in a referendum separate from an election, so that the influence of party politics, by design or by association, was minimised.

The Greens have different preferences on when the cannabis referendum should be held.

Green Party leader James Shaw would prefer to hold the referendum at the same time as the election.

“People are going to be going to the polling booths anyway,” Mr Shaw said.

Shaw should rethink this – he should consider what is best for public participation in democracy rather than what he thinks might work best for the Green Party.

As to whether the referendum could end up dominating the election period, Mr Shaw said “there are ways you can stay out of the politics of it.”

Get real. There is no way of avoiding politics dominating general elections, and it is unlikely any party – including the Greens – would not put their own interests ahead of referendum choices.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has shown some support for a separate referendum.

Greens spokesperson of drug law reform Chloe Swarbrick said if it’s held in 2019, that could avoid politicising the issue.

“If we hold it in 2019, it may not be deeply politicised, polarised or pigeon-holed – and we are hopefully able to have more of an evidentiary discussion.

“If we hold it in 2020 we might end up with something where it dominates the issues and we don’t end up talking about things like housing, criminal justice or healthcare.”

She also liked a Tweet of mine yesterday that applauded the legislation-referendum approach separate to the general election.

I think that it would provide a very good template for improving public democratic participation, and and excellent way to decide on what to do about cannabis and euthanasia law.

And I think that having two issues to vote on at the same time would enhance the process, as long as it was separate from a general election.

Green budget leans towards the environment

The Green parts of the budget lean heavily towards environmental causes, with less addressing the social issues that Metiria Turei would have championed, and who her successor Marama Davidson is passionate about.

Perhaps this is at least in part due to James Shaw being sole Green leader through the coalition/confidence & supply negotiations as well as for most of the their term in Government to date, and now being the only-co-leader with Ministerial clout.

In Greens defend share of wins after NZ First gets triple the cash NZH lists the Green ‘wins’, which I separate out.

Environmental $454.5m:

  • Conservation funding – $181m
  • Home insulation – $142.5 million
  • Green Investment Fund – $100m
  • Sustainable Farming Fund – $15m
  • Climate Commission – $11m
  • Overseer farm management tool – $5m

Social $155.1m:

  • Midwifery services – $103.6m
  • Expansion of Household Economic Survey – $20m
  • Te reo teaching – $12.5m
  • Youth mental health services – $10m
  • Sexual abuse services – $7.5m
  • Welfare system review – $1.5m

Total: $610m

Greens say that they also support policy wins for Labour and NZ First – but National broadly supports many of them as well.

Shaw’s main focus is on environmental issues, and ik think the same can be said of the other Green ministers, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage. I think that is reflected in the environmental balance here.

The social wins are important enough midwifery appears to be facing a crisis, and while relatively very modest the boost for youth mental health and for sexual abuse services are very worthwhile.

The welfare system review, something Turei championed, gets a kick the can down the road sort of pittance.

I think that Labour will have no problems with Greens getting credit for addressing the environment, but Jacinda Ardern has designs on things like being a ‘child poverty’ warrior herself.

The strong leaning towards environmental funding is a good thing for the Greens – I think many voters will support a lot of this.

How much Shaw can accentuate this versus Davidson’s strong preference for promoting social and socialist issues may play a big part in the Green’s next campaign and in their chances of surviving the threshold cut next election.