Redesigning the economy and the climate change opportunists

We are experiencing major economic disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the actions of Governments around the world in locking countries and regions down. The effects of this will be felt for months and probably years. Some business and businesses will bounce back, but some, especially air travel and cruise ships (and tourism in general) – those that survive – will likely have a long and slow recovery. The numbers of unemployed have surged, the number of people going out of businesses is likely to also surge (we won’t find out until lockdowns ease off) and will drop only gradually.

Governments have been piling large amounts of money into financial support for personal and business and that looks likely to continue for a while at least.

We have had some minor murmurings for Ministers over future economic refocussing, but there’s no solid sign of what we have coming from Government, they are still in reactive rescue mode.

This is a very good opportunity to redesign the economic and social systems of countries, and the idealists and opportunists are already out pushing their favoured reforms.

Here are some suggestions being made by various lobbyists.

Russel Norman at Greenpeace: Climate change is harder to visualise than coronavirus, but no less dangerous

The Covid-19 Coronavirus has so far caused more than 145,000 deaths worldwide.

These are grim numbers from the World Health Organisation, the actual human suffering is impossible to measure.

By comparison, the WHO predicts that climate change will kill 250,000 people every year between 2030 and 2050.

A total of five million people. Starting in ten years’ time.

Given those figures, why does the global response to the climate crisis compared to Covid look like a tortoise versing a hare?

One of the crucial differences – Covid has been with us just over a hundred days. Climate Change became front page news more than 30 years ago.

The pandemic is much easier to see and visualise. It doesn’t affect us, it infects us. Watching those awful scenes of coffins piling up in Italy and mass graves in the US, you need little imagination to grasp the threat to you and your family.

By contrast we may feel that climate change is unlikely to kill us. A dangerous misconception.

The neoliberal argument against society acting collectively via the government is dead. As the Financial Times editorial put it recently: “Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table.

Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy.”

Transforming agriculture, electrifying transport, embracing wind and solar power. We can do this.

Best of all we can start now. If we are going to spend 20 billion dollars stimulating the economy, let’s spend a bunch of that money on a Green Covid Response – infrastructure projects that hasten us towards a zero carbon future – rather than landing us slap bang in the middle of another existential crisis.

That was posted at The Standard on Friday and only got six comments – does this suggest there isn’t a lot of public support for the climate change switch, or Norman or Greenpeace?

Associate Professor Janet Stephenson, Director of the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago: Covid-19 has nothing on what’s coming

Covid-19 and its aftermath will be the greatest disruption that New Zealand has faced since at least the Great Depression in the 1930s.  It is already causing untold misery and trauma and will bring both economic hardship and health consequences for some years to come.

Yet these impacts will be trivial compared to the likely economic and social disruption if we continue to destroy the environment. Climate action failure, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, human-made environmental disasters and water crises are five of the top 10 global risks identified by the World Economic Forum in 2020. Infectious diseases are just one more.

The sudden shock of the coronavirus pandemic has shown how quickly governments and societies can act to deal with an imminent existential threat. We’ve been able to make massive personal and business sacrifices to respond to this emergency. Lockdown is working and even greater costs, and deaths, are being avoided.

But at the same time, like frogs oblivious to a pot of heating water, we’re failing to take serious action to avoid the slow-boiling yet increasingly visible emergencies caused by human over-consumption, over-exploitation and radical destabilisation of natural systems. These are existential threats but, like the frogs, we are failing to make the leap.

This is our chance to kick-start a shift to a sustainable future. A chance to safeguard future generations, to re-design our direction, to define a new normal and make it our way of life. To re-lay our track unerringly to a sustainable future so that the young among us can face it with confidence and their elders can leave it to them without regret.

Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to re-set our direction to a sustainable future. But it won’t happen unless visions are translated into actions that align with all seven whetū, not just the one or two that seem easiest.

Allbirds’ Tim Brown: How Covid-19 will help us unite against the climate crisis

New Zealand has made solid progress towards declaring goals for developing a carbon zero economy but now has an opportunity to accelerate the urgency of that action. We can build on the collaboration between business and government in the face of Covid-19 to imagine closer partnerships to tackle climate change. The primary industries must be brought into that conversation not as a roadblock to progress but as a potential source of the solution with innovation and regenerative farming practices aligned around carbon reduction initiatives.

Let’s use the challenges of this moment to propel us not back to normal but forward to something better.

Rod Oram: A message for the timid, fearful and selfish

If we want a better future, we’ll have to fight for it. Better means for all people and the planet. Fight means to overcome, by all ethical means, those seeking a return to the pre-Covid status quo.

Many people hope such profound improvement is underway. The great rupture caused by the virus makes blindingly obvious the weaknesses of our economic, social, political and ecological relationships; yet it also shows us how people can come together to cope with the coronavirus epidemic in ways magnificent, creative and effective.

– From the Yunus Centre in the business school at Griffith University in Brisbane comes a model for developing a regenerative economy. “Stimulus and rescue measures will be critical to recovery. We have a choice about how to shape these measures however. We could apply rescue measures that seek to get us back to where we were and likely achieve a degraded ‘business-as-usual’ economy, with a significant fiscal hole to fill,” the Centre writes.

“Or, we could intentionally design these measures to reshape our economy for recovery plus regeneration. This would mean an economy in better shape to withstand the longer term effects of the pandemic, and also deliver a broader range of outcomes for people, places and planet into the future.”

– From Volans, the British sustainability adviser to global corporates, long-led by John Elkington, comes the Tomorrow’s Capitalism InquiryIt aims “to accelerate the emergence of a regenerative economic system where companies thrive because their business model – and financial value – is inextricably linked to creating social and environmental value.”

– From Kate Raworth, the British economist, comes a city-scale application of her work on regenerative business, economic, social and ecological systems. This draws on, and takes to a deeper level, her insights in her 2017 book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist.

The conversation between the three of them is essential watching for anyone wanting to help create our better future. Hopefully it might also persuade the timid, fearful and selfish that they too can contribute to and benefit from this vital project.

I don’t think that labeling people with alternate views as timid, fearful and selfish is a great way to gain wider support, but there could be a groundswell of public support for radical change that becomes unstoppable.

There’s obviously a lot of lobbying ramping up. The Government will be busy just dealing with Covid, but may also be able to be influenced in what they may do with their economic and social recovery plans.

I presume there are other lobbyists promoting other policy directions.

It’s important that if there are significant changes in policy directions being considered that the wider public are included in discussions and decisions, and there isn’t some sort of reform by stealth going on.

 

Government and farmers agree to primary sector emissions plan

The Government and farming leaders have agreed on a partnership that my be a workable solution to farm emission issues. It gives farmers  few years to come up with solutions themselves, ot else the Government will step in and act.

Beehive:  World-first plan for farmers to reduce emissions

The Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to a world-first partnership to reduce primary sector emissions in one of the most significant developments on climate action in New Zealand’s history.

Today farming leaders and the Government announced a plan to join forces to develop practical and cost-effective ways to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025, so that 100 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions will be on the path downwards.

The 5-year joint action plan includes:

  • Improved tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms
  • Integrated farm plans that include a climate module
  • Investment in research, development and commercialisation
  • Increased farm advisory capacity and capability
  • Incentives for early adopters
  • Recognition of on-farm mitigation such as small plantings, riparian areas and natural cover

The Government recognises partnering with Māori will be critical to the success of this joint action plan.

In addition, Cabinet has also agreed that in 2022 the independent Climate Change Commission will check in on the progress made and if commitments aren’t being met, the Government can bring the sector into the ETS at processor level before 2025.

“I’m proud that we have a world-first agreement as part of our plan to tackle the long-term challenge of climate change and we’ve done that by reaching an historic consensus with our primary sector,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“For too long politicians have passed the buck and caused uncertainty for everyone while the need for climate action was clear.

“This plan provides the primary sector with certainty and puts us shoulder-to-shoulder on a path to reduce emissions, with ongoing support to help with the plan such as the $229 million Sustainable Land Use investment.

“This will reduce emissions by giving farmers the autonomy to plan to do so and reward those who do,” she said.

“Our decision to put in place a sector-led plan to reduce emissions at the farm gate shows we’ve listened to farmers,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.

Major reforms to the ETS have also been announced to make it fit for purpose, with a cap on industrial energy and transport emissions, and forester incentives simplified.

“This will help keep our planet safe for future generations. With the world changing at break-neck speed, these changes will drive us towards a low emissions country,” Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said.

“Changes also align the purpose of the ETS with the Zero Carbon Act and the Paris Agreement, so that New Zealand doing its bit to limit global warming to 1.5C,” he said.

“Farmers understand that a changing climate affects them and many are already making changes on-farm to meet that challenge and to enhance our reputation for safe and sustainable food production while maintaining our competitiveness in international markets,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

“The agreement with sector leaders shows the value of collaboration and provides certainty for farmers, but the hard work begins now to develop the tools and systems to account for on-farm emissions in 2025.

“The Government will back that with investment in research, extension services and advice for farmers,” Damien O’Connor said.

Today’s agreement delivers on commitments in the Coalition and Confidence and Supply Agreements and is the latest step in the Government’s plan that has seen it take more action on climate change in the past two years than the previous 30 years.

Government’s actions to date on climate change

  • The Zero Carbon Bill to get us to zero net emissions by 2050
  • Making clean and electric cars more available
  • Planting 1 billion trees
  • Stopped the permitting of new offshore oil and gas exploration
  • Setting up a $100 million green investment fund
  • Making renewable energy like windfarms and solar easier to build

There has been some criticism that this lets farmers off the hook, and some of that criticism has been directed at Climate Change Minister and Green leader James haw.

NZ Herald: PM Jacinda Ardern dismisses claims Government has backed down on its ETS promises

The Government moved quickly today to dismiss criticisms that its plans to make New Zealand’s rural sector greener was a backdown from a key election promise.

Backdown? or a pragmatic solution to a difficult problem?

Instead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and a host of farming and agricultural sector leaders today talked up the importance of the new scheme and the “world-first” Government-industry partnership.

“We could have forced the sector into a pricing regime that it was completely allergic to,” Shaw told media this morning.

“But, ultimately that would have been unsustainable.”

Fonterra’s chief executive Miles Hurrell said the announcement was a “significant step forward” and was a much better option than “imposing a broad-based tax”.

Ardern and Shaw talked up the importance of the plan and why the Government needed to work with the agricultural sector, and not against it.

Not long after the plan was announced, the Government came under fire from Greenpeace who labelled it a “major sell-out”.

“An emissions trading scheme without the [agriculture] sector in it is a joke and won’t be able to combat the climate emergency – the greatest threat humanity has ever faced,” the organisation said.

Ex-Green leader Russel Norman now leads Greenpeace in New Zealand. Norman has never had the experience of working in Government, he has only had to promote minor party policies, many of them idealistic and without popular support.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:  I hear the Greens are unhappy with James

I’m hearing there is a significant group within the  who are very unhappy with agriculture being exempted from the ETS until 2025, and possibly forever.

They’re also unhappy the Greens are supporting the anti-terrorist legislation, and the foreign land sales Green Ministers have okayed.

Green activists probably wouldn’t be happy unless they had full control of Government policies, but they are a long way off having the level of support needed for that.

Inevitable criticism of Zero Carbon Bill

The Zero carbon Bill proposals were never going to please everyone. The more radical it was, the more strident the criticism was likely to be.

Some want more radical change, while others won’t less or no efforts made address climate change. Some of the opposition is ideological, some is due to potential effects on business and the economy.

Newsroom – Zero Carbon Bill lives or dies on politics

The long-awaited Zero Carbon Bill is essentially non-binding, sets targets for long-lived and short-lived gases differently (good news for farmers), and an ultimate zero-net carbon emissions target for 2050.

It’s pretty good, but also pretty much what was expected. The immediate aftermath was anger on both the left and the right – Greenpeace called it “toothless”, Federated Farmers called it “frustratingly cruel”. I would call it “predictable”.

RNZ:  Government’s Zero Carbon Bill already facing heavy criticism

The government’s plan for combating climate change is already being condemned as toothless.

The plan is in line with New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Agreement but there are questions about how it will be enforced. Courts cannot impose legal sanctions on those who drag their feet, they can only issue a determination.

Greenpeace New Zealand chief executive Russel Norman, a former Green Party co-leader, said the bill was toothless.

“What we’ve got here is a reasonably ambitious piece of legislation that’s then had the teeth ripped out of it. There’s bark, but there’s no bite,” he said.

The Green Party won’t be happy with this attack on their flagship policy proposals.

“The bill sends some good signals, until you get to the section at the end that negates everything else you’ve just read. This section states there is no remedy or relief for failure to meet the 2050 target, meaning there’s no legal compulsion for anyone to take any notice.

“The most anyone can do is get a court to make a ‘declaration’ that the government isn’t achieving its climate goals, but this declaration doesn’t make the government actually do anything.”

James Young-Drew from youth-led climate change group Generation Zero said that needed to change. He will be pressing for amendments at the select committee.

“That includes giving the courts the power to impose legal sanctions. The carbon budgets and the targets that we are signing onto, absolutely must be legally enforceable,” he said.

Farmers are on the other side of the fence.

Federated Farmers said the legislation sent the message New Zealand was willing to abandon pastoral farming.

Spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said the provisions calling for the sector to reduce biological methane emissions was “frustratingly cruel”.

Fonterra’s director of sustainability Carolyn Mortland said much more research was required.

“There needs to be significant investment in innovation and research. We have jointly partnered with the government and will continue to do so, but we will be looking for continued and significant investment from the government,” she said.

RNZ – Climate change plan: ‘Setting the bar so low’

Bronwyn Hayward was New Zealand’s lead author on last year’s major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which said limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is necessary to ensure a more sustainable and equitable society.

She said the bill is hopeful, but troubling. “The hopeful part is that this is really the framework that we have to get into law in order to make the really big changes… that said I find it quite troubling that we’ve had to set the bar so low, especially around things like our near-term methane targets in order to get everybody on board.”

The deputy director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, Andy Reisinger said the move is consistent with the science and the targets in the IPCC report and with the global effort needed on agriculture.

He said it would not have been unreasonable to ask for a net zero methane level, but it would have changed farming in this country fundamentally.

“You can’t take methane out of the atmosphere faster than it decays naturally, so to get to zero methane, you basically have to have zero livestock, and that transformation is presumably stronger than people could imagine for now,” Dr Reisinger said.

Newsroom – Methane target: too soft, too hard or just right?

Unlike many lay submitters, and unlike the scientific case for CO2, climate scientists generally agree that methane need not fall to zero to keep the climate reasonably habitable, or even fall too close to zero. But there are various policy and scientific arguments for how much or little to shrink it.

Methane mostly disappears from the atmosphere within a decade or two, although it leaves some lingering effects. That makes its lifetime short compared to carbon dioxide, which is basically immortal. But while methane remains in the atmosphere, it’s very potent.

Meanwhile, climate scientists internationally are puzzling over an unexplained spike in methane, which might be more farms in the tropics, or rice paddies, or gas leaks – or maybe a sign the world’s self-cleaning process for methane is breaking down.

Agriculture is New Zealand’s largest emitting single industry, contributing 48.1 per cent of emissions as New Zealand currently reports internationally. Methane makes up about 35 percent, with the rest coming from nitrous oxide.

According to a recently published Greenhouse Gas Inventory report, New Zealand’s net emissions rose by 23 percent since 1990, with the biggest recent increases coming from transport. The Government has noted cutting carbon is its biggest and most urgent priority.

Newsroom – Zero Carbon Bill lives or dies on politics

If the bill succeeds, it will vindicate the ability of our complicated, imperfect democracy to solve the great problems of our age.

If it fails, it will prove the opposite: that our democracy isn’t up to handling the great problems of our age.

 

Greenpeace versus Shane Jones on fishing prosecution and NZ First donors

Shane Jones has always seemed to be an embarrassment waiting to happen for the Government.  He has already ventured into iffy territory for a minister, for example his public attacks on Air New Zealand.

Now he has dived into a dispute with Greenpeace over party donations, which involves a prosecution of a subsidiary  of Talleys, a company that Jones has financial and social links to (Winston Peters also).

NZ Herald: NZ First MP Shane Jones accuses Greenpeace of deliberately tarnishing NZ’s reputation for donations

Quite a confusing headline.

NZ First MP Shane Jones has fired a shot across Greenpeace’s bow, accusing the organisation of deliberately tarnishing New Zealand’s international fishing reputation just to fundraise.

But Greenpeace’s New Zealand Executive Director Russel Norman fired back, saying Jones was trying to distract the public from the fact he has accepted donations from fishing company Talley’s.

Norman said this should preclude him from contributing to fisheries policies.

The war of words erupted after a Greenpeace press release implied Jones should be withdrawn from any debate around fisheries because of donations he had received from Talley’s.

Financial links between Talleys and NZ First have been known for a long time, as has Winston Peters support for commercial fishing.

“Incidentally, Talley’s is the same company that donated heavily to the campaign of Shane Jones, who has emerged as the de facto Minister of Fisheries in the current Government.”

Norman said it would appear from the outside that Jones was having “quite a big influence on fisheries policies”.

Jones said he had received donations from the company but they were in compliance with Parliament’s rules on donations.

He said Norman was using “politically lurid language,” which was “all part of their [Greenpeace’s] process to fundraise.

“Incidentally, Talley’s is the same company that donated heavily to the campaign of Shane Jones, who has emerged as the de facto Minister of Fisheries in the current Government.”

Speaking to the Herald, Norman said it would appear from the outside that Jones was having “quite a big influence on fisheries policies”.

Jones said he had received donations from the company but they were in compliance with Parliament’s rules on donations.

He said Norman was using “politically lurid language,” which was “all part of their [Greenpeace’s] process to fundraise”.

“Greenpeace has a track record of misinformation and exaggeration.

“It’s extraordinary that the Greenpeace’s Australian spokesman Russel Norman is ranting in such a way to damage the good name of New Zealand. Greenpeace has a track record of misinformation and exaggeration.

“It’s extraordinary that the Greenpeace’s Australian spokesman Russel Norman is ranting in such a way to damage the good name of New Zealand.”

One could suggest similar about Jones ranting.

Norman said this “obviously was not” his intention and said it was just a distraction from the fact an Amaltal fishing vessel was caught doing bottom trawls in a protected area of the Tasman Sea.

Amaltal is a subsidiary of fishing company Talley’s.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said MPI had initiated a prosecution against Amaltal, as well as the person who was the master of the vessel at the time of the incident.

Both are facing charges under the Fisheries Act, the spokeswoman said.

In its own statement, Amaltal confirmed one of its fishing vessels had inadvertently fished in an unauthorised area of the Tasman Sea in May last year.

But Jones has defended Amaltal.

Jones said this was a “mere technical issue which would be ironed out when common sense prevails”.

A follow up from Newshub: Shane Jones in hot water over support for Talley’s accused of illegal fishing

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is being accused of breaching parliamentary rules by appearing to support a fishing company that’s facing prosecution for illegal fishing.

New Zealand First MP Mr Jones described the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)’s case against agribusiness company Talley’s as a “technical issue” – when the Cabinet rules warn ministers against commenting on active cases.

But Mr Jones is now facing criticism for getting too close to the Talley’s case, calling it a “mere technical issue which would be ironed out when common sense prevails”.

On Friday he changed tact: “They are highly technical matters… and no doubt the court will be possessed of all the information.”

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman said it’s “completely unacceptable for a Cabinet minister to intervene in an active court case where the Crown is taking Talley’s to court for environmental damage”.

The Amaltal Apollo, a vessel owned by a subsidiary of Talley’s, is facing 14 charges for fishing in protected waters in the Tasman Sea.

And Cabinet rules clearly state: “Ministers do not comment on or involve themselves in the investigation of offences or the decision as to whether a person should be prosecuted.”

“I think there’s no question that Jones has breached the Cabinet Manual, which is the rules that govern the behaviour of Ministers,” Mr Norman said.

It does look like quite questionable comment on a current investigation by Jones.

Talley’s donated $10,000 to Mr Jones’ 2017 campaign. And while Mr Jones accepts that, and that he’s mates with Talley’s boss, Sir Peter Talley, he says it doesn’t mean anything.

Instead, he’s blaming Greenpeace for spreading what he calls “misinformation”.

There seems to be some fairly solid information here that suggests that Jones is again an embarrassment to the Government.

Mr Jones has previously been chair of Sealords and held top positions within Māori and Pacific fishery organisations.

He makes no secret of his continued close relationships with the big commercial fishing companies.

It’ll be up to the Prime Minister to decide whether Mr Jones has overstepped the mark and breached the rules in this case.

Due to Labour’s reliance on NZ First for support will Jacinda Ardern do anything about it? Probably not in public at least, or nothing more than a slap over the wrist with a wet bait fish.

Do Greenpeace causes deserve immunity from prosecution?

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this – protests and degrees of lawbreaking and importance of causes can vary a lot.

But Russel Norman and co-defendant Sara Howell are claiming that if they are convicted for “low level civil disobedience” it would prevent other protests for fear of prosecution.

There are ways to protest without breaking the law, but that’s not part of this story.

Stuff:  Greenpeace activists oil ship protest was just ‘low level disobedience’

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman and fellow activist Sara Howell appeared in Napier District Court on Friday to apply for a discharge without conviction after admitting a charge of interfering with an oil exploration vessel.

The prosecution

Crown prosecutor Cameron Stuart said the pair caused significant disruption and danger and there was a high level of perseverance and premeditation by the defendants, as evidenced by the fact they acknowledged they rehearsed their moves in advance.

Their actions posed huge risk to them and to the ship’s crew and sensationalised what would have been a peaceful and legal activity”.

“This hearing is not about the morality of the law. It’s not about oil. It’s not about climate change,” Stuart said.

He said the consequences of a conviction would not be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending. He said the pair had leveraged what they called an “unjust prosecution” as a means of publicising their views.

This raised questions as to how their reputation could be damaged if they were convicted, he said.

The defence

Norman and Howell were represented by Ron Mansfield, said the pair were devoted to fighting climate change and the burning of fossil fuels.

Their views were genuine, well-held, and designed to care for generations to come, Mansfield said.

He said the pair had entered the water at a distance from the vessel that permitted it to avoid them without too much disruption.

He said the danger had been “completely overstated” and the pair could have been removed from the water at any time.

Mansfield said the offending was “low level civil disobedience” and it would be concerning if others undertaking such protests were prevented from doing so because they feared being convicted.

The judge

Judge Arthur Tompkins said that argument “cut both ways” and there may be an argument as to why a conviction was necessary.

Judge Tompkins said other protesters had been convicted in the past and this had not had the “chilling effect” Mansfield suggested.

The verdict – not yet

Judge Tompkins reserved his decision. The pair were remanded until September 24.

The pair faced a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to $50,000 for the offence of interfering with or coming within 500m of an offshore ship involved in oil exploration.

The discussion

Protest is an important part of a democratic country.

Laws are generally to protect safety and freedoms.

The offence of interfering or coming close to a ship involved in exploration was contentious. From NZ Petroleum & Minerals:

People are free to protest on the water as they are on land – provided they do not interfere with structures or vessels involved in lawful petroleum and minerals activities.

While a number of laws cover activities at sea, provisions specific to offshore petroleum and minerals activities were introduced following protests that hindered a seismic survey vessel in 2011.

In May 2013 the Crown Minerals Act 1991, which governs the allocation of the Crown’s petroleum and mineral resources, was amended. New offences were introduced for damaging or interfering with structures or ships being used offshore in prospecting, exploration and mining activities – including incursions into specified Non Interference Zones.

Green MP Gareth Hughes in parliament 13 April 2017:

GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she agree with Dr Russel Norman, who said that section 101B(1)(c) of the Crown Minerals Act 1991, known as the Anadarko Amendment, was “put in place by the Government to protect the interest of big oil and to stifle dissent”?

If the “Anadarko Amendment” is all about protecting people’s safety, why does it apply only to the oil and mining industries, and is this simply a case of one law for us and one law for oil?

Can the Minister confirm that that 2013 amendment, used to charge Dr Norman, was passed under urgency with no consultation and received no New Zealand Bill of Rights Act check, and that polls at the time showed 79 percent of Kiwis wanted to see it withdrawn or sent back to committee?

I remember the opposition to the bill, but I don’t remember the poll, and I can’t find it..

 

 

No more offshore oil permits, existing permits remain

Jacinda Ardern has announced that no more offshore oil exploration permits will be granted, something that will please the Greens, but she has made some short term exceptions for Taranaki (where most of our oil exploration is based), presumably to try to appease NZ First.

Stuff: Ardern announces an end to offshore oil exploration, with short reprieve for Taranaki

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an end to offshore oil exploration, with no new onshore permits outside Taranaki.

Actually the way I read things it just stops new permits being given, existing permits can still be used.

Ardern said the Government was “taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand”

As well as an immediate end to new offshore permits, some onshore will be offered to the industry for the next three years in onshore Taranaki, none of which will be on conservation land.

“This is a responsible step which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels. We’re striking the right balance for New Zealand – we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change,” Ardern said.

The decision to continue to offer onshore permits was partly a concession to Labour’s coalition partners, New Zealand First, which expressly supports extractive sectors. The move is also designed to head off the risk of judicial review.

“All three of the parties in this Government are agreed that we must take this step as part of our package of measures to tackle climate change. I’m grateful for the support of New Zealand First in ensuring the transition away from fossil fuels protects jobs and helps regions equip themselves for the future. I also thank the Green Party for their continued advocacy for action on climate change.

Russel Norman, the former Green Party co-leader who is now Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director said the Government “has listened to people throughout the country who have campaigned for seven years to bring an end to offshore oil and gas exploration”.

“The tide has turned irreversibly against Big Oil in New Zealand”.

The industry has warned that ending oil exploration will do little to cut emissions in New Zealand or overseas, as the move will not affect demand or supply.

We will just keep using oil drilled elsewhere in the world.

All existing permits, some of which could continue to operate for decades, will be protected under the Government’s plans.

So it doesn’t cut offshore drilling, it just rules out new offshore exploration permits, for now at least.

This may be largely symbolic given that oil exploration companies aren’t rushing to drill in the oceans around New Zealand. But it is an important symbol for the Greens.

Q&A: Greenpeace and fossil fuels

Greenpeace was declined charity status this week because of their activist activities and law breaking – see Greenpeace declined charity status.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given mixed signals about what the Government’s position is on the use of fossil fuels and on oil and gas exploration. She has said that climate change is the issue of the time, and received a petition against exploration that Greenpeace presented to Parliament recently, but she has been vague about what they will actually do.

This morning on Q&A theor director Russel Normal is interviewed about fossil fuels.

Farewell fossil fuels?
Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman is on the programme today to explain why New Zealand must end all new oil and gas exploration.

Māori versus the environmental lobby

More on the lack of consultation with Māori, who have existing rights granted under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, over the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, and the reality that environmental groups are willing to put their own ambitions ahead of Māori rights.

And opposition parties.

Stephanie Rodgers has posted on the environmental lobby at Boots Theory and reposted at The Standard, where there are some interesting comments – The Kermadecs and racist environmentalism.

We’re not even arguing about meaningful consultation around establishing the Kermadec sanctuary, we’re talking about ZERO consultation by white politicians who assumed they knew best. National are literally in coalition with the Māori Party but didn’t even pick up the phone to give them a heads-up…

It was handled poorly by the Government initially, and worse since with Environment Minister Nick Smith making more of a mess of it, to the extent that the legislation has been put on hold until it is sorted out.

But Rodgers in particular blasts environmental groups.

This week has been a revelation in the racist imperialism of mainstream (white) environmental organisations.

Problem 2 is the (very Pākehā) environment lobby’s outrage that anyone might stand in the way of an ocean sanctuary. “Think of the planet!” they cry, which is appallingly arrogant coming from the ethnic group which has done the vast majority of screwing up the planet to start with.

We have to take a hard look at how environmental organisations and Pākehā liberalism exploit indigenous culture. When it suits us, we happily draw on the notion of indigenous people being ~more in touch with the land~ and having a ~spiritual connection to nature~ and painting with all the goddamned colours of the wind. When it helps our agenda, we happily retweet the hashtags opposing oil pipelines and trumpet the importance of honouring the Treaty.

But scratch the surface and all the smug superiority is there. We know better; our thinking is more advanced because we care about ~the whole planet~.

It’s very easy to care about the whole planet when you’re on the team who took it by force.

That’s scathing of the “very Pākehā environment lobby”.  Rodgers doesn’t name names, but there has been angst expressed over ex Green leader and now Greenpeace leader Russel Norman’s performance on The Nation in the weekend, where he appeared to see the Sanctuary as sacrosanct and effectively, to hell with Māori ownership of rights.

A press release on Friday:

Environmental Groups support Government on the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary

Representatives of leading environmental groups have reaffirmed their strong support for the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

The groups include Greenpeace, WWF, Forest & Bird, the Environmental Defence Society and Ecologic.

Greenpeace Executive Director Dr Russel Norman said that he backed the Government’s determination to create the Sanctuary in spite of strong resistance from the fishing industry.

“The Kermadec proposal will be the largest ever marine protected area in our jurisdiction. It will have immense ecological benefits, allowing marine life in 15% of our Exclusive Economic Zone to prosper without any form of commercial exploitation,” said Dr Norman.

Which means all fishing rights should be removed.

WWF-New Zealand’s Senior Campaigner, Alex Smith, said that fishing industry lobbyists had consistently opposed the creation of no-take marine reserves so the current opposition was not unexpected.

“New Zealand has obligations under international law to protect the marine environment that surrounds us. The Government is entirely within its rights to create marine protected areas like the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary,” said Mr Smith.

“The Sanctuary is backed by solid science and by 89% of New Zealanders. We urge the fishing industry to break away from its traditional opposition to full marine protection and get behind this initiative.”

That uses the term ‘fishing industry’ and omits the fact that Māori fishing rights are involved.

The Executive Director of Ecologic, long-time environmentalist Guy Salmon, said:

“This is the biggest conservation gain for our oceans in my lifetime and is of international importance,” he said.

“I don’t believe the Sanctuary involves a breach of property rights, and that claim will now be tested in Court.”

That’s a line up of “a very Pākehā environment lobby”.

But it’s not just environmental groups involved. The sanctuary has cross party support, with both Greens and Labour supporting National on it.

From an interview on Waatea News with Te Ohu Kaimoana chair Jamie Tuuta:

“…I think it is important for the Green Party to reflect on their view on the treaty and indigenous rights because it is fair to say if they support the bill in its current form, they are supporting the unilateral extinguishment of Maori rights and interests,” he says.

Normally the Greens put some value on Māori rights and would hate to be seen as “very Pākehā”.

In comments Rodgers again slammed the Government (with some justification)…

There’s nothing “novel” in the government’s approach on this. They announced a major decision affecting a Treaty settlement with zero consultation with the affected parties. Par for the course for European colonisers in New Zealander, really. No one can be surprised that now Māori have a (somewhat) larger voice in the public discourse, they’re raising hell about it.

It is clear racism when Māori are expected to accept “full and final” Treaty settlements, the Government of the day unilaterally changes those settlements, and then all the white folk run around pontificating about “commercial interests” and “gifts to the planet” and “extinction of the moa”.

…but doesn’t mention the Greens. Nor her own Labour Party. Alwyn brought them into the discussion:

  1. Labour take a Maori leaning approach, oppose the sanctuary, and cause a split in the MOU between them and the Green Party. The Green Party can hardly oppose the sanctuary can they?
  2. Labour supports the sanctuary, which was in the policy for the last election, and whip their own Maori MPs into line, thereby showing that Labour don’t really provide any reason for Maori to vote for them.
  3. Alternatively the Labour Party supports the sanctuary and the Maori members of the Labour Party Caucus cross the floor and vote against it.

Then you get the question of why the Maori members are remaining in the Labour Party at all. What do you think the Labour Party are going to do?

It was pointed out that the “Labour position is they support the sanctuary but oppose the process”.  And “that sounds very like their TPP stance and we know how that’s worked for them”. A bob each way politics, opposing the Government but supporting what they want to achieve.

Most people support the Kermadec sanctuary, including the Māori Party (and Māori generally as far as I’m aware).

It’s not just National who should be having a serious look at how they want to progress the sanctuary. Environmental groups and the Greens and Labour may like to have a rethink as well.

Radicalisation of the Greens and Labour

Losing Russel Norman last year and now losing Kevin Hague are blows to the Green Party. Their replacement MPs move Greens more towards a radical social activist party.

Norman did a lot to try and ‘normalise’ the Greens, to make them appear as if they were credible on business and economic matters in particular. He succeeded to an extent.

But last year he decided to move on (to Greenpeace). He was replaced by next on the list, Marama Davidson, who is more of a social activist who has attracted some attention, currently to the forefront of the inquiry into homelessness.

Hague tried to take over Norman’s co-leadership position but was rejected. Hague was one of  the Green’s best assets as a practical and hard worker who backed his principles but was prepared to work with anyone from any party or political leaning to try and achieve results.

Hague is now moving on to head Forest and Bird. So both he and Norman have moved on to environmental roles, and away from the Green Party.

Hague’s replacement will be next on the list, Barry Coates. He used to head Oxfam, and  aid organisation that has become more active in promoting social reform.

Coates has been leading anti-TPP protests in New Zealand. Social activism.

Norman’s replacement as co-leader, James Shaw, has not made a huge impression yet.

Greens’ other co-leader Metiria Turei has been involved in social activism for some time.

Greens could soften their radicalisation somewhat if they elevated Julie Anne Genter, but despite quiet rumours there is no solid sign of Turei stepping aside or down. Fortunately Genter at least looks to be a stayer at this stage.

While Greens do promote environmental issues such as clean rivers and climate change they appear to be moving more towards social activism with a strong socialist tinge.

Greens were ambitious last election so were disappointed not to increase their share of the vote in 2014, despite Labour’s weakening. They seem to have hit a Green ceiling.

This year they have entered into a Memorandum or Understanding with Labour so they can campaign as a combined Labour-Green ticket.

Labour under Andrew Little’s leadership also seem to be trying to move left and have also become more involved in social activism, promoting a number of petitions and joining the Greens in the homeless inquiry, and also appear in part at least to oppose the TPP.

With the growing radicalisation of the Greens and their closer association with a more radical Labour it’s no wonder Winston Peters sees growth potential for NZ First in the centre.

Greens and Labour may think their future lies in popular movements similar to Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK but neither of them have succeeded yet beyond exciting a vocal minority.

While our next election is probably more than a year away Greens and Labour have tied their colours to the campaign mast – fairly red colours with a tinge of green. They either know something about the future intention of voters that isn’t apparent, or are taking a huge punt.

It’s probably about 50/50 whether National would need NZ First to form the next government. It’s closer to 90/10 that Labour+Greens would require NZ First.

A more radical Greens+Labour plus the determination of Peters to remain an unknown quantity will be a hard sell to voters. Add to that recent policy announcements on education and housing indicate an attempt to outdo Labour’s large spending promises and we could have a fairly radical option next year, versus National plodding along.

 

Sack them all?

It’s not uncommon so see calls to sack politicians. Andrew Little was at it again today:

SackSmithTweets

Duncan Garner picked up on this: Little calls for fifth minister to be sacked

Andrew Little has called for Nick Smith to be sacked as Housing Minister.

Shock. Horror. You’re bloody joking me?

If Andrew Little had his way there may be no Cabinet Ministers left.

Maybe that’s the grand plan?

In the last year or so Little has called for the sackings of:

  • Murray McCully for the Saudi sheep deal.
  • Todd McClay for his position on China trade sanctions.
  • Simon Bridges for his Northland one-way bridges policy.
  • And Gerry Brownlee for his management of the Christchurch rebuild.

And now Nick Smith. Are there any more?

So; does Little have a point?

Has Nick Smith been so bad on housing that he deserves to be sacked by the Prime Minister?

Or does Andrew Little need to get a bit more original and find some better lines and more creative material.

There’s a real cry world type problem here. How would anyone know when it was really justified for a Minister to be sacked? Not by listening to Little. Or others.

I don’t think Little has called on John Key to resign yet but both Russel Norman and Winston Peters have in the past.

It’s hard enough getting capable people standing for Parliament as it is without sacking all and sundry at the whim of a political opponent.

Wouldn’t it be good if more leaders actually led by example instead of trying to trash everyone else?