OPINION: Climate change, according to Jacinda Ardern in a 2017 election debate, was her generations nuclear-free moment. In 2021, faced with hard choices, her Government has buckled.
On the eve of the Glasgow Climate Change Conference the Government announced it was seeking to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. The policy is both hypocritical and politically expedient.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have often talked up the low-carbon vision and many good, well-meaning people have been taken in, John Bishop writes.
Two thirds of the required reduction will be achieved by purchasing offshore climate offsets at a cost of at least a billion dollars a year.
Financially this is expensive, but politically it is cheap because it means that very little change or sacrifice will be required from Kiwis. The Government is going to buy us out of our international obligations. The lives of ordinary Kiwis will be largely unaffected.
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A government with integrity would have faced New Zealanders and said we have to change the way we live. We have to go carbon-neutral, emit fewer gases, farm fewer cows, drive less and walk, bike and bus more.
Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw and others have often talked up the low-carbon vision and many good, well-meaning people have been taken in and voted accordingly.
However, this is a Government of wimps, simply afraid to take on the farmers, the families who need their cars, tradies who depend on their utes, and more. Public transport projects are way behind.
Its options are now more limited. Yes, it could have been brave and said making harsh changes is the right thing to do, and we have the leaders, the policies and the political courage to do it.
It didnt. It has left its ideals in the ether and opted to make it easy on us and itself. Unsurprising given the backlash it is getting on Three Waters, Covid-19, and its failures to deliver in housing, mental health and light rail in Auckland.
The government's plan to tackle climate change has been revealed in the Zero Carbon Bill. Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, talks to Corin Dann.
This Government is big on the talk, strong on virtue-signalling, and until recently had a champion communicator.
But Ardern is increasingly seen as weak on policy (no-one has ever claimed she had a strong policy sense), and her smiling homilies, delivered daily, arent as fresh and comforting as before.
Personally, I want to see strong and positive action on climate change from New Zealand and even more so from the rest of the world, particularly the big emitting nations.
John Bishop: this is a Government of wimps, simply afraid to take on the farmers, the families who need their cars, tradies who depend on their utes, and more.
What happens in Europe, the USA, Russia, Brazil, India and China matters. Since 2000, Chinas CO2 emissions have tripled to nearly 12 billion tonnes per annum. India is up a billion tonnes per year while the USA and Europe are both down a billion tonnes per year. Our contribution is negligible and whatever we do including nothing doesnt move any dial.
If the Government had real courage it would stop importing coal a million tonnes last year, two thirds of it for electricity generation. How is importing better than using the coal we used to mine ourselves?
Coal keeps the Huntly power station going, often needed to keep the lights on, for Kiwis to have hot showers, and for industry to operate.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a shout-out to "brilliant Kiwi scientists" in his opening address at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.
A Government with a genuine commitment to a 100 per cent renewable energy target and reductions in carbon emissions would stop importing coal and accept there might be power cuts as a result.
Importing coal shields us from the consequences of the Governments energy policy and buying carbon offset credits does the same for the climate change policy.
Its just rank hypocrisy driven by political expediency, and has little to do with implementing policies which will make a difference, whatever spin Shaw, Ardern and co put on it.
John Bishop is a Wellington political veteran who has covered politics, business and economics variously for Radio NZ, Television NZ and the National Business Review over the past 40-plus years. He helped set up the NZ Taxpayers Union. He has never joined any political party. He is the father of National list MP Chris Bishop. All views expressed are his own.
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