If, like me, you are among the poorest half of the population in NZ, then we could get together today and emit zero carbon as from tomorrow morning and…the reduction in NZ’s emissions would stack up to about 10%.
If, unlike me, you are a high earner (a politician say), then you’re likely in the 10% of the population that gifts us about 50% of NZs emissions. And of course, you can afford any increase to the cost of petrol and other sources of carbon. You can also make yourself feel virtuous by off-setting your carbon when you fly, as though that means the carbon your smothering our futures with somehow isn’t emitted.
And further down the track (as we pass through 2 degrees and towards 3 degrees) I, as a poor person, am much less likely to have any independent source of power such as solar panels fitted to my home, and much less likely to live in a “passive house”, and much less likely to have a heat pump that I can use for relief during deadly heatwaves. As a poor person getting older then, I’m more than likely going to among the first waves of humanity in NZ to get “taken out” by global warming. Maybe I should take this opportunity to thank you in advance?
I’ve no doubt your holidays abroad, and your frequent flights up and down the country and around the world for ‘important’ business meetings, or to meet ‘important’ people, and all that nice stuff that fills your house or houses, and the boats and whatever other clap-trap you accumulate and run was well worth the price you probably won’t have to pay.
If you’re sort of middle class (not of the poorest half of people in NZ, but not that richest slice either), I’ll just point out the obvious – that you’ll be finding it increasingly difficult to hold on to your current, enabling lifestyle as you barrel into a future spewing out about 40% of NZs carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (ie – government) the clowns who claim to represent us aren’t taking all of NZs emissions into account as they run up and around the country talking to people about how to make the future look bright – while intending to do next to nothing about global warming. NZs an island nation a long way from anywhere, and yet government doesn’t count aviation emissions as a part of NZs carbon footprint. And it doesn’t count shipping as a part of the footprint. And it doesn’t count the carbon embedded in imports and exports as part of the footprint. It’s a bit like pummeling somebody but not taking the right hooks into account.
For 30 odd years we’ve known all we need to know about global warming and we’ve done nothing. Globally, emissions are about 60% higher every year than they were for years in the early 1990s. If I was young, I’d be hunting down people of my generation. Seriously. My generation has allowed government and business to shove future generations off a tall building and to simply holler after them that they’ll be fine if they invent that anti-gravity device on the way down.
I guess we won’t get serious, will we?
I guess most of us will be complicit in continuing to help elites save an economic fantasy in the face of planetary collapse. Some of us willfully so. I mean, some of us have pensions to save, right? And we worked hard to get where we are today, or are working hard to get where we want to be tomorrow, right? And we have selfish fears trumping anything and everything else that might enter our heads, yes?
A 10% – 15% reduction in energy related carbon emissions every year is what’s demanded of us by physics if we’re to have any chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming.
But we don’t like numbers or the thought of anything that robs us of the dream or reality of middle class comfort. And so imagination stretches all of the way to figuring out how to wring hands and point fingers at the same time. It was the oil companies (they knew). It was the government (they should have told us what to do). But it most certainly wasn’t down to accepting and enjoying a middle class lifestyle off the back of profligate carbon use, was it? No. It was poor people in far away countries with brown skin having too many babies. It was Donald Trump “because Paris”. It was China building power stations to fuel the construction of basic infrastructure we’ve taken for granted for years. It was the people in India who responded to the same messages of “a good life” that we’ve responded to and chased all of our days. It was their fault.
Now, what was that word Marama Davidson thought to reclaim again? That word. Look around you and throw an “s” on the end of it.