Climate change and transport – the Greens’ integrated policy

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, August 25th, 2017 - 7 comments
Categories: climate change, greens, james shaw, public transport, sustainability, transport - Tags: ,

Climate change should be the lens through which we look at all policy.

As always, it’s good to listen to the Greens speaking on their own turf to get a better understanding of what they value and where their priorities are.

Last night James Shaw announced the Wellington Transport Policy, from his position as Co-leader and Climate Spokesperson for the Greens. But instead of going straight into talking about trolley buses and light rail, his speech established the Greens as leaders in integrated policy. Most of the speech is about climate change, the Greens’ commitment to doing what is right, and then how transport ties into that.

Shaw started by talking about how he shifted from being a general purpose environmentalist to a climate change specialist during his corporate career in the late 90s. For the people who think that the Greens’ working with the business community is a sell out, this is worth a listen to get a better understanding of where Shaw’s devotion is.

It’s not to the corporate world, it’s to greening the economy in the face of CC. He talks about looking at spreadsheets the insurance industry was producing at the time on CC impact, and where they were seeing financial implications he was seeing an “incalculable human cost” in the impending crisis if we didn’t act to stop it.

[The Greens are] the only political party that is 100% committed to doing the things that are necessary to stop catastrophic climate change before it happens.

One of the Greens’ core messages in the election campaign is that we have the opportunity to lead the world in how to transition to a low carbon economy. Where other parties juxtapose the economy and the environment, Shaw says “the economy happens in the environment. Jobs happen on the planet”. And that we can’t be prosperous without climate security.

He’s also making no bones about the fact that time is running out, but we still have time if we act urgently.

The Greens’ carbon neutral by 2050 goal is backed up by a range of policy. Gareth Hughes has been working with the electricity industry, and developing a plan on how to get NZ to 100% renewable generation by 2030, in part by replacing existing fossil fuel generation with renewables as the old plants come to the end of their lives.

Shaw has previously announced the Green Infrastructure Fund as a key aspect of the 2050 goal. While National think business as usual is fine and they can just plant a few trees, Shaw points out that BAU will see NZ emissions rise 95% above 1990 levels by the year 2030. The Greens are committed to stopping fossil fuel extraction (deep sea and mining) – we can’t afford to burn 80% of what we already have access to so there is no point exploring for new reserves.

Every new piece of legislation should be tested against our climate change commitments, in the same way it’s tested against the Bill of Rights.

Then on to the Wellington Transport Plan which was developed squarely in the context of the need to reduce carbon emissions. You can see the full policy here, but the gist is light rail, saving the trolley buses, replacing buses over time with electric, investing in safer cycling and walking in Wellington city, tying this into the wider Transport Policies and seeking to make Wellington one of the most liveable cities in the world. Shaw emphasises working with community and council, and that this has been a long time coming (Shaw stood for the WCC as a Green candidate in 1992).

One aspect of the integrated policy that I especially like is the plan to make buses and trains free for everyone under 19 all the time, and free off peak for students and beneficiaries with disabilities as well as continuing the Gold Card for pensioners. As well as being great for health, family finances, and lessening congestion and pollution, placing children and teens at the centre of the design in one go changes the relationship to climate change of a whole generation.

These are the emerging adults who will understand intuitively that cars don’t need to be the centre of society, and that we can find solutions that reduce emissions and create good lives. Brilliant.

Shaw ends with stating that the Green Party and himself are rearing to go. I appreciated this statement, because while the power mongers are playing their macho politics games with the electoral process in NZ, and some of the commentariat are either freaking out or picking at their natural allies, the Greens are focussed on the tidal wave of change bearing down on us as we speak and standing strong in their willingness to act. Contrary to what some are saying, to me they look ready to do the mahi we all need.

Time is too short for pessimism. Now is the time for action.

Full video is here (17 mins),

7 comments on “Climate change and transport – the Greens’ integrated policy ”

  1. Roy 1

    And watch the movie, Inconvenient Sequel. I didn’t find it all that hopeful, more like a TINA situation. Let’s Green This. (This election. Let’s Green this election.)

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    in the same way it’s tested against the Bill of Rights.

    You mean the way every time upholding human rights is difficult, Parliament ignores them?

  3. CoroDale 3

    Great that Greens are focusing on win-win solutions to get us off the dependency of the oil-barons, and distance us from the middle-eastern conflicts. Even climate change skeptics would struggle to find faults in Green policy.

    But the mitigation methods are also getting scary. Posting from Europe, with thick air traffic; hot summer days are now seeing the skies filled with photo-chemical smog. It’s certainly reducing temperatures locally as the persistent con-trails spread into a haze above. But makes you wander what they are putting in the fuel that it sticks to the sky. Trusting its just silica-gels and not aluminium. But after so many years of poison from lead fuel in cars, it would be no surprise if they are doing it again with metals from above.

    For advanced readers, some mind blowing detail here being presented at the UN.

    Once the Greens are in govt, I’m trusting we’ll be able to mature the debate, and start to talk more about what the UN are actually doing around mitigation.

    That’s what I love about the Greens. Although they present themselves and their policy to the media, as they must, there is also amazing diversity within the party to react quickly to changes in technological and political environments.

  4. CoroDale 4

    Climate change – very intelligent focus. Also means changing the *political* climate. And with the cooperative political style from The Green Charter base, they can really do the job.

  5. Philj 5

    I think that some Nats are beginning to wonder what is going on. They are showing early signs that something isn’t quite right.. Sir Key, now Dunne… This Election is a collective intelligence test folks. Three terms of a Brighter Future? We should have gone with the Five Hundred Year Plan of the McGillicuddy’s.

  6. eco Maori/kiwi 6

    Our Country has the best resources in the world that will help us get to a carbon neutral economy. Wind power our mountainous topography is ideally suited for wind power. Our sky’s beam down up to 20% more solar energy than most country’s in our world the clear smog free sky’s.Our hydro resources are one of the best in the world and our hydro resources will complement solar and wind power. when the the days are cloudy or when the sky’s are still we use hydro.

    And because of these facts I scratch my head in total disbelief that National could totally ignore these facts and resources that we are blessed with. These resources would benefit us all. Our trade deficit would turn into a big surplus because we would not have to import carbon ie oil. Our exports would attract higher prices.Our forest grow at least 2 x faster than most of the world. In one persons life time you could get 3 harvest from our forest.
    We have one of the best environments for deep sea fish farming one of the best fisheries .Some of our horticultural farms can get 2 to 3 harvest in one year.
    That is why we have one of the highest rankings of natural resources in Our would. We have a mild temperate climate.
    With have a abundance of these great resources to shear with all of the people in our Great Country. We should never have people sleeping on our streets or children going with out there basic needs being meet. Yes some people can make exquises for these facts but these people are living in a glass bubble and they need to get out of there glass bubble and see how these unfortunate people live. And give there fallow Kiwis a hand up and vote for a political party that cares for the unfortunate and the environment .
    We would be able to Isolate our country risks from stock market shock of the world.
    Believe me the stock market shocks are not a if they are a when what goes up must come down. So come on vote for the best party that will shear the wealth of our country to all the people of our Great land

  7. eco Maori/kiwi 7

    Well we no why the National Party are ignoring this it is because they don’t want to shear the wealth of our land

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