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Climate Change cowardice hurting NZ’s image abroad

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, November 13th, 2009 - 36 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: ,

One of the UK’s most influential newspapers, The Guardian, carries a stinging attack under the title New Zealand was a friend to Middle Earth, but it’s no friend of the earth. It damns us for our abject failure to live up to the clean, green image we sell ourselves on. Here are the main points:

…my prize for the most shameless two fingers to the global community goes to New Zealand, a country that sells itself round the world as “clean and green”…

…if you read the small print of what New Zealand has actually promised, it is a measly 50% in emissions by 2050 something even the US can trump.

Where do all these emissions come from? New Zealand turns out to be mining ever more filthy brown coal to burn in its power stations [actually, we mostly export our coal to China for steel production and import coal from Indonesia to burn]. It has the world’s third highest rate of car ownership. And, with more cows than people, the country’s increasingly intensive agricultural sector is responsible for approaching half the greenhouse gas emissions….

…the country’s minister in charge of climate negotiations, Tim Groser, has been busy reassuring his compatriots that “we would not try to be ‘leaders’ in climate change.”

This is not just political spin. It is also commercial greenwash. New Zealand trades on its greenness to promote its two big industries: tourism and dairy exports. Groser says his country’s access to American markets for its produce is based on its positive environmental image. The government’s national marketing strategy is underpinned by a survey showing that tourism would be reduced by 68% if the country lost its prized “clean, green image”, and even international purchases of its dairy products could halve.

The trouble is, on the climate change front at least, that green image increasingly defies reality.

Our failure to do our part and our hyprocrisy will come back to bite us – environmentally and economically (not that those two can ever be separated). If we want to continue to sell our exports and our tourism on an enviornmental brand we need to stay walking the talk. We need to start with a meaningful ETS, not National’s one that won’t reduce emissions and will subsidise polluters at the expense of ordinary Kiwis.

36 comments on “Climate Change cowardice hurting NZ’s image abroad”

  1. TightyRighty 1

    the guardian is not that influential. it is a fiercely partisan paper only read by the left. the losing left it looks like too.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      The middle class liberal left that goes on holidays and likes to make ‘ethical choices’.

      If only we had a minister of tourism with some political clout.

      • Scribe 1.1.1

        Pb,

        Shouldn’t middle class liberals who care about the environment be hitch-hiking to Leeds for their holidays. It’d be better for the planet than flying to the other side of it 😀

        • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1.1

          Probably, yeah.

          It’s a bit like all those small families you see at church nowadays 😉

      • outofbed@gmail.com 1.1.2

        The Guardian readership is exactly the sort of readership where The “clean and green image resonates..
        Just wait for a channel 4 expose of what really is happening in that clean and green country, and our British market will be fucked
        Thanx Tim Nick John, keep smiling

        • gitmo 1.1.2.1

          So the solution to protecting our horticultural/agricultural exports is to make them less competitive to the competition ?

          Meh Why don’t we just lie about our CO2 emissions.

    • snoozer 1.2

      um. hell yeah the guardian is influential. it’s circulation is up ther with the Times and the Telegraph.

      And you’ve ignored the improtant points.

      The future of our economy depends on our image, and national is undermining it.

    • BLiP 1.3

      Classic attack the messenger, Denial 101.

    • Nick J 1.4

      Gaurdian read only by the left TR, what planet do you live on? I used to deliver it as a paper boy, it doesnt go into council estate letterboxes, only grand mansions and nouveau riche outfits who also read the Times. Get your facts right.

      • Stacktwo 1.4.1

        Current readership of the printed paper is over 1200000 – higher than any other major daily except the Financial Times. And of course also a very influential international publication amongst the web-based media.

    • willaspish 1.5

      I read just recently that the Guardian had 30 million unique visitors last month. Perhaps lprent could put that in context for us.

  2. John Dalley 2

    And there you have the beginnings’ of the destruction of New Zealand’s export markets in Britain and the EU. What dip shit John Key and the rest of the climate change deniers, ifs it doesn’t matter if it is true or not.
    As long as enough people believe it is so, the more danger we are in that our lack of commitment will allow our competitors to use it against our exporters.
    those of us that go back a ways will remember what happened with our meat exports.
    They may remember that the conditions imposed on our meat works were of a far higher standards than in their own country. This is also why i have found it absolutely staggering that the likes of Federated Farmers are so resistant to change. Staggering.

  3. This is potentially the most important issue facing New Zealand for the next couple of decades.

    If you put to one side the actual damage being done to the environment and hope like hell the wingnuts are right and climate change is due to overly excited moonbeams rather than an increase in greenhouse gasses then the PR fallout alone could cause huge damage to NZ’s exports and the flow of tourists.

    The nats finely tuned PR instincts ought to realise this and also ought to realise that finely honed press releases will not do the job, only real action will.

    I wonder if this post or the post about Harawira will attract more attention?

  4. Mmmmm … so I can quote from ONE opinion piece IN one paper to make a point that you will accept as fact? It’s interesting of course to compare this approach with the view taken here about Key’s international profile.

    Neither does eddie point out that the opinion piece is not without its detractors.

    Just one of a number of comments:

    NZ has a population of 4 millions in a land area about the same size as the UK. This means higher infrastructure costs and commensurate fuel emissions.

    Most of our energy comes from hydro electric dams.

    Most of our greenhouse emissions come from farm animals – you know, we produce unsubsidised food so efficiently we can export it across the globe and sell competitively against EU subisidised intensive farmers.

    Regardless of the issues that are being debated, it’s hard to argue that one opinion piece that has issues with some of its key arguments can be seen to hurt NZ’s image abroad.

    • Daveski 4.1

      I should be sin-binned for replying to my own comment, but this comment on the linked article also stood out!

      The reality in NZ is so different to the branding.
      NZ is a car infested, alcohol sodden hell hole with appalling levels of domestic violence.
      Cyclists are demonised with ludicrous helmet laws. Cannabis is demonised so allowing P labs to flourish.
      .
      Overt racism, misogyny and fascism are encouraged by a craven tabloid based media. Code words commonly used to embrace these social attitudes include efficiency, a can-do attitude, friendliness etc

      A narrow country in every sense of the word.

      The rugby mentality dominates with a real prickly male aggressiveness that seems to percolate most sections of society.

      IMO our clean green image is a reflection of the small population rather than any explicit attempt to be environmentally aware – indeed, I think it is quite obvious we are not. Perception is not reality.

      • BLiP 4.1.1

        Most of our greenhouse emissions come from farm animals you know, we produce unsubsidised food so efficiently we can export it across the globe and sell competitively against EU subisidised intensive farmers.

        Unsubsidised food? Farmers are will receive $1.1 Billion in direct subsidies by the end of 2012!!!

      • So Bored 4.1.2

        Hi Dski,

        Perception is reality, and entirely depends in NZ on whether you are a kea or a kakapo…..

        You are on the button, small population obscures our very obvious lack of environmental self control, we are far from green (whatever that means). I like the quote aswell, it is a perfect description of that dark side of the NZ psyche that is on display on those awful grim days when Henry forces the ABs to lose. On better days when the sun is out and tuis drink nectar from the flax flowers we are able to kid ourselves that the quote is just some Pommy jornos claptrap.

      • lprent 4.1.3

        Yeah that comment was made by a Taiwanese immigrant that I worked with a few years ago. He was saying that one of the reasons he came here was because it was such a clean place compared to home for trash being everywhere.

        After a while he realised the Kiwi’s were as grubby if not more grubby than Taiwanese. It was just that there were less kiwi’s meant that the trash was wider spread.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.2

      Heh, also from Daveski’s awesome commenter’s dissent:

      NZ’s rare multi-party parliament has a viable Green Party which consistently wins 5%-10% of the seats. It is often a partner in government with a major party.

      Lastly, have a glance on the Google map at the NZ landscape. It’s pretty green.

      speaking of having some issues with it’s key arguments…

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        Lastly, have a glance on the Google map at the NZ landscape. It’s pretty green.

        I did that on Google Earth and was absolutely disgusted at the amount of damage that we’ve done to the land. Where natural ecosystems used to be there are now farms.

  5. Clarke 5

    Full marks to John Key, Tim Groser and Nick Smith for raising hypocrisy to an art-form.

  6. randal 6

    nicholas dunlop yesterday on rnz9-noon.
    there will be a 4deggree rise in temperature by 2070.
    so its too far out at the moment for the usual gang of noo noo heads lead heads and other gross enrgy users to feel any pinch to their infantilised activities.
    when the sh*t does hit the fan then they willbe the first to go and no post modern relativisitic whining will bring any of it back.
    hey hey my my.

  7. George D 7

    In case anyone is ignorant of it, New Zealand’s negotiating position for the current climate negotiations is a range of 0%-20% reductions.

    Yes, 0%. We’re taking 0% into the negotiations as a serious position.

  8. Deus ex Machina 8

    The Gruauniad is Left of Center, balancing the Telegrif which is Right of Center, but it’s read by far more opinion-leaders, people likely to have the ability to holiday in New Zealand and/or take a conscious decision to change their shopping habits to support climate-change action than is the Mirror.

    But I’ve no doubt John Key will be relaxed about it.

  9. gingercrush 9

    I love how the left seemingly has no issue that in the period where they talk about how wonderful Labour left the economy and how wonderful wage increases were etc that they also allowed emissions to grow significantly and saw a near stop in the planting of new forests. The only thing that saved net emissions was the tree planting under the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT DURING THE NINETIES.

    We’d be in a much better position if Labour didn’t oversee some of the fastest increases in emissions in the whole entire world. Its also a point Eddie ignores.

    • This has been covered a number of times.

      A change in carbon output habits does not happen overnight. Labour inherited a power system where any increase in demand essentially had to be met by burning coal at Huntley. After the economy boomed and grew consistently and employment also grew significantly demand for power increased.

      It takes years for new projects to come on line. Wind gradually started to play a more and more significant part. There was a thermal ban and a proposal that 90% plus of all power generation be from renewables.

      And with job security and a greater sense of wealth people started to drive more.

      And dairy farming took off. A lot of land was converted to dairy use.

      You can blame Labour for wanting growth and full employment. You cannot blame Labour for inheriting the power system that it did.

      And GC how do you feel about National’s policies. These will mean that NZ will go backward and that in 20 years time the system will be significantly worse than it would if Labour’s policies had been allowed to continue.

      So do you have a response or are you going to keep recycling the same slogans that Nick Smith gave you?

      • gingercrush 9.1.1

        Labour inherited power companies wanting to invest in wind farms or who had already invested in wind farms. So you can hardly go blame National for that. Your whole piece on electricity is well pathetic.Labour had nine years and they oversaw huge increases. Tree planting substantially stopped during that same period. Labour did nothing to get tree planting going. You can’t go blame National since during the nineties we saw huge increases in tree planting something that actually is saving this country from spending a fortune in payments for our net emissions.

        As for your pathetic piece on people wanting to drive more. Is that really true? That doesn’t strike me as likely considering we’ve seen huge increases in petrol prices. I think you’re just talking rubbish. I have my issues with dairying and their emissions since agriculture emissions isn’t included elsewhere so I won’t blame Labour for those.

        As for National taking us backwards. They can’t do anything worse than Labour and in fact I predict the next decade will see a decrease in emissions. If that happens. National will have done more for the environment than Labour ever did. Labour was hopeless and your defense of them is pathetic.

        • mickysavage 9.1.1.1

          Labour did nothing to get tree planting going

          Well there was the ETS and the attempt at a carbon market but the Nats and co managed to drag implementation out or to actually stop change. This was not Labour’s fault. Remember they were always a minority party relying on others for confidence and supply.

          As for your pathetic piece on people wanting to drive more. Is that really true?

          Sure is. Just check out the amount earned from Fuel Excise Taxes each year.

          To quote from a 2008 MED publication:

          “Household liquid fuel use has increased 21% over the last 10 years as cheaper Japanese used cars have made vehicle purchase less expensive. Subsequently the number of cars per household have grown”

          So how about a reasoned defence of National’s actions?

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox 9.1.1.2

          I agree Labour were culpable for their failure to reduce emissions but are you REALLY defending National’s performance?

          Please let me know what their plan is?

    • Bright Red 9.2

      the international prices of wood and dairy have nothing to do with the government in office at the time.

      If national or labour had put in place measures to really encourage afforestation or curb emissions than they would get credit. the fact they happened to be in government when economic forces led to afforestation doesn’t earn them credit.

    • lprent 9.3

      Two points (out of the many possible)…

      1. Under the Kyoto rules, effectively forestry is a zero sum game. It only improves things until they’re cut down.
      2. Much of the halting of planting was due to the uncertainty about carbon credits. Much of the blame for that uncertainty can be placed directly at the feet of the NACT’s for their parochial and short-sighted opposition to the ‘Fart tax’. It would have been a lot better and simplier than this half-arsed and ineffectual cap’n’trade system.

      So what you’re really pointing out how bad the NACT’s are.

  10. Homo Domesticus 10

    Friends, we will pay dearly for Nick Smith’s obstinacy. National’s scheme will be seen by many, particularly in Europe, as too little. This perception of us not doing our share will damage NZ exports. The damage will be exacerbated once the Europeans learn that big polluters, farming and industry, are exempt under Smith’s scheme. I believe Nick Smith’s timid scheme makes food miles and tariffs on NZ exports inevitable. Where will be then?

    Homo d.

  11. uroskin 11

    We could always change our tourism marketing to targeting the climate change denier sections with100% pure bullshit and a free copy of Investigate at the Airport upon arrival.

    • Pascal's bookie 11.1

      Thread: Won.

    • RedLogix 11.2

      Nice train of thought there….

      How about re-powering all those sodding sluggish campervans with the gruntiest, thirstiest twin-turbo V12’s ever made, and pitch to the Top Gear and NASCAR market?

  12. Jemima 12

    John Key is a hypocritical idiot. I am ashamed of living in a country where a person like him was voted as our prime minister. Anyhow, onto our reputation. We need to wake up to the fact that although overall we don’t majorly contribute to the world’s, carbon emissions, per capita we have one of the highest rates in the world.

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