Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, April 13th, 2017 - 117 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, climate change, disaster, global warming, Parliament, russel norman - Tags: climate change, debate, extreme weather, heroes, Parliament, russel norman
Climate fight requires political heroes
Last year, Victoria University researchers produced a compelling visual of water lapping up to the grounds of Parliament […] It’s an apt image as MPs prepare for a historic parliamentary debate on climate change this afternoon, while New Zealand is recovering from severe floods caused by two tropical cyclones in as many weeks. These are no longer one-in-500-year events.
The subject of the debate is the report Net Zero in New Zealand, by Vivid Economics. This important report looks at transformational pathways for New Zealand to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions in the second half of the century, as called for under the Paris Agreement.
While political parties should and undoubtedly will maintain their own mix of distinct policies, it is vital to New Zealand’s long-term interests that we build broad consensus on goals and strategies for decarbonising our economy.The global consequences of inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The floods, drought and wildfires felt around our country over recent months are worrying signs of a new normal.
Further delay and uncertainty will be very costly. Across the ditch, the Australian Energy Council says that political uncertainty has raised power prices by more than if the government had put in a $50 per tonne carbon price.
The wheels are in motion, but in New Zealand, we have frankly spent a decade stuck in second gear. We lack a coherent plan of action. Vivid Economics’ report offers a compelling summary of our potential to become a net zero emission nation. It demonstrates that this is an achievable goal; how we might get there is simply about the choices we make from now on. […] There are multiple viable pathways ahead, requiring us to assess tradeoffs and make strategic choices as a nation.
As citizens (and especially as voters) we must do two things from today. First, we must hold our MPs accountable for building and keeping to a cross-party consensus on a zero emissions future. Second, we must give them permission to step away from any entrenched party positions to make sensible, pragmatic decisions for our future.
* The special parliamentary debate will take place 3-5pm and can be viewed on Parliament TV or at www.bit.ly/2osBwjL
The intent to build a cross-party consensus is of course excellent, and in its service I will not further pursue the points of “A decade stuck in second gear” and “We lack a coherent plan of action”.
The headline of the piece mentions political heroes. We have always had them, we have never treated them well. One of them, Russel Norman, has just literally put his body on the line (and in the sea) in front of a massive oil exploration ship. For this service, he and the other heroes are to be charged by this government under the first application of a law designed to suppress such protest.
Political heroes are necessary but not sufficient. We need a new political culture. A culture that values facts and evidence, and that punishes politicians for ignoring them. A culture that plans for the future. A culture that acknowledges the limits placed on us by physics and the environment. A culture that puts people ahead of money. A culture that the political right will fight quite literally to the death to oppose.
(Prove me wrong in Parliament today! Please?…)