How fast can we transition off fossil fuels?

Written By: - Date published: 9:57 am, January 12th, 2020 - 148 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: , , , ,

David Slack’s column on Stuff today looks at the resistance to taking climate action seriously, and the reasons why we should,

We have just two choices, they both take us into the unknown, and we have to pick one: give up fossil fuels and move to sustainability, or remain unsustainable and live with the consequences.

To help explain the wall of flames across their nation, the ABC has made a web page to lay out the future in exceptionally clear graphic form. 

They say, about the climate: “The childhood you remember no longer exists.” 

Here’s the executive summary: the hotter it gets, the worse things are. And it will not be good. It will be awful. Horrible. Deadly. 

From the ABC graphic,

The IPCC says that in the next 10 years the world must begin to significantly reduce CO2 emissions. If we continue to use fossil fuels the way we currently do, modelling from the IPCC shows we will be on track for a 4-degree increase in temperatures this century.

That would mean that by the time a child born today is 20, the 2018-19 summer we sweltered through would be considered a mild Australian summer.

Pete George then made the argument in response that we should be cautious in the process of giving up fossil fuels, because to do so quickly or radically would cause more problems than climate change.

We don’t have “just two choices”.

If we “give up fossil fuels” (and some go as far as saying or implying this should be immediate and total) the consequences would be enormous. Virtually no more flying. Virtually no more shipping. Drastically reduced private and public transport. Countries that rely a lot on on fossil fuels, like the US, China and Australia, would have extreme energy deficiencies, with no way of switching to electric transport to any degree.

The flow on effects of these changes alone would have a massive impact on our way of life – and would cost lives. We rely on fossil fuels for emergency services.

There would be massive impacts on food production and distribution.

Any sort of rapid change away from fossil fuels would cause far more problems than continuing on much as we are.

Slack has omitted the obvious choice – work towards alternative energy options as as quickly as we can – far more quickly than we are at present – but without putting civilisation on Earth at risk of catastrophic collapse.

Leaving aside that Slack doesn’t appear to be arguing that we should give up fossil fuels tomorrow (and in fact very few people are suggesting this), but rather that we should be taking more action, what’s really the issue here is how fast.

The irony of the incrementalist/slower position is that had we taken climate change seriously in the past we could have much more easily transitioned to renewable sources of power across society and been much less likely to have the deficiencies people worry about. It’s doubtful now that there is time for a slow transition that doesn’t disrupt people’s lives. It’s also doubtful that green BAU is possible because the timeframes are too short and because BAU transition takes too much of our carbon budget.

Regarding the basics (food, shelter, safety, healthcare, a decent standard of living), we’re approaching the tension point between the fear a fast transition will deprive us vs the fear that not acting fast enough will lead to climate change depriving us. Climate activists fear the latter more. Incrementalists fear the former more.

I can live without many things that we currently have and I’m not afraid of a decrease in lifestyle privileges. My grandparents born at the end of the 19th century lived good lives, and we will have far more technological advantage than they did.

Not so much social and community advantage but that’s the other great challenge here. When we give up fossil fuel tech we realise that we need social structures more. Relocalised economies, food/resource production and so on are dependent on strong community, and strong/healthy social connections make up a lot of the shortfall we might worry about. Think less socialising on our phones and more potlucks. Or less driving to the supermarket, more food from our neighbourhoods, more time to spend with the kids.

If that’s all a bit hippy for you, and we go back to the how fast a transition issue, what exactly is it that is stopping NZ from going fully renewable? Either we need more generation (wind, solar, hydro), or we need to use less power (and be more efficient in what we use, as well as make better use of passive tech).  We need both, and both is what allows us to transition faster and with less disruption. Yes, we have to give some things up, but this is not a hardship when we consider what is at stake. The sooner we get on with it the more we will be able to save.

148 comments on “How fast can we transition off fossil fuels? ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Power down and living with less is what the 3 billion people still living in absolute poverty in the world are already doing. And another 3 billion who have already entered a modest middle class living will only strive for better.

    If we reasonably assume that the human population will peak at around 10 billion within this century, that is another 9 billion humans all legitimately aspiring to the same standard of life that the top 'golden 1 billion' already have. It takes no complex math to understand that no matter how much the developed world 'powers down' … it will be totally negated by even quite modest increases in the developing world. The numbers simply enforce this.

    Equally it's impossible for the developing world to grow and consume resources as the developed world already does. That's axiomatic.

    Therefore they have to leapfrog us. The existing developed world can be thought of as a pilot program, an R&D phase that has enabled us to build a large enough technological base to get to the next stage … a stage that takes us beyond exploiting nature.

    How fast can we get there; well I still like the model I read a few weeks back. Three stages; push harder for more efficiencies in the short term. They are the low hanging fruit and are worth taking. Continue to develop known and available alternative energy sources in the mid-term; in this solar and wind absolutely have their place. Billions of dollars of research is being funded right not; tech improvements are coming down the road at us way sooner than we think.

    But longer term … say 20 – 50 years out we need high quality, concentrated energy that does not damage the environment. The most immediate lever to pull in this respect are the new generation MSR machines I've been on about elsewhere. Beyond them I expect the deep puzzle of stable fusion designs will likely be solved. To fully decouple our industrial systems from exploiting natural energy sources we need vastly more energy than we currently project. As a wild guess, at least 10 times our current total energy from all existing sources.

  2. mikesh 2

    How does one get rid of ICE cars while the existing fleet is continually being turned over and renewed? If we simply ban their use as from some particular date people with a sizable investment in a vehicle would be rather upset at not being able to use something they had previously paid for. We would have to set a date at ,say, five years in the future to give people time to adjust. Alternatively we could ban the import of ICE vehicles immediately so that owners could continue to use their existing cars until the time came to send them off to be crushed. This would allow the existing fleet to gradually diminish.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      It will happen when EV's become the economically rational choice. As soon as any new technology becomes about 5 – 10 times cheaper/better than the existing alternative, it very rapidly replaces the old. (It’s what happened when ICE vehicles replaced horses in the decade from 1900 – 1910, an equally dramatic shift)

      My best guess now … 2025.

      • IMHO they are now, the new (well second hand) Leaf arrives next week – most of our travel is around town, we don't need a long distance car

        • RedLogix

          A lot of households will use run a new EV for trips that match their shorter range capacity, and hang on to an older ICE for longer range trips, or as a backup car. Then over the next five years or so the ICE will be replaced either with a newer better EV … or more likely … people will transition from ownership to 'transport as a service' model.

    • Sabine 2.2

      Because mining for lithium is not using fossil fuels.

      we will never transition of fossil fuels because essentially we have become lazy and it is our god (insert your god of choice) right to drive humongous gas guzzling cars and boats and other assorted toys up and down the country for a bit of RnR to forget all that paying back of loans for the humongous gas guzzling cars and toys. Because really stupidity is us.

      • RedLogix 2.2.1

        right to drive humongous gas guzzling cars and boats and other assorted toys up and down the country for a bit of RnR

        Certainly true for some fraction of the people at this point in time, but adoption of new ideas is never a simple black and white moment event, everyone out then everyone in. Instead there are five recognised stages that people move through over time.

        As for lithium mining, yes it has some nasty downsides. In order to extract it cost effectively at present we are consuming naturally concentrated sources as described in your links. However there is a great deal of lithium (and many other metals) dissolved in the oceans. Vast amounts of it, far more than we conceivably need. There is some research looking at lithium extraction going on now.

        The big constraint in getting metals out of the oceans is energy cost. That's one of the reasons we need to be developing high quality, highly concentrated energy sources with no impact on the environment.

        You are quite justified in your dismay at how oblivious many people are on all of this … but there are good reasons to be at least a little optimistic. More than anything else humans do adapt to change remarkably well.

        • Sabine

          the best solution is public transport. Free, frequent, clean, etc. etc.e

          And again – free is an oxymoron considering that we pay for it already, our council subsidize it, and by getting people into buses and off cars we would probably not need to constantly build roads that can't keep up with the usage.

          As for hemp, is it even legal to be grown in NZ? The plant has many uses and should be grown in large numbers.

          • weka

            Hemp is legal to grow in NZ, I follow Blair on twitter who is a Southland farmer doing this,


            I think you need a licence to grow, so it's not cheap, but more people are in the process of setting up.

          • katipo

            "the best solution is public transport."

            If you can manage it a better option is walking or biking.

            • Sabine

              true that, but then you might not want to walk 20 ks+ either way to get to your job or such.

              Most of our misery on he roads is self inflict by insisting that people buy a car, legalise it, maintain it, put gasoline in. And this will go in the thousands of dollar a year. Just to get to work. + anything from an hour to 4 hours a day stuck in traffic to then keep that same vehicle parked at cost.

              The answer to that is public transport. Free, frequent clean fast easy accessible public transport.

  3. Ad 3

    The greatest resistance to New Zealand transitioning faster is cities.

    Our cities have 100 years of built-in inertia. I'm not decrying the "Transition Towns" movement, but tbh it's a small-scale effort.

    Christchurch was one of the greatest opportunities New Zealand ever had to rebuild to a completely different way of thinking and living. The results are a massive shift in where people live and how, but it could have been so much more transformative.

    While Auckland is now doing a lot to shift itself, if you want to see a really oil-addicted major city on the rise, check out Tauranga. OMG what a frickin' mess getting worse.

    And for a smaller city in raw conflict between its wealth and its ideals, check out Queenstown and the debate over whether to devolve airport functions across to Wanaka. That's a climate contest of the first order.

    These are hard contests, smacking up against locals and local institutions, with billions and billions of public money at stake.

    Coming up on February 28th:

    Government announces where it will spend another $28 billion in infrastructure.

    • weka 3.1

      Christchurch was painful to the people with sustainable and regen design in mind. I followed early on but had to stop in the end because it was too frustrating watching all those opportunities slip away. Lots of that was on National, but it's hard to know if under a Labour govt the sustainable stuff would have gotten much further.

      yes, conflicts between values. The sheer amount of power vested in people who see development and making money as the overriding need is mind boggling. This is a choice for the middle classes because they have the most influence over institutional power. Time to pick a side and soon.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        Nothing's going to change without people making money.

        Nothing on any real scale at least.

        That's mostly because everyone wants a good-paying and rewarding job.

        That upcoming $28 billion of infrastructure is enough to catch up on a host of social problems and then starting into some future ones. It's a list to watch for.

        • weka

          there's a difference between making a good living so that one can support one's life and family, and making money as a prime objective. Too many people in positions of power hold the latter above the former and this is what I was referring to. It's tied into development as a prime objective, rather than organising society for people and environment as a prime objective and designing development from that.

          Hence the Wanaka airport situation. QLD doesn't need another international airport, it wants one so that it can develop more. This is not the only choice available, but it's starkly the one that Slack and many of us point to. Do we want to limit the climate disaster? Or do we want to carry on BAU because we can make some money and grow some big projects over the next decade? There's nothing even remotely sustainable about the airport proposal, and it's a failure of imagination that it's even on the table (plus a massive amount of climate denial).

          Labour's priorities for funding should be infrastructure that is designed around sustainability and preparing for climate events.

          • Ad

            I'll have to do a specific post on the Queenstown-Wanaka situation because boiling it down to "they just want to make money" is as useful as David Slack doing another false binary about "just two choices".

            Slack is setting himself to compare New Zealand's policy responses to climate change with those of Australia's, even before the ash is cooled and the dead are buried.

            That is really fucking stupid.

            The Australian Prime Minister has already signaled that there will be an inquiry about their recent fires, and it's going to look into a broad range of factors including climate change.

            Slack and any other commentator will get the same response from Australians as we got from trying to tell them what to do with illegal immigrant and refugees arriving by boat.

            There's very little to compare between the two countries' risk profiles

            – New Zealand burnt 90% of its own forest far faster and earlier than the Australians have;

            – we use far less public transport than the Australians do;

            – we're a weaker, poorer, and less organized society compared to the financial capacity and governance systems of Australia;

            – we have a population not even the size of Sydney and still find it really hard to change anything of note;

            – we're arguably more beholden to a smaller and more concentrated set of interest groups and oligopolies and monopolies than Australia's Federal or State governments are

            – some of the policy and executive responses Australia has already developed to climate change – such as the Murray-Darling Authority – are more advanced and have more power than anything we've come up with

            – our own policy responses are so fresh we've still got a good year or two to go before we even get the regulations going

            Maybe David Slack should just STFU for a while and let the embers die down first.

            • weka

              Slack's post isn't telling Australians what to do. It's using Australia's situation to illustrate why we need to act now. We being NZers (his audience) or humans generally.

              Likewise, I didn't frame the Wanaka airport as boiling it down to "they just want to make money", and I have to wonder if the issue here is you're not reading what I wrote, or you're just not interested in responding to what I was communicating.

              I'll say it again in case anyone is interested. We need to change fast. Not overnight, but faster than BAU can tolerate. If you want to argue against that, feel free, but it will have to be a well constructed argument to pass my 'no denial under my posts' boundary. The IPCC is very clear on the timeframe.

              One of the big blocks to that change is having people in positions of power centred in making excess profit and developing for the sake of it/unsustainable development. Those two things are linked. If the starting point is to limit the damage that climate change will do, then the first move is to not promote BAU approaches but instead shift to systems thinking and sustainable design. Very few mainstream businesses and organisations are doing this, although more and more are trying to lay sustainability over the top of their existing structures (which is necessary but not sufficient).

              Hence NZ hasn't shifted to all renewables for its power generation. We think we need that extra 20 – 30% because we think that things have to keep growing and be developed, and some people lack the imagination to figure out how to help people making a living in a post-carbon world. But mostly because we're still not designing sustainably. As Robert says below, not everyone has that skill, but there are plenty of people who know how to do this.

              It did occur to me that when you said,

              Nothing's going to change without people making money.

              Nothing on any real scale at least.

              That's mostly because everyone wants a good-paying and rewarding job.

              you were talking about the business owning class. I'll reiterate. If we have ten years, and a capped carbon budget, the only way to meet those deadlines and constraints is if we start with the goal being climate mitigation. Not climate mitigation as secondary to the economy, but as the thing that the economy serves and is based on. The best work I have seen done on this is from the systems thinking/sustainability crowd.

              I'm not seeing much coming out of the mainstream that inspires me. So instead of a tree planting project that transforms across all of society (multiple kinds of forests and forestry, job creation, relocalising economy, better job satisfaction, integrated regenag, local orchards, local native reserves and so on and son), we have it being run by Jones, BAU economics, plants lots of pine trees and put the natives over there. It's equivalent of what happened in Chch and it's exactly what happens when you start with profit and development as the goal.

              • weka

                it’s on the business owning class to change practice and re-organise around sustainable design. There are plenty of people offering to help businesses do this, so I can’t see a good rationale here for arguing against this.

                • Graeme

                  It's one thing for a business to produce a sustainably designed product, it's another to get consumers to buy it over another product that has had the sustainability designed out of it to reduce cost and sell at a lower price point. In our global society price is generally the winner, business is responding to that.

                  I get that it a chicken and egg thing, but if a business doesn't have customers there isn't a business.

                  • weka

                    Did you have something particular in mind?

                    Farming is a good example. We have regenag tech. Farmers are resistant philosophically and are being given bad advice by the sector who likewise doesn't understand either the need for change, the timeframes, and probably doesn't have philosophical underpinnings to get on with it.

                    If we start with people and environment, instead of 'how can I maximise profit from this export', then the processes become transformed and it's easier to see the way out.

                    Because of the economic bind many are in (esp large debt) I'm in favour of farmer subsidies to transition, but only if to actual sustainable farming, not the tinkering to preserve profit that's happening a lot. Am also in favour of transitioning incrementally where that has meaning in terms of climate mitigation and ecosystem protection.

                    • Graeme

                      I was thinking more about general retail / consumer trade. I'm at the gallery today and looking around what we do, NZ made, generally by hand / artisan and good durable quality, then comparing that with other retail businesses. We're probably in the middle of the market, but but are above most that walk in the door, sometimes by a factor of 10 or more. So there's about 20 stores around Queenstown selling mass market souvenir items at $10 price points, we've got $500 counter sales. That's where we need to be to have a business from the much smaller market and provide a business for our artists.

                      My other business at present is building fences on a deer farm around here that's expanding quite rapidly and dramatically (the gallery's my partner's thing really). There's huge awareness around caring for the land and farming the land to improve it. I'm astounded at what has been achieved by the manager to tackle weeds (mainly briar and buddleia ) by careful stock management. There's considerable monitoring of land and water and improvements mapped. It's quite competitive through farm focus groups as well. But venison is a niche market and the gains are in producing a better product rather than producing more.

                      Fontera's possible demise has brought the value over volume debate out in the open and there's interesting discussions going on in agriculture and tourism. Government is leading a bit, but it's coming from industry as well and value seems to be accepted more now. That's at least from where I'm seeing it

                  • Sacha

                    Regulating minimum standards is how to make sure all businesses change.

                    Our neoliberal govts since 1984 have been wary of doing their jobs that way. They need pressure from the public and champions to change now.

              • Robert Guyton

                "I'll say it again in case anyone is interested. We need to change fast. Not overnight, but faster than BAU can tolerate."

                Amen to that.

            • James Thrace

              Re public transport.

              It is inconceivable that we have so much duplication across NZ when it comes to transport providers.

              Instead of 17 different bus companies, this is one social service that needs to be a single service provider across all of NZ.

              Doing so will allow for economies of scale and for costs to be spread nationwide instead of each provider having to make it work in the respective cities.

              Would also mean fewer subsidies paid out by councils to a multitude of providers and likely allow for bus drivers to be paid what they should be – something in the order of $30 per hour.

      • pat 3.1.2

        painful is an apt description….and a life lesson in the deception of rhetoric. The following is the type of opportunity that was promoted and envisioned post quakes and what many had hoped would rise from the dust….instead we got BAU and increased suburbia which is only going to increase with the (population) growth agenda of both local and central government.

        • weka

          thanks, I'm a fan of Krumdieck's, will have a look at the vid. Do you know what happened with the project?

          • pat

            absolutely nothing… said all the initial vision promoted by the gov/council/developers of using the disaster as an opportunity to rebuild the city with the future in mind was little more than feel good rhetoric that went out the window as soon as people like SK showed them how.

    • Graeme 3.2

      raw conflict between its wealth and its ideals

      Elegant summation of life in Central right now. Some of the conflict and nimbyism is delicious in it's ironies. You would have had an entertaining break over the hill this year.

      Many explicit examples of governments', local and national, inability to plan for growth on anything more than an annual timescale. So there's three competing 'town centres' in Frankton, all single level boxes surrounding a ground level car park, on 30m of fine sort gravel. David Henderson's concept for Five Mile was light years ahead of what we've ended up with.

      The airport issues are really just the tip of the iceberg, everything transport is at it's limits. Trucks, 100s a day, come down from Christchurch full and go back empty. Maybe a modern rail link through Mckenzie and into Central could solve a lot of current issues, freight and passenger. But that's big, bold infrastructure.

      • Ad 3.2.1

        Doing worry I'm not immune from such conflicts either.

        All those tourists coming in and pumping up my equity is just great.

        On the other hand it would be great not to have an international jet engine flypath over the house or those of my relatives.

        Queenstown and Wanaka – and increasingly Crowmwell – have wealth and mortgages and equity built on the success of that airport.

        And OMG Milford Sound resembles St Pancras station for the volume of people it pushes through.

        Tourism has been our transition industry from agriculture. And tourism is the most petroleum-reliant industry we have beyond cars and trucks themselves.

        Whatever transition we have in mind – well, Central Otago writes the conflict in capital letters for us.

        • Graeme

          Tourism operates on various time scales, and with different effects on values. There's the ones who come through for a few days and spend their money and use services.

          Then there's another layer who are here longer, they spend setting up a life and require an expansion of services to accomodate their increasing numbers. They may earn an income from, and contribute to the local economy, but it's still a cash / capital negative undertaking. If they get their timing right they might come out of it with with a capital gain. Scratch a negative attitude to the place and you'll often find a story like this.

          The challenge in Central is to transition the economy away from discretionary lifestyle residence. It's been a catch cry for the last 50 years, but nothing much has come along apart from building houses to house people to build more houses. Maybe eventually we'll reach some sort of critical mass where we create a self sustaining economy alongside tourism, but at present the cash burn of new arrivals is what keeps the place going.

          Tourism, as in re-creation tourism, may be highly carbon intensive at present, but this could be reduced easily with changes in transport mode and activities. Especially in New Zealand with our abundance of renewable energy options. The industry is essentially public transport in a discretionary/recreational form, we already have the infrastructure in airlines, rental cars and hotels, it's a matter of transitioning these to carbon neutral and more efficient modes. Just like Auckland's done with it's public transport.

          • Ad

            I agreed with all of that until you said "easily reduced".

            The $2 bus from the airport was a good move.

            They can do more.

            • Graeme

              Definitely we can do more.

              – High speed, electrified rail from Christchurch to Queenstown, for freight and passenger

              – Hybrid and electric rental fleets

              – Hybrid and electric bus fleets, urban and mainline

              – Bio-fuel and electric / hybrid for light aviation and possibly up to regional

              – Electric gondolas for mountain and commuter transport

              Of those five the only one that's not happening at present is rail from Christchurch. All the others are either contracted or have operators actively working on options.

              The $2 bus is going off, patronage is increasing all the time and a lot of full busses over New Year and seeing crowds at bus stops. Evidently expansion is being brought forward but constrained by staffing issues. Unfortunately not so much driven by carbon issues, but by capacity. Capacity on Frankton Road and parking in CBD can't be increased above current levels, so only option is demand reduction. Hence the maximum subsidy possible from NZTA, ORC and QLDC, evidently it's $2 because there's no provision to be free.

              Unfortunately catchment is pretty much restricted to the served routes, park and ride options are effectively nil, there's less public parking in Frankton than in CBD. When Gapes filled in Hendo's Hole the park and ride that was part of Hendo's Five Mile went west.

              • I think that rail from Chch to Queenstown is non-starter – are you going to ruin the Kawarau Gorge? (like we ruined the Cromwell Gorge?) how will you get it over the Lindis? (or do you plan on shutting down the rail-trail so you can the old rail line back into Cromwell working again (oh wait we flooded the Cromwell Gorge where it used to go)

                • Graeme

                  It's very serious tunnelling, but methods have moved on a bit since 1920's when we last built railways here. But like I said, it's serious infrastructure. But so is a new regional airport, which would need huge roading upgrades as well because it would be a long way from populations centres.

                  I’m think about ways to avoid building another airport in Central and getting a couple of hundred trucks a day off the Lindis, which is where we will be if there isn’t a change in how Central operates.

                  There's also serious people movements in and out of Central Otago with tourism, and bringing in everything to support that. At present everything comes by road from the north, apart from some of the people who come by air. Add in 20% growth in population p/a, plus everything to support that as well, and the current road and air infrastructure is at it's limit.

              • Rocco Siffredi

                "– High speed, electrified rail from Christchurch to Queenstown, for freight and passenger"

                Construction costs of high speed rail runs at about $50m/km. A line from Christchurch to Queenstown would be in the order of $25 billion.

                • Graeme

                  Yeah, I've been a bit in-precise with my language there. Really meaning high speed within our 3'6" gauge. So would probably end up around 10-15 billion to give a service up to 180 – 200 kmh for passenger and freight.

                  I can't see New Zealand ever having the population and economic density to have the full quid 400 kmh rail.

                  Queenstown airport has well and truly out grown it's current site and needs to move, or shed about half it's load to kick the can down the road for another 10 years. Estimates for a new airport start around 2 billion for the airport and then there's major road or rail infrastructure to tie that in with existing communities and tourism assets that could be 100km away. Very quickly numbers get very large.

                  Then you've got the freight. At present that all comes over the Lindis by truck, hundreds of them a day coming into Central. Driving right past the existing infrastructure that could power their replacement in a sustainable manner.

  4. Sacha 4

    Pete George then made the argument in response that we should be cautious

    Well knock me down with a feather.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Celebrate our cautious cousins … for we need them to save us from our over-reaching follies. smiley

      • Sacha 4.1.1

        Wouldn't want to put civilisation on Earth at risk of catastrophic collapse by acting on climate change. Unseemly.

      • AB 4.1.2

        It might be necessary to distinguish good-faith caution (concern for self and others) from bad-faith caution (concern for self alone). And while this is obviously a binary over-simplification, and while I also wouldn't presume to put Pete in either camp, it is important to recognise that not all caution is equal.

    • Robert Guyton 4.2

      Cautious Pete is a threat to our future.

      You wouldn't ask digger-driver to smith you a wedding ring; the ability to understand the unfolding ecological crisis does not reside equally amongst all humans; some of us are woefully ignorant of the world around us and shouldn't be offered the chance to hamper necessary action. The Guardian newspaper refuses to give column space to climate science deniers, as does StuffNZ – good call, such head-in-the-sanders imperil us all. Cautious Pete and his ilk do the same, while exuding an "suit of arrogance and set-f-confidence" that can't be dented, either by reason or mockery smiley Proclamations of caution, balance and restraint from the likes of Cautious Pete serve one good purpose in provoking discussion amongst those who aren't glued to BAU by caution.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        The Cautious Pete's of this world are innately risk averse. And there is an important value in their constraint; most new ideas are not good ones. Us visionary types would reduce the world to fucking chaos by morning tea if left in charge.

        But when we can demonstrate to them something that works … they will be the ones on get on board to build it, refine it and drive it to it's full potential. Especially if they can make some decent coin at it 🙂

      • weka 4.2.2

        I agree about the skill base, but you know I was actually wondering if Pete was coming around. It was an odd framing he used, but I think he was in fact agreeing with Slack. We should do something. If his resistance is to extreme powerdown rather than timely action, this is an improvement 😉

        • Sacha

          Bushfire haze in Dunedin may have caused some reflection..

        • Pete George

          You seem to be making incorrect assumptions. I've been arguing for taking action on climate change for the last decade.

          I'm arguing here for much more action than the current Government is taking. Thar's not new.

          I think there would be a lot wider support for more urgent actions if we had leadership with far clearer plans on this from the top. Without that the extremes can make more noise in a vacuum.

          • weka

            did you party vote Green at the last election Pete?

            • Pete George

              Are you checking to see whether I qualify for something?

              This is a symptom of a major problem afflicting the left – if someone is deemed to not qualify to have an opinion on an issue, or don't meet some sort of 'in the club' criteria, they're dissed or dismissed.

              The only way of getting majority support for what you want to achieve in a democracy is to find allies, not find reasons to divide and drive support away

              • weka

                No, I was going to have a conversation with you about the government's action on CC. You've mentioned in the past that you vote across the spectrum and in this conversation it seemed relevant to know if you voted Green last time.

          • Robert Guyton

            "I've been arguing for taking CAUTIOUS action on climate change for the last decade. "


            • Pete George

              That's a stupid "quote" Robert.

              I'm suggesting less "caution" than the current Government of which the Green Party is a part of. At least James Shaw understands democratic processes – he has achieved quite a bit considering the party numbers. But the Greens would get more support if some of their supporters didn't drive imagined heathens away.

              • pat

                less caution than the current government?….you mean go backwards….a la ScoMo?

              • I'm suggesting less "caution" than the current Government of which the Green Party is a part of.

                Hence weka's question as to whether you party-voted Green at the last election: because there is only one party advocating less "caution" than the current coalition, and that's the Green Party. If you didn't vote for them, how credible is your claim that you support a less cautious approach than the coalition?

  5. Sabine 5

    well we could demand free public transport (free being paid for by taxes ) now

    or, offer a tax rebate for all that use free public transport at the end of the year.

    we could offer a tax rebate for those that start cycling rather then commuting

    we could limit parking spaces for cars to one per family and if you want more then that than your family needs to buy a private car park and show the recipts for that (done in Utrecht Holland)

    we could also not build bedsites for poor people out in the sticks on either side of a motorway without shops, schools, etc and expect them to commute for hours on end to go to work, bring the kids to school and buy some groceries. But again, this is for poor people so i guess its ok. The well paid suits will feel good cycling to work, after all they live close enough 🙂

    we could raise the price of gasoline to include the cost of wars, dead people all over the oil producing countries of this planet, the pollution caused by oilspills, the costs of the destruction of wilderness and wildlife in order to build pipelines etc etc etc

    If we do enough of that some people might not have an issue with using public transport, and besides our Grandparents could, why should we not be able to.

    In saying that, non of this will ever come about simply because our suits are more interested in getting re-elected (all sides and all colors of the suits) and thus we are not going to do anything that would impact on that re-election success.
    And touching gasoline driven toys in NZ will not get you re-elected no matter how big the fire in the living room.

    • weka 5.1

      Re your last paragraph, if you believe that nothing will be done, are you saying people should not try to get things done?

      • Sabine 5.1.1

        Have you read my list first? its not the first time in the last few years that i have been on this board that i have raised it. Can you point to them and maybe just maybe address them on their merits. And not just the very last one?

        I would also like to point out that i have always used public transport, cycled twenty years ago when everyone was like WTF would you be doing that (cycling to commute), and never owned a car in NZ. And thus i can actually speak for the awesome services that are public transport option in NZ.

        And i can also point to my personal experience of rather walking 7 km one way to work then trying to get a bus because there are very few busses in Auckland that would come on time during rush hour, and there are even less that would arrive on time.

        I would also like to point to the debacle that was the cutting down the nice bus system that Wellington had to replace it with a very dysfunctional system they have now.

        We do nothing much when it comes to make public transport THE attractive alternative to the car.

        At the very least we could offer tax write offs to the working stiffs, school children and students that use public transport to get more people to use it. And i have raised that point many many times. And yet here we are, again discussing how to get of fossil fuels. Because at the end of the day, we do nothing.

        And again Weka, this is my own personal opinion based on my own personal experiences. Everyone else has their own opinion.

        • weka

          yes I did read the list first. It's a list that lots of us have, the stuff that could/should be done. But then you ended it by saying that it won't be done because x, y, z. So I'm curious, in a political space, how that works. What's the point of all the good ideas if you believe they won't be done?

          To put it another way, the left is full of people who have ideas about what we need. This is important. What we have less of is people willing to talk about how those things can be achieved in real terms. Not "the government can build more PT", but how we can get the government to do that. If your position is that this is not possible, then I don't understand what you are suggesting.

          • Sabine

            The point is that you asked what could be done.

            I listed a few things i believe COULD be done. Quickly. Easily even. Not all of them at once but one by one by these could be implemented, starting with the tax write of for the costs of public transport. This would also be one the points that would put money back in into families, and reduce the cost of going to and from work/studies/school.

            And i believe that if we make public transport the cheaper alternative to private transport people will start using it. And i believe this because i saw it happening in Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway, France etc etc etc. These were the things that the governments did in these countries starting in the late eighties and now you are on your third generation of people that own bikes and driver lisences but no cars. Cars are something to be rented when the need arises, or as some communities in Germany have started the Council owns 'community cars' that can be rented directly from the council. Again this reduced the need for more and more carparks, more roads, reduced local pollution, allowed for the replanting of what used to be huge carparks etc.

            But the fact that we are again discussing these points leads me to believe that nothing will happen …again.

            I don't even frame this in terms of left or right, but in terms of money. It costs a lot of money to buy, leglaise and maintain a car. And then it costs more to get on a bus in the morning – if it arrives on time. Think on that. Why would anyone, on the right, the left or non affiliated pay more to be late, or worse even not get the job because they are on public transport (and yes, that happens).

            So to finish, the government, the current and any other that follows could surprise me by doing something that is more then the signing of a paper that needs to be ratified and codified adn and and and and until it is obsolete like this one here or this one here . just to name a few.

            To be honest Weka, i fear that in a years time you will write another post to this end. And i fear that i will list the same points again, and we will have this exact discussion again. And i fear that next years 'bush fire season' in Oz will be worse then this years. And i fear that we still don't want to change, as essentially we don't want to give up our privileges. But we need to. We so desperately need to look at our privileges and we need ask if they are worth having and keeping.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              Sabine, your last point, about privileges:

              "We so desperately need to look at our privileges and we need ask if they are worth having and keeping."

              echoes Weka's observation (as part of ‘powering down’):

              "I can live without many things that we currently have and I’m not afraid of a decrease in lifestyle privileges."

              Agree with you both – to conserve the most essential elements of a NZ lifestyle, some and preferably most of us need to 'dial it back' while there are still enough of those elements left to stage a comeback.

              Others (and I'm not belittling them) can build skyscrapers, or visit Mars – I prefer NZ, as it is and as it was.

            • weka

              Where did I ask what could be done?

              I fear those things too, although I am less pessimistic than you. In the time I have been writing on TS about climate change (3.5 years), the conversation has changed (here, nationally, globally). I mostly now look at how change happens, and I'm heartened by XR, SS4C, MSM refusing to publish deniers and instead being proactive around climate science and action, we changed the government, the GP are in government for the first time, the IPCC has finally come out and said the crisis is here, now, and urgent and that we have to act fast. That's a large amount of social change in a short time.

              It's not enough obviously, but it does tell us that things are changing, and it is something we can build on.

              I'm also heartened by the increasing numbers of people that are gardening, making personal changes, wanting to do the right things in their own lives. This too can be built on.

              So I share your frustrations at what is not being done. The main point of me writing is to provoke discussion about change, what is working, and how to get there.

              And i fear that we still don't want to change, as essentially we don't want to give up our privileges. But we need to. We so desperately need to look at our privileges and we need ask if they are worth having and keeping.

              This. It's really what the post is about and I am working up to writing more about it being ok to give things up, because its necessary but also because it will potentially make all our lives better. Three years ago this was an almost impossible conversation to have because people were very resistant to the idea that personal change and sacrifice are necessary. I think we are just about at the point where being willing to sacrifice some things will go mainstream.

              Change can happen fast given the right conditions and I think there is a real possibility that the thinking and acting you and many of us are doing will come into its own. Not in a Pollyanna, everything works out ok way, but in a yes, it wasn't all for naught, we did manage to avert the worst of the disaster way.

              • lprent

                I fear those things too, although I am less pessimistic than you. In the time I have been writing on TS about climate change (3.5 years), the conversation has changed (here, nationally, globally).

                I've been arguing for starting to deal with climate change from about the mid-90s. Essentially there was sufficient cautionary evidence to back what was a theory when I finished a BSc in earth sciences in 1981.

                I started seriously arguing for faster adaption to combat climate change in the early 2000s. When I started commenting on this site in 2008, I seemed to spend half of my time on this site from 2008 onwards arguing with ignorant deniers who seemed to spend their time parroting lines that came directly from the fossil fuel industry.

                There has been a political and societal change in the last few years. But I think that it is going to be too little and too late to preserve any semblance of the kind of world we grew up with. We're going to have a lot of food production go out of usage and some significiant human dieback.

                I think that has only made a 6C average world temperature in 2100 less likely. The consequences of that on agriculture would have been absolutely horrendous. We may be moving towards targeting 4C. But I think that we're well past any hope of getting to holding it to 2C.

                There are simply too many people in the world (as Redlogix pointed out above) who are going to want to increase their standard of living over the coming decades. Effectively the richer 10% are having to develop the technologies to allow them to do that without dooming us all. And then that 10% are going to have to kill of their dependence on burning fossil fuels along with the accumulation of appropriate infrastructure that isn’t going to cope with the changes to come.

                The load of CO2 and heat that has already been deposited in the oceans at the poles, especially in the last 3 decades will be changing the climate for centuries as it resurfaces in the tropics. We're going to be living with the extreme weather from this profligate era for thousands of years.

                But even that change makes the difference between losing much of the human habitable areas of the planet to repeated extreme weather events, like those that have been unfolding in Australia, or just having to expend far more with the costs of extensive and expensive adaption as sealevels rise 75 metres as the ice caps slowly melt over the coming centuries

            • Sacha

              …to get on a bus in the morning – if it arrives on time. Think on that. Why would anyone, on the right, the left or non affiliated pay more to be late, or worse even not get the job because they are on public transport…

              Yes, people avoid public transit services if they are not reliable or frequent enough. Giving people tax reductions so the government has less income makes that problem harder to address, not easier.

              • Sabine

                – giving worker drones the same tax deductions offered to self employed, sole traders, businesses would be fair. Currently your waged employees are he only ones paying for their work transport unless they have a work vehicle then its us tax payers paying for it as the business will write the business car/gasoline/upkeep off as a business expense.

                All other parts of our business world gets to write them off as a cost of business. And getting a several hundred dollar tax refund at the end of the year is nice, believe me, i wrote of my bus/train costs travelling 120 km a day to and from work. I had a monthly pass that was also valid on weekends and for the Intercity. 🙂 It would be good sense, and could easily be implemented. After all we are able to give tax write offs to people like Gareth Morgan and the likes.

                – our public transport is bad because there is no will to fix it. Be it underpaid bus drivers, be it broken busses, be it lack of buslines to assure timely arrival, and the very high and prohibitive costs of the service. And there is no will to fix it because 'only the poor beings without cars' use it – after all that is it, use it or walk. This mindset needs to change. Our idea of public transport should be clean, accessible, fast, reliable, accurate and nigh on 24 hours services (depending on location and what service). And if we only invest when more people use it, then right now we need to do something for people to use the services as it is now. And that would be by making it cheap.

                We need to start somewhere.

                • Sacha

                  if we only invest when more people use it

                  Or we could change that. By investing now in more service. Not in frustrating more people by making crap services more crowded.

                  We need to start somewhere.

                  Yes, yes we do.

                  • Sabine

                    you do realise that your investment now! does not take away from providing free public transport to all. You do that?

                    Or is the 'free' that you have an issue with? Never mind.

                    • Sacha

                      If you make it free before you have made more of it, what do you think happens? We have had this discussion here before.

    • Sacha 5.2

      Provide more public transit services first – more frequent, more reliable, more places – without funding arrangements that expect them to pay their way from day one. More buses, more trains. Also build more infrastructure for active modes like cycling and scootering and walking. Separated bike/scootering lanes in all major cities.

      Only after that does it make sense to spend money/forgo income by doing the things you suggest.

      The current govt could do it immediately in this year's Budget. If Winston lets them.

      • Sabine 5.2.1

        Provide more public transport first. Lol

        this is what has been said for many many years. However, the reason we don't do so is that we have priced our public transport at such a cost that it is prohibitive and thus our excuse to not providing more public transport is that not enough use it. Catch 22 if ever there was one.

        So now, how about we change the course, and provide free transport and then have a reason to argue for more because we are at full capacity.

        Because we really need to stop that vicious cycle first.

        Also i find it interesting that you did not acknowledge point two, namely ' allow for a tax rebate at the end of the year to offset the cost of public transport' which could already in the immediate incentivise some to use a bus/train/tram rather then their own car.

        And all the other points that i raised that all go to the same point. Raise the cost of private transport to what it should be if we were to factor in all the costs. Especially if we were to include the money set aside for military and military hardway to protect 'our interests' in the middle east and other countries that have the raw materials that we need so badly to keep up our wasteful lifestyles. All of that would get more and more people from the car to public transport.

        But seriously, we can also do nothing. Which is what we are doing now. And price that nothing at a cost that makes the car the attractive alternative.

        As for the current government, they could do that and force Winston to stand there and argue for doing nothing, and i would like to point out that Winston is the only one to have ever argued for free public transport – albeit only for one group of people. Just sayin, that maybe Winston is not always the boogey man to trot out in order to excuse the inaction of the coalition.

        • Sacha

          not enough use it

          Where are you getting that idea from?

          • Sabine

            from having heard it over and over again.

            like, we can't have well build roads becasue we are a small country and don't have the money so we build really crappy cheap roads that need to be fixed in six month.

            same thing.

  6. mauī 6

    The incrementalists should be sent to fight climate change.

    • Sacha 6.1

      True. Scorch the beige out of em.

    • Any serious climate plans talk of transition, which means incremental changes.

      We're all incrementalists. It's a matter of degree.

      Unless you have some way of defining a non-incrementalist other than someone who says rather than does.

  7. Drowsy M. Kram 7

    We’re in a transition from talking over the horizon about climate models telling us about a hypothetical future, to actually experiencing changes that are consistent with some of those projections.” [from this link in Weka's post]

    This is a graphic summary of CO2-forced global warming projections. If humankind stabilises its annual CO2 emissions from energy and industry at around 40 Gt, then there's a roughly 50% chance that by 2100 global warming will be <3 'C above pre-industrial temperatures. Even in this optimistic scenario, the globe will continue to warm rapidly – human adaptability will be tested.

  8. pat 8

    "The last time levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide were this high came during the Pliocene Epoch, which extended from about 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. During that period, average sea levels were about 50 feet higher than they are today and forests grew as far north as the Arctic, said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford University. “Earth was a very different place,” he said. “You would hardly recognize the land surface, and my gosh, we don’t want to go there.”

    Thats 415 ppm NOW…..and we are adding to it daily, so unless we develop a mass miracle to extract more CO2 from the atmosphere than is being added we have locked in the changes….and the more we add the worse the environmental change and the more we have to somehow extract.

    Time to stop digging

  9. Climaction 9

    So much faster once this government stops fellating the rail industry and promoting roads.

    roads for EBuses to provide more flexible transport options from a to b that aren’t only a to b

  10. adam 10

    Liked the ABC link weka. As most of the people who write here will be dead before the really awful heating happens – gotta wonder why people are not willing to give up this comfortable life?

    I mean scratch the surface and most people are miserable. The comforts and ease of our current lives is not making people any more happier. I would have thought that the ability to embrace the world in a whole new way would have had a certain amount of appeal. But people are just as happy or willing to live their miserable lives.

    Having no car, and living as frugal as possible has its own joys. I eat healthier bread, which I make myself. I cook from scratch most meals (which my wife loves). A simple change recently is having a front loading washing machine – the water consumption had seen a significant drop. Stipping back to essentials is not hard, just takes a bit of effort and time.

    My guess is if kiwis were paid what they were worth, then more people would make the effort.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      The comforts and ease of our current lives is not making people any more happier.

      Absolutely correct. All the research on this shows that past a certain income/wealth threshold, human happiness is only weakly correlated with more. The problem is that for most of our evolution, lived out in lives of relative scarcity, more almost always equaled better. Now that link no longer holds so true, at least for the top 1 billion of us, but our instincts and social status seeking behaviours don't know this; it becomes a trap.

      The good news is that, as you have found, that humans can be educated out of this. All the major historic religions have teachings to this end. Poverty is no virtue, nor is wealth in of itself … what matters is whether it earned honestly and spent wisely.

  11. Leaving aside that Slack doesn’t appear to be arguing that we should give up fossil fuels tomorrow (and in fact very few people are suggesting this)…

    Slack said "give up fossil fuels" – what do you think he is arguing?

    Forest & Bird have a page End Fossil Fuels

    The oil, coal and gas deposits lying under New Zealand’s land and sea need to stay in the ground if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. The world can’t afford to burn the fossil fuels that we’ve already found, so there’s no point looking for more.

    What do you think they mean by that?

    It looks like we're a long way from ditching fossil fuels.

    The Government considered and rejected banning the import of fossil fuel vehicles from 2035 onward, new documents show, despite the Ministry of Transport supporting the move.

    The Ministry of Transport found that banning the import of fossil fuel vehicles by 2035 would have a net $2.26 billion benefit, but the Government decided against it. Instead, we have the feebate scheme.

    Now, environmental activists say the Government should have gone ahead with the move…

    "Give up fossil fuels" looks a long way off, if it ever happens this century.

    Unless there's a major change in technology we may be still using fossil fuels in 2050 (and could still achieve net zero emissions). Using fossil fuels drilled from Aotearoa and surrounding seas may be better for the planet than importing less clean fuels from elsewhere.

    • Sacha 11.1

      When someone says 'give up fossil fuels' why would you assume that means immediately – unless you were applying the worst intent to the conversation? Have some faith. You would like David in person.

      'The government' includes Winston First. Resistance to rapid action will be outvoted by younger-at-heart movements within years, not decades.

      However I do agree with @lprent at 6.12am

      There has been a political and societal change in the last few years. But I think that it is going to be too little and too late to preserve any semblance of the kind of world we grew up with.

      • mauī 11.1.1

        "When someone says 'give up fossil fuels' why would you assume that means immediately…"

        I think when it comes down to it, Pete is really not an incrementalist wink

    • Robert Guyton 11.2

      "Slack said "give up fossil fuels" – what do you think he is arguing?"

      Yes, well Pete, you've (finally) nailed the problem (of your own making). You've made an assumption about one sentence from David Slack and despite some of us other commenters pointing at your too-narrow interpretation right from the start, you've been unable to self-realise/self-correct and here you are, a day later still pushing it uphill.

    • weka 11.3

      ok Pete, so your argument here is that we don't need to give up fossil fuels. Good to know. Wish you'd been upfront about this at the start, might have saved us all some time and energy.

      btw, that belies your statement "I've been arguing for taking action on climate change for the last decade." The science says we have limited time and a limited carbon budget. Given we're not meeting even the conservative goals of international climate agreements, we have less leeway not more.

      • Incognito 11.3.1

        FWIW, I believe that quite a few (some?) here seem to be misinterpreting Pete. Much of what he says is extrapolated and much of what he doesn’t specifically state is filled in with assumption. Either way, are they really listening to what he’s conveying?

        Pete represents a thinking and attitude(s) that is fairly (??) common among and thus representative of a large (?) part of the population IMHO. And IMHO, again, we could (should?) use him as a ‘Guinea pig’ to see how best we get more (any) traction with that large (?) segment of the population on how to counter CC most effectively and expediently.

        I’m not necessarily taking Pete’s side but I’m trying to see and understand his point(s). I also think that Pete does not disagree with the ‘what’ but might not quite (!) see the ‘how’ and ‘when’ in the same way as others here would like (or ‘demand’).

        • weka

          He equivocates enough that it doesn't surprise if people miss his intended meaning.

          Nice idea about using Pete as a guinea pig. Not sure he will be up for it but let's see.

          Re him being representative of a (large) part of the population, the difference is he's been immersed in progressive political spaces for years so should have a better grasp of the issues by now.

          • Incognito

            Ok, the way I see it is that things need to change and I was going to add “obviously”. The (institutional) power in our democratic political system is with the government, i.e. the Government needs to persuade (not necessarily convince) people that some policies and policy changes are acceptable and necessary even. However, if a large proportion of the electorate remains unpersuaded then no Government (or coalition party, rather) will be elected to implement those changes. Typical Catch-22.

            In other words, IMHO it boils down on how you persuade others. Do you tell them their views are wrong and yours are right, for example? Do you come down hard on them with Doom’s Day scenarios even if the best evidence is that they are likely to be correct?

            The best way to persuade an opponent is to read his mind and in the absence of that, to listen very carefully on what they say and not say and how they frame it.

            CC is (definitely) not a problem of only the Left but the discussions about the problems of the Left touch on the same core issue, which is persuasion, IMO.

            As long as Pete comments here on TS, he can be engaged and interacted with. To study a Guinea pig in its natural habitat, so to speak 😉

            I’d like to think he’s up for it 😉

            • Sacha

              I am mindful that there are way more people reading this than commenting. They deserve to see either a reasoned argument or a prompt dismissal as rubbish if it's the umpteenth time or not worth arguing with.

              Beige remains a small but influential colour on our political spectrum and a favourite of media.

              • RedLogix

                The 'beige' thing may have been a little funny the first few hundred times …cool

                • Sacha

                  Open to other shorthand, but 'grey' already has other symbolism. Anyone who has noticed housepaint trends over recent decades has an idea what it means.

              • Incognito

                Indeed, but these are not (a) binaries.

                Ask people to clarify instead of equivocate. This is not the same as asking them to declare or commit to a certain position (yet) as in ‘come off the fence’.

                Dismissing something as “rubbish” is effectively terminating the conversation for “the umpteenth time”.

              • Robert Guyton

                "We're going to hit that wall: slam on the brakes!!!"

                "Just gently apply the brakes. We don't want to wake the children sleeping in the back seat!!"


                (It's a game of Guess the Players)

      • Pete George 11.3.2

        "ok Pete, so your argument here is that we don't need to give up fossil fuels."

        No it isn't.

        I said we are unlikely to give up fossil fuels very quickly. Eventually we (future generations) will have to give them up mostly if not completely. We will get there incrementally.

        You have argued for incremental change yourself in suggesting that no one (I presume including yourself) suggests we give them up immediately.

        • Robert Guyton

          'cept David Slack ('parently).

        • weka

          so your argument here is that we don't need to give up fossil fuels urgently with regard for the IPCC's 10 year time frame, or even by 2050?

          "You have argued for incremental change yourself in suggesting that no one (I presume including yourself) suggests we give them up immediately."

          Depends on what you mean by immediately. What I meant is we don't need to give them up this year and crash the global economy. There's a long way between that and saying it will happen next century and there's no rush. We do need to start giving them up right now. As in literally tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. It's a process, which is why we have some years to do this in. Not as long as you seem to think though.

          In the context of this post 'incremental' refers to political positioning. eg we can drop GHG emissions so long as the economy take priority and we don't cause too much upset to people's lives. This despite the fact that that approach may well cause mass deaths of humans and other forms of life.

    • RedLogix 11.4

      Unless there's a major change in technology we may be still using fossil fuels in 2050 (and could still achieve net zero emissions).

      I'm assuming in good faith that if by some entirely hypothetical miracle the world could stop using fossil fuels tomorrow, and not collapse into chaos, you would support that. There is after all no innate virtue in dead dinosaur juice.

      And I'm assuming that by 2050 (just 30 years into the future, hell I may well be still alive) the ICE engine for land transport use will be a historical curiosity, curated in museums and a few licensed collectors … like we do Clydesdale horses.

      The question … that weka posed in the OP … and effectively you are restating is 'how fast can we make the transition?' In that I suspect the govt is being way too conservative; I believe the tipping point for cars is quite near, around 2025 EV's will become around 5 times cheaper to own than equivalent ICE's. Tesla has shown it's commercially possible, and all the big automative groups, plus a few others like Dyson, are throwing billions at this.

      There will remain a need for big diesel engines for a while yet, at least another 10 years. Trucks, mobile machines like earthmovers, and marine all demand a power and range capacity that is not within reach of electric just yet. Besides the big diesel engines that power large ships are the most thermodynamically efficient heat engines humans have ever built.

      That deals to about 30 – 50% of the CO2 problem (depending on national energy use profile). The balance is important things like electricity generation, domestic and industrial heat, steel and concrete manufacture and fugitive emissions from major activities such as agriculture. And of course EV's will increase the demand for electricity. In this solar and wind will continue to play a useful bridging role, but the sheer numbers are against them ever fully taking up the whole load in the long term.

      NZ is in an almost unique position, we could get to 100% zero carbon with solar, wind and supercritical geothermal. Turn off Tiwai Point and we get 20% or so more electricity to play with. Our agricultural methane may have some good solutions within a 5 year time frame. For our current population we're sitting sweet, and we could easily get to 100% zero carbon by 2030 if there was a bi-partisan political will to do so.

      If you do get around to reading this Peter, could you please indicate whether you think this outline is reasonable or not?

      • Incognito 11.4.1

        For our current population we're sitting sweet, and we could easily get to 100% zero carbon by 2030 if there was a bi-partisan political will to do so.


        • Robert Guyton

          What can our politicians do in the face of international industry's (read, oil) pressure?

      • Pete George 11.4.2

        The question … that weka posed in the OP … and effectively you are restating is 'how fast can we make the transition?' In that I suspect the govt is being way too conservative

        I suggested that the Government was being too conservative, but that was ignored by the usual rush to dump on with false assumptions.

        RL, I think what you suggest here is quite feasible for New Zealand. But I think it requires a much more concerted effort and far better leadership from Government.

        NZ is in an almost unique position, we could get to 100% zero carbon with solar, wind and supercritical geothermal. Turn off Tiwai Point and we get 20% or so more electricity to play with.

        Turning off Tiwai will be hard on Southland for a while, but I think this is inevitable sooner or later, and the sooner it happens the quicker we will get to 95% or so renewable (the final 5% will be more difficult and expensive).

        There could be a creative way to help compensate Southland, like financing more aggressive experimental reductions in farming emissions without impacting on production too much. Farming efficiency is one of our strengths. We need to be able to do it with reduced environmental effects.

        • Pete George

          Another possibility is to use ex-Tiwai power (Manapouri) to electrify farm production and transport to factories and at least to ports. Southland is reasonably compact and flat so if it is viable anywhere it should work there.

          There may be reasons why this can’t work, but I think we should be looking for far more innovative ways to transition.

        • Pete George

          I'd much rather the Provincial Growth Fund was being used to try a few game changing innovations rather than being dished out to local bodies and opportunists who seem to see it as some sort of lotto handout for their pet wee projects.

          • Incognito

            Pete, you’re confusing the PGF with Callaghan Innovation. They dish out the dosh to game changers and industry disruptors. I don’t know whether they invested in e-scooters to compete with Uber but this is the sort of stuff that will push up NZ into the world of big players. Forget about the provinces; we need cheap land to retire in luxury in our lifestyle homes.

        • RedLogix

          Thanks for clarifying that. And some interesting suggestions around Southland. From a global pov shutting down Tiwai Pt might not be much help if the same aluminium production is shifted to another country that produces electricity with more CO2 … but that argument cannot run forever; eventually NZ will have to judge that it's in our best interests to look after our own CO2 targets. And as you say it would be tough on Southland; Tiwai Pt is a large employer with many well paying jobs. Farming alone doesn't really replace it.

          But then Australia has a similar problem with closing down coal mining … and that's a bitter pill they will have to swallow too.

          One thing we do have to consider; that if we go to carbon zero with a heavy reliance on solar and wind, it will be very difficult to maintain even our modest heavy industry base. These sources simply don't cut mustard for big dairy, steel and cement plants that need many 100's MW of base load to operate. Given NZ public opinion is so very anti-nuclear, the only other option I can see working might be super-critical geothermal. Some research is happening already, maybe that needs more funding to accelerate development.

          However we look at this, I think we both agree the ground is shifting under this issue a lot faster than most people think, and certainly faster than our political system is reacting to. Shaw seems to have made a decent start, but do you have any concrete steps in mind on how we might encourage more momentum across the board?

          • Pete George

            "do you have any concrete steps in mind on how we might encourage more momentum across the board?"

            Less bickering and point scoring and arrogance and divisiveness (I've argued this for years).

            Overwhelming the noise on the fringes with decent debate and common purpose – there are obviously differences in what needs to be done and how fast and how drastic change needs to happen, but the bigger and stronger the push for more to happen faster the more likely Government will do more, especially in an election year.

            Despite the sneers here most change in a democracy (in any country) is incremental. We need to push for more, faster, bolder increments.

            It's better to start with smaller steps and accelerate them as will and funds and proof they will work increases.

            And this has to happen across the political spectrum. We know what the Greens want.

            Some of the more extreme Greens won't get all they want, but they are best to work with more moderate measures (but more radical than what is happening now) instead of dissing anyone who is deemed not to be extreme enough.

            Labour particularly needs pushed on this. Jacinda has made it clear she sees climate as a big issue, but she needs to deliver on her rhetoric. If middle Aotearoa (social and political leanings) show they are generally supportive of more being done then the erst of Labour will push for more.

            It's also important that National is nudged towards more support for more action. They have indicated they are willing to support some action. That's not enough for me, yet, but dumping on them is not going to help move them more. Popular support will.

            Some have proposed a political/democratic revolution to make radical change. They want to change the whole political/economic system. I think this is idealistic and a huge risk, and it won't happen under our MMP anyway. There is no sign of support beyond a small group, here at least.

            But I think we do need a political revolution of sorts.

            Parties have adapted to MMP, but many of those active in politics are still in last century single party mode, where they want their lot to do everything they want. With social media they have amplified bickering and division. This is counter-productive to progress.

            You're better to win some modest increments than have no big increments. I think that James Shaw understands this, and has quietly but effectively worked positively CROSS PARTY on setting a framework for more sustainable political support on climate measures – from the parties in Parliament.

            I think this is a good place to work from.

            The more extreme Greens will get more of what they want (not everything, no one does in a democracy) if they support Shaw and support what he is doing, and embrace and encourage more moderate support. At the moment they are alienating potential support because it isn't 'pure' or idealistic or radical enough for them.

            Similar for the more radical side of Labour support.

            To build momentum with popular support people in politics need to look at how they can work together far better than at present. Under MMP divide and conquer doesn't work. Unite on what is possible rather than bicker on differences of degree of change.

            I think that a side effect of this approach will rebuild Green party support. It will also build more confidence in Labour to do more. It will also nudge National more to the centre, which I think is a good thing.

            Parties already work together and cooperate quite a lot in Parliament, but put on a more combative PR charade, apparently thinking that this will swing votes their way. I think they are likely to improve their chances of getting votes if they are seem to be more positive on common purposes rather than highlighting differences and dumping on each other so much.

            We could have a revolution of sorts in our politics – but it would take a rethink by those active in political forums. I think that to an extent this has happened here over the last few years. But there is still support for dumping on perceived foes, with false assumptions (I don't know if they are misconceptions or deliberate).

            I think that the 'you can only discuss this if I think you are left enough' stuff is misguided too. If you're in politics you should be prepared to have your views challenged and contested. I think you learn more from that than happy clapping.You also have a better change of building wider support for at least some change in the right direction.

            The 'non-incremental or nothing' stuff is doomed to failure.

            Perhaps old political practices are too entrenched here, but if you want faster, bigger increments you need wider support, not divide and wither.

            This is only a small niche in the political playground, but there's some signs of recognition that change is needed in political media.

            Tracy Watkins: The election is nearly here – let's strip it back to what really matters

            The stakes are high so it's not surprising they play the game this way. Winning power means getting to bend an economy and a people to suit their vision.

            But that's also why we deserve much better.

            So once Ardern names the date, let's all pledge to strip this election back to its essentials, and focus on the story behind the personalities and the soundbites.

            There seems to be a will to change for the better there. I think that should be encouraged.

            • Robert Guyton

              "Less bickering and point scoring and arrogance and divisiveness (I've argued this for years)."

              My bold. Good early morning humour there, Pete; gotta hand it to ya!

              • RedLogix

                Robert … could you please exercise some self control. That was a damn good reply from Peter; and you troll him?

            • RedLogix

              I was scrolling upwards through the thread and was skimming your reply sort of backwards (it's an odd habit I have, sometimes I find it easier to read an argument from the end back toward the beginning.) And I was quite impressed at the care and detail that had gone into it. When I got to the top and saw your name I have to say I'm delighted.

              More than anything else I would like to see us work towards creating the psychological 'safe space' (for want of a better term) to allow people to change their minds and shift away from previously polarised and entrenched positions. Already, just recently, there are plenty of good examples of people trying this approach.

              I enjoyed this deep dive into our evolved values and psychology that goes a long way to explaining how and why so much irrationality got entangled with what was essentially only ever a science and engineering problem:

          • Gosman

            You won't get any significant moves beyond those already being made if the argument is framed as as the cause being Capitalism and the solution a form of environmental socialism (or at least statism). By doing this you set up a massive blow back from groups that might in fact be sympathetic to some of the goals you are trying to achieve via reducing GHG in the atmosphere. If you disagree with this analysis how do you explain the failure of the recent climate negotiations?

            • Robert Guyton

              "groups that might in fact be sympathetic to some of the goals you are trying to achieve via reducing GHG in the atmosphere"

              How gracious of them. Do they refuse to do anything then, because their capitalist feelings are hurt by us mean Lefties?


              " how do you explain the failure of the recent climate negotiations?"

              Capitalist greed.

              • Gosman

                If you frame the debate in terms of Capitalist versus the Environment then it will take decades before you get any significant change (if you get any at all). Do you think we have decades to sort through this debate?

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            "Given NZ public opinion is so very anti-nuclear…"

            "…the ground is shifting under this issue…"; however, given that we're "The Shaky Isles", that "very anti-nuclear" public opinion is appropriate. We don't need a Fukushima nuclear disaster on our doorstep.

            "The accident was started by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on Friday, 11 March 2011."
            "An ongoing intensive cleanup program to both decontaminate affected areas and decommission the plant will take 30 to 40 years…"

            Evolution is powered by errors, and has equipped animals to learn from their mistakes. Recently a few humans have acquired the ability to identify existential threats posed by long-term trends, but the species may not be leaving itself enough time to identify and apply appropriate corrective measures.

            Can the tried and true method of solving problems by trial and error decrease the momentum of civilisation sufficiently to avert (a partial) collapse? Time will tell…

            • RedLogix

              If you had followed the whole thread it would be clear that if some fool was to try and build a PWR reactor in New Zealand … I would be first in the very long queue to lie down in front of the bulldozers. As you rightly say, the geotech hazards in this land alone should rule them out. And unlike Japan we have a low population and can reach carbon zero without nuclear.

              But globally it's a very different story. Coal and oil still provide 70% of our total energy consumption. And that consumption is growing by aprox 5% pa. Look at those graphs, solar and wind are growing exceptionally well, but that's a huge gap to close. And that should prompt a reality check:


              As I've outlined elsewhere Richard Nixon may well be remembered by future generations, not as the President who was impeached, but as the fool who stopped Alvin Weinberg developing a safer form of nuclear fission. Then came Three Mile Island as as usual the American's went ape-shit, totally over reacted, regulated all innovation out of the nuclear industry and loaded on costs that ensured it would be uneconomic. The NRC have essentially strangled nuclear power to death, with Greenpeace egging them on from the sidelines.

              If Weinberg's MSR vision had been adopted by industry as the way forward 50 years ago, and we had built our current current energy supply on them … we would not be having this fraught conversation on climate change. Period.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Just 'voicing' an opinion – agree entirely that growth in human consumption isn't sustainable. Since we can't ethically halt global human population growth, how else might we stabilise global consumption? I'm trying to redirect my momentum – walking rather than driving, eating less meat, cutting back on international travel and other non-essentials, buying less and locally – look at ME, my halo is shining.

                Re Nixon and Weinberg, do you think that even now some senior US politician might be making foolish decisions on the future of energy generation? Maybe Greenpeace has Trump’s ear

                • RedLogix

                  There is good reason to embrace simplicity, efficiency and less profligate lifestyles. It is good for our soul to consider how lightly we can tread on the face of a planet who nurtured us from clay. We could all do with a bit more physical effort, hardship even, in our lives. We're just too damned comfortable and complacent.

                  But as a solution for CO2 … not so much. Even if the developed 1b were to heroically reduce their consumption by half … and assuming the other 9b or so humans were to grow and match us … the total resource consumption will have increased by a rough factor of five times in the next 100 years. And that isn't sustainable either; at least not with our present toolkit.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    "Even if the developed 1b were to heroically reduce their consumption by half…" – I'm assuming you're using 'heroically' sarcastically, as was my reference to a fictitious halo. Such a large (50%) reduction in consumption by "the golden 1b" would occur only if it were forced; 'heroic' is a more apt descriptor for the current foolhardy level of resistance to consuming less.

                    Yes, consuming less is not the whole 'solution' to global warming, but it could be part of a path towards at least stabilising CO2 emissions. A meaningful reduction in emissions in the next 50 years isn’t feasible; we're going to need a lot of energy from conventional sources just to cope with the impacts of climate change. And it’s a good choice for all the reasons you mention.
                    Every little bit helps smiley

                    • RedLogix

                      I'm assuming you're using 'heroically' sarcastically

                      No … I meant in the sense of a 'massive effort, sacrifice and commitment'.

                      And then look further into the future; past the next 100 years or so. Is it likely that the human race will forever constrain itself to a low energy, low resource use path? From an evolutionary perspective its a dead end.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      "And then look further into the future; past the next 100 years or so. Is it likely that the human race will forever constrain itself to a low energy, low resource use path? From an evolutionary perspective its a dead end."

                      Whaadabout the whales? They fit that description and aren't they swimming philosophers? What do you believe evolution is hoping to achieve?

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Looking more than 50 years ahead now would be ludicrously ambitious for me; fortunately at my age I don't have to worry.

                      It's funny, a flight of fancy in my youth was the idea that I might skip forward in time (to 2060, then 2160, etc.), by use of some improbable suspended animation technology, to experience the future achievements of human civilisation.

                      A civilisation of 10 billion souls won't “go gentle into that good night” – expect 'fireworks'.

                      [Prefer this one over “The Nine Billion Names of God”]

                    • RedLogix

                      In the meantime on another thread we can't even make up our minds if we're boys or girls … and now we're supposed to be whales? cheeky


                      Indeed. One story I read as a teenager has stayed with me ever since. Clark’s

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Do you think we're destined to take all of nature in our hands and mould it into the form we deem best?

                      What is the ultimate evolutionary goal for humans, in your view?
                      “Indeed. One story I read as a teenager has stayed with me ever since. Clark’s

                    • RedLogix

                      Do you think we're destined to take all of nature in our hands and mould it into the form we deem best?

                      That's a very good question; I'll not pretend to an firmly held answer.

                      One way I could express my feeling on this would be to consider the entire history of the human race as a metaphor for a child growing, through infancy, childhood and adolescence. I might roughly correlate each with say our hunter gatherer existence, then our agricultural history, then our industrial transformation. And like most adolescent's the past few hundred years have been a turbulent time. But they are not an end point.

                      The next phase has to be adulthood.

                      Up until now we have been primarily a biological species, a child of the natural world; now we are on the brink of becoming the first 'post-biological species', the first species to step outside of the constraints of evolution, the first species capable of altering it's environment and our own selves, capable of consciously writing our own future. That's a terrifying responsibility, but it's what adulthood means.

                      And part of that responsibility will be for the healing our birth planet, becoming her guardians rather than a burden. Imagine earth as our literal mother; we have treated her shabbily, shamefully, and the day has arrived when we must make this up to her, perhaps make her metaphorically proud of us. But we could not do this as children, we must become adults in possession of our full faculties and powers first.

                      That doesn’t directly answer your question I realise, but it’s how I would start to frame one.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      RedLogix – I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to "frame up" your view on this pivotal issue.

                      "Imagine earth as our literal mother; we have treated her shabbily, shamefully, and the day has arrived when we must make this up to her, perhaps make her metaphorically proud of us"

                      Using your analogy; would it not be wise to consult with the Mother before "becoming the first 'post-biological species'", that is, go all "non-Mother" on her? Should we perhaps learn (re-learn) how to read/hear/heed/listen-to, our Mother, before engineering the (supposed) next evolutionary step? The trouble we've got ourselves into as adolescents seems to stem from being so blind and deaf to the advice I'm certain is being offered in every moment by every living non-human thing (animal, vegetable, mineral and ethereal).


                    • RedLogix

                      And I truly appreciate the challenge, like most people I can only really think when I speak or write. This conversation is a good example of a distributed network being far greater than the power of any single node 🙂

                      You are quite right, in our adolescent incarnation we have been arrogant and wilful. If I may divert onto what may look like a tangent. In rough terms, prior to the scientific revolution, people explained and managed their world using what I call 'observational intelligence'. Looking closely at natural patterns was essential in order to hunt, gather and grow food reliably. The survivors where the smart ones who we very, very good at this skill. And this skill manifested itself in our cultures, it gave rise to the great mythologies, the overarching moral narratives, the philosophies, models of healing such as the traditional Chinese evolved … and so on. The primary hallmark was observation of patterns, followed by narrative.

                      The scientific revolution upended this model, it would propose a hypothesis (a narrative) and then seek experimental evidence (observation) to prove or disprove it. In particular science was deeply distrustful of our ancient pattern recognition skills, because all too often it would lead us astray. In order to do science well you have to be deeply ruthless with your innate tendency to fool yourself into believing what you want to believe.

                      About four years ago a close friend, a man I admired profoundly died way too soon in life. I still feel robbed. He was one of those rare people who combined the best of both thinking skills, the well trained science mind AND the subtle, searching poetic soul of the observing mind. He could stand next to a glacier and thrill a group with the life of the great white beast, and then crouch next to a slow flowing stream and tell me stories of what some small bubbles of gas trickling to the surface meant. I had to be careful walking in his living room, it was entire moving installation of suspended objects, each with a meaning, hovering over tottering piles of textbooks, albums, histories, biographies and art. Then we would find a feed from his rustic garden and I would listen entranced over an earthy soup, to this woven tapestry of art, science and life, opening doors into both logic and imagination all at the same time.

                      I dream that maybe our great grandchildren's generation will have more like him.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      I'm sorry to hear he's gone. I wonder what his view on this topic was/would be?

                      Presently, I'm reading/working through: "New Eyes for Plants"by Margaret Colquhoun (scientist) and Axel Ewald (artist). The blurb says: "This shows how science can be practiced as an art and how art can help science through using the holistic approach of Goethe". It's a workbook. Chapter 1 is titled: A question of Life – or not

                      It does, I imagine, what you describe in your friend: combines "the best of both thinking skills, the well trained science mind AND the subtle, searching poetic soul of the observing mind." So far, it's made my head spin a bit and there's plenty of reading ahead of me smiley

    • Of course we should stop digging it up, we're burning the Amazon, but over geological time the earth has been burying biological carbon bringing us to the current (or rather geologically recent) equilibrium that we (and out culture/agriculture/etc) have evolved to deal with.

      But were not just burning the Amazon, we're digging up and burning ALL the Amazons over geological time – we don't have anything in place that's capable of removing environmental carbon at the same rate – in fact most of what we have is the ocean (which acidifies as it takes up CO2), and trees (but the Amazon is burning).

      IMHO we should stop recycling carbon (throw all that paper down old coal mines) that will make unburned carbon (ie trees) worth more, people will grow more.

      The easiest thing NZ can do today to reduce our CO2 emissions is to shut Tiwai (it makes fully 5% of our CO2 emissions, they burn sacrificial carbon anodes as part of their process, every 2 atoms of Al requires 3 of CO2) shut it down and we reduce by 5% – plus a further 5-10% if we use that electricity to remove as much fossil fuel power generation as possible in the rest of the grid (this means building a tie line from Roxburgh to Benmore so the power can get to the NI).

      • Robert Guyton 11.5.1


      • weka 11.5.2

        "IMHO we should stop recycling carbon (throw all that paper down old coal mines) that will make unburned carbon (ie trees) worth more, people will grow more."

        Wow. Not much takes me by surprise atm, but that's a doozy.

        NRT tweeted this today (below), and it made me realise I don't understand the mainstream economics of converting pastoral farming to forestry. What you just said puts a new spin on that. Is the idea that planting more trees and using them and planting more will keep sequestering carbon. How many things can we make from wood? What's the carbon gain/loss from harvesting compared to growing forests to climax state? Or harvesting from climax forests?

        • Paul Campbell

          That's sort of part of the point, growing trees sequesters carbon, but unless you put it somewhere permanent it doesn't sequester it for ever, my 100 year old wooden house has done a good job of that, but it wont last forever, where will the wood go eventually? hopefully back into the ground and not burned.

          Longer term we have to do something with those trees, and the things we make from them, wood and paper products

      • weka 11.5.3

        do you have anything I can read about the Tiwai GHGs? (something for a lay person).

        • Paul Campbell

          (I haven't done the math for a year or so … I may well be off a bit …. let's do it again)

          It's essentially high-school chemistry – the Hall–Héroult process does a mixture of these two reactions:

          Al2O3 + 3C -> 2Al + 3CO (and then 3CO->3CO2)

          2 Al2O3 + 3 C → 4 Al + 3 CO2

          So atomic weight of Al is ~27, molecular weight of CO2 is 44 so making 1 unit by mass of Al makes 1.6-2.4 units of CO2 (let's say 2 units – the wikipedia page for Tiwai says 1.97)

          Last year Tiwai made 340111 tonnes of Al so 680222 tonnes of CO2.

          NZ CO2 (not CO2 equivalent) emisions 2016 was ~36 million tonnes. So I was off, it's more like 1.9% of our CO2 emissions (my previous "5%" was wrong) – however ~8% of our emissions are from electricity generation, as I originally mentioned replacing that is the big win.

      • pat 11.5.4

        Tiwai produces 0.8% of our emissions…the power to run it is hydro from Manapouri. It may be argued that IF Tiwai wasnt running then there would be less demand for Huntley but there isnt currently the capacity to move that power from Southland to where the demand is.

  12. gsays 12

    Weaning ourselves off the supermarket is a great start.

    Buying locally, supporting primary producers, getting used to a lesser range of foodstuffs. When our $ move, other businesses can grow, employ and innovate.

    A generation ago, diesel miles were something to be avoided, we seem to be willingly blind to them now.

    • weka 12.1

      Yes! Food is a good one to lead with because it flows into regenag/organic, local employment, relocalised economy, landcare/restoration, health, as well as low food miles and reducing GHGs. Then we see the things are all connected and come to understand that ecosystems have stability and resiliency from those connections, and that's the game changer.

      • gsays 12.1.1

        I would also argue that time banking is another exercise that will build and reinforce communities.

        As we move/are moved by the interesting times ahead, the communities that have been undone by neo-liberalism's race to the bottom, will need strengthening.

        • weka

          Forgot about timebanks! Thanks, these are the safety nets that stop people on the fringe from freaking out as much. Fast low carbon isn't the end of the world.

    • Gosman 13.1

      That video highlights what is wrong with the efforts to push an immediate massive solution to climate change.

      There is no mention of the mechanism of how this 74 trillion worth of investment across 143 countries will actually work. The assumption is that it is easy to do and the only reason that it is not being done is because the "fossil fuel industry" funds opposition.

      The unstated implication of this belief is we should restrict what people do so as to stop people opposing what is quite straight forward and easy to do. That is dangerous thinking.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 13.1.1

        BAU is fine personally, just not so good for the future of civilisation and the rest of the environment.

        Societal inertia will stymie efforts to redirect the momentum of civilisation, but even futile efforts deserve recognition as we squirm (and burn) under the thumb of physics. Too bleak?

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  • Bill to boost national fuel resiliency introduced
    The Fuel Industry (Improving Fuel Resilience) Amendment Bill would: boost New Zealand’s fuel supply resilience and economic security enable the minimum stockholding obligation regulations to be adapted as the energy and transport environment evolves. “Last November, I announced a six-point plan to improve the resiliency of our fuel supply from ...
    6 days ago
  • Faster ACC payment top-ups and fairer system
    The Government is making sure those on low incomes will no longer have to wait five weeks to get the minimum weekly rate of ACC, and improving the data collected to make the system fairer, Minister for ACC Peeni Henare said today.  The Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) ...
    6 days ago
  • Compulsory code of conduct for school boards introduced
    A compulsory code of conduct will ensure school board members are crystal clear on their responsibilities and expected standard of behaviour, Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said. It’s the first time a compulsory code of conduct has been published for state and state-integrated school boards and comes into effect on ...
    6 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen annual conference.
    Tena koutou katoa and thank you, Mayor Nadine Taylor, for your welcome to Marlborough. Thanks also Doug Saunders-Loder and all of you for inviting me to your annual conference. As you might know, I’m quite new to this job – and I’m particularly pleased that the first organisation I’m giving a ...
    6 days ago
  • Govt to support councils with buyout and better protection of cyclone and flood affected properties
    The Government will enter into a funding arrangement with councils in cyclone and flood affected regions to support them to offer a voluntary buyout for owners of Category 3 designated residential properties. It will also co-fund work needed to protect Category 2 designated properties. “From the beginning of this process ...
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers changes to reduce pokies harm
    The Government has announced changes to strengthen requirements in venues with pokie (gambling) machines will come into effect from 15 June. “Pokies are one of the most harmful forms of gambling. They can have a detrimental impact on individuals, their friends, whānau and communities,” Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds said. ...
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers 1800 additional frontline Police
    The total Police workforce is now the largest it has ever been. Police constabulary stands at 10,700 officers – an increase of 21% since 2017 Māori officers have increased 40%, Pasifika 83%, Asian 157%, Women 61% Every district has got more Police under this Government The Government has delivered on ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister Mahuta talks Pacific ambitions at the first Korea-Pacific Leaders’ summit
    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Nanaia Mahuta met with Korea President Yoon, as well as Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna, during her recent visit to Korea.  “It was an honour to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the first Korea – Pacific Leaders’ Summit. We discussed Pacific ambitions under the ...
    6 days ago
  • Government drives $2 billion of business research and development
    The Government’s Research and Development Tax Incentive has supported more than $2 billion of New Zealand business innovation – an increase of around $1 billion in less than nine months. "Research and innovation are essential in helping us meet the biggest challenges and seize opportunities facing New Zealand. It’s fantastic ...
    7 days ago
  • Achieving lift off: National Space Policy launched
    The next ‘giant leap’ in New Zealand’s space journey has been taken today with the launch of the National Space Policy, Economic Development Minister Barbara Edmonds announced. “Our space sector is growing rapidly. Each year New Zealand is becoming a more and more attractive place for launches, manufacturing space-related technology ...
    1 week ago
  • New science and creative technologies wharekura announced
    A new Year 7-13 designated character wharekura will be built in Pāpāmoa, Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis has announced. The wharekura will focus on science, mathematics and creative technologies while connecting ākonga to the whakapapa of the area. The decision follows an application by the Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore ...
    1 week ago
  • Freedom Camping changes a win for the environment
    Protecting the environment by establishing a stronger, more consistent system for freedom camping Supporting councils to better manage freedom camping in their region and reduce the financial and social impacts on communities Ensuring that self-contained vehicle owners have time to prepare for the new system   The Self-Contained Motor Vehicle ...
    1 week ago
  • Speeding up the family court, reducing stress on families
    A new law passed last night could see up to 25 percent of Family Court judges’ workload freed up in order to reduce delays, Minister of Justice Kiri Allan said. The Family Court (Family Court Associates) Legislation Bill will establish a new role known as the Family Court Associate. The ...
    1 week ago
  • UK FTA delivers benefits from today
    New Zealand businesses will begin reaping the rewards of our gold-standard free trade agreement with the United Kingdom (UK FTA) from today.  “The New Zealand UK FTA enters into force from today, and is one of the seven new or upgraded Free Trade Agreements negotiated by Labour to date,” Prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Next steps to reform outdated surrogacy law
    The Government will reform outdated surrogacy laws to improve the experiences of children, surrogates, and the growing number of families formed through surrogacy, by adopting Labour MP Tāmati Coffey’s Member’s Bill as a Government Bill, Minister Kiri Allan has announced. “Surrogacy has become an established method of forming a family ...
    1 week ago
  • Defence Minister to attend Shangri-La Dialogue
    Defence Minister Andrew Little departs for Singapore tomorrow to attend the 20th annual Shangri-La Dialogue for Defence Ministers from the Indo-Pacific region. “Shangri-La brings together many countries to speak frankly and express views about defence issues that could affect us all,” Andrew Little said. “New Zealand is a long-standing participant ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand–China science relationship affirmed
    Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall and the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang met in Wellington today and affirmed the two countries’ long-standing science relationship. Minister Wang was in New Zealand for the 6th New Zealand-China Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation. Following ...
    1 week ago
  • Supporting a strong future for screen sector
    5 percent uplift clearer and simpler to navigate  Domestic productions can access more funding sources 20 percent rebate confirmed for post-production, digital and visual effects Qualifying expenditure for post-production, digital and visual effects rebate dropped to $250,000 to encourage more smaller productions The Government is making it easier for the ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister Sepuloni to attend 61st Anniversary of Samoa’s Independence
    Deputy Prime Minister and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs (Pacific Region) Carmel Sepuloni will represent New Zealand at Samoa’s 61st Anniversary of Independence commemorations in Apia. “Aotearoa New Zealand is pleased to share in this significant occasion, alongside other invited Pacific leaders, and congratulates Samoa on the milestone of 61 ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs retailers with expansion of fog cannon programme
    The Government is continuing to support retailers with additional funding for the highly popular Fog Cannon Subsidy Scheme, Police and Small Business Minister Ginny Andersen announced today.  “The Government is committed to improving retailers’ safety,” Ginny Andersen said.  “I’ve seen first-hand the difference fog cannons are making. Not only do ...
    1 week ago
  • Government will consider recommendations of Intelligence and Security Act review
    The Government has received the first independent review of the Intelligence and Security Act 2017, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says. The review, considered by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, was presented to the House of Representatives today.  “Ensuring the safety and security of New Zealanders is of the utmost ...
    1 week ago

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