James Shaw Speech to the Green’s conference – Greening the Government

Written By: - Date published: 2:21 pm, July 15th, 2017 - 25 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, global warming, greens, james shaw, Politics - Tags:

Text of the prepared speech delivered today by James Shaw to the Green Party conference.

He koutu whenua, he take whenua, e kore e taea te riri.

Tīhei mauriora!

He mihi nui ki ngā mana whenua o tēnei takiwā, Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrakei, tēnā koutou katoa mō tō manaakitanga.

Ki a koutou e te whānau o Te Rōpū Kākāriki, harikoa ana ahau ki te kite i a koutou i tēnei rā.

Tēnā tātou katoa.

Two days ago, we heard the news that a block of ice had broken away from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica.

Now, blocks of ice break away from Antarctica all the time.

But this wasn’t just any old iceblock.

This was a 5,800 square kilometre iceblock that weighs a trillion tonnes.

To give you a sense of perspective, that’s about a thousand square kilometres larger than the Auckland Supercity.

Imagine driving from Huntly to Mangawhai Heads, on an open road, with no traffic – actually, just imagine that, for a moment! Julie Anne Genter for Minister of Transport! – that trip will take you about two hours.

In your electric car.

That’s how big this iceblock is.

It is the start of the breakup of the Larsen C iceshelf.

After that it’ll be time up for the West Antarctic iceshelf, which holds the equivalent of about 3.3 metres of sea level rise.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency.”

Paula Bennett, on the other hand, says that we here in New Zealand are playing our part. That we are on the right track.

She cites research into new technology, aid to the Pacific Islands, and a review of the Emissions Trading Scheme, as signs of her Government’s commitment to tackling climate change.

Well, there is one measure – and one measure only – for whether any country is doing its part.

And that measure is whether our greenhouse gas emissions have risen, or fallen.

And on her Government’s watch, New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen 19 percent.

That is a stark betrayal of today’s young people, and of future generations.

It is beyond negligent. It should be criminal. And I’m looking forward to seeing what Sarah Thompson’s court case against the Government has to say about that.

Now, the Government also keeps saying that New Zealand is a small player, that we account for less than one percent of global emissions.

And that is true.

But if you added up all the countries that each account for less than one percent of global emissions, together they add up to 23% of total global emissions – much more than the United States and nearly as much as China.

New Zealand has the fifth highest per capita emissions in the OECD. We outstrip virtually every other industrialised nation.

Being small does not absolve us of responsibility. Being wealthy increases our responsibility.

Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.

The Paris Agreement commits all countries that signed up to it – including New Zealand – to take action to hold global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees.

What this means, is that the world needs to get to a net-zero carbon economy sometime in the second half of this Century.

The Paris Agreement also says that developed countries – like New Zealand – should take the lead.

What that means, is that we are responsible for getting to a net-zero carbon economy much closer to 2050 than 2100.

Now, many years ago, former Prime Minister John Key said that he thought New Zealand should not be a leader when it comes to climate change, but a “fast follower”.

This was the same John Key whose campaign slogan was “Ambitious for New Zealand”.

Well, under the National Government, New Zealand is not only not a fast follower, we’re not following at all.

But I believe we ought to lead.

Over the course of the last couple of years, our colleague, Dr Kennedy Graham, has worked assiduously behind the scenes in Parliament to build at least some level of cross-party consensus on climate change.

And he has met with some level of success.

Kennedy established an informal, cross-Parliament, all-party group of 36 MPs. That group then commissioned a report outlining a set of possible pathways and timeframes for New Zealand to get to a net-zero carbon economy.

What’s most significant is that this report found that it is both technically and economically possible for New Zealand to achieve carbon-neutrality by the year 2050.

Therefore, because we can, because we must, because it is right – today, I do commit – and we the Green Party commits – to the goal of making New Zealand carbon-neutral by the year 2050.


The Green Party is the only political party ambitious enough, for New Zealand, to make that commitment.


No other political party will commit to that. We do.


There was once a time when such a goal would have been unthinkable and labelled a dangerous threat to our prosperity.


Well a lot can change in a few years.

Today, it’s very much the people who lack ambition on the climate that pose the greatest threat to our collective prosperity and our national security.

While New Zealand has suffered nine years of inaction on the climate, the low carbon economy is taking shape overseas.

2015 was the first year that more clean energy infrastructure was built than new fossil fuel energy.

Last year, solar and wind power became the same price or cheaper than fossil fuels in more than 30 countries.

And the price continues to fall.

Today, jobs in the US solar industry outnumber jobs in the coal industry by 2:1.

And ‘wind turbine service technicians’ is now the fastest growing job category in the USA.

The energy revolution has begun. It is inevitable. And it will simply continue to accelerate.

But here in New Zealand, National under Bill English and Steven Joyce has continued to frustrate our nation’s ambition and the opportunities for new jobs and value creation.

National continues to build new motorways rather than new rail lines.

National continues to subsidise the expansion of dairy and deep sea oil drilling.

And now they want to put a coal mine into a kiwi habitat on conservation land!

National’s lack of ambition means we’re now going to have to spend $10 billion – of our money – over the next 10 years buying international carbon credits to offset our own pollution.

Over the next ten years, New Zealand will send $1 billion a year to other countries to build their low-carbon economies and competitive advantages, and not our own.

Well, the Green Party wants to invest that money here in New Zealand.

We want New Zealand to be one of the first truly sustainable economies in the world, and to show the rest of the world how it’s done.

And we’ll start by building the infrastructure that’s needed for a low-carbon economy.

Earlier this year, Gareth Hughes launched a new energy plan that would get New Zealand to 100% renewable electricity by 2030.

The energy industry applauded him for the kind of leadership and clear policy direction that they need to hit that ambitious target in only 13 years.

And last week Julie Anne Genter launched her plan to get Auckland moving from the Airport to the City by rail, in time the next America’s Cup in 2021.

This is on top of her plan to connect the city to the North Shore by rail and other projects that will increase productivity, cut climate pollution and give Aucklanders a break from the four weeks a year that they spend stuck in traffic – which is as much time as they spend on holiday!

Later on in the campaign we’ll announce other policies and projects that further our goal of creating a productive, jobs-rich, carbon-neutral economy by the year 2050.

But today I’d like to announce the next step in our climate plan.

The Green Party, in government, will establish a Green Infrastructure Fund to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a greener economy.

The Green Infrastructure Fund will be the Kiwibank of the green economy.

In time, the Fund will help redirect billions of dollars of funding into:

  • New renewable energy plants, especially geothermal plants;
  • Solar panel and waste heat installations;
  • Energy efficient building and housing materials and retrofits;
  • The production of commercial volumes of biofuels; and
  • Other clean technology projects.

We expect the Fund to secure average returns of around 7-8 percent per year – but more importantly, to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions by a million tonnes a year.

The Fund will cost $10 million to establish in year one and have access to an initial line of credit of $100 million over year two and three.

We will pay for this, at least in the short-term, by raising oil royalty rates from 46 percent to the international average of 70 percent.

And the Fund will be one of my personal economic development priorities as a new Minister in Cabinet, up and running within 12 months of the formation of the new Government.

Not only will the Fund help secure the buy-in and capital available in the private sector to achieve our climate goals, it will help create thousands of good, well-paying jobs in the regions and for Māori.

Many of you will remember that my predecessor, Dr Russel Norman, proposed a green bank in 2014 based on successful precedents in the UK and Australia.

Since then, New Zealand has realised the scale of the infrastructure deficit that we face, after decades of underinvestment and the running down of our assets.

So there is a timely confluence of opportunity that the Green Infrastructure Fund can meet.

Our national rail system is the classic victim of government short-sightedness and an unwillingness on their part to invest in an asset that is now going to be a key long-term driver of economic activity in a carbon-constrained world.

The infrastructure underpinning our housing, tourism, water, energy, health, and education sectors has been in a similar state of decline and will require major new investment if it is to remain fit-for-purpose in the 21st Century.

Now, there will be some who say that our plan is reckless or irresponsible.

Well, let me tell what you what’s reckless or irresponsible.

Irresponsible is to give $10 billion dollars of the country’s wealth away to other countries, asking them to cut their pollution so that we don’t have to.

Reckless is to pretend that nothing has changed when the Port Hills resemble a Sydney bush fire…

or Dunedin South and Whanganui experience one-in-one hundred year flood events, every year…

or the worst storm in sixty years leaves 30,000 Wellingtonians without power and causes $35 million of damage in a single day…

or the worst drought in 70 years wipes $1.5 billion off New Zealand’s agriculture exports…

Reckless, is to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere and condemn entire nation states to extinction.

That’s reckless. That’s criminal.

The goal we have set – of a net zero carbon economy by 2050 – that’s not just the solution to climate change.

It’s also the greatest economic opportunity in at least a generation.

Taking up that opportunity, isn’t reckless – it’s responsible.

But under the current government, that opportunity is passing us by.

And the window of opportunity to stop climate change, is closing.

The time for inaction is well past.

The time for excuses is over.

The Green Party is the only party committed to actually doing what it takes to create a society and an economy that reflects the scientific facts of climate change.

We are the only party that will make climate change a top priority for Government.

And that is why I am here.

We will not be deterred by denialists or cynics or those who mutter silky words about what’s realistic or too radical.

We will not be deterred.

There are 57 days until voting begins. 69 days until Election Day.

We are closer to being able to do this than we ever have been before.

Let’s get to work.

It is time.

It is time to change the Government – and change is coming.

Let’s get it done

Nō reira, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

25 comments on “James Shaw Speech to the Green’s conference – Greening the Government”

  1. Crunchy 1

    Yet the Green Party has refused to work with Govt over the last 9 years on any potential Carbon reducing initiatives. 9 wasted years. All very nice for a campaign speech, but let’s hear it again..9 wasted years because these idiots are still in thrall to their Sociology lecturers. 9 fucking wasted years. Think of the children…
    One more thing. About 4 years ago G Hughes didn’t think/know if any Green MP’s had invested in Solar PV at their residences. I’d love to know how many of them have now.

    [lprent: I remember the Greens working with National on housing insulation. Big program with tens of thousands of houses being insulated. That directly caused the power reductions and consequent emission reductions. And I didn’t even have to search my memory. You are a lying idiot. ]

    • Incognito 1.1

      So, what did stop the Government? Just asking …

    • weka 1.2

      What’s your PV set up?

      The Greens have been leading the way on CC for decades. National are actively resisting doing what is needed. The Greens aren’t responsible for that, National and RW voters are.

      In fact, I’d say they’ve done more good in the past 9 years in opposition than they could have achieved with any sort of deal that National would have been willing to tolerate. The Greens and National previously had an MoU. They didn’t this term because National are now blatantly a government for the destruction of the environment. Almost impossible for a progressive environmental party to make any kind of meaningful ground when dealing with that.

      “An increase of 19% in greenhouse emissions under National’s watch is a fierce betrayal of our future generations.”


    • Ed 1.3

      Aren’t National the party in government?

    • Yet the Green Party has refused to work with Govt over the last 9 years on any potential Carbon reducing initiatives.

      They had an MoU with the government and set up the home insulation fund which National has now cancelled.

      So, basically, you’re either an ignorant schmuck or you’re lying.

  2. Crunchy 2

    “What’s your PV setup?”
    I haven’t spent 9 years collectively drawing $Millions in taxpayer salary while furiously virtue signalling and screeching that “someone else” should do something about Carbon emissions – see the difference?

    [use the reply buttons please – weka]

    [lprent: Just looked back through your previous comments. I see that you have been a jerkoff doing the same avoidance of answering questions directed at you. I really don’t like ignorant, cowardly and outright lazy fuckwits like you who avoid robust debate using techniques that were old in the forms of Greece.

    I seem remember having to deal with you a few years ago. So if I have to deal with you again for appearing to have the intellect of a tory troll with microcephaly and avoiding the robust debate that this site is set up for, I will simply ban you after dealing appropriately with your comments. Your choice. Either learn to deal with robust debate, or take the dick you appear to use for a brain elsewhere. You’d fit in well at the sewer at kiwiblog. ]

    • Ed 2.1

      Aren’t National the party in government?

    • Incognito 2.2

      We have spent 9 years collectively drawing $Millions in taxpayer salary while furiously virtue signalling and screeching that “we’re too small and someone else” should do something about Carbon emissions

      FIFY and QFT

      The National Party to a (C)T.

    • weka 2.3

      “see the difference?”

      Yes. You expect people to work not to your own values or their own, but some bullshit ones you just made up. The GP actions are consistent with their values.

  3. To give you a sense of perspective, that’s about a thousand square kilometres larger than the Auckland Supercity.

    According to Wikipedia Auckland is only 559km^2 which makes that berg about 10 times the size of Auckland. According to this Google search it’s about 1086km^2 which would make the berg about 6 times the size.

    There was once a time when such a goal would have been unthinkable and labelled a dangerous threat to our prosperity.

    Muldoon didn’t say it and it probably never crossed his mind but his determination to become energy self-sufficient started the path for us. We have such a high use of renewables because of that determination.

    Muldoon saw that energy self-sufficiency as economically essential. It still is and it’s coming clear that we’re not going to have the oil resources necessary to get it from that.

    But here in New Zealand, National under Bill English and Steven Joyce has continued to frustrate our nation’s ambition and the opportunities for new jobs and value creation.

    National continues to build new motorways rather than new rail lines.

    National continues to subsidise the expansion of dairy and deep sea oil drilling.

    National is chasing the greatest profit from the least investment for the rich available.

  4. Red 4

    After just listening to winston on the nation, greens speaking a loud this week, the only chance of greens in government is with national Possiably a split developing in opinion amoung green leadership here, is a civil war brewing ?

    • Ed 4.1

      Fomenting discord, aren’t you?

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        Nah, more like chasing shadows in the dim corners of his Machiavellian mind.

    • weka 4.2

      Lol, nice try, but you just made a bunch of shit up.

      The Greens have ruled out forming govt with National. But even if Turei or Shaw wanted to go with National (and both have said no), they can’t without the rest of the caucus and the membership. You need to learn about how the party actually works.

      The Greens look like they are working together as well as ever have, better in fact.

      The great thing is that the old RW bullshit meme of ‘the Greens will go with National’ has failed, and now there is a pathetic replacement meme of ‘the Greens will change their minds and go with National because there is no other way to be in govt’. I say pathetic because the Green MPs don’t have that control of the party, and the Greens have a solid relationship with Labour, the MoU, and both parties have committed to trying to form govt with each other first.

      • Red 4.2.1

        Nothing last forever no matter how buttressed you believe your party is in moving in other directions, if thier is a split in the will of the party no mou or constitution will change that will realising itself, just saying, not saying it’s going to happen now I just see cracks developing from my general observations

        • weka

          Yet you don’t point to anything that backs up what you are saying, so I’d still call it making shit up rather than an observation.

          I see zero evidence of a split in the party. In fact, I would say that party is now more crystal clear about National than ever before. At the last election there was some tinkering with maybe softening on the stance. Didn’t pay off not least because most people don’t want it.

          By all means point to how the Greens could go into coalition with National without causing a constitutional crisis in the party. Bet you can’t.

          • Red

            The desire for power, the futility of 20 plus years in opposition after this election either as a result of a national Nzf win or been shafted by potential labour Nzf win could be a catalyst for change, these are the rumblings that have come out of Green Party this week and from media commentators ( Bryan Edwards etc ) Yes I give you denied by greens leadership but smoke where there is fire as they say Simalarly as game theorist would tell you the greens would be silly not to look at other strategies and pay offs not that they would put them out thier and in essence weakening thier position, In contrast saying the opposite while feeding information elsewhere could all be part of a cunning plan

            • weka

              ‘I heard something on the internet’ isn’t backing up your beliefs though is it. It’s just a lazy way to trying to imply there is some substance when there isn’t.

              I’ll take a good understanding of Green Party culture, the various GP active members’ comments, and what the GP says itself over promulgated rumour and unsubstantiated assertion from one of our most far right commenters any day.

              All I can say is you guys are starting to sounds a bit desperate. And we need better RWNJs. Hell, even Wayne Mapp has gone into troll mode.

              • Red

                Who are you Guys ? Not desperate at all just fun observing politics and the overly zealot of all sides , I am not really that overly concerned who wins the election, a preference yes,to die in a ditch if it does not happen, nup

  5. Pat 5

    that was a good speech and a fine commitment…lets hope enough NZers see the sense of these proposals

  6. Poission 6

    But if you added up all the countries that each account for less than one percent of global emissions, together they add up to 23% of total global emissions – much more than the United States and nearly as much as China.

    Thats an ill posed problem,

    it is subjective to accounting issues.As an ill posed problem it is subject to inversion hence (Marland 2009 Carbon accounting )

    Marland and colleagues (1999) conducted a comparison of two large, “(partially) independent”(265) efforts to estimate national emissionsof CO2. The data differed significantly for many countries but showed no systematic bias, and the global totals were very similar. Relative differences were largest for countries with weaker national systems of energy statistics, and absolute differences were largest for countries with large emissions. The two estimates for the United
    States differed by only 0.9%, but the absolute value of this difference was greater than total emissions from 147 of the 195 countries analyzed.The 10 countries with the largest absolute differences between the two estimates (for 1990) included the USSR, North Korea, India, Venezuela, and China. When the differences between the two estimates were summed, without regard to sign, the difference for the top 5 emitting countries was larger than the sum of the differences for the remaining 190 countries

    Well, there is one measure – and one measure only – for whether any country is doing its part.

    And that measure is whether our greenhouse gas emissions have risen, or fallen

    Well that begs the question ,What are NZ net emission’s under the Paris agreement ? (where full carbon accounting is required).

  7. Ad 7

    I like the idea of the fund.

    The questions I would like to put to Mr Shaw are:

    – What is the role of EECA, and the Electricity Commission, in this funds’ administration?

    – What is the role of the governments’ 51% interest in electricity generation companies in this fund?

    – How much income from oil royalties is forecast – both from the effects of the new much higher tax, and from the collapse in oil exploration world-wide?

    – What is the role of NZTA in the change to renewables? Or Kiwirail?

    – What is the role of NZSuper Guardians in this fund?

    – Other than the stated rate of return, what are the benchmarks for success of the fund?

    – Is the taxpayer liable if the fund is bankrupted?

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