Now for the spin

Written By: - Date published: 8:17 pm, August 10th, 2009 - 47 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

It’s interesting to see how National’s spin doctors are trying to frame the Government’s pathetic and shameful emissions reduction target of 10-20% by 2020.

Stuff has ‘Ambitious’ emissions target announced

The NZ Herald has New emissions target ‘big ask for NZ’ – Key

And 3 News has Sia Aston quoting long-discredited figures supplied to her by the Government, which aim to show that any more action on climate change would cause us economic ruin.

So, we’re supposed to believe that a climate change target lower than both Europe and Australia’s  is somehow ‘ambitious’, that doing less than half the science demands is a ‘big ask’ and that pulling our weight is simply unaffordable.

Let’s hope this spin gets the short shrift it deserves. The 40% by 2020 target is what the science says we need to do to avoid catastrophic climate change. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Labour or National, either way our climate will go to hell and our Pacific neighbours will sink unless we reach that target.

Sure, it would be a huge effort and it would take some real political vision, but with more tree planting, investment in public transport and phasing out dirty power plants in favour of renewable energy we could do it.

Instead, we have a  Government that would rather feed us a line of bullshit so they can continue to subsidise the short-term interests of their big business supporters. Disgraceful.

47 comments on “Now for the spin”

  1. BLiP 1

    A 40 percent reduction could have been a rallying call for all New Zealanders, a unifying goal for the nation to work together to achieve the ideals Aotearoa holds dear and, until today, was recognised for internationally. But no. Now that National Inc is running the country on behalf of business we have pathetic targets being promulgated by mendacious ministers to suit the interest of venal corporates and dollied up by the indolent media.

    Thanks Goober. I’m lovin’ it.

    • jagilby 1.1

      I don’t know how you can (or others here for that matter), with a clear conscience, simultaneously bag the Govt for not doing more to save jobs and then argue for a 40% reduction by 2020…. the two goals are so incompatible it’s actually ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

      At 15% it’s reportedly going to cost every single New Zealander $1,400… somewhere along the line the rubber WILL hit the road and someone vulnerable (actually a lot of vulnerable people) will lose their jobs.

      I’ve seen emotional high-jacking of other topics with talk about NZ becoming a country where families reside in alleyways and cardboard boxes. 40% is a sure-fire fast-track to that situation.

      • BLiP 1.1.1

        The suggestion that a 40 percent emissions reduction will hurt employment is one of many, many fallacies put up by climate change deniers – here’s some economic data which puts that denial tactic to sleep. Of course, given your citing of disproved figures indicates you have no intention of letting facts get in the way of defending National Inc. Futile as it is in this instance.

        The other question, of course, is how many jobs will be lost if the targets are insufficient? How many farmers will be living in carboard boxes then, eh matey? Also, why are we paying for this when the costs should be sheeted home to the polluters, not the victims?

        My main point is that National Inc had a real opportunity to put some sort of a vision for the future up but, because it is now run by business, it failed. What a shame.

  2. George.com 2

    What more could we substantively expect from a government beholden to climate change extremists like ACT. A party who has as part of its policy
    “If it were to warm moderately, we would likely benefit in terms of land-based production, human health and reduced heating bills. Arguments that we would lose from sea-level rise or more extreme events are unproven conjectures.”

    In other words, why do anything as NZ might benefit in the short term. Screw the rest of the world and screw future generations who might have to deal with climate change. Line your pocket now whilst you can, screw everyone else.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    Oh, I don’t know if that’s really going to win the spin awards, Eddie. I think that going around trumpeting sustainability policies and getting government departments to spend millions of dollars on sustainability advertising programmes, while presiding over huge increases in carbon emissions probably takes the cake for spin.

    I wonder who might have done that? Could it have been your own greatly loved Labour Party who did that Eddie?

    • Agreed. Labour was no better. What makes it easier for governments to stylishly dither than to act decisiviely?

    • Marty G 3.2

      Tim. what are net emissions now compared to 1990? I’ll give you a clue. We’re going to have a surplus over the 2008-2012 period… check out the mfe website Yup our emissions will be lower than 1990.

      Sorry your attack on Labour that completely ignores the issue falls down on the slightest examination of the facts.

      • gingercrush 3.2.1

        You’re seriously suggesting Labour had a good record when it comes to carbon emissions? As for the nineties. We planted trees during that decade. What have Labour done in that regard?

        I realise no one on the left are going to be happy with what National is doing. But to suggest Labour had nine fantastic years of creating a situation to face a global warming future is really stretching things.

  4. What, I wonder, would an unambitious target look like?

    I am embarrassed by this display of spinelessness.

  5. burt 5

    Tim Ellis

    It’s OK, now that Labour are out of govt they have warehouses full of unused white wash (incase they won in 2008) and they will save the planet that way. White is the new CO2 you know.

  6. Spam 6

    So you have a problem with Sia Aston using “long discredited figures”. Do you have a problem with Al Gore doing the same?

  7. gingercrush 7

    Blip we were never going to get 40% regardless of who was in government. That Labour in opposition has suggested a 20-30% speaks volumes about their position. One would think that them being in opposition would mean they’d suggest a even higher percentage of emissions to be cut. But they have not. Likely had they been in government even with the Greens support the likely fact is their emission targets would be something like 15-25% or what they said in their press release today.

    I do think National have been too soft and think a target around 25% would have been better with a split between emissions of Agriculture and (15% or so) other emissions (25-30%). Clearly from the 10-20% bandied about and really I think the government should have announced a simple 20% is that they see little to no reduction in emissions by agriculture, rather all emission reductions will come from transport, electricity and other areas of emissions.

    Labour of course don’t have a hand to play because their record is terrible and the Greens tend to get good exposure over environment issues. National can spin this quite ably because for many the Greens are seen as extreme. They’re hearing arguments that emission cuts will mean less money in the hands for everyone and that business will suffer. Our media is very prone to taking every parties spin of things and because National is the largest party and is the government, they always get given more exposure than other parties.

    Listening to Checkpoint on National Radio they had some guy from the sustainable business group. He seems to think no agreement will be reached this year, rather we’ll see an agreement next year. I think that is very likely myself.

    • jarbury 7.1

      Good to see you back making sensible posts GC.

      I agree that Labour are sounding fairly hypocritical when calling for stronger targets – we should be about three years into an ETS if Labour hadn’t farted around. One would imagine that if we did have an up-and-running ETS then the level of forestry planted over the last few years would have increased quite dramatically, and we’d be seeing that 40% reduction target as quite achievable.

      So, a couple of questions:
      1) What is this government likely to do to reduce emissions from the energy sector? Gerry Brownlee’s biggest move so far has been to remove the ban on thermal generation, hardly a step in the right direction.
      2) What is the government going to do to reduce transport sector emissions? Remember that Steven Joyce has taken hundreds of millions of dollars away from public transport and thrown it into building more state highways. Electric cars are unlikely to help much – projections are that there’ll only be 30,000 of them in the country by 2020.

      • gingercrush 7.1.1

        Don’t make me answer hard questions.

        1. Unsure. But I do think we’ll see some major changes in electricity this term and likely the government will use electricity infrastructure to provide some stimuli to the economy. Most of that will be renewable. Also expect smart metering and the like to start making an impact this term. I know that isn’t really an answer. Lets just hope the reforms are better than the Bradford reforms. My partner went to school with Gerry and the families knew each other so I have to take my partner’s word when he says Gerry knows what he’s doing.

        2. We’re still likely to see light rail in Auckland and better rail services in Wellington. Christchurch and outer towns such as Lincoln, Rangiora and Christchurch have been looking at creating a rail network (though unsure what that status is, likely you can shed light on that?). There will be more electric cars as you point out. But newer cars are more economical to run so as New Zealand rids themselves of older cars replacing them with newer cars that surely should decrease emissions. Bio-fuels will become more mainstream in the next 10 years that should help as well. And surely if New Zealand can get vehicles to run better (so they’re less idle) that improves carbon emissions as well. Air New Zealand is also replacing its current air fleet and that should help as well.

        I’m doubtful those answer your questions. I happen to agree that in the area of transportation National tends to be somewhat backward-looking.

        • ak 7.1.1.1

          I happen to agree that in the area of transportation National tends to be somewhat backward-looking.

          Chalk it up: one small step for hennalady…..backward-looking in everything, actually ginge, but one step at a time……(and there might have been some progress on the Friesian in the room that everyone’s ignoring had the handbrake-on-history party not whipped itself into paroxysms of Helenhate tractor-head rage over a pitiful $150-odd per dairy cockie for research)

    • BLiP 7.2

      Look, you don’t have to convince me that politicians are the last ones we should leave responsible for saving the planet. The time has come for direct action – not sitting around squabbling over numbers.

      Labour lost the environment platform forever when it allowed GE in Aotearoa. Absolutely, Labour’s record in this area sucks like gravity. Labour did, however, have policy which prevented greater environmental degradation than otherwise would have been the case. National, on the other hand, simply have no fucking idea. The minister can’t understand his own information or is lying or both. The Goober should just hang his head in shame. And meanhwile, business is rubbing its grubby little hands together in a joyful circle wank with their mates in the climate change denial industry.

      • NickS 7.2.1

        GE as in Genetic Engineering?

        /sigh

        Care outlining why GE = bad for me? Since I’ve already done simple genetic transforms in undergrad genetics courses, and covered enough material years back in a biochem course to be relatively non-plused about it, excepting patent BS and gouging developing world farmers for seed.

  8. the sprout 8

    ah the touching gullibility of our intrepid ‘journalists’.

  9. gingercrush 9

    BTW the greatest spin is that the New Zealand media cares more about SAS troops in Afghanistan than they do global warming. Not to say SAS Troops in Iraq isn’t important but still.

  10. NickS 10

    Gaaah.

    (warning, poster has insomnia, may not make perfect sense)

    What is it with the “but X did it too…” people? The science tells us we need to make the 40% cut in emissions, and thanks to the prisoner’s dilemma, shirking out of what needs to be done on the basis of constant political gerrymandering of humanities future over teh poor, poor farmers is not an option, thanks to the joys of normal human political behaviour. In which even the likes of such a small country as NZ avoiding what needs to be done, will be used as an excuse, but also possibly generate diplomatic issues with our developing world trade partners…

    Then, humanity as whole does have a bad history with planning on long-term time scales, and learning from history, as the recent finical crisis illustrates nicely.

    Also, anyone got info on the acceptance of climate change of NZ farmers, recent bit posted on TVNZ indicates near 90% don’t want to take part in the ETS, for which the reasoning behind is generally associated with climate change denial;
    http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/farmer-business-divide-over-emissions-scheme-2899842

  11. infused 11

    I think global warming is the biggest spin yet. Good way to tax us though.

    • vidiot 11.1

      Yes, single income, family of four facing an additional cost of $120 per week, gee thanks.

  12. outofbed 12

    “I think global warming is the biggest spin yet.”
    I think .. Well that good
    future of the planet vs I think
    tricky

  13. Jason Hiball 13

    Instead, we have a Government that would rather feed us a line of bullshit so they can continue to subsidise the short-term interests of their big business supporters. Disgraceful.

    Right on brother!

  14. lprent 14

    The most hilarious thing about the press conference was looking to keep average world tempature increases less than 2C. That battle is already lost.

    Trying to keep it below a 4C increase is the best that could be hoped for this century. All that extra energy sloshing around weather systems is
    going to make farming hell for the farmers kids.

    Now that successive governments have failed to do anything effective in mitigation, perhaps this one should establish their policy on coping with the rising climate change refugee issue.

    • TightyRighty 14.1

      It’s been noted by scientists that global temperatures have been 6 degrees higher than they are now, and with little adverse affect on the population and the world, in a time of close to zero industrial activity globally. Do you know they once grew grapes commercially by Hadrians Wall? if that is the case, and humankind prospered, why should we be scared of a little climate change? there is plent of unused land at higher altitudes that will become cultivational with an increase in temperature. so why not adjust our thinking to adapt as life has always done rather than believing that humans are god and can control nature, a very ego-centric view.

  15. the sprout 15

    to his credit, Brian Fallow has a somewhat more incredulous analysis in today’s Herald
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10589964

  16. ieuan 16

    All this talk of ‘catastrophic climate change’ and other doomsday scenarios makes those of us who sit somewhere in the middle of all this look at the rantings of people like Eddie and think ‘what a bunch of nutters’

    Anyone familiar with the story of ‘Chicken Little’?

    • Pascal's bookie 16.1

      Anyone familiar with the story of ‘Chicken Little’?

      Yeah, Mr C. Little didn’t have the backing of the overwhelming majority of qualified climatologists though did he?

      So why do you sit in the middle?

      • ieuan 16.1.1

        I sit in the middle because I believe that something needs to be done to reduce the environmental impact of human civilization but I don’t buy in to the doomsday scenario’s being pushed by extreme environmentalists.

        • Pascal's bookie 16.1.1.1

          Are the IPCC “extreme environmentalists” ?

          They use conservative estimates and it’s fairly doomsdayish stuff, YMMV of course.

          • ieuan 16.1.1.1.1

            I understand that the IPCC are saying there could be a temperature rise in the range 1.1 deg C to 6.4 deg C and there may not even be a temperature increase due to other natural occurrences.

            • lprent 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes – what you’re talking about is the uncertainty in models. In the earth sciences and especially in climate there is seldom enough information to determine the exact effects.

              For instance global warming could cause glaciation in northern europe and north america if the gulf stream stops pumping heat north. That current is driven by differing salt concentrations between the Caribbean and the arctic through osmosis. No-one knows if extra fresh water from changed climate in north america will destroy that conveyor. It has in the past.

              The issue is a matter of risks rather than certainties. To date each round of research has increased the risks to climate of pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The economic risks of changing our climate far out weigh the costs to economies in the opinion of the people who get to assess the climate change risks.

              It is far safer to not emit the gases. There is no scientific uncertainty about that

  17. TightyRighty 17

    Do you think that $27 a week is going to come out of every new zealanders pay packet? No, it’s going to cost jobs, you know, the things you endlessly bleat about? Climate Change is a naturally occuring phenomenom, and it is very ego centric to believe that human intervention can drastically increase the rate of change. especially when pending events like another eruption of Krakatoa can potentially lower global temperatures by a mean 1.2 degrees.

  18. Seti 18

    So why does NZ have to martyr itself with 40% when no other country is doing so, considering we contribute next to nothing in emissions. And especially when the population will have grown by 35%, and that the agricultural sector which we rely so heavily on will suffer disproportionately. Speaking of agriculture apparently we will need to have doubled food production in fourty years, and at the same time ask producers to halve their carbon release.

    Of course no one’s talking about the elephant in the room which is unabated population growth. I’m picking climate change will take a rapid back seat to a collection of other challenges soon to rear their heads the above mentioned food ‘crunch’, peak oil/cheap energy, water scarcity and the onset of new and more virulent (and unmanageable) respiratory diseases.

    It seems many on the left would prefer symbolism to the significant reduction in living standards we would face, while the biggest emitters ignore our futile attempts at “saving the world.’ Perhaps the government should have declared a 50% reduction by next year providing China, USA etc commit to any real cuts at all by 2020. Sure would have looked on the world stage, and isn’t that what its all about?

  19. “Seti

    So why does NZ have to martyr itself with 40% when no other country is doing so, considering we contribute next to nothing in emissions”

    Why should NZ not pull its weight?

  20. infused 20

    Could read aircon?

    • NickS 20.1

      I’d rather read Ann Coulter, at least I know she’s probably trolling per Poe’s Law.

      Where as Wishart is plain old braindead and clearly deluded when it comes to climate change, and evolutionary biology, r.e. Hot-Topic’s review of Air Con and making the mistake of browsing through part of Eve’s Bite.

  21. So Bored 21

    Dont know why we are debating and arguing, its getting too late. This subject is bigger than Texas, in fact its world sized, and the stakes are the lives of every organism on this planet. So whats not to get????? The target is 40%, it is not optional if we all want to carry on being alive.

    I would love to tell all the pollies, and the deniers, and vested interest groups to “get a life”…what I am now saying is “heres how you keep your life”.

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