Plant trees, love NZ: the Greens’ bold Climate Protection Plan

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, September 11th, 2017 - 68 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, Economy, election 2017, Environment, ETS, farming, greens, poverty, sustainability, welfare - Tags: ,

The Greens released their 2017 climate change action plan yesterday. It’s bold, and serious as, and makes no bones about the crisis we are in and that we have to act now. It’s visionary as well as being a fully fledged strategy that NZ can act on immediately.

I’ll link to some of the documentation and commentary below, but I’d like to pull out some of the impressions I got from the speeches by Jeanette Fitzsimons and James Shaw (both are worth watching, video below).

The first is that the Greens are shifting the narrative away from climate change as something happening in the future that we should try and do something about as a service to later generations but we don’t really have to worry about now. Instead they’re focussing NZ on the fact that climate change is here, now, and the catastrophes are already happening. Citing the disruptions from the thousands of deaths and millions of displacements happening as we speak from climate change weather events in Asia, the Caribbean and the United States, the point was made clearly that we are now firmly in the age of climate change and it’s going to get worse. Much worse if we don’t move to prevent that immediately. And not just far away places, but South Dunedin, Edgecumbe, the Port Hills, our coastal cities and towns.

So we need to stop thinking that climate change is a problem that other people are going to face sometime in the future… we need to start thinking about it as our problem, that we face, today. Because if we don’t, our lives are going to get worse.

– James Shaw

Shaw was as serious as I’ve ever seen him. He talks about how NZ’s first climate emissions reduction targets were first put in place in 1990.

27 years. Where the politicians did nothing but talk and it was 27 years that we couldn’t afford to waste. Well waste it they did, and now that future is here. We are living in the climate changed world, and politicians are still just talking. Climate change is the reason I’m in politics. I have spent my life working on it, and I am tired of all the talking. I want to change things.

This isn’t posturing to get votes, but the message from a group of people who are utterly committed to making this happening in NZ now.

Here’s the other aspect that stood out – the systemic nature of the plan. It includes previous Green initiatives around climate change, and it brings in new pieces that tie it all together in a vision and strategy for action that is basically saying that the whole of the NZ economy now needs to be sustainable and managed within the context of climate change. No more false dichotomy between the environment and the economy, because here is a plan that runs a fair economy out of the active practice of sustainability across everything. Naturally, it places the wellbeing of people firmly in the mix. Shaw is unequivocal, we have to end poverty as well, so again there is no artificial conflict between looking after people and the environment when they’re part of the same system.

So plant trees, love NZ? The beauty is in the breadth of the plan. One of the new pieces in the system is to plant 1.2 billion trees on erosion prone, marginal land throughout NZ. Instead of climate change being an add-on to the politic in NZ, the plan is to use the necessity of action to transform the other critical things we are concerned about. Need to plant trees to sequester carbon and prevent emissions? Then also use that need to regenerate land, clean up rivers, create jobs, provide building materials and other natural resources, and reduce poverty. That’s win, win, win (environment, economy, welfare).

Also standing out for me was Jeanette Fitzsimons’ reiteration that governments can’t take the necessary action on climate change without public support, and that true change is going to have to come from the people first.

To give governments the power to act civil society needs to be engaged, active and supportive. Naomi Klein put it so well when she said “to change everything you need everyone.”

I’m not working in community climate action, but whether we’re in cabinet, in caucus, in local government, in business, in community groups, Greens can make a difference in building that support, that is our mission.

I’m so pleased this is not just a climate policy launch, it’s a climate action launch.

While the Greens are very focussed on presenting a viable and politically acceptable strategy for NZ, we need to remember that they can only go as far as they are supported and to get real change we will need strong and dedicated movements from outside of parliament.

There’s a lot more to the plan and it is densely detailed including with costings. The Greens aren’t intending to develop a plan once in government, they’re well ahead of the ball with a plan ready to go. The main aspects are:

The plan is visionary and bold and a long way from what we have been used to thinking about because of the dinosaur of a government we’ve had in National. There is significant overlap between the Greens and Labour on policy here, with the Greens leading the way. This gives us a head start and in order to get real progress and momentum we need the Greens strongly in government.

Green Party press release: Greens announce Kiwi Climate Fund to tackle climate change

We’re the first generation that will feel the effects of climate change, and the last that can stop it. We have a responsibility to act.

Climate change is not just the biggest challenge of our time, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our economy and society for the better.

Tackling climate change means investing in better transport in our major cities. Fast, electric rail lines eliminate pollution and create healthier, congestion-free cities.

It means giving our farmers a head start in the race to supply the world with truly sustainable, high-value food, fibre, and other materials.

It means stabilising the climate to protect the fragile eco-systems that our native birds depend on and regenerating native forests to help cool the planet.

Climate Protection Plan summary (PDF)

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn covers why the scrapping of the ETS is important.

Greenpeace looks at the difference between Labour having the bones of a good climate change policy and the Greens full commitment and concrete plans for NZ becoming a world leader in climate action.

Replay of livestream from the Greens’ Facebook page. Jim Salinger interview at 46 mins, speeches from Jeanette Fitzsimons, Phillip Mills and James Shaw starting at 26 mins 30:

 

68 comments on “Plant trees, love NZ: the Greens’ bold Climate Protection Plan ”

  1. roy cartland 1

    I just don’t understand why they’re paying a dividend to everyone. Couldn’t that all go back into the reparation process itself?

    • Sans Cle 1.1

      A shared model: we all own the problem and the solution.
      Great post Weka, and thanks for all the links. Busy day reading ahead of me!

      • weka 1.1.1

        Thanks SC, and that’s a great explanation of it. I think signalling that taking action on climate change solutions can enhance our lives is part of it too. And for a big chunk of NZ that’s about money. Am pleased for low income earners and those in poverty as an approx $250 cash payment at the end of the year is significant.

      • roy cartland 1.1.2

        Ok – as simple as that. “Democratizing”, you might say. I guess I’d forgotten what that was!

        Great post, and excellent policy.

  2. Pat 2

    The reforestation is a no brainer and God only knows why we haven’t been doing it these past nine years instead of using valuable foreign exchange (both now and into the future) to buy dodgy Carbon credits.

  3. xanthe 3

    Well thank Gaia the Greens have (re)discovered their purpose!

    i am actually impressed and I really hope they can carry through. Maby there really is a change of direction here , I hope so. Anyway good on them , great policy! Its a positive step in the right direction.

    • roy cartland 3.1

      Totes. We should get our respective people to party-vote Green. Jacinda has the support, they now need a proper partner so it’s not all for nought.

    • Sans Cle 3.2

      Xanthe, I don’t think the Greens have ever lost their purpose. I am second guessing that you think Greens should not have been focusing on poverty reduction? If that is what you alluded to, I cannot agree with you. Poverty, inequality and degraded environment all have the same root: greed and overexploitation of resource (either of people or nature). It’s systemic change we need, and that requires tackling multiple and complex problems. Otherwise you end up with environmental havens for elites (think NZ as a haven for rich and global elites, who can buy their way into our relatively (global relative) unspoiled country; or on a local scale country gentrified living in nice suburbs/areas/islands with slums and homeless alongside).
      The Green movement has been criticised for being elitist, for the rich middle class conservationists. Then it gets criticised for focusing on poverty. Why can’t people understand that the Green movement transverse class and national boundaries…….it’s about humanity!

      • garibaldi 3.2.1

        +1 Sans Cle

      • Ad 3.2.2

        Shaw’s point this morning about getting those NEETS working in the fields is one I hope gets strong support if there’s a change of government.

        Massive planting built our central north island forestry industry in the 1960s, and would be good for the country.

      • francesca 3.2.3

        Sans Cle
        Totally agree with you, and thanks for articulating it so well

      • xanthe 3.2.4

        Oh I am well aware that poverty and environmental destruction are rooted in the same attitude. The wisdom of the greens was that their path to ending poverty was environmental sustainability. when they turned that wisdom on its head they lost the plot (and my support). I hope that this policy signals a return to being driven by environmental wisdom.

        • Carolyn_nth 3.2.4.1

          Green Parties were never about being driven by environmental wisdom.

          Wikipedia says:

          A Green party is a formally organized political party based on the principles of green politics, such as social justice, environmentalism and nonviolence. Greens believe that these issues are inherently related to one another as a foundation for world peace. Green party platforms typically embrace social-democratic economic policies and forming coalitions with leftists.

          3 planks fitting together, none is primary driver – how often does this need to be said?

          • tracey 3.2.4.1.1

            Xanthe consistently misunderstands or just wants the Greens to stay in the little box s/he has prepared for them

          • xanthe 3.2.4.1.2

            Carolyn
            It needs to be UNSAID!
            its a con! this perversion is why the greens have stalled it needs to end.

            environmental wisdom is the task
            social justice and nonviolence is the means

            turn it on its head and you have a dysfunctional process

            • tracey 3.2.4.1.2.1

              Do you get that people are part of the environment? If you try to do anything on this planet without people… Do you get that Greens previous high polling coincided with a weak Labour? Prior to that they polled in the 5-8% category. You are taking two unrelated things, Turei and appoibtment of Ardern and wrongly concluding that Green stand on poverty lost them voters to Labour rather than the equally valid assumption that election of Ardern drew back previously disgruntled Labour voters.

            • Carolyn_nth 3.2.4.1.2.2

              Why? Do you want to make the GP more centrist because you think social justice is a problem aim?

              Many would not vote GP if the social justice blank was marginalised.

        • tracey 3.2.4.2

          What? When it comes to the Greens you talk in riddles

        • Sans Cle 3.2.4.3

          Hi again Xanthe. I too am optimistic about this new policy. Could you clarify what you meant by “The wisdom of the greens was that their path to ending poverty was environmental sustainability. when they turned that wisdom on its head they lost the plot (and my support).”

          • xanthe 3.2.4.3.1

            Hi Sans Cle
            the doctrine of the three planks (Carolyn_nth 11.17am) was a reinterpretation of the green charter allowing the green values to be pursued as unconnected aims rather than an end (environmental sustainability) and means (social justice, appropriate decision making and non-violence) The primary driver of this restatement was a short term hack to get to the 5% threshold as it allowed campaigning on issues without reference to environmental sustainability.

            This strategy was successful in short term (they got their 5%) with a long term downside (alienation of many environmentalists, and a sector of the electorate that will vote against the greens in government) which has depressed the labour vote as well (not that they have needed much help to do that!) and which national has leveraged in 2014, 2017 advertising.

            I see this new climate change policy as a move back to the charter as it was intended and so this give me hope that the Greens can recover. (but its still “wait and see” for me at this time)

            The greens need to start every campaign meeting with the following chant
            “there are NO enemies of the greens, only people who do not yet understand us”

            • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.4.3.1.1

              a reinterpretation of the green charter

              [citation needed]

              Certainly doesn’t gell with what Nandor says on the subject.

              Nor with the original Blueprint for the Future.

              So, please provide a citation to support your assertion.

            • Sans Cle 3.2.4.3.1.2

              Thank you for your reply Xanthe. I am not familiar enough with the history and intricacies of NZ Green Party, or details of any reverse/change in their “restatement”, to get themselves over 5%, so can’t comment on that. However, I think you raise a broader issue about the Green movement (not just NZ Greens) which moved away from their early environmental watchdog position, to integrative problem-fixing (and political representation), which had to take a more holistic global approach to inequity and social justice. We are not even debating these issues at this election (with the exception of TPPA discussion, which is not elaborated in the mainstream debates at all). I see ecosystem protection and social justice as the inseparable goals, and yes, would agree that non-violence is the “means”.
              I like your chant, and believe that there is so much misunderstanding about the Greens.

              • xanthe

                Sans Cle
                “I see ecosystem protection and social justice as the inseparable goals”

                Yes so do I , so on this level there is common ground (with every one here). also that this is a global green trend not just NZ.

                the very fact that the “three planks doctrine” (Carolyn_nth 11.17am) exists shows that it is different from a straightforward reading of the green charter as is the comment ” 3 planks fitting together, none is primary driver – how often does this need to be said?” ……. WHY does it need to be said? ??

                My problem is not with the inseparability of social justice and environmentalism, but that the “three planks” is actually used as a justification to separate them!, Allowing greens to campaign on topics and make allegiance with groups that have no environmental aim or counterproductive environmental outcome.

                I believe the correct approach to such groups would be to convince them that their social justice cause was actually rooted in unsustainable environmental practice.

                • Sans Cle

                  I think I understand you: Green politics got hijacked?
                  I can understand, say for example decriminalizing marijuana use falls into this category….and Green Party can take on a new following on such an issue.
                  I think the Green Parties had to broaden their focus in the 1990s, as their policy was seen as too narrow, and unpalatable to status quo. They may have incorporated certain issues, but it has also meant that they have matured their policies…..to such an extent that they have a well thought out, well costed set of policies that are ready for implementation

                  • xanthe

                    well when they entered the decriminalizing marijuana debate they failed to make the connection with unsustainable policy, they could have first made sure that this story.
                    https://erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_culture11.shtml (first four paragraphs)
                    was common knowledge and then built on that.

                    as it was they did harm to both the cause of decriminalization and the green cause.

                    however not to derail the post! the new climate change policy is an example of how it should be done! IMHO

                • solkta

                  It’s Four Pillars not ‘three planks’, and it needs to be said over and over because some people just don’t get it, even some who have been around a long time.

              • Carolyn_nth

                When was the Green Party, or Green politics ever originally about being fundamentally an environmental watchdog?

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_politics

                https://home.greens.org.nz/history-green-party

                • Sans Cle

                  Carolyn, I was a bit loose with my words there. I meant from early environmental movements based on observation and awareness raising (Carson’s Silent Spring) and 1960s/70s environmental protest groups, which thereafter became politically mobilised.

      • tracey 3.2.5

        +100

    • tracey 3.3

      You keep saying that but provide no proof they never had social justice as a core value. It has mattered to them for over 20 years. It is possible to care about more than one thing at a time

  4. Karen 4

    It is a great policy. Well considered, wide-reaching and transformative.

    I look forward to James Shaw being Minister for Climate Change in the next government.

  5. cleangreen 5

    We do need to ramp up the rail vs road transport issue also.

    NIWA studies confirm that one truck emits 100 times more pollution than one car,

    Considering that 45% of our greenhouse gasses are produced from transport .

    21% of that is caused by using truck freight.

    We could save far more by using rail freight that uses four to eight times less fuel alone moving every (one tonne -one km.)

    Besides the pollution factor to makes common sense to move more freight back to rail all over NZ.

    • boggis the cat 5.1

      There are a few issues with rail transport. The infrastructure is more ‘brittle’ in terms of coping with failure — if a line gets blocked in some way then there is often no recourse but to use road transport. The time required to build rail is considerable. Right of way may be problematic. Cost may simply be too high for the investment to be wise.

      Consider also that ‘self driving’ trucks are just around the corner. That will kill a lot of jobs, but also reduce road transport costs.

      Light rail and / or electric busses would make sense in most cities to move people. With more foresight we could have transportation more suitable for people with physical disabilities, cyclists, parents with strollers, shoppers with larger items, etc. The key to it working is cost and convenience. Driverless cars could, of course, also be a solution to shared transportation.

      Many possible solutions exist. Becoming fixated on one possibility is a mistake.

  6. Cinny 6

    When the Climate Accord was on in Paris, Julie-Anne Genter did such incredible work keeping everyone informed via social media etc on what was happening there. Nationals Key and Grosser didn’t tell the public bugger all, but Julie-Anne did. At the time it was the largest/most important meeting about climate change in the history of the planet, big thanks to Julie-Anne for her feedback, reports, videos, etc, that meant so very much to me. If everyone is involved the ideas will flow even more.

    The enviro debate on Q+A yesterday… nat mp scott simpson said something that made me feel rather uncomfortable….apparently climate change is so important to national which is why they chose paula bennett to be the minister…. because she is the deputy pm. Paula wasn’t the deputy pm when she was given climate change back in 2015, what a freakin line to pull out lolololz

    I want a minister for climate change who is passionate about it, someone that is well educated and understands what is happening and how urgent it is that we take action now. My future grandchildren deserve that.

    MMP LOVE IT, Red and Green like Christmas come early.

  7. tracey 7

    Great post weka. Alot of work there. Thanks.

  8. Steve 8

    I no longer feel like i can really trust the greens. And sure don’t feel i can trust forest and bird either.It almost felt like a message from God, for me to see Kevin Hague this morning.To get my eye back on the ball and learn how he’s gone to work for forest and bird.It helped me to quickly fill in a few missing pieces of something that’s been puzzling and bugging me for some years now

    At the time i spoke with Kevin Hague on a election campaign some years ago.He had managed to convince me he and Metiria Turei were somewhat concerned and honestly interested in what i was telling then about.And i foolishly believed them.Trouble was, by then it was already so very close to election time any way, that i didn’t have time to figure out that they perhaps were not so interested or even concerned as i had been convinced.Obviously mainly all that those green party folk cared about,and labor mp, was that i’d be silly enough to vote in their corners

    I feel so ripped off now that i feel i’d be happy to do a polygraph test. I wonder how they would feel with an idea of doing likewise ?

    And as to labor party member in our area.That was also there in the same public hall at the same time.I asked them for local-help.They sent me back through the very same people who were already acting unhelpful.And then never followed up to even ask me how things had gone (these are labor folk now talking about stopping suicide.Publicly shedding tears). I never followed up going back to this labor mp then either.Because by then i had kind of lost hope and also realized that maybe this had only helped to make my situation worse.By angering certain unhelpful people involved

    What a shambles

    Maybe its time i would consider casting my vote in some other corner, or corners.Before now i never thought i’d ever even need to consider this (i feel stupid and ashamed about that)..All i feel i see now,is people suggesting there’s need to lock this and that up..There’s need specially make these kind of people pay for this or that .And lets stop the idea of ever burning anything.

    I don’t feel i see any pragmatic approach

    Ive now been busily looking into Winston Peters policies.Yet never ever thought (in my wildest dreams) that i’d ever be doing anything like that.At first glance, i see at least he seems to me to take a little more pragmatic approach

    • tracey 8.1

      If all this has led you to a party that represents yoyr values and desire for the future, that is a positive thing?

      Until you can find a way to be more specific about how / what has let you down, none of us can help.

      Kia kaha Steve

      • Steve 8.1.1

        Well Tracey,i feel its not for my lack of trying to be specific. Put it this way,Kevin Hague had never said anything about not being able to understand me

        • Sans Cle 8.1.1.1

          Hi Steve. I read your comments yesterday with interest: about farmers cutting down trees to avoid designation of special areas of conservation. I have also come across this (anecdote of one farm only!), and find it depressing that the incentives for conservation had the opposite effect. I am not sure if this is your specific “beef” with the Green Party or whether it is something else? All I can say in defense of the Green Party is that they have never been able to fully implement their policies in Government, but have been quite influential while in opposition. They are a decade or two ahead of conventional wisdom, and are trying to mitigate future problems and future ecosystem collapse. I am totally optimistic, for the first time in years, about the direction NZ could take with a Green coalition government. The Green Party have not been the law makers, that have led to the perverse incentives (and habitat degradation that you described).

        • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.2

          Hi Steve. Winston’s your man! Vote early, vote often!

  9. Gabby 9

    I find it hard to believe that Canterbury is colder over winter than Southland.

  10. Eco maori 10

    Big upps to Jamie Shaw national were half wits for not continue the tree planting program.
    NZ has one of the highest rates of erosion in the world and that’s a fact.Tree planting is necessity in New Zealand as all our steep country is slipping into the sea ultimately and the jobs that are created is part of what’s needed to get rid of poverty. And help with our environment mitigation.
    The big news is China investigating the elimination of car emissions in there country. I am sure if they have the will the Chinese will find away to achieve this great goal. SO BIG UPPS TO CHINA.
    We need more big country to follow suit fast.

  11. Plant more Ti trees !

    Yah !

    The perfect nursery tree for the regen forest , the inner bark is great for pain / headache relief, good hot burning firewood , nice honey , – and the young leaves make a great cuppa tea!

    Oh , and the birds and the bees love em too ! 🙂

    • Hint : grab a sprig of young leaves, throw it in your cup , pour in your boiling water , and let it sit for only 20-30 seconds ,- oh , – and make sure its free from Ti Tree mold !

      Enjoy.

      • Union city greens 11.1.1

        “and make sure its free from Ti Tree mold”

        Tea tree mould, no thanks. If I wanted to swallow bug shit I’d buy David Rimmer Seymour’s book.

        • WILD KATIPO 11.1.1.1

          I feel slighted.

          When I did a hort paper under Ruud Kleinpaste ( yes I’m dropping names ) he quite casually informed us all that we have ALL eaten weevils ,- ‘ a weevil for all occasions’ as he liked to say. They are ground up in the grains we have for breakfast and nutbars etc… so grow a pair and eat those insects with relish. They wont hurt you !

          He also called me a bastard for killing a particular type of native moth larvae that citrus trees attract,… cant recall the name of them but on the tip of me tongue. But I remember him calling me a bastard with a deadpan face several times. 🙂

          Anyhow’s,… drink your tea and shut up.

          Its good for you.

          • Union city greens 11.1.1.1.1

            You should feel 98.4% less slighted than Rimmer lol

            You can drink what you like, including Borer, just keep those apple moths away from my scrumpy.

  12. Patricia Bremner 12

    Make sure to get all friends and family to vote. Let’s do this x2.

    Red Green Christmas sounds good.

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