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Show me the climate action New Zealand

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, December 15th, 2020 - 67 comments
Categories: climate change, james shaw - Tags:

Climate activist Greta Thunberg called us out,

New Zealand Minister for Climate, Green Party’ James Shaw responded by saying,

“Greta Thunberg is essentially pointing out what we already know: that we have a long way to go to narrow the gap between what our emissions are right now, and what they need to be in the future.

“We are working on this as quickly as we can and the declaration of a climate emergency is actually helping – because now every part of government is clear that action to cut emissions is a priority.

“This is what climate emergency declaration should do. It is not an end in itself, rather it signals our intent to do everything we can to tackle the climate crisis and build a better, safer future for our kids and grandkids.

I bolded that because of the tendency to ignore or dismiss things that are helpful when they’re not in themselves sufficient. Thunberg is still right.

It’s worth pointing out there that Shaw is agreeing with Thunberg. They are on the same side.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Labour’s Jacinda Ardern,

“Globally, we have entered an age of action,” she said, before calling on MPs to get on the “right side of history”.

New Zealand is the 33rd country in the world to declare a climate change emergency – it joins the likes of the UK and Ireland.

“It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope,” Ardern said.

In contemporary parlance, I’d call that performative. Demonstrating a plan for action isn’t the same as acting, and while I appreciate Ardern’s skill at rhetoric in bringing the nation with her, I’m way too dark at this stage to give that appreciation more than a passing glance.

Point being, we don’t need Ardern to bring the nation with her, we need Ardern to catch up with Shaw and Thunberg, and open the door for the nation to get on board with the need to act now.

Because if there is one key message we need to understand right now, it’s that the actions we take today that matter. Yes, forward planning, but if we don’t act now to drop GHGs fast, then we are basically signing ourselves, future generations and all of life to a very grim future. It’s the fossil fuels we are burning today that are going to cause problems in the future.

I have no idea if Ardern gets this and is being pragmatic and strategic in a system that is unwieldy and resistant to acting with intetrity. Labour’s handling of covid, rising to the challenge of the emergency suggests  it’s more likely that she and the Labour caucus have varying degrees of cognitive dissonance and denial that prevent getting ahead of the curve.

And not that they would be alone in that. For the first time, this year New Zealand had the chance to elect a government that would really step up on climate, one that would do what Labour did for us with the covid pandemic, and instead we chose to give a majority to a safe, BAU, steady as she goes government.

Again, not to diminish or ignore what is being done. Shifting the government fleet to EVs, and replacing school coal-fired boilers with renewables, are solid actions in and of themselves. We need such actions across all sectors. But this is not going to get us over the line. Ardern might be talking about a plan, but I don’t see it.

Here’s a short list from the green perspective,

For those despairing about lack of government action and leadership, take heart from the activist and regenerative movements who both understand the urgency and are acting. I’m hoping there will be a resurgence of both in 2021. Take to the streets, put in a garden, talk to our neighbours, partners, kids, colleagues about the timing and urgency. Whatever we do, we have to do it now.

67 comments on “Show me the climate action New Zealand ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    The most effective actions will not be technical ones, per se, but adjustments that foster a change of thinking in people. When I see what the regenerative agriculture farmers are doing, I see technical changes, sure, but it's the stimulation of their thinking, their renewed curiosity, that brings on further, more significant changes; the sowing of mixed-species pastures where there was a monoculture, for example, fosters closer observation, a relationship with more of nature's complexity and an opportunity to break-free from the tyranny of simplification that has warped farming and human thinking.

    • weka 1.1

      Indeed. Which brings me to the question of how that might happen in different parts of the community.

      • WeTheBleeple 1.1.1

        Oh absolutely. So many among that group are now open to extensive tree planting. By allowing farmers to lead farmers while academics there have largely sat back only chiming in where they're useful to the flow… hearts and minds are being changed. I love that group.

  2. Roy Cartland 2

    I like the idea of the $1B regenag fund. There is still too much of lumping any green, eco-minded farmers in with the greenwashing river-shitters:


    The idea needs to change from the top – sack the industrialists and the corporate mega-farmers, support those who really want to be clean.

    • Robert Guyton 2.1

      And even then, "cleanliness" isn't everything, by any means. The owner of a farm is, in my opinion, naturally obliged to do much better than, "not pollute the waterways". Because they have so much land under their management, they should make sure that they are fairly contributing to the the wider ecosystem health and planetary future; their farms should brim with biodiversity; there should be woodlands and so on. The same should apply to *home-owners with even small sections; biodiversity and vegetation; we owe it to everybody and every "thing" else.

      Big call, I know.

      * Councils too, and roading boards, railways, cycleways…

      • bwaghorn 2.1.1

        You will be pleased to know that both the farm I live on and the one I work on have woods and biodiversity all over the show .

        • WeTheBleeple

          I'm having the arborist in! But really, taking down some privet to extend the food forest to be of a size so I might better educate when touring people through it. And better add resilience to my street. Late to the party, but you know the saying… better late than national.

        • Robert Guyton


          More than that – absolutely delighted and grateful!

          Thanks, bwaghorn.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    Seed libraries would be a good place to start.

    Government action though? Once there were a bunch of bright but naive progressive MPs. Someone told them a Friedmanite fairytale about investment lifting all boats. They became yuppies, and decided, like Gordon Gecko, that greed was good. Long and bitter experience has utterly debunked the fairytale however. Not even the most utterly corrupt believes that boats will be lifted by the property investment ponzi scheme. But the no-longer progressive MPs have property investments, and do not mean to return to a productive economy, consigning their constituents to massive and growing poverty.

    That wretched pack of self-serving vermin will never do anything for the environment.

    • Leaps 3.1

      Sadly I tend to agree with you Stuart. The short election cycle in NZ does not help either. Regardless I think MPs are still talking about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic rather than actually trying to stop the ship from sinking in the first place. We need some real leadership here to take us to places that many in the populous don't actually want to go to. Having the MSM mindlessly and repetitively repeat all the naysaying from National also does not help.

  4. Adrian Thornton 4

    Of course the biggest problem we and the planet face is that most people have been propagandised into such a narrow view of the world, that many can no longer vison a world existing outside the paradigm of the ideology of free market liberalism…and as Ardern is so aptly showing us, even the most well meaning liberal can't operate outside of their ideological framework..and therefore by logical extension can and will never solve climate change.

    The centre (liberals) is an ideology and has proved itself to be as extreme and as brutal as any other that has existed (apart from a couple of obvious outliers)…unfortunately for us and the planet it is also probably one of the most short sighted and selfish and non visionary ideologies to have this much power on the world stage for a long time….even one of architects of that shit concept admitted his dumb ideology was full of serious flaws….

    Turn Labour Left!

    • Louis 4.1

      "Turn Labour Left!"

      Join the party and work actively within it.

      • Chris 4.1.1

        "Join the party and work actively within it."

        I agree with the theory but the thought of doing it turns my stomach.

        • Adrian Thornton

          "Turn Labour Left!"…Join the party and work actively within it."

          Yeah right…didn't you just see what happened to Corbyn when he tried turning the UK Labour party Left…though at least now we all know who is who and exactly where they stand in UK Left politics/media now I guess….good example is The Guardian, who proved that they are a extreme centre neo liberal media outlet who would rather the Tories in power than a actual Socialist Labour party.

          The NZ Labour party has no interest in Leftist being anywhere near that party today.

        • Louis

          No one is forcing you, but yelling behind the fence isnt going to do a damn thing.

          • Adrian Thornton

            Don't you worry I do enough to sleep with a clear conscious…

            • Louis

              But it wasnt about your conscience though. You end a lot of your comments with "Turn Labour left" but there appears to be no action behind those words.

              • Adrian Thornton

                Well I guess because you don't know me you have no idea what actions I do take…, but as you are on a roll, you just go right ahead and make whatever assumptions about me that take your fancy.

                • Louis

                  Rather not make assumptions, so how are you turning Labour left?

                  • weka

                    I'm curious too.

                  • Adrian Thornton

                    Well seeming as you and weka seem so interested, I guess I can outline some of the things I do to help 'Turn Labour Left!'

                    Firstly I never (well over past twenty years) been interested in being in the Labour Party, mainly because I have much to much of a checkered past to want to have even the slightest chance of being seen as even being a minor player in the progressive movement in NZ. As we all have seen quite clearly, anyone who threatens the Liberal hegemony gets pretty hammered by all sides and by all media, so I could quickly become a liability to the movement if that were to have happened (unlikely though it may have been). Which is a shame as I would love to get in an do battle…but there you go.

                    So I do something more important these days and have been doing so for many years..I plant seeds.

                    I have over the years been in various bands and still am, so of course many tunes and/or shows I am involved in are political…the current bands are The Revolutionary Arts Ensemble and The Anti Art Quartet both of which have done some good political work. The Arts Ensemble has a great show planned for next year called 'Propaganda' celebrating NZ revolutionaries, dissidents and rabble rousers…should be fun and informative.

                    Political poster design and poster runs are something that I have done for many many years…quite effective I think.

                    Stencils and graffitti are also something I have been heavily involved with my whole life (though not as much now as I used too)…generally political.

                    I (with my wife) have a second hand book shop which is of course always well stocked with Left wing books, we actively seek out and buy these Left wing books from around the country and direct all curious youngsters to that section…also the shop itself is known in certain circles as quite a central spot in Hastings for political debate and activity.

                    We have our own Riso printer on site for making the forementioned political posters, I also print t-shirts out the back of the shop ( I am actually here now and should be printing!) so of course print many political t-shirts etc….in fact I have just finished printing a pretty cool 'New Zealand Workers Union' t-shirt based in the old (1940's) Union membership card….got a nice 'The Socialist John A Lee' design just about finished too.

                    Probably plenty of other stuff that I can't remember right now, people are always reminding me of the crazy political ( and other) missions we have done in the past but unfortunately all those years of spray painting and screenprinting and the associated chemicals have ruined my memory ..anyway hope that satisfies your curiosity.

                    • Louis

                      Thank you for your response. Very impressive work that you do. There's no doubt you're a committed activist doing your bit, but I dont see how that would turn Labour left though and I mean no disrespect in saying that.

          • Chris

            Yeah, and everyone joining the Labour party will?

  5. gsays 5

    At an individual level, have a think about one food item that you currently buy from supermarket. Can that be bought from another source, the primary producer perhaps?
    Maybe milk, lots of farm gate sales around the place.

    Once that becomes a habit, try eggs, then bread….

    Supermarkets are not much more than a convenience. Convenience at what cost?

    The diesel miles imbedded in all those food items is unnecessary.

    • Andre 5.1

      For those of us that live in cities, how much diesel miles do you think might be involved in buying milk, or strawberries, or eggs, from the farm gate?

      How much more diesel miles might be involved in all of us traipsing around all those different places, compared to the single trip to the supermarket with a stop at the greengrocer on the way?

      Or better yet from an emissions perspective, getting it all delivered by one supermarket vehicle making multiple deliveries in your area on the one trip, rather than making a dedicated trip of your own to the supermarket?

      • Robert Guyton 5.1.1

        Send an agent.

      • weka 5.1.2

        Think that through Andre. People who are trying to do the right thing find ways to do the right thing.

        People who have acccess to farm gate sales buy from there as they are already driving past or they plan the trip in conjunction with other things. People in cities can shop at the farmers market, organic outlets and such that know where their produce comes from and priorities local. The key point here is to buy local as much as possible (if one can). Local growers will shift more easily to regenag as well.

        What we should be heading for is lots of food grown in neighbourhoods and decentralised markets for food that can't, and long haul for essentials that can't be had any other way and small luxuries.

        Supermarkets are fragile, both with supply chains and reliance on big ag is both polluting and that will fail under climate change. This isn't only about reducing GHG emissions from transport, but also ag, and future proofing food supplies. Monocropped grains are already expected to fail, best we support local growers now so they have time to adapt to the changing climate.

        It's all connected.

        • Andre

          I'm not sure which I find more gobsmacking: the ignorance of the practical realities of food sourcing and distribution for the majority of NZers shown by commenters from the wops of Otago, Southland and Manawatu, or the smugly superior tone in the Dunning-Kruger that comes through while displaying that ignorance.

          Yes, I do have extended family members involved in small-scale diversified farming with gate sales for the local community. Past and present, here and overseas. They're all privileged to not need to make a living from it, it's what they enjoy doing to pass the time while they live off their wealth.

          I also have friends that need to make a living from their farming activities. The kind of low return on their time that they would get from gate sales is a luxury they can't afford to waste their time on.

          • weka

            Imagine how much money they're going to make when climate change destroys their livelihood.

            There's nothing here saying that everyone has to do this one thing. But there is solid climate action rationale for NZ shifting to relocalised food as much as we can, and those that can do that now are helping a *lot because it changes the market so that small/med growers can make a living from it. The big growers will in time get govt and industry support, but it's the people already setting up those systems that we can support now.

            • WeTheBleeple

              Back in the day I worked on a food cooperative that made up boxes of produce for sale to people in our neighborhood. We undercut supermarkets simply by replacing them as middle man. This was voluntary and local Police, hard cases, Maori Wardens and ladies from various community groups all popped in to help on various days.

              The supermarket, as a produce store, was then relatively useless. Cooperative buying is easy. Just build the co-op.

              • Ad

                Market forces like MyFoodBag etc are better.

                There are a few oily-rag volunteer things but they dont last

                • Robert Guyton

                  Why should they "last"?

                • Andre

                  Different target audiences.

                  Co-operative efforts like WTB was involved in are mostly aimed at helping those that are struggling.

                  The likes of My Food Bag is aimed at cash-flush time-poor hipsters and yuppies.

                  • WeTheBleeple

                    On the money. We were working in a poor hood and the idea was to make fresh food cheaper and more accessible. Trimming cost was the goal. Hence volunteers. It's a good social model.

                    My food bag and similar make fresh food/cooking more accessible, they sell time by doing the shopping, thinking and some of the food prep for you, it's a good business model.

                  • Ad

                    The more useful distinction is that MyFoodBag, Woop, HelloFresh, and SmartFood, and the US Blue Apron all have the heft to go head to head for buying power against the oligopolistic supermarkets.


                    Whereas your small scale food co-op will be good for just a few locals. Supermarkets retain all their consumer dominance.

                    If you want to go further up the virtue-spiral you go for EatMyLunch, which is where you really harness the power of the consumer towards delivering free meals to those in need.

          • Robert Guyton

            Nice flurry of personal attacks, Andre!

            Feeling the Christmas spirit, I see.

        • gsays

          The stance the duopoly takes in their contracts with primary producers is another undesirable aspect of their business model.

          My in-laws grew yams. When they traded with the supermarket, they were verbotten to sell at the local market. They made a recipes and a photo card to go on the plastic 'bread- bag tag'. Advertising or promoting the tubers was similarly a no-no.

          This is as much about weaning off convenience as forming different habits.

          Habits that, I hope, get us supporting smaller local suppliers should we go through a disruption akin to Level4.

          Hopefully there is a bright spark somewhere developing the Pandemic Preparedness Plan (snazzy title) as part of the Food Control Plan for small businesses.

          • weka

            Interesting re the pandemic. We were all happy to go out and support NZ tourism and hospo businesses to make those small businesses work. The main difference between covid and climate change is the timeframes and scales, but I don't see a huge difference between making an effort to support local in one sector and the other.

      • gsays 5.1.3

        "For those of us that live in cities, how much diesel miles do you think might be involved in buying milk, or strawberries, or eggs, from the farm gate?"

        Well there are a lot of you, maybe one could go on behalf of several of y'all.

        "How much more diesel miles might be involved in all of us traipsing around all those different places, compared to the single trip to the supermarket with a stop at the greengrocer on the way?"

        I think that is the same question asked a different way.

        "Or better yet from an emissions perspective, getting it all delivered by one supermarket vehicle making multiple deliveries in your area on the one trip, rather than making a dedicated trip of your own to the supermarket?"

        With your emissions calculations you seem to have left out the stuff that occurs before the sale of the goods.

        • Andre

          I have no desire to faff around with my neighbours organising shared trips to the countryside to buy food, when going to a supermarket is a tiny fraction of the time and distance. Nor do they have that desire, either. We don't do shared laundry either. Or share any of the other myriad routine chores in ordinary life that are quicker and easier done on an individual basis, when needed.

          The calculations for emissions before the sale of goods goes something like this:

          A truck with an empty weight of 20 tons can carry a payload of 20,000kg. Fully loaded, it gets around 2km/litre. A milk truck runs an efficient route minimising distance travelled for maximum collection of milk from the farms on their route, to collect from farms to deliver to the factory. Same for other forms of of food.

          A car travelling to a farm (or supermarket) to collect produce weighs 1.5 tons, to collect just a few kilos of payload, and gets 10 km/litre.

          The entire food distribution system gets food to people in trucks carrying quantities of food sufficient for thousands of families, at a fuel use rate only five times more than cars driving around getting food for one family. That's better efficiency by a factor in the hundreds.

          The supermarket delivery van might deliver to ten families on its route, while maybe using only twice the fuel of an individual family trip to the supermarket. That's an efficiency improvement by a factor of around five. And the supermarket ordering and delivery system does the collating of orders into an efficient delivery run, instead of the multiple going around and around in circles involved in individuals trying to organise a shared run out to get some milk from a farm.

          • Ad

            You cash-rich time-poor hipsters will just have to slum it with the rest of the haute-bourgeoisie.

            If only we could all band together and get the people with no money and need to buy food, together with the people who want food prepared for them and have lots of money and no time ………….. that would very scarily be called a business model.

            • WeTheBleeple

              A big part of the issue is obviously food miles. Where we can cut down on these a perceived environmental benefit is there. But this also enhances business models with less time and energy required to get goods to their stores. Goods are goods, where they came from should not matter to a business model provided they've goods to sell.

              I'm a big fan of producing as much as we can locally, and encouraging seasonal eating via celebrity chefs and PR aimed at doing exactly that. But some people fancy themselves as civilised by demanding whatever they want whenever they want it. Maybe some should get over themselves and their selfish pursuit of crappiness.

              This is not about business vs social models, I don't know why each social model is met with fierce resistance and deemed some kind of looney left scenario. Life should be based around community, work around serving the community – not this sad and soulless search for profits. Society without society is just a big boring wankfest of glass skyscrapers.

              "And, in the death, as the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare, shutters lifted an inch or two in Temperance building, high on Poacher's Hill, and red mutant eyes gazed down on Hunger City. No more big wheels. Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats and ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers." – David Bowie.

  6. Bob – [a different Bob] 6

    Folk in this country won't do anything until their home or holiday batch falls into the sea – then they might realise all the warnings are grounded. NZ has many properties situation close to the sea so we won't have to wait long for this issue to raise it's head. It has already done so in terms of Insurance companies warning that soon many NZ properties will not be insurable – due to rising sea levels.

    The government are to electrify their entire fleet – but this seems unrealistic because there is still a massive shortfall in charging venues around the country – especially the South Island. To enact some of these policies requires spending – that filthy word for the neo-libs – to ensure adequate infrastructure to keep the fleet actually on the road.

    [This user handle is already in use here. Could you please use a different one to help distinguishing between different commenters? This is the third time I’ve asked you this question – Incognito]

    • weka 6.1

      My problem with the EV BAU thing is the GHGs emitted to build all the new vehicles, now and going forward. Way better for NZ to support some EV transition and put major effort (funding, infrastructure and education) into public and active transport. And for NZers to change how and when they travel.

  7. Ad 7

    At some point they are going to have to wrestle Waka Kotahi NZTA to be a climate friend. Dropping $1.1billion on highway construction overruns in just 1 year kinda puts any rehab fund in context.

    After that there's Transpower.

    Then a foundational look at the electricity regulator and EECA.

    Even the most active consumers can't resist these government entities for climate damage.

  8. Scud 8

    I think this yrs Cyclone Season is going to wake everyone up across our Sth Pacific Region and in particular NZ & Oz. It will be interesting to see how both countries responded not within each other respective countries, but how it responds in the Sth Pacific while try to mount two concurrent Humanitarian And Disaster Relief (HADR) operations be it on the home front or in the Sth Pacific.

    The other would be that the resilience of our own infrastructure within Australia and New Zealand when we have had political parties/ politicians who seem to think that run down public service infrastructure including Government departments such as Health, CD, KiwiRail, Defence etc and deferred maintenance is saving money, when in fact it doesn’t save any money in the long run.

  9. Robert Guyton 9

    “We are trying to recreate that movement of the bison and the birds across our fields. We never till. Our motto is carbon down, carbon down, carbon down. But, I find it widely inadequate to measure our success by the amount of carbon in the soil.”


  10. Robert Guyton 10

    "I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy… If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago."

    – George Porter

    (As quoted in The Observer, 26 August 1973)

  11. Scud 11

    I found this over at the Wings Over New Zealand (WONZ) forum site. The incoming briefing for the new Defence Minister a brief and found this on CC. But I’m reading this brief and dot brief point 72.

    Climate change will be one of the greatest security challenges in the coming decades – the risk of concurrent and more extreme weather events is increasing. The links between climate change and conflict are indirect but demonstrable. When the effects of climate change intersect with a complex array of environmental and social issues, these can be significant contributors to both low-level and more violent conflict.
    In support of the wider New Zealand Government work programme on climate change, Defence has taken a proactive approach to promoting global recognition of climate change as a security risk and to integrate climate change into Defence activities and decision-making processes. Since 2018, Defence has recognised climate change as a major driver of military operations and capability decisions going forward.
    The impacts of climate change will require more humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, stability operations, and search and rescue missions.
    The NZDF may be faced with more frequent and concurrent operational commitments that will stretch resources and may reduce readiness for other requirements.
    Defence has made a commitment to make sustainable changes to our operations as part of our commitment to identifying, addressing and minimising the
    impacts of climate change to our communities and international partners.

  12. Phillip ure 13

    group-buying-locally will achieve s.f.a…as far as the big picture is concerned..

    and I know most of you find it impossible to even countenance this..

    that it makes most of you deeply uncomfortable..

    but stopping the enslaving/eating of animals will see serious 'climate-action'..

    the environmental and moral pressures will have to merge..for this to happen..

    but it will happen..

    much as human slavery was on the wrong side of history..

    ..so is animal-slavery..

    • The Al1en 13.1

      Deeply uncomfortable to a few, animals are a food source to many, so no moral pressure there to worry about.

      Changing some animal husbandry practices and farming for local markets will substantially reduce carbon emissions. That is serious climate action.

  13. Sanctuary 14

    Did you know that if in the USA just pet food was replaced by GE engineered lab grown meat it would reduce US meat consumption by 25-30% , and have an even bigger impact on the carbon footprint of that level of production (because lab meat in grown in situ, not shipped and processed and shipped again)?


    Makes you wonder why the Greens keep insisting on keeping their utterly ridiculous stance on GE research, if they were serious about climate change they'd embrace GE meat for pets and humans (because good luck telling the developing world they can't have a protein rich diet like yours) as soon as possible. But the won't because anti-science as as much core belief of a lot of Greens as it is of a lot of anti-science Evangelicals.

    In fact a strong, science led Green response to climate change would embrace nuclear power as an interim solution where practical, GE engineering as a way to reduce carbon output from agriculture and champion government funding for things like fusion power research.

    • Robert Guyton 14.1

      It's possible to be serious about both climate change and GE.

      In fact, a responsible political party would be careful not to compromise itself by sacrificing one important issue in favour of another.

    • WeTheBleeple 14.2

      Nukes and GE and blame the Greens.

      great plan.

    • Robert Guyton 14.3

      "In fact a strong, science led Green response to" everything is what we've come to expect and get from The Greens.

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