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So much for the climate change consensus

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, September 25th, 2020 - 39 comments
Categories: climate change, election 2020, Environment, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, national, same old national, science, Simon Bridges - Tags:

It has been a weird week on the campaign trail.

Tuesday night’s debate was a disappointment.  Jacinda did her best to be Prime Ministerial but the set up and Judith’s constant sniping made it almost unwatchable.  This was not a reflection of Jacinda’s qualities as a leader.  Just a reflection of what was a pretty stupid arrangement.

Simon Prast had the perfect description:

I must confess, there was a time when I had my doubts about Jacinda Ardern. Back in the day, when she used to face off in the House against Paula Bennett, it often seemed that Paula, pushy, pugnacious and with a jugular-instinct for the humiliating put-down (remember ‘Zip it Sweetie!’) got the better of her. It often seemed that because she was unwilling to be loud and rude, Jacinda lacked the strength and the stomach necessary for the rough and tumble of politics at the highest level. But it only seemed that way. Fast forward a few years and it is Ardern who is the Prime Minister and Bennett who works for Bayleys. Why is that?

On Facebook, I often see the meme ‘Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness’. This could be Jacinda’s mantra. Since becoming PM, she has confronted, among a million other things, a mass shooting, a volcanic eruption and, of course, a pandemic that triggered a world-wide health crisis and global recession. Without once raising her voice, without once blaming or belittling or bullying anyone, she led the country through an unprecedented minefield that has claimed a million souls worldwide and ended life as we knew it.

Jacinda brought her particular skillset to a situation that stonkered most other leaders and oversaw the development and implementation of a plan to pull New Zealand through. And, so far, it has. That the world now looks to us as a model is testament not to good luck (though how lucky we are to live on these glorious islands at this difficult time) but rather, to good management. The PM’s good management. And you don’t have to take my word for it because the numbers speak for themselves. If we were drowning in an ocean of death, Judith’s only argument, that National are better managers than Labour, might warrant a desperate second look. But the numbers don’t support that argument.

This is the insurmountable problem for Judith. The very qualities she demonstrated in last night’s debate, loudness, rudeness, impatience, contempt, confrontation, these have proved to be the very qualities you DON’T need to succeed against Covid-19. Ask Trump. Ask Boris. Like them, Judith is constitutionally hard-wired for political conflict. For her, to rule is to divide. There can be no winners without losers in her world. And as we see in the UK and the USA, when it comes to Covid-19, losing is an existential concept. Life or death.

But Judith has taken the superficial comment about how she “won” the debate as some sort of vindication for her style.  And National has come out with some appalling behaviour ever since.

Like all the social media that National and its MPs released immediately after suggesting that Jacinda thinks that dairy farming is a world that has past.  She did not.  She was referring to perceptions that dairying was still dirty not that dairying has no future.  The comment was taken totally out of context and the party and the MPs who latched onto this should be ashamed.

Especially its shadow attorney general who said that National’s bastardisation of different words Jacinda said “is not a false quote – as it is not a quote. It is a construction of key words aligned with Jacinda Ardern”.  I mean what does this mean apart from it is legitimate for National to stream a whole lot of random words to form something that was not said.

Then yesterday National announced that it would make major changes to the Zero Carbon legislation.  Which is strange really because ten months ago it not only supported the legislation but called for a consensus to be reached between the major parties.

Remember when Simon Bridges, then National leader, said this?

Before this bill—before, in fact, the Government was even considering in substance the shape of this bill—I gave a speech to the Fieldays in 2018, and I said the following: “In order to drive long-lasting change, broad and enduring political support is needed for New Zealand’s climate change framework on the institutional arrangements we put in place to support a reduction in emissions. Both the Productivity Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment were clear about this. Stability is required to allow people and businesses to plan and respond. It requires a consensus between the major political parties on the overall framework through which we address climate change issues.”

Well you can forget that.  Under Judith Collins’ leadership nothing is sacred and everything is available for political manipulation.

National is now proposing seven changes to the Zero Carbon legislation including:

  • Reviewing the methane target on the basis that “[t]he 24 to 47 per cent biogenic methane target is not grounded in robust science”.
  • Inserting the phrase “[i]n a manner that does not threaten food production” into carbon reduction goals.
  • Conducting an immediate review of the use of the level of forestry offsets.  Why does National hate trees so much?
  • Amending the legislation to require the Climate Change Commission to review the level of action taken by other countries and advise if New Zealand’s action remained in line with other developed countries.  Obviously we should not be leaders or even fast followers.
  • Amending the way carbon budgets are set to provide greater consideration of the economic impact of a restrictive carbon budget.
  • Ensuring biogenic methane is not included in a single carbon budget.
  • And they believe that technology will be the key to achieving future emissions reductions, not taxes and banning things.

How weak and insipid.  National is willing to trash the recently agreed to consensus, pander to ill formed farmer preferences, oppose one of the most effective solutions, that is planting new trees, be internationally a slow follower, favour the economy over preservation of the world’s environment, ignore the major effects of methane and bet our future on technologies that are still unproven.

The strange thing is that this is not the sort of issue that a party would push in order to persuade swinging voters.  It is the sort of policy that you engage in if you have an urgent need to shore up the base.  Proposing that we wreck carefully worked through climate policies just so that climate change deniers feel better is not the action of a responsible leader.

It is a sign of National’s weakness.  They are having to shore up diminishing support by adopting policies which most Kiwis, particularly young kiwis, realise are not enough.

As said by Rod Oram:

So, if any party fails to make substantial climate commitments in this election, it is telling us three things: it doesn’t believe we have a climate crisis; it doesn’t care a large majority of people want action on climate change, as polls consistently report, as the latest shows yet again; and it doesn’t take the Climate Change Commission seriously.

All three dismissals are deeply damaging to our future. But in many ways the last is the most important. Any party failing to engage with our Climate Change Commission breaks the political consensus absolutely vital to its effectiveness. Even if the party tries to patch that up later, it will take voters a very long time to trust it on climate issues. Breaking the consensus now will be a long-term electoral liability for the party.

At this particular time further culture wars about climate are the last things we need.  Vote Labour or Greens.

39 comments on “So much for the climate change consensus ”

  1. Adrian 1

    On Bridges, who while appearing on 7Days last night seemed relaxed, and confident and almost likeable. Has he had the word that he might just get another go in a few weeks.. God knows there isn't anyone else and there is nothing like a good arsekicking to teach one some humility and self awareness.

  2. dv 2

    Add to the mix that China has apparently set a goal of carbon neutral by 2060 (Yea i know long way) How will China react the Natz carbon policy if (big if) they get in.

    And could that affect our trade with China!!!

  3. Uncle Scrim 3

    Wasn't the Zero Carbon legislation also Todd Muller's big achievement as an MP that helped justify him becoming leader? So Collins has u-turned on the policy supported by her two predecessors? How many dairy farmers not already voting National does she think this will win over?

    • bwaghorn 3.1

      The way national is going about courting farmers , who I would have guessed predominantly vote national and usually are just taken for granted by national, one wonders if their polling tells them they are losing support in rural nz.

      • Graeme 3.1.1

        I went down to Invercargill last Monday and again today and was wondering the same thing. There would have been nearly twice the number of National hoardings as last week, and all the new ones were in deep rural heatland. There was one construction in a dairy paddock with four full size signs on it about 4m high, a lot of effort had gone into that one.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    The strange thing is that this is not the sort of issue that a party would push in order to persuade swinging voters. It is the sort of policy that you engage in if you have an urgent need to shore up the base.

    Yeah. Could be a misread of the shift. Kneejerk reaction to the shift to ACT? Maybe. More considered reaction to Jacinda's pandemic management win? More likely. But their considering didn't make them think right. To get where centrists heads are at they'd need to include them in focus groups.

    No evidence they did & unlikely the centrists who shifted will be persuaded back to National by this. Almost certainly they got shifted by her performance, which created a mass perception of competence & reliability. That hasn't changed. Marketing to neanderthals is about as clueless as you can get this close to the election. Losers.

    • Robert Guyton 4.1

      Could be that Judith is shovelling voters to ACT, killing of the National Party, and following the election, will slide across to take the ACT leadership.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        With ACT approaching double figures and National on the decline I suspect this is very much on their mind….forget all pretence of being a moderate centrist party and reclaim the support of the wealthy before its too late.

        I suspect theyve left it too late and dont have the personal to pull it off

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.2

        Consistent with what swamp things were writing on kiwibog a while back. Pipsqueak #2 probably wouldn't wear it: "Ahem, Judith. Why don't you stand for co-leader? You may be able to give my gun-nut lobbyist a run for her money, eh?"

        • Incognito 4.1.2.1

          The gun-nuts would go nuts and it would blow their brains if ‘the Crusher’ were to team up with ACT. In the name of personal freedom and free speech, anything even only vaguely resembling climate change consensus would be gone by lunchtime and shot out of the dirty river water faster than a speeding bullet. If you want to know what awful sound a weathercock makes in a storm just before it snaps you only have to listen to Judith and her shambolic gang of mishapping MPs.

      • RosieLee 4.1.3

        Slide? Don't you mean slither?

  5. Wensleydale 5

    Breaking News: National are still scum and will say and do whatever they feel is most likely to con people into voting for them.

    On a positive note, given they don't seem to be making even a half-hearted attempt to hide their shitty behaviour, we can all see them for who and what they are. (Which makes it even harder to get my head around why the actual fuck anyone would willingly vote for them.)

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Especially its shadow attorney general who said that National’s bastardisation of different words Jacinda said “is not a false quote – as it is not a quote. It is a construction of key words aligned with Jacinda Ardern”. I mean what does this mean apart from it is legitimate for National to stream a whole lot of random words to form something that was not said.

    It is a way for them to justify their lies.

    In order to drive long-lasting change, broad and enduring political support is needed for New Zealand’s climate change framework

    Of course, there is, and has been for awhile, broad and enduring political support for making changes in relation to climate change. It just hasn't been in the political parties and this is the problem of Representative Democracy – it actually ignores the will of the people.

    And they believe that technology will be the key to achieving future emissions reductions, not taxes and banning things.

    Setting standards, taxation and, yes, banning things is what can really drive research. Especially if the government then also funded and directed a large chunk of research.

    • Patricia Bremner 6.1

      Shall we try?

      Judith Collins says people are silly, need to earn $30 000 to get $8 a week,

      “Poor farmers hated by the urbanites..
      Poor city folk hated by the farmers …. I support the farmers because I was one once”.

  7. PsyclingLeft.Always 7

    To the nats Climate Consensus is just semantics.

    Meanwhile..

    https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

    The nats really are Deniers

  8. tc 8

    "…Under Judith Collins’ leadership nothing is sacred.." no surprises there Mickey.

    Promoting the unelectable Collins could be a deliberate strategy by the hollow men. They play a long game.

    Be a lot cheaper to back a couple of smaller parties than the born to rule leaky national party in MMP….let the chips fall where they may.

  9. gsays 9

    I can't help but observe that the P.M. and the Leader of the Opposition offer a stark contrast.

    One of a long gone generation, midway from last century, a FPP politician. The other, a leader for and of today, seeking consensus, instructing her MPs to keep out of the Nats business, a MMP politician.

    Witness their campaigning, one using fear, sowing discord, breaking promises, repeating the same tropes to small crowds of the selfish. The other mobbed by adoring citizens, an eye for the future and a great communicator.

  10. Byd0nz 10

    Great pic for this article. It's great that young people as pictured have become aware of planetary needs, or human needs really for life to continue to exist.

    They can point to the pollution, the bad management of a well-being planet. I hope they will be the start of a new generational change in the way we live, the way that the world needs to unite as one unhindered by individual nations self interests. I hope they see the need for a system of a 'World without money'.

    The doomsday clock no longer counts down in minutes, they now have set it to seconds, so it is time for a world wide change in mindset, a new method where the concept of money has no place. Doing away with money systems is IMHO, the major shift needed to create a one world system of mutual co-operation. Otherwise, in the words of Sgt Fraser of Dads Army fame, " We are all doomed "

  11. Robert Guyton 11

    Predatory delay; NRT explores the meaning of "predatory delay"; "the blocking or slowing of needed change, in order to make money off unsustainable, unjust systems in the meantime." It is not delay from the absence of action, but delay as a plan of action– a way of keeping things they way they are for the people who are benefiting now, at the expense of the next and future generations.

    Predatory delay

    Farmers are whining again about being expected to clean up their act:

    Canterbury farmers want politicians to stop painting them as climate change villains, listen to their needs and allow them more time to boost environmental standards.

    […]

    “The targets are necessary for the environment, but do we need to achieve everything in the next two years? Probably not.

    “Slowing things down a little would be good for farmers, and for the whole economy generally as we come through this recession.”

    This is pure predatory delay: demanding "just a bit more time" so you can keep on polluting (and then demand "just a bit more time" again).

    • solkta 11.1

      but do we need to achieve everything in the next two years? Probably not.

      How ridiculous is that comment, like if.

    • barry 11.2

      Federated farmers and other "farmers' spokespeople" do not speak for all farmers. The problem when you say "farmers are whining" all farmers think you are talking about them.

      • greywarshark 11.2.1

        That's what I was thinking the other day. I bet Federated Farmers does not represent the ordinary family farmer with one or two farms at most.

        I think NZ as a whole would show a different face when talking about farming, if they knew the actual face to cow farmers, who utilise tech but are firmly in control of handling stock and trying to move forward towards less nitrogen and regenerative farming, organics. You hear them on Country Life on Radionz and they sound like people you would want to know.

        Someone once referred to a sort of Masonic control in some of the deep cow areas where decisions and POV are handed down from above, and the ordinary farmer better to stay schtum or lose some advantages. Are farmers free to put their ideas forward without retaliatory reaction by the long-term conservatives with bigger holdings? When in one area a young chap with a chip on his shoulder can get away with animal cruelty, defacing property, burning down something – a new house?, well that is not a healthy environment to live in. That episode ended in death. Seems likely to frighten people into not crossing whoever, and the neighbours would know who it is. The gun laws need better controls too. Is there a code of omerta out there in the 'heartlands'?

      • Draco T Bastard 11.2.2

        Then the ones that aren't whinging better get their own spokespeople. Until they do then the whinging that we hear from the farmer's spokespeople is what we'll believe of all farmers.

      • Robert Guyton 11.2.3

        Farmers to the Feds: "GET IN BEHIND!"

  12. Ed1 12

    Some years ago a National Government signed New Zealand up to an international agreement, which was said to make a country that did not meet its commitments potentially liable to have to make payments to other countries.

    If that is the case, do we have an estimate of how much of a money hole there may be in Goldmith's plans?

  13. barry 13

    I can only assume that National have taken on Trump's advisers.

    When in doubt lie and then lie about lying.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      They didn't need anyone to advise them to do that – its what they do anyway. It simply comes naturally to them.

  14. Incognito 14

    If we were drowning in an ocean of death, Judith’s only argument, that National are better managers than Labour, might warrant a desperate second look.

    That is quite a prophetic statement but coming from CC deniers, it sounds ominously true.

  15. Maurice 15

    Poor little children – we have just borrowed and spent the next two generation's total wealth.

    They will be grubbing left-behind potatoes and gleaning grain from an increasingly hostile earth.

    Ah! Well! … another sip of Chardonnay followed by a Dram of Single Malt … before they lynch us …..

    • mikesh 15.1

      I think future generations will be quite capable of growing new potatoes.

    • Patricia Bremner 15.2

      Yes Maurice, over history that has happened, and many children as adults went to pastures green and rinse and repeat.

      Trouble is ..we have run out of pastures green, so better horticulture and husbandry is required, along with regeneration and true conservation.

      Perhaps the Regenerative Farming Group need their own representatives.

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