Nearly my shortest post ever, because there’s not a lot else that needs to be said.
However, I suspect the tweet will annoy some Labour supporters as well as dissers of the Greens, so let’s pull it apart. From the Green Party’s website: Finally a Plan to take on the Climate Crisis,
Over the last four years, the Greens in Government have laid the foundations for climate action in every part of Aotearoa. The Emissions Reduction Plan(ERP) is a landmark all-of-Government plan to cut climate pollution in a way that makes life better for everyone, protects nature, and improves our communities.
It comes after decades of calling for climate action and after years of negotiations led by Green Party Co-leader and Climate Minister James Shaw. And what’s more, it will be paid for by polluters.
Containing over 300 initiatives to cut climate pollution, it’s a big deal and will have a huge influence on the future of Aotearoa.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most transformative initiatives:
- More walking, cycling and public transport through a range of local and national measures
- Clean car standard to begin in 2023, and further measures to make EVs affordable – such as social leasing and scrap and replace the scheme
- Decarbonising freight so our trucks and trains run on clean energy not oil
- Improving kerbside waste collection across Aotearoa
- A ban on new low & medium temperature coal boilers and phasing out existing coal boilers (by 2037)
- Less organic waste in landfills & $103 million for waste reduction
- Banning new fossil fuel baseload generation & 100% renewable power generation
- Improvements to public transport including reducing emissions caused by buses (zero by 2035), a national ticketing system & funding for better bus systems
- Gas Transition Plan for households and businesses
- A strategy for an equitable transition & working with unions, communities and businesses to develop plans
- Changing the building code for warmer, dryer, more energy-efficient buildings
- Funding for the development of regenerative farming practices & for Māori farmers to adopt low emissions farming practices
- Māori climate strategy that prioritises mātauranga Māori
- Restoration and protection of indigenous forests
These initiatives are decades in the making. The truth is we’ve known how to address the climate crisis for many years. The hard part has been getting politicians to act.
That’s why the ERP is so significant. Finally, we have a commitment and a plan to act, all while creating jobs and making polluters pay.
My emphasis. The ERP isn’t enough, and the Greens, and Shaw, openly say this. (full plan is here). One of the biggest holes is what’s happening with agriculture.
(If it’s too depressing, remember that meanwhile, in the background, a whole bunch of farmers have been doing regenag anyway. When the rest of New Zealand catches up, those farms will be the signposts of how to transition ag).
Analysis and critique from Russell Norman, Marc Daalder at Newsroom, Bernard Hickey at The Kākā, and Greenpeace NZ.
However the problems with the ERP doesn’t mean it is nothing. Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Director of Hei Puāwaitanga Sustainable Development and Civic Imagination Research group, Canterbury University,
“It’s easy to be cynical, but I do feel quietly optimistic, that finally this is an emissions plan that starts us as a nation on a new journey of clearly reporting and measuring the difference we are making for our climate and our community. Having the Climate Commission regularly assess our progress is a very real difference to anything we’ve had in the past. All evidence shows that the countries that are able to sustain downward emissions reductions while also protecting populations are countries that that have an independent plan and an independent agency to assess performance over time. This is why it matters that the NZ Climate Commission sets out the budget for the amount of heat trapping gas we can produce as a country and assesses our performance. Their independence is crucial.
Thomas Nash, Greater Wellington Regional Council councillor and climate chair,
Nash also speaks to the importance of having the structures set in place,
The scale of the plan’s cross government reach is remarkable (although undoubtedly boring to most people) and the funding is big, far more than anything ever facilitated by a Green Minister.
That boring stuff is gold. They’re all pointing to the fact that in order to make effective change you have to have government departments willing and able to implement that change, and the legislative structures so that Nact don’t tear it all down again. That’s what we have now. It will get easier to do the things we should be doing, should we vote in a more climate progressive government next year.
The rest of Nash’s thread focuses on the details of the major transport restructuring, and he also points to where the limitations are coming from,
The plan’s headline grabbing focus on replacing fossil fuel private cars with EVs feels out of touch with reality if you’re thinking about the wider climate, transport and urban planning challenge, but I guess it is the kind of policy Labour Ministers felt comfortable funding.
Climate Minister James Shaw was copping a big of flack yesterday, some blaming him for the ERP not being better/stronger. Which demonstrates a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of how parliament works. In 2017 we had a Labour-led coalition government with NZ First. The Greens provided Confidence and Supply. In 2020, Labour got to govern alone, but gave two Ministerial portfolios to the Greens, including Climate.
Shaw as Climate Minister is formally outside of Cabinet but must support and implement Labour’s Cabinet decisions. (PDF of Labour/Green agreement). Pretty amazing what he has managed to achieve despite all that.
If the Greens had been coalition partners in 2017, and had more MPs and again been in coalition in 2020, we’d be seeing a very different plan. If the Greens were the major party, we’d be streets ahead of where we are now. NZ First dragged the chain in 2017, but the problems with the ERP rest largely with Labour. If you think this is on Shaw, see if you can explain how, within the structures of parliament and the Labour/Green agreement, he could have made Labour adopt more progressive climate policy.
It’s inconceivable that the Greens would have not moved on agriculture if they had been allowed. From their Climate policy,
Agriculture: Immediately begin a phase-in of greenhouse gas emission
pricing for agriculture, along with suitable support for a Just Transition for
affected communities. There are cost-effective ways to reduce agricultural
emissions, many of which also boost on-farm productivity, biodiversity and
resilience and reduce other forms of pollution (see our Agricultural and Rural Affairs policy)
Labour’s environmental approach,
Labour will keep working with farmers on our world-first partnership to reduce primary sector climate emissions at the farm level, including improving tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms, increasing farm advisory capacity and capability, and providing recognition for on-farm mitigation.
“New Zealand’s agriculture sector and our farmers already do so much to address climate change and Labour will support them in that work by increasing funding across agricultural climate change research programmes by $6 million a year, to boost research happening in New Zealand and build on our international leadership in this area.
Supporting farmers to reduce emissions through integrated farm planning.
Nothing about agriculture, the ETS and regulating the farming sector, lots about letting farmers get there in their own time. But the whole point is that we no longer have the time to spare.
Te Pāti Māori,
- Bring methane emissions from agriculture into the ETS, and incentivise transitioning away from intensive dairying
TPM also have a solid emphasis on regenerative agriculture, as do the Greens.Te Pāti Māori climate policy,
Intensive dairying has become the country’s biggest river and climate polluter in Aotearoa. The IPCC says we need significant reductions in methane in the next eight years to keep the world under 1.5C. Aotearoa can only meet its emissions reductions obligations by significantly reducing livestock numbers and moving away from emissions-intensive farming practices like the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, and imported feed, and towards regenerative and value-added farming.
Regenerative agriculture has its roots in indigenous farming practices that our tupuna used to produce food sustainably before European colonisation. Regenerative farming also fits in with climate adaptation as it increases resilience against impacts from drought, flooding, and other extreme weather events, and improves food self-sufficiency.
I cannot find anything on Labour’s website about regenag. This matters because regenag and allied systems are the way we can farm sustainably while lowering emissions and building resiliency. Mainstream farming tech isn’t going to get us out of this as a primary approach and it looks like Labour believe we can green the massive number of industrial dairy farms (and Fonterra) and all will be well. No-one taking climate seriously believes that.
I’m not saying this from a partisan position. I’m saying this to point out that if we truly want adequate progress on climate, if we are willing to act as if climate is the greatest crisis of our time (it is) and act as if it is here, now (it is), then we need to support and vote for the parties that will give us that. We are fortunate to have both the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori to choose from. New Zealand would be very well served by having all three parties in government next year.
Don’t forget the local body elections on October 8th!