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This should have been the climate election

Written By: - Date published: 10:35 am, October 16th, 2020 - 30 comments
Categories: climate change, election 2020, greens, labour - Tags: , , ,

If 2017 was the election where we changed the government from right to centre left, then 2020 should be the election where we changed that centre left govt into a green left one.

We’re kind of getting there, but here’s the problem. The climate crisis isn’t on the doorstep, it’s now in the front hall poking it’s head into the living room. Incremental approaches used by centre left governments are not going to act in time.

The Ministry for the Environment’s report, Our Atmosphere and Climate, was published yesterday. Would that they had released this a few weeks ago and the MSM had pushed on it hard during the election campaing. It’s sobering.

From RNZ,

Natasha Lewis, the Ministry’s deputy secretary of strategy and stewardship, said the 84-page report shows climate change is not a far off threat.

“Climate change is having a profound impact on us and on our environment here and now, and it’s the decisions that each one of us make that are contributing to this.”

… the report finds extreme fire danger is expected to dramatically rise over the next two decades.

Fire danger is projected to increase by an average of 70 percent by 2040 with the the largest increases set to be in areas not used to fire, like Wellington and Otago.

By 2040, the report predict Wellington will see a doubling in fire danger to 30 days a year where fire risk is very high or extreme, and coastal Otago a tripling – to 20 days a year.

It found that over the past two decades there was an increasing trend in days with very high or extreme fire danger at Napier, Lake Tekapo, Queenstown, Gisborne, Masterton and Gore.

The report also notes that, unlike Australia, New Zealand ecosystems have not evolved to cope well with fire.

There are so many red flags here. For those of us paying attention this is scary stuff, because as far as I know MfE, Niwa etc are still working with conservative predictions, not what will happen if we get runaway climate change. But we’re not doing the things to prevent the worst of climate change.

From Stuff,

Climate scientist James Renwick, who advised on the report, said if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase globally, New Zealand’s climate would see massive changes through the rest of this century, making adaptation very difficult. “If emissions are reduced rapidly, in line with the Paris Agreement, climate change across New Zealand would still be significant, but more manageable,” he said.

“making adaptation very difficult” should be the wake up call. If we don’t act we’re going to start experiencing domino effects from climate impacts locally.

Also pertinent here is that unlike Australia we don’t have good sensibility about wildfires. We still build housing in highly flammable situations, we still plant flammable trees around and near housing and infrastructure. Up until recently, we still let clueless international tourists travel at will and free camp and light fires in the dodgiest of places. Now would be a really good time to start teaching New Zealanders about fire.

There’s also some damning stuff in the report about New Zealand’s emissions, including related to transport. TL;DR is that we have to majorly adjust our behaviours around personal car use, and government priorities on public transport.

Of 43 countries in the OECD, New Zealand ranks 5th in terms of worst polluters on CO2 emissions from road transport. in other words, each person pumps 3.2 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year from driving alone.

We will see what we can do in the next three years, if our luck holds and we end up with a Labour/Green government on Saturday.

But every extra Green MP we can get now ups our chances significantly of New Zealand finally getting on board with what real climate action is.

Although the report does not make recommendations, Lewis said it should inform decision making everywhere.

“The whole point of doing the report is to generate response across the country and across all levels – from whānau and hapū level, local government, business, industry and of course government,” Lewis said.

If you haven’t voted, climate is still by far New Zealand’s biggest challenge, and it’s the Greens that have the plan for what to do.

Think Ahead. Party Vote Green.

Green Party Climate Policies

30 comments on “This should have been the climate election ”

  1. Tricledrown 1

    If the exit polls are correct it could be the greenest govt we have had.

    • weka 1.1

      Fingers crossed, and we have all sorts of opportunity if the polling holds.

    • Pataua4life 1.2

      We don't have exit polls

    • Labour_Voter 1.3

      Bullshit. It will be Labour majority government and only because Jacinda is so warm and friendly she will invite Greens to be part of her government. Let the Greens show eternal gratitude for that and not try to ask for big ministerial roles.

  2. Koff 2

    Twitter comment by Greta Thunberg when asked about Amy Coney Barrett's response to being asked about her views on climate change during the Senate hearing into her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    "To be fair, I don't have any "views on climate change" either. Just like I don't have any "views" on gravity, the fact that the earth is round, photosynthesis nor evolution… But understanding and knowing their existence really makes life in the 21st century so much easier.

    A classic.

  3. woodart 3

    well, if the greens dont get sucked in to having to answer endless questions about a wealth tax, and learn how to play the political game, we MAY have action.but, if theres any party that knows how to shoot themselves in both feet, its the greens(unfortunatley). FFS, play whats in front of you, and dont get sidetracked(again)

    • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1

      All political parties make mistakes – seems to me that the Greens are often held to a higher standard of accountability; part-and-parcel of 'playing' by their own rules?

      IMHO, the weaknesses and mistakes of Green party MPs pale into insignificance beside those of National party MPs and their friends, but no-one’s talking about Boag-Walker-Woodhouse-Falloon-Bridge now.


    • Incognito 3.2

      The Greens often are perceived and portrayed as politically naive and as slow-learners by some commenters here with particularly jaundiced views. However, I think the Greens are cunning and play a smart tactical game. They know they cannot ‘win’ on all their policies and priorities so it’s all about positioning, just like a game of chess.

      • woodart 3.2.1

        cant play a chess game if you are not on the board, and the greens STILL dont have a certain seat at the table.after all the elections they have been in, they still phuck around ,just above the 5% cutoff. time to really put in the effort and have one or two electorate seat power base. if a noddy like seymour has it figured, why havent the greens?

        • weka

          their polling all year has indicated they will be back in. Not a guarantee, but it's a misrepresentation to say they're hovering just about 5%.

          Act are doing well because National are in freefall. If Labour were in free fall in the same way I would expect the Green vote to increase.

  4. gsays 4

    For this to have been a CC election there would have been a lot of scared horses. Our PM is a lot of things but a horse scarer she is not.

    I am an eternal optimist, so I am hoping The Greens and senior Labour pollies have something up their sleeves that would make the folks who baulk at a wealth tax/CGT, absolutely crap their jocks with a plan to remediate our emissions.

    Trucks off the road, freight on to rail/coastal shipping, geothermal power, cockies helped more to transition to regen ag/commercial permaculture.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    There are a lot of things that should have been done this term. Covid is an excuse for a few of them – but serious environmental concerns don't wait on the vagaries of political convenience, or calculation, or ignorance. Social and economic justice has been deferred too. There's no denying Labour is infinitely better and smarter than the Gnats – but that's far from a gold star for good governance.

  6. WeTheBleeple 6

    Addressing climate related fire issues should go hand in hand with water management and carbon storage/forestry planning.

    It's time to start storing water in tanks and water gardens (urban) and small ponds and swales extensively throughout all our landscapes. These hydrate the land for trees and will greatly reduce drought severity. We need rain water to go in the ground recharging rivers and aquifers, not overland and directly out to sea.

    Regen-ag and similar soil building systems will likewise increase water infiltration and thus drought tolerance. With the water, carbon can be stored both below and above ground.

    We need mixed forestry with less combustible species and forest blocks that are surrounded by 'fire-proof' species. Fire breaks and maintenance of them should also be mandatory practice for foresters, especially in drought prone areas.

    Water is the key to it being manageable at all. Small earthworks but on a massive scale can make a world of difference.

    Hope now requires action. This election couldn't be over soon enough for me, with Greens integral to effective government.

    • weka 6.1

      all of this.

      One of the worries is that farmers are probably right about the build up of flammable growth with removal of grazing on some land, but their approach is to basically create deserts. We need more vegetation of the right kind in the right place.

      Fingers crossed NZF are gone on Sat and no more stupidity like mass planting pine trees.

      I need to go look up the GP's original climate tree planting plan and see how far ahead it was from what we actually ended up doing.

      Systems thinking is what is needed urgently.

      • WeTheBleeple 6.1.1

        This video (following) describes the strategy employed by a village to win an award for water harvesting out of around 1000 villages competing. Note how simple the solutions are to completely alter their landscape and livelihoods. I recommend all of this series some is simply remarkable.

        We can learn a great deal studying countries that rely on monsoon rains in how to deal with drought/flood cycles.


        • weka

          That's a seriously impressive project.

          The phase two competition is fantastic.

          "Water management structures serve as the bones of the landscape system"

          I wrote a post a few years ago about that part of India, looking at water harvesting. One of the things that stood out there too was the relationship between the tech and the ability of villages to work together that led to permanent solutions.

          A Tale of Two Droughts

          Interestingly, your video clearly points to why climate action is linked to social justice and wellbeing.

          What do you think it would take to get NZ farming to start thinking about water in the landscape instead of on top of it? Somehow I can't imagine NZ farmers being enthused about a competition.

          • Robert Guyton

            "What do you think it would take to get NZ farming to start thinking about water in the landscape instead of on top of it?"

            Haikai Tane.

          • WeTheBleeple

            'Farmers thinking about water in the landscape'. As drought conditions hammer bottom lines those with solutions will be quite readily listened to – only detracted from by farm 'advisors'. Those selling fertiliser and cides and irrigation schemes and whatever else they can.

            We see this with Ravensdown (fertiliser) board members posing as concerned scientists in local newspapers trying to twist the narrative around regen-ag. It's a global push back against common sense by fossil fuel interests, we see it all over.

            But, I eagerly read the stories of NZ regen-ag farms watching heavy downpours soak into, rather than run across, their farms. I see pictures of lush multi-species pastures and fat happy animals while regions called for help with feed.

            You got to have a lot of money to throw away not to get onboard if pastures are drought stressed consistently. Guess that's why the boom in irrigation booms, and the cutting of trees to accommodate them. Clever if you can't see past your nose.

            These divergent groups of farmers were mostly all following the Fonterra model not long ago. But times are changing, and some have seen the writing on the wall. 3/4 of voters are concerned today with a parties stance on the environment. That's a massive shift. And they're not all townies.

        • gsays

          Thanks WTB, that was a great clip.

          I am always moved when seeing folk cooperate.

      • James Thrace 6.1.2

        If by "systems thinking" you mean joined up thinking, then yes, I agree.

        I still view Nationals abhorrent failure to house SH1 road and rail workers in Kaikoura motels and hotels after the 2016 quakes but instead renting all those portacabins from the Australian company that donated to National in 2014 as a classic and clear example of their failure to show joined up thinking or to assist small businesses.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    The New Zealand government has been praised for heeding scientific advice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when it comes to environmental protections the scientific advice seems to be negotiable. Freshwaters have been in decline for decades, despite clear science on limits needed to protect them. There are many examples of 'shifting baselines', where limits have been progressively weakened through agency regulatory capture and political expediency.

  8. RRM 8

    Chloe will care for the environment with an asset tax!

  9. Grafton Gully 9

    The massive recent reduction in global CO2 emissions owes absolutely nothing to green party policy. The pandemic and its social and economic effects makes all parties’ policies obsolete. Parties that can create wide appeal for credible policies in a post covid world will most likely gain power in the future.


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