What if we had a Transition Enabling Act?

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, October 4th, 2022 - 74 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: , ,

At a time when we are inundated with news of the end of the world, ideas of the way through are crucial. This one is brilliant – legislation that would enable all the things we need for Transition to happen. The great potential here is for change in a climate-meaningful timeframe.

Polly Higgins was a British lawyer who did extensive work on getting ecocide codified as a crime. Here Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins shares Higgins’ idea of a Transition Enabling Act. – weka.

Reposted, with permission, from https://www.robhopkins.net/


Why it’s time to revisit the idea of the Transition Enabling Act

Sometimes the very best ideas need to bide their time before they get picked up and adopted. I want to share one such idea which I was reminded about the other day and which I really think deserves renewed attention and focus. I think it could be one of the seminal and transformative ideas of our time. I’m posting it here to see what you think, for your reflections.

First, a short bit of history. In December 2010, Transition Finsbury Park and Transition Highbury organised a great event called Confronting Change, at the South Bank Centre in London. The speakers were Michael Meacher MP, the lawyer and originator of the concept of Ecocide Polly Higgins (both since sadly lost to us), and myself. In the conversation that followed our talks, Polly suggested the idea of what she called a ‘Transition Enabling Act’, a kind of yin to Ecocide’s yang, if you like, focusing on accelerating the good stuff rather than just stopping the bad stuff.

You can see the moment that the idea first came to her at 3:30 in the video below [2mins]:

She then goes on to elucidate the idea further at 5:45 in this video [1 min] and from 8:02 in this one [1 mins 30]

I love it when she describes it as “the biggest job creation scheme in world history”, because that’s exactly what it would be. The Transition Enabling Act (TEA) is a brilliant idea whose time, I think, has come. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

“Polly suggested that, in the same way that certain key pieces of enabling legislation have led to great advances in the past, perhaps the time is right for a Transition Enabling Act, designed not to ban lots of things, but positive legislation that enables all that needs to happen in order for Transition to scale up rapidly over the next 5 years”.

The idea was, as Polly explained, inspired by the Canal Enabling Acts of the Victorian times, which set out everything that needed to be changed in order to remove all of the obstacles to the rapid creation of the canals.

It is clearly possible to use legislation to unlock different approaches to development and economic change. The UK government’s current legislation on how to rapidly accelerate the creation of Freeports is one example of identifying the obstacles to something and creating legislation that removes all of those obstacles (enabling, in the case of the Freeports, a really dreadful thing to happen).

The morning after the Confronting Change event, Polly wrote to me. “My head has been spinning all night on this! How an umbrella ET Act could open the door to food/community land trusts, guerilla gardening/incredible edible, education/ transition universities, training, jobs – oh just oodles of things”.

I was reminded of these conversations with Polly about the TEA (as I will now call it) when last I week, in France, I was sat in a meeting in Muzillac in France with local officials and the local MP discussing Transition and how to accelerate it in their area. The local MP said something to the effect that “these are great ideas, and we’d love to do them, but there is so much regulation in place that stops these things from happening, so I’m not sure how possible it is”.

The meeting with local officials in Muzillac.

I replied that it would be so so tragic if our civilisation were to destroy itself simply because it didn’t have the regulations in place that would enable it to save itself. It was then that the idea of the TEA came back to me, and as I talked about it, I could see the MP scribbling furiously, inspired by the idea of being the one who brought such an idea before parliament.

Polly’s idea was that this law should be Open Sourced. She felt that all of the movements already trying to change things, community energy groups, sustainable food campaigns, land rights activists, community-led development groups, new economists, etc etc, should be asked two key questions:

1. What have you been unable/hindered in doing to create successful transitioning in your community?

2. If you are able to say, what would enable your proposal to happen?

(You can see how readers of my blog at the time answered those questions here).

The core question with a TEA, she wrote, is “whose rights take supremacy? Big business or the wider earth community (which includes humanity) … . our existing laws, which are predicated primarily in property not trusteeship laws, protect the rights of those who have the money to buy land and property over and above community use and stewardship”.

She added, “What I am doing here with the TEA is shifting the balance of rights in favour of the community so that the community can then determine what they want over and above the might of corporate and council decisions. At the moment, the onus is still on the community to prove their case each time. With a TEA … the shoe is placed firmly on the other foot – instead a council would have to justify why a supermarket should open if it could not satisfy the overarching principle of guaranteeing the good health and well-being of the community, i.e. why it is not sourcing all its food locally etc; a building development that was not using locally sourced energy and locally sourced materials etc would have to justify why it was failing to use local and sustainable materials that are low carbon etc. In other words, the unsustainable businesses/developments would suddenly become the exception, not the rule”.

A month later, she came back to me having given it more thought, with a more fleshed-out idea

Transition Enabling Act Overview

1. Ecological well-being for current and future generations is primary obligation

Welfare of the community:
Transition by communities to a cleaner, non-polluting lifestyle requires more than the proposed rights set out in the forthcoming Localism Bill (Rob’s note: the Localism Act was passed in 2011) the LB sets out, amongst other things, the community right to express an interest in decision-making (which can be rejected), the right to bid and the right to engage in referenda. To transition a community to a non-fossil fuel dependent, resilient and flourishing economy will require certain enabling provisions to be put in place, thereby embedding certain presumptions and prioritizing certain determinants that favour the transitioning community. For true resilience to be achieved, the intrinsic values of ecological and community well-being are the bedrock of a Transition Enabling Act.

By setting the highest standards for energy requirements, transport infrastructure, food and building materials etc. transitioning communities can be enabled to take action in a resilient direction when faced with times of crisis.

We do not yet have embedded in international law the freedom of a clean and healthy environment, which is a freedom that arises out of two rights: 1. the right not to be polluted, 2. the right to restorative justice. When both rights are applied, the result is the freedom of a healthy and clean environment. Many lawyers now increasingly believe that such rights should apply not only to people; they also apply equally to the natural environment as a whole. Some countries, such as the Philippines, have specified as a duty of the State to uphold the citizen’s rights to well-being, to health and a balanced and healthful ecology.

Philippines Constitution
Section 15, Article II:
The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

Section 16, Article III:
The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

Governance:
Statements of rights are not in themselves sufficient to protect and ensure adherence. Leverage is required to ensure governance over those who fail to uphold the rights of another. For instance, high costs and the threat of vexatious litigation mounted by corporations can easily silence many eco-whistle blowers and citizens who would otherwise speak out when there is a failure to uphold standards. In April 2010 the Philippines implemented their Environmental Rules of Procedure. In so doing, they put in place various provisions to protect their citizen’s rights to ecological and community well-being. These include Environmental Protection Orders (EPO’s), waiving of court fees for those who act as Environmental Guardians ad litems and protection of the citizen against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP provisions). All of these provisions and more could be enacted under a Transition Enabling Act to enable transitioning communities in the UK to embed and provide protection of both their rights as well as local council and local business responsibilities to ecological and community well-being.

The UK Environment Agency will not take cases to court to prevent and/or halt and/or seek damages for environmental damage and destruction where it amounts to less than £0.5 million. Thus, without the ability for the community to self-police, this opens the door to accelerated damage, destruction and pollution. By enabling the community to police the situation on their territory, the government can effectively decentralize governance to the people (and save money). The above provisions and others listed below will open that door.

2. Local production of food is a necessity.

Current laws (e.g. international world trade rules, anti-competition laws) have created a legal presumption in favour of large-scale corporate production and supply. This has to be challenged if local communities are to be empowered to create their own supply networks and infrastructure to build resilience for the future. Local communities must have the right to self-determine how their food should be supplied in accordance with the primary obligation to ensure ecological and community well-being.

3. Transport and energy for community use and public well-being.

Transport and energy policy currently favours private ownership; e.g. single ownership of car and centralized supply of energy into homes. The shift of presumption from being in favour of private ownership to community stewardship enables shared use of resources especially important at times of scarcity. It also encourages the creation of community assets, such as community energy initiatives whereby the community can collectively bid for renewables to be bought in for the community as a whole.

Infrastructure for heating, lighting and movement within communities who are at risk of being adversely affected by fossil-fuel shortages has to be prioritized. Current legal presumptions favour centralized and private ownership, to the detriment of community ability to self-determine projects to protect their well-being. Nordic countries have laws that provide for decentralized energy systems to be put in place for communities; such mechanisms can be adopted here.

4. Land and buildings for community use and public well-being.

Provisions to enable communities to use land and buildings for the greater good of their community e.g. land for food growth, buildings for skill workshops etc. Land and buildings that are unused or infrequently used (e.g. empty office space, empty warehouses, churches) to be requisitioned/used part-time for community use. Community and ecological use and protection take precedence over and above commercial considerations.

Rental value of land (Land Value Taxation) can be implemented for community use buildings and land, thereby providing stable rent whilst creating an incentive for the community to create added value from the land and/or buildings. This would mitigate and may even eliminate chronic local economic problems by regenerating local economies and incentivizing relevant job creation schemes.

5. Enabling provisions checklist:

The Rights & Freedom
1. the right not to be polluted
2. the right to restorative justice
3. the freedom of a healthy and clean environment

The Responsibilities
4. duty of care by local councils for their communities’ health and ecological well-being
5. obligations to ensure ecological justice and provision for future generations.

Other
6. Communities to self-determine collectively by referendum (under new powers set out in the Localism Bill) whether to apply the Transition Enabling Act.

Enabling legislation required
7. Land Value Taxation for rental of land used for community purpose;
8. provision of services by local councils for transitioning communities, such as priority access to suppliers of low carbon sourced building materials and priority access to suppliers of local renewable energy schemes;
9. low carbon food incentives, such as priority procurement and subsidies for local low carbon food growing initiatives;
10. community first refusal over land and property use for food and energy purposes;
11. 10% tithe tax on local business for transition community purposes and for creating food and transport infrastructure;
12. Environmental Rules of Procedure to include Environmental Protection Orders, waiving of court fees, anti-SLAPP provisions and application of the Precautionary Principle;
13. simplification of setting up Community Land Trusts (see recent Scottish reform provisions for land use), Community Interest Companies and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (due late Spring 2011);
14. Community Training and Assistance Orders.

74 comments on “What if we had a Transition Enabling Act? ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    Perhaps this is the (hidden/not given) reason for the Government's movement toward reforming local government/TAs/regional councils?

    Preparation for transition.

  2. Gosman 2

    Bizarrely instead of removing barriers to action what seems to be being proposed here is more heavy handed regulation that would restrict people doing things that could actually lead to less environmentally damaging activity.

    Take this notion of encouraging local food production as if this is a better approach to large scale global integrated food supply chains. NZ is a prime example of how many of the food that we produce has a lower carbon footprint EVEN taking in to account the cost of transporting to markets half way across the World. However the "Local is better" approach that would be part of this Transition Enabling Act would likely mean it would be difficult (if not impossible) to allow people in places like Europe to buy our products.

    • weka 2.1

      Lower carbon isn't enough Gosman. Consider a house fire and whether using 'more' water to put it out is sufficient, if the whole house is on fire and you decided to use buckets instead of a fire fighting hose connected to the mains water supply.

      That we can produce beef with less climate/eco impact than US CAFOs is fairly meaningless if we still can’t put the fire out. (and the CAFO standard isn’t hard to beat).

      We have targets, they give us a % chance of averting disaster. We need to meet those targets not hand wave vaguely towards them.

      We absolutely won't be able to export food to Europe in the way we do now. Look at the carbon foot print of the whole supply chain to get lamb from Otago to London. It's not possible to do that without fossil fuels.

      The big conversation there is how can NZ run an economy to keep us with a decent standard of living as well as meeting climate targets? And what is a decent standard of living in a climate emergency world?

      The other factors here are food shortages. If we grow our own food in ways that are resilient, we can survive. If we instead rely on the global food supply system then we risk going hungry if/when it collapses. This is not fringe theory, this is mainstream concern now about climate impacts on crops, as well as the interruptions we have seen recently from pandemics and war.

      None of that means we can't export anything. It means we need to rethink what food security is and how to build it in a climate world.

      • Belladonna 2.1.1

        We absolutely won't be able to export food to Europe in the way we do now. Look at the carbon foot print of the whole supply chain to get lamb from Otago to London. It's not possible to do that without fossil fuels.

        So what happens about food supply to Africa? We've already seen food shortages/famine as a result of the disrupted Ukraine wheat supply. Local agriculture there is problematic for a whole host of reasons (climate and political instability – both likely to get worse – among them).

        If NZ no longer exports agricultural products – that's a huge swathe of our export economy gone. What do we use for foreign exchange for the stuff that we need – and can never produce/supply locally?

        [I heard a snippet on the radio the other day, saying that NZ grows and supplies the vast majority of the carrot seed used worldwide – the inter-connectedness of our economies continues to astound me]

        NZ is (or can be) reasonably self-sufficient in food terms (we might be eating more potatoes than pasta – but we will have something to eat). Meat and 3 veg might well be returning to our base menus.

        It's all of the other things that we need to be a first world economy that we can't supply locally. Many of them we will never be able to produce (we lack the raw materials).

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          No-one is going to have a first world economy the way we conceive of it now. It's just not possible. This doesn't mean we become third world economies, it means we change how we do the whole thing. See Doughnut Economics for how that might work.

          I didn't say NZ can't export anything. In fact I specifically said in the last paragraph we can.

          Food for Africa should come from:

          • local food
          • regional food
          • food that can be transported longer distances with low emissions

          Local and regional food increase food security even in continents like Africa. One of the problems some of the places in Africa have is they have been economically forced into cash cropping for the global supply chain instead of growing their own food. This means if the crop fails they have no money to pay to buy in food. This is absolutely insane. Consider what is going to happen when crops fail in a mass scale, do you think people being able to grow their own food are going to be better or worse off? Again, this isn't fringe theory, this is mainstream understanding of what is about to happen. The UN is promoting local food.

          If NZ no longer exports agricultural products – that's a huge swathe of our export economy gone. What do we use for foreign exchange for the stuff that we need – and can never produce/supply locally?

          Exactly, this is the conversation we need to have pronto. What would transition look like for NZ? How can we make more the things we need locally? How can we afford the imports of things we can't provide ourselves? This isn't an insurmountable problem once one gets past TINA and the way the global economy works now.

          [I heard a snippet on the radio the other day, saying that NZ grows and supplies the vast majority of the carrot seed used worldwide – the inter-connectedness of our economies continues to astound me]

          Imagine then what happens in a bad year, or a bad five years, if the NZ carrot see crops fail. It's a madness to put all eggs in one basket.

      • Gosman 2.1.2

        "We absolutely won't be able to export food to Europe in the way we do now. Look at the carbon foot print of the whole supply chain to get lamb from Otago to London. It's not possible to do that without fossil fuels."

        Ummm…

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/countrylife/audio/2018843682/a-milestone-marked-for-meat-industry

    • roy cartland 2.2

      Is this still current? I remember reading that about 20y ago, before the adoption of vertical orchards and forests, and advances in aquaculture. We don't just want the lesser of two evils, we want the actively good.

      Behaviour also has something to do with it too – out of season food (that is necessarily organic, sunshine-fed, spring-watered etc) is as a fundamental right to many.

      • weka 2.2.1

        Gosman's thinking of BAU and comparing one polluter with a somewhat lesser polluter. We have so many ways of producing food regeneratively now. Making money out of it beyond people making a living and feeding that into the local economy is a different matter (one which I suspect drives Gosman's thinking).

        I like this,

        We don't just want the lesser of two evils, we want the actively good.

        • Gosman 2.2.1.1

          There is no such thing as actively good human activity. EVERYTHING we do has an negative impact on the environment at some level. The question is really is can the effects be mitigated and minimised to the extent it can be decreed to be sustainable.

        • Robert Guyton 2.2.1.2

          Good and bad are not terms that serve discussions well. I prefer "energised" or "vital", maybe even "active" in discussing what to do and by those words I mean the sort of energy pollinating insects exhibit as they go about their activities, the behaviour of electrons as they whizz in orbit of nuclei, the sound water makes as it flows over the scales of a fast-swimming salmon, the sum of the percussions made by hail falling onto the surface of a lake, and so on. We need to break the deadlock language has set on our thinking and imaginations, in order to be able to create new ways of being, behaviours to recommend and pathways to follow 🙂

  3. Ad 3

    The suggestions would be more useful if they related to what we are already doing here.

    As the EU has shown, the modern state can legislate all it likes but even in aggregate form it's not strong enough to manage a 'disorderly decarbonisation', which is what the EU looks like and it is the most prepared for the energy challenge of any set of states.

    Just to focus on energy for a moment, in the next 48 hours we are about to go through a cold snap that Transpower is saying will test the grid.Vector in mid September also warned about expanding power from solar and wind without also investing in digital tech to manage peak time demand – for example when everyone is charging vehicles.

    By mid December this year we will know whether New Zealanders are ready for accelerated renewables in large zones. In their absence and in a lack of demand-side measures the network isn't going to cope. All of those costs of transition are currently going to be found added to your power bills.

    By 2023 there is mandatory reporting on climate risk by large companies, banks, insurers, Fonterra, you name it. It sure ain't going to be cured with back yard gardens that are tbh far more cost and trouble than they are worth.

    We certainly need an Energy Transition Ministry to do what the EA can't do. But I'd struggle to see which politicians other than Shaw would have the ability to lead it. At the moment we are struggling to merge two public media entities.

    By election 2023 we will see whether NZ business can really report so that everyone with investment in the outcomes ie pension fund holders can really see real change occurring. At that point Polly should pop over and take notes.

    • weka 3.1

      The suggestions would be more useful if they related to what we are already doing here.

      I agree. I'll probably do a post about the NZ situation, this one was about the idea, and it was conceived of and written about by Brits. I hope you join in with some proactive ideas because you have a lot of experience and knowledge in the pragmatics of NZ's economy.

      Just to focus on energy for a moment, in the next 48 hours we are about to go through a cold snap that Transpower is saying will test the grid.

      In a sane climate response, the government and local authorities would be putting put public messaging for the past week advising people to save power and how to do that. This is not rocket science, and it's not difficult. It does conflict with profit making models and the current mindset about how things have to work.

      Vector in mid September also warned about expanding power from solar and wind without also investing in digital tech to manage peak time demand – for example when everyone is charging vehicles.

      Limits of growth. We can learn a new set of skills. Instead of trying shoehorn BAU capitalism and growth into a fantasy of green tech climate response. We don't have to let personal EVs drive the transition, it can be a smaller part.

      By 2023 there is mandatory reporting on climate risk by large companies, banks, insurers, Fonterra, you name it. It sure ain't going to be cured with back yard gardens that are tbh far more cost and trouble than they are worth.

      this really is an incredibly ignorant statement. Local food is backyard, growing for one's neighbours, town wide box schemes, urban farms, regional food growing and distribution systems, the Longwood Loop. Fonterra exists to support our planet destroying standard of living. We don't need Fonterra to eat. We do need resilient food systems, and we need to set them up now rather than waiting for the food shortages.

      By election 2023 we will see whether NZ business can really report so that everyone with investment in the outcomes ie pension fund holders can really see real change occurring. At that point Polly should pop over and take notes.

      Polly Higgins died in 2019. Which you would know if you had read the post properly.

      • roy cartland 3.1.1

        How do we generate enough action?

        Tax high earners, use that to replace the relentless commercial advertising of crap with more positive pROpAgNDa? It feels like there's plenty of will, but it's difficult for the disparate elements to cohere amid the grotesque consumerism reinforced by advertisement overload.

        Is that why we have kids who really want to make a difference, but can't live without the latest phone or Tikitok, or that climate girl flying to Fiji. We want out but can't find the exit.

    • theotherpat 3.2

      "It sure ain't going to be cured with back yard gardens that are tbh far more cost and trouble than they are worth."….disagree……sure initial outlay but you let some of your crop seed……you plant seed inside to get going…and you water and weed and rotate the crops………..instead of sitting in front of the goggle box……and you can preseve….freeze…….dehydrate and eat fresh…..grow your own and you won't a commercial vege again…….tomatoes that taste ….well… like tomatoes and as the song goes……"teach your children well"……

      • Robert Guyton 3.2.1

        The change will happen first, inside of our skulls.

        Gardening is one of the most likely activities to bring on this in-skull change.

        Until that happens, little valuable progress will be made, therefore, gardening is critical to our shared futures.

      • Belladonna 3.2.2

        Do I garden? Yes. Does my garden contribute significantly towards my food intake over a year? Not really.
        Yes, I grow fruit and veges (and have a very nice herb garden). And supplement my diet with those, rather than buying them.
        Is it cheaper? Probably not. When I have tomatoes in season, they're also at their cheapest at the greengrocer. But, I agree, home-grown do taste good.

        Can I freeze, dry, preserve them? Yes. But I also recognize that I come from a place of privilege there: I can afford a large freezer, can afford the electricity required to process and store, have the knowledge about how to water-bath preserve, etc., have space to store the preserved results.

        Do I have the time? Yes. Again, that's a privilege. I have the time (and so far) the physical fitness required to spend time in the garden planting, weeding and harvesting. It's also preference. Gardening isn't everyone's cup of tea, and/or idea of how to spend their time well.

        Do I have the space? Yes. A real privilege, here in Auckland – where most new townhouse developments have a 'garden' consisting of a pocket-handkerchief-size lawn. And, of course, apartments don't even have that.

        Backyard gardening can be a nice supplement to your diet – but, for most people, and certainly most city people, it's very unlikely to be a significant contributor.
        The days of the 'quarter-acre paradise' are gone.

        • Robert Guyton 3.2.2.1

          Backyard gardening's supplementing of your diet is a minor consideration, it's the transforming of your thinking that's to be valued.

          The message plants carry to the observant gardener is the one needed for transforming your thinking, outside of the complex.confusing, contradictory exchanges of ideas we are seeing on this thread 🙂

          • Belladonna 3.2.2.1.1

            Goodness! Has my thinking been transformed by backyard gardening?

            How would I know?

            • Robert Guyton 3.2.2.1.1.1

              You would know.

              Seems it hasn't 🙂

              Don't give up!

              • Given that I've been gardening for over 30 years – it seems to be taking a long time to kick in!

                Reality is that people garden for a whole lot of reasons: family heritage (my mum would kill me if I bought lemons); convenience (I love my herb garden, and just being able to have thyme on hand, when I want it); taste (home-grown raspberries); curiosity (I wonder what these heritage beans taste like, and if I can grow them here); mental health (being outside, hands in the earth – even weeding is therapeutic – 'take that! oxalis'); contributing to the table (smug satisfaction of growing your own); educating kids (look what happens when we plant our peas, we can eat the strawberries when they're red, we can scrabble for new potatoes); even one-upping the neighbours! (yes, of course you can have some rosemary)

                • Robert Guyton

                  Then is seems obvious it has kicked in…

                  …only you don't know it 🙂

                  • Ah, so because I grew up gardening, I came into it with those attitudes already in place – no wonder I don't notice anything different 🙂

                    On a side note, you never dared complain that you were 'bored' in our house growing up – my Mum had a list of garden jobs just waiting to go!

        • Lanthanide 3.2.2.2

          I agree that anyone pushing backyard gardening as if it is a viable and significant plank in what needs to happen in the next 5 years is barking up the wrong tree.

          • Robert Guyton 3.2.2.2.1

            "a viable and significant plank"

            Whatever do you mean?

            Backyard gardening's great value lies in empowering, encouraging and, in part, feeding, the gardener and their family.

            Why are you so dismissive?

            • weka 3.2.2.2.1.1

              I just got it! I think it's the people who can't see the unwaged economy. If you can't count it in conventional economic terms, then it's just some marginal thing we shouldn't bother with.

              They're probably also not aware of the very large movement in NZ of home gardening, community gardens, school gardens, small scale market gardens, farmers markets, and food forests! So many people I know produce excess from their garden and they give it away. Invisible economy.

              I'm so grateful to have grown up on a 1/4 acre with most of the land not occupied by a house/shed/garage either in trees, shrubs or a large vegetable garden. Definitely bigger than the lawn we had to play on. Deep body memory of how it works.

          • weka 3.2.2.2.2

            I agree that anyone pushing backyard gardening as if it is a viable and significant plank in what needs to happen in the next 5 years is barking up the wrong tree.

            Think about the resources needed to ship lettuces internationally compared to being able to harvest from one's garden, or neighbourhood. This is quite simple to understand. Run the whole process in your mind:

            Growing

            • fertiliser (imported)
            • seed (imported)
            • ploughing (direct GHG emissions)
            • water use

            Refrigerated storage

            Packaging (including the whole process used to create that plastic)

            Shipping

            Domestic transport

            Waste (of embodied energy, and waste to be disposed of)

            It's bonkers that we think this is secure, viable, and not damaging to the environment.

            • Belladonna 3.2.2.2.2.1

              Perhaps something with a longer shelf life than lettuces would be a better example. I've never bought (or even seen) an internationally shipped lettuce in NZ.

              But, setting that aside. The only way to prevent off-season crops being imported would be to ban the import. No more California cherries in May.
              No more bananas, ever (apart from the tiny % grown here).

              Which runs into Trade deal issues. And risks reciprocation against our own agricultural produce being exported (not really 'risks' it would be just about guaranteed).

              The alternative is to load on the $$$ for every stage of the 'carbon' process. Making imported goods so prohibitively expensive that only the truly wealthy can afford them.

              I can't say that that's a scenario that I feel comfortable with (even if I was one of the people who could afford off-season cherries)

              Part of the problem, I think, is that our international trade connections are so widespread. And, there are plenty of figures showing that NZ lamb (for example) uses less carbon (even when shipping is counted) than local production.

              https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/52447-Carbon-Footprint-of-New-Zealand-Beef-and-Sheep-Exported-to-Different-Markets-public-summary

              How is is better to protectively legislate for a local product which uses *more* carbon?

            • Lanthanide 3.2.2.2.2.2

              My point weka is that focussing on backyard gardening in particular, in the next 5 years, is a misallocation of resources.

              Community or other wider gardening exercises is a different issue, because those things can actually scale to provide a meaningful amount of food.

              My parents manage to provide probably about 1/2 of their vegetable needs, averaged over a year, from their garden – a significant feat. But they've been at it for 30+ years, they have all the skills, tools, experience, land and time to do it.

              NZ produces such a huge amount of food – and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future – that spending time fussing about at the margins with backyard gardening is a waste of time. In other countries like the UK and the US, and large Australian cities, it's a sensible and important thing to do. But NZ isn't those countries (thankfully).

              In NZ we need to focus on sustainable farming methods, permaculture etc.

        • weka 3.2.2.3

          I think you are missing the point here Belladonna. Look at the whole systems. If 20% of people in a city grow half their own food, there are multiple benefits for them personally but it also means that that amount of food doesn't have to be grown and transported in highly carbon polluting ways. Now multiply that across NZ.

          Now, put that alongside all the other things happening: community gardens and orchards and food forests, school gardens, urban farms. Then market gardening on the outskirts of the city. Compare that to shipping all that food long distances and the packaging and waste, power and water consumption.

          • Belladonna 3.2.2.3.1

            I seriously doubt that anyone in a city is going to grow half their own food (well, I suppose if you count the rural areas of Auckland – but really, that's not 'city' or 'suburb')

            I don't have an issue with buying local (though defining 'local' is a bit of a challenge – there is no such thing as a real farmers market in Auckland, for example – we're just too far away from actual market gardens). But expecting any significant contribution from backyard gardens (or community gardens – which only seem to operate in the wealthiest of suburbs), or school gardens (more of an education/science project than actual food contribution) – is not something that I can see working.

            I guess, that you're saying that even a tiny contribution is better than nothing…. But I don't see it as transformational.

            I can see Robert's point of personal gardening changing people's perspective as being more realistic.

            • Lanthanide 3.2.2.3.1.1

              I seriously doubt that anyone in a city is going to grow half their own food (well, I suppose if you count the rural areas of Auckland – but really, that's not 'city' or 'suburb')

              Totally agree. As I said in a comment above, my parents can grow about 1/2 of all of their vegetable needs, averaged over a year, from their surburban garden. But they've been doing it for 30+ years, and have the experience, time and land to do it.

              Note that I said vegetables. They still have to buy meat and fruit. And that's also averaged over a whole year – in Christchurch in winter there isn't a lot of edible food coming from the garden.

              I can see Robert's point of personal gardening changing people's perspective as being more realistic.

              Agreed.

          • theotherpat 3.2.2.3.2

            exactly AND you grow it and control what goes into it with the result tastier and healthier food and you can go have a cup of tea with ya neighbour and give them a cauli smiley

      • Ad 3.2.3

        Unless you are on a quarter acre and own the property and are mostly retired, gardening for vegetables is just a very long virtue signal.

        All those endless covers and pages of women's magazines with smiling bougies holding their baskets of greens and telling how they are changing the world is just a fat lie.

        Annabelle Langbein for example, queen of all that homemade faux-working class chambray-shirted nonsense, lives on five acres with a full view of Lake Wanaka on title over $6m with a multimedia empire worth millions.

        Get real.

        • Robert Guyton 3.2.3.1

          Nonsense!

          Just because you are irritated by wealthy celebrities who garden, or retirees on a certain square-meterage of land doesn't mean that your claim that gardening is "a very long virtue signal" is correct.

          It is not.

          Real food is produced by real people for real reasons, all over the motu.

          Even people without gardens of any outdoor sort, can grow valuable food to supplement that which they have to buy. Sprouting seeds (sunflower, mung, lentils, peas etc.) on the kitchen bench then eating them fresh or processed in hummus and so on, is a real action that benefits those who take it and the carbon-wasting networks they don't use as a result.

        • weka 3.2.3.2

          Now it's just wilful ignorance. Maybe a reflection of your social circles. I know so many people that grow some or a large part of their fresh produce. Probably the majority of people I know, certainly too many to count. This includes people who rent and people who work. People garden for all sorts of reasons, including health, financial, and yes climate/ecology.

          But sure, if the people you are following are Langbein, I can see why you don't understand what is going on. Don't want to diss AL, anyone who gardens is helping the world. Even wealthy upper middle class people.

          • Lanthanide 3.2.3.2.1

            I know people who provide a significant amount of the food from their own garden also. And I know that that is simply not achievable for 80%+ of the population.

            • weka 3.2.3.2.1.1

              Who said the goal was 80%+? I certainly didn't and I haven't seen anyone in this thread say that (might have missed it).

              • weka

                Noting that this isn't the only example in this thread of people arguing against things that haven't been said.

                So, to clarify (and I have said this already more than once), local food isn't only gardening, it's all the things,

                • home gardening
                • community gardens/orchards
                • school gardens
                • urban farming
                • small scale market gardens
                • large scale market gardens
                • cropping around cities

                None of that precludes transporting food over greater distances, what it does is take the weight off those larger, more cumbersome and less resilient systems. People in Southland can still eat avocado, just get it from Nelson rather than Australia. People in Auckland can still eat oats, just get it from Otago rather than Canada.

                • Cricklewood

                  For home gardening the skillset / knowledge has almost been entirely lost to the most recent generation especially in our cities.

                  Crop rotation, Variety selection, Seed collection and storage, Planting timing and even the means to preserve crops post harvest.

                  For most people a productive garden at home costs more than buying from the supermarket etc.

                  Small scale market gardens are in a similar situation with generational change, rapidly increasing capital / input costs combined with increasing crop losses (severe weather) making it less and less viable by the year.

                  I think the simplistic message is to eat seasonally.

            • theotherpat 3.2.3.2.1.2

              live in the city??….use the roof…….planters on the balcony…..guerilla gardening in green spaces,…………..

        • theotherpat 3.2.3.3

          "gardening for vegetables is just a very long virtue signal",,,,,,then i am indeed most virtuous ….

  4. Jenny are we there yet 4

    Government lobs $1bn at Air NZ bailout

    27 Nov, 2001 11:13 PM4 mins to read

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/government-lobs-1bn-at-air-nz-bailout/XRN3NXRS5NI25JTDS2KJT3SLJA/#:~:text=Air%20New%20Zealand%27s%20taxpayer-financed%20bailout%20is%20set%20to,%24150%20million%20more%20to%20keep%20the%20airline%20viable.

    My question is this;

    Would the proposed TEA make it illegal for the government to 'lob' $1 billion to high emitting Air New Zealand?

    Would the proposed TEA encourage the government to 'lob' at least a similar amount to rebuild the passenger rail transport network?

    Would the proposed TEA incentivise passenger rail, and other low emitting forms of national and international transport?

    Would the proposed TEA discourage long distance car trips and short haul commuter flights?

    Government support for Air New Zealand balloons to $2 billion

    By Grant Bradley 14 Dec, 2021 08:36 AM3 mins to read

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/government-support-for-air-new-zealand-balloons-to-2-billion/S5C6MTSAE46ATL5TOQNTWO5RNQ/

    • Based on the current performance, if they had 1 billion to spend, they'd shut down the whole network while they upgraded it….for about 5 years or so…..

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/475963/auckland-train-lines-to-close-for-network-track-upgrades-ahead-of-city-rail-link-opening

      Auckland has had literally years of rolling stoppages – while Kiwirail and AT try to get their act together over train and track quality and maintenance. And now, train users are about to have another couple of years worth. It beggars belief that AT couldn't have been upgrading this piecemeal over the last 5 years – and now want to shut down the line, so they can do it in one operation.

      It's very difficult to build support for a train network with this sort of continual disruption.

      The destruction of much of the inner city business environment due to the CRL – has also informed a lot of the resistance to the government's light rail proposals. People see up close just what that kind of major disruption looks like – and don't want a bar of it.

      • Jenny are we there yet 4.1.1

        But would such a law forbid a government subsidising a high emitting company like Air New Zealand?

        • Belladonna 4.1.1.1

          The law (as discussed) seemed to be enabling legislation rather than prevention legislation. So my guess would be 'no'

          • Jenny are we there yet 4.1.1.1.1

            Jenny are we there yet

            4 October 2022 at 3:19 pm

            But would such a law forbid a government subsidising a high emitting company like Air New Zealand?

            The answer would be 'no'.

            So let me get this straight

            The law (as discussed), would ‘enable’ more wind turbines, more PV power stations, and more electric cars. But the law as discussed) would not prevent more coal mines being dug, or more fossil fuel industries being commissioned, or more oil wells being drilled, and more fossil fuels being burnt.

            Is that correct?

            Do I have that right?

            • weka 4.1.1.1.1.1

              No you don't. Did you read the post Jenny?

              • Jenny are we there yet

                I did read the post.

                ….perhaps the time is right for a Transition Enabling Act, designed not to ban lots of things, but positive legislation that enables all that needs to happen in order for Transition to scale up rapidly over the next 5 years”.

                The idea was, as Polly explained, inspired by the Canal Enabling Acts of the Victorian times, which set out everything that needed to be changed in order to remove all of the obstacles to the rapid creation of the canals.

                Unfortunately reading the above, I would have to agree with Belladonna that 'no' – the law as discussed) would not prevent more coal mines being dug, or more fossil fuel industries being commissioned, or more oil wells being drilled, and more fossil fuels being burnt.

                With respect Weka, if you have any other interpretation, I would like to hear it;

                • weka

                  This bit seems relevant,

                  She added, “What I am doing here with the TEA is shifting the balance of rights in favour of the community so that the community can then determine what they want over and above the might of corporate and council decisions.

                  At the moment, the onus is still on the community to prove their case each time. With a TEA … the shoe is placed firmly on the other foot – instead a council would have to justify why a supermarket should open if it could not satisfy the overarching principle of guaranteeing the good health and well-being of the community, i.e. why it is not sourcing all its food locally etc; a building development that was not using locally sourced energy and locally sourced materials etc would have to justify why it was failing to use local and sustainable materials that are low carbon etc.

                  In other words, the unsustainable businesses/developments would suddenly become the exception, not the rule”.

                  This seems a key point of the Act. To set a framework of values for transition. The Greens have been pushing the idea that each piece of legislation must be parsed through a climate emergency lens. This is a step further.

                  To go back to your original question about the government bailing out AirNZ, we have to bear in mind how critical it is to have a national airline given how far away from other countries we are (I assume this doesn't need explaining, I'm not talking shopping trips to Sydney). There is an obvious public good in keeping the airline going.

                  But I think what we can do is look at the concept and initial framework of the TEA and put out ideas on how it could be created. It's not set in stone, Higgins didn't write it for NZ, that's for us to decide how it would work here.

                  It's been interesting watching the response in this thread, the amount of naysaying effort that has gone into comments instead of looking at how it might work.

    • Ad 4.2

      Even if you taxes the bejeesus out of international travel, it would only affect cattle class volumes a bit. For international travellers it's a rounding error.

      Also if Kiwirail didn't teach you anything over the last 24 hours, it's throwing billions of dollars into an irreversibly sick industry. Every ticket you buy to get from Henderson to Auckland central is 70% paid for by everyone else, more if you count the CAPEX.

      The transport bailouts per citizen on rail could buy AirNZ every year.

      • Belladonna 4.2.1

        Also, I can't think of any price increase which would stop the super-rich flying their private jets (a much greater per-person impact than the poor slobs in cattle class).

        • Jenny are we there yet 4.2.1.1

          So what, it would stop most of us.

          After all, price is the capitalist way of rationing things.

          The regional fuel tax for example was imposed as a disincentive to private car use.

          The age of mass passenger air travel only really began in the '70s with introduction of the first wide body jets. Before that time, air travel was expensive.. As a result most people still used surface transport.

          The amount of passenger air travel compared to today was miniscule. As was it's carbon footprint.

          'The Jet Set'

          Stop subsidising air travel, bring back the Jet Set, it's the capitalist way

          The term 'Jet Set' once referred to that tiny minority of rich people with enough money to be able to afford to fly. You don't hear the term 'Jet Set' anymore, because of course millions of us fly. The term 'Jet Set' sounds oddly quaint and old fashioned almost from an other age, yet it is within living memory. Austin Powers generation would have used it.

          (Yeah I know, fictional character and all that. But you get the meaning).

          • Belladonna 4.2.1.1.1

            Yeah. Not greatly happy with entrenching privileges for the wealthy (or for politicians – who would still get their freebies, no doubt. Currently, the Speaker is on a junket through Latin America, with Ricardo Menéndez March from the Green Party in tow)

            https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA2209/S00176/diversity-and-inclusion-in-focus-for-upcoming-latin-american-delegation.htm

            I don't know that we do a lot of ongoing subsidising of air travel. The 2 issues you've quoted were for crisis points – where (I understand) the Government bought a stake in the company, which was then repurchased over time.
            So not a gift, or an ongoing subsidy (when the airline made profits, the Government got dividends, just like all other shareholders).

            NZ governments seem to have believed that it's critical to the country to have an airline which is guaranteed to fly into NZ. That certainly paid dividends during the Covid disruption of air freight – when it was only Air NZ which was flying in and out of Auckland.

            The regional fuel tax had zero success in reducing private car use (because most people don't have alternatives). Nor, do I believe that that was it's intended purpose. It was (and is) purely a cash cow for local government to use in funding transport projects.

            A regional fuel tax provides a way for regional councils to raise revenue to fund transport projects in their region that would otherwise be delayed or not funded.

            https://www.transport.govt.nz/area-of-interest/revenue/regional-fuel-tax/

      • theotherpat 4.2.2

        what!!….Kiwirail is more virtue singing huh?……..you would be appalled at what our roads would be like without rail and with carbon reduction big on the menu it is a necessity ….not to mention the heart and soul its employess put into it.

  5. weka 5

    “We know the virus in New Zealand is a genetic match to a virus which caused illness in Sweden in 2020 and 2021. That illness had a possible link to frozen berries from Serbia.

    https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/10/04/pams-frozen-berries-recalled-after-7-hospitalised-with-hep-a/

    Global food supply.

    • Poission 5.1

      The meningitis outbreak seen in Norway and NZ in the 90's has a genetic match to the Somali outbreak in refugee camps.

    • Monkey pox.
      Global people supply….

      • weka 5.2.1

        would you mind using whole sentences because I don't understand what you are trying to convey.

        Likewise Poission.

        • Belladonna 5.2.1.1

          The incidence of monkey pox in NZ is entirely due to the movement of people around the globe.
          I was pointing to the equivalence of your "Global food supply" in the outbreak of HepA
          HepA, Global food supply = Monkey pox, Global people supply.

          Regardless of whether it's a food-borne infection, or a people-transmitted infection, our global world will see intercontinental spread of disease (as we all have recent familiarity with Covid)

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    It seems like a really good idea to me. All those unadopted sustainable technologies – hemp & harakeke fibre, aquaculture & aquaponics, najeon chilgi, flood zone riparian crop trees & bushes, impact absorbing roadside planting – that have languished from want of interest for generations until we are well behind what were once much more degraded ecologies, could finally be brought to fruition.

    Wait though, for the non-performing economists whose idea of growth is low quality mass migration and real estate inflation squeal that it can never work.

  7. gsays 7

    Great post weka, thanks.

    It demonstrates, once again, that there are answers but a lack of political will.

    By political will, I mean individually as well as our employees in Wellys. Every dollar anyone spends is a political decision.

    The notion that the supermarket is preferred over locally grown produce is all about convenience and turning a big blind eye to the diesel miles embedded in all that they sell. Also being willfully ignorant of the duopoly's treatment of the primary producers that sell through them.

    The middle class needs to overcome it's addiction to convenience for us to rebuild economies.

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