To put this another way.— David Tong (@Davidxvx) November 7, 2019
1. when I started working on climate, we were losing fast
2. now, we’re winning slowly
3. but the brutal maths of the greenhouse effect means winning slowly is losing
4. so the trick now is to learn to win fast https://t.co/YRgi1ZsFYE
That pretty much sums it up for me. A few other thoughts. I don’t follow the detail of current mainstream responses to the climate crisis (eg the Zero Carbon Act), because I believe there are compelling reasons for industrialised nations to Powerdown (while sharing resources with countries that don’t have the basics of life and wellbeing for their people).
So most of the public discourse that is still centred in green BAU fits into the winning slowly failure category and I see an incredibly frustrating large gap between where we are and what even the left are talking about that needs doing (not to worry deep greenies, the other mahi is being done too and we will be ready when the time comes).
But, I also believe that the problem here is not technological – we have the knowledge, experience, and physical capacity to Powerdown and still live good lives. The problem is social, and consequently political. What interests me then is how social change happens, and how much we can influence this.
The Zero Carbon Act is a big deal because of this. It shifts culture. The line just moved and I can see flow on effects spreading out in a myriad of ways. Think the next twelve months leading into the election and the potential for making it the climate change election.
I cried yesterday when I heard the news that the Bill passed nearly unanimously, because it’s a win against significant odds and because we can’t save the world without actions like this. But beyond all the debate and rationalisations for various positions, I think mostly I cried because of the relief that finally we are doing something. This too shouldn’t be underestimated, the power of hope and relief and the fact that we are emotional beings who respond intuitively to things heading in the right direction.
These shifts in the social and political culture in NZ, the mainstreaming of climate action, can now be backed up throughout society in how we do things, including in government, NGOs with government contracts, workplaces and businesses, schools, communities. This is how change happens. We need at least another 2 terms of a L/G government, and we need more Green Ministers, because they’re the ones committed to doing all the boring policy and implementation work that changes society.
The Act is not the only thing that is needed, but then what we also need right now is for people to understand that governments are following activism on climate action. The Zero Carbon Act will exist because of Generation Zero, decades of work by indigenous peoples, Green parties, climate NGOs, and more lately the School Strikers and Extinction Rebels. We did this, the people, and the Zero Carbon Act makes it easier for the next waves of activism to have more concrete results. This is how change happens.
For those doubtful that the Act is going to help, bear in mind that three years ago when I started writing about climate change at The Standard, much of my political thinking was around how can we get the general public to take this more seriously? This is no longer the issue, that snowball is rolling. The issue now is how can we build on the gains we have achieved in ways that give us the best possible outcomes?
No doubt many of us will spend the day tossing around ideas about what is and isn’t enough, and yes National are still a bunch of very dangerous, political opportunist, climate denying fools, but let’s also celebrate this victory and remember to talk about how far we’ve come.
Finally, a shout out to James Shaw, who cops a lot of shit from the left and progressives for being a suit. I am immensely grateful for the work he did on this. I see both the weaving of life-affirming green kaupapa throughout this and the commitment to the long, deep work of building something that will last.