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And Back To Climate Change!

From today’s Guardian

"As the climate crisis escalates…

… the Guardian will not stay quiet. This is our pledge: we will continue to give global heating, wildlife extinction and pollution the urgent attention and prominence they demand. The Guardian recognises the climate emergency as the defining issue of our times.

Our independence means we are free to investigate and challenge inaction by those in power. We will inform our readers about threats to the environment based on scientific facts, not driven by commercial or political interests. And we have made several important changes to our style guide to ensure the language we use accurately reflects the environmental catastrophe.

The Guardian believes that the problems we face on the climate crisis are systemic and that fundamental societal change is needed. We will keep reporting on the efforts of individuals and communities around the world who are fearlessly taking a stand for future generations and the preservation of human life on earth. We want their stories to inspire hope. We will also report back on our own progress as an organisation, as we take important steps to address our impact on the environment.”

Meanwhile Rod Oram reports in Newsroom today:

“Ignoring the science and the broader public mood, National continues to take its 'do-nothing, know-nothing' lead from powerful party members desperately clinging to deeply vested interests in a high emissions economy, writes Rod Oram.

Judith Collins' recent Facebook post about climate change is a classic of its kind.

She asserts climate change is not nearly as serious as “media and the political left” say it is; we and other nations are incapable of sufficiently cutting emissions anyway; and she blames everyone else for this mess while accepting no responsibility of her own, either political or personal.

Her post also reveals much about the state of the climate debate within the National Party. It has attracted some 1,100 comments so far. The strong majority of them urge her on, a sign to National there are votes to be had from holding out against action on the climate crisis.

One sign of National’s enthusiasm is its reluctance to distance itself from Collins’ comments. Via Bridges’ chief media handler Rachel Morton, I asked him to identify which of Collins’ points were National Party policy and which weren’t.

She refused to reply.

Bridges laid out National’s five climate policy principles in a speech at Fieldays in June of last year. They are: science-based; technology-driven; long-term incentives; global response; and economic impact.

It has failed to flesh-out these skeletal themes. Last week, National’s climate spokesman Scott Simpson said they were still the operative framework. He and his party fail to acknowledge how rapidly climate science, action and public support are strengthening here and in many other countries.

He and his party also continue to use highly misleading data. Typical is its support for the claim from the dairy sector that it produces one-third of the emissions per litre of milk compared with the global dairy average. But the average is sharply skewed by some heavy emitters.

The Government has spent a lot of time trying to persuade National to engage in a constructive, science-based and ambitious way. But at every step, National has taken its do-nothing, know-nothing lead from powerful party members who are desperately clinging to their deeply vested interests in a high emissions economy.

Collins’ Facebook post is filling this blackhole in National’s climate policy. Consequently, National runs the great risk that voters who want action on the climate crisis, including those who are members of its party, will see Collins’ views as the party’s policy on climate. While that might buoy Collin’s ambitions to be party leader, it’s a big political negative for National.

Collins’ post shows her ignorance of the science, or her willingness to ignore it. For example: “Scientists expect the impacts of 1.5c warming to be lower than 2c. But the same statement is true for the difference between 2.0 and 2.5 degrees.”

Well, adults are having those constructive debates here and around the world. But National’s only contribution is ‘can’t’, ‘won’t’ and ‘no’ from the side lines.

... the Government would be making a serious mistake if it compromised the bill in order to secure National’s support. It would be far better in the long run to pass the best bill possible ...

While all-party support is important, the Government would be making a serious mistake if it compromised the bill in order to secure National’s support. It would be far better in the long run to pass the best bill possible, even if National didn’t vote for it. National’s failure to engage seriously on the science and economics of climate change, and to promote the benefits to society and business from doing so, should be immortalised in its vote against it.

The support for the Zero Carbon Bill is far broader and deeper than was the support for the ETS. The companies that have signed up to the Climate Leaders Coalition generate some two-thirds of NZ’s emissions. They understand how much they can improve their businesses by shifting to cleaner technologies and deeper sustainability. They also know how fast many of their competitors are moving on climate. They know they need robust climate legislation.

Likewise, citizen support for and involvement in climate actions is far greater than it was a decade ago, and growing fast.

But National might not even get the opportunity to try. If it persists in its know-nothing, do-nothing climate strategy epitomised by Collins and the party’s weak leadership on the issue, it will lose more votes at next year’s election than it will gain from supporting sceptics and vested interests.

And Meanwhile Mathew Hooten in today’s NZ Herald claims that Ardern will soon need to make a strategic choice:

Is she best to let events unfold with NZ First scuttling all the issues her core supporters care about most, backing herself to trounce Bridges whenever the next election is held, even if her favourability keeps falling in the meantime?

Or does her brand require her to take charge even before the end of the year, and make clear to Winston Peters that issues like climate change and water quality are absolute bottom lines, and that she would rather face the voters early than to cave in to NZ First once again?

We still have a long way to go!



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