Wednesday, March 29, 2006



But was anybody listening?

Over the past few days, 400 scientists, officials, NGO representatives and academics have been meeting in Wellington to discuss climate change and governance. But one group was conspicuous by their absence: the politicians. With the honourable exception of Jeanette Fitzsimons, who played an active role (she left only to vote on her Resource Management (Climate Protection) Amendment Bill), there was no serious interest from MPs and Ministers. Pete Hodgson and Nick Smith made only token appearances, and there was no sign of any other MP or Minister (not the acting Minister of Energy, Trevor Mallard, or the Minister of Forestry, Jim Anderton, or any of the other parties' spokespeople on environment, climate change, energy, transport or forestry). Likewise - again with the exception of the Greens - there was no-one present from any of the political parties' policy units or Parliamentary staff. As far as our political parties were concerned, it just wasn't happening...

There could be all sorts of good reasons for this, of course. They could be busy. Or already briefed. But you can't help but notice the glaring discrepancy in the amount of attention paid to an issue which is quite possibly the most important challenge faced by humanity this century, and the question of who stuffed a tennis ball into whose mouth twenty years ago...

12 comments:

that's surprising and disappointing. I suppose they are all getting ready for Tony. After all he can learn a lot from Helen.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 11:12:00 AM

Surprising? I wouldn't have thought so at all. But then I am rather a cynic..

Posted by Kakariki : 3/30/2006 12:13:00 PM

surprising, in that given the quality of some international speakers and that Blair made a televised address, you'd expect the relevant ministers there.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 12:38:00 PM

Credit where credits due Dr Nick Smith was there.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 02:00:00 PM

Anon: Briefly; he was around for Tuesday and the dinner, but I didn't see him on Wednesday during the policy sessions (though he may have been inconspicuous).

Smith is in a difficult position. He recognises the problem is real and that we need to do something about it (both globally and locally), but he's stuck in a party led by fairly radical deniers who are unwilling to take any action. Though maybe that will change (and National become more sensible in general) when they eventually roll Don Brash...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/30/2006 02:11:00 PM

By the way, Hodgson has been saying that the government dropped the carbon tax because it didn't have the votes in the house. Yesterday, however, Te Ururoa Flavell said in parliament that the Maori Party had supported the carbon tax, but that the government never formally approached them for support. I think I'll write to Hodgson and ask him whether he'll be reintroducing the carbon tax now that he's got the numbers.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 02:59:00 PM

I am pretty certain Nick was also there for Tony's speech.

I agree I think Dr Smith is savyy enough to recognise that the science is sound and the risks are real but unfortunately has a boss who thinks Michael Crichton is a world leading climate scientist.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 04:27:00 PM

Mallard, for one, had time to stop by Victoria University on Wednesday to hand out flyers and chocolate cake.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 04:51:00 PM

Good on the politicians for ignoring such a worthless conference. The real question here is why so much time and money was wasted providing a conference on this useless subject, when there are so many other areas where resources are despitely needed.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 06:02:00 PM

Anon: Yes. One of the key points in the wrapup was that we must push the politicians if we want action. Peter Neilson of the Sustainable Business Network (I think) had some rather interesting things to say on that topic, which will be the subject of a post and possible pledgebank push later this evening.

And I can quite believe Labour just not contacting the Maori Party. They seemed to be simply looking for an excuse...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/30/2006 07:03:00 PM

"The real question here is why so much time and money was wasted providing a conference on this useless subject"

Well, if you'd read any of the links Idiot has posted then you'd know. If not, there's not much point talking about it.

The odd thing, for me, is that I work in the business of pricing risk. Risk is bloody expensive. People spend billions to avoid risks of interest rates rising, or currencies plunging.

We've got reliable models telling us there's a 2 or 3 percent risk of having global mean temperatures move by 8 to 10 degrees in my children's lifetime (that paper by Allen on total carbon emissions was pretty scary). It probably won't be that bad. But we don't know. We're playing dice with our kids' futures here.

Posted by Icehawk : 3/30/2006 10:02:00 PM

The people who deal with risk for a living - insurance companies and global fund managers - are deeply worried. But I'll talk about them in another post.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/30/2006 11:02:00 PM