Friday, August 31, 2007

Labour is two-faced on climate change

Publicly, the New Zealand government is committed to action on climate change. After fifteen years of foot-dragging, they finally seem to be on the verge of implementing policy (of course, we've been there before), and have openly talked of bold targets such as carbon neutrality. In private - or rather, in international negotiations away from the public view - they seem to be pursuing a rather different agenda:

Industrial nations were deadlocked on Thursday about whether to set stringent 2020 goals for cutting greenhouse gases at a first U.N. session about long-term climate targets, delegates said.

A draft text at the Vienna meeting said rich countries should recognize a need for cuts of between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst effects of climate change.

Russia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland objected that such goals would be too demanding after a first period of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, the main plan for fighting global warming, ends in 2012, delegates said.

(Emphasis added).

Two-faced, lying, ratfink bastards. Having deliberately dragged our feet for fifteen years and repeatedly failed to implement policy, we're now using that failure as an excuse to further lower the bar. The problem is that the planet can't afford to - the Stern Report made it quite clear that we need to cut global emissions by at least 50% by 2050 if we are to have a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change, and that this gets harder and harder the longer we delay. In the face of this, refusing to act is choosing to murder the world's poor. It means telling our Pacific neighbours to learn to swim. And that is not something any New Zealand government, let alone a Labour one, should be doing.

There will be consequences for this. It is simply untenable for a country to pimp itself internationally as "100% pure", and use its clean and green image to attract tourists and sell food, while deliberately and calculatedly working to destroy the environment and condemn millions to death. Hypocrisy just doesn't sell, and we can expect European companies to make full use of our government's cowardly and morally indefensible position in advertising against us. That is, if the EU just doesn't stick a carbon tax on our exports for being so dirty.