Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Climate change: ambitious

John Key's slogan for the 2008 election was that he was "ambitious for New Zealand". Unfortunately, since actually gaining power, he's been anything but, dithering in denial on climate change and making only the weakest commitments. So what would an ambitious policy look like? The UK's Committee on Climate Change, an independent statutory body tasked with setting carbon budgets and reporting on progress, has just issued its first report. In it, they recommend targets of an 80% reduction by 2050, and a 42% reduction by 2020, to be achieved by a radical decarbonisation of the UK economy. More importantly, they lay out a plan to achieve this: more renewable energy, more nuclear power, no coal without CCS, a massive shift to hybrid and electric vehicles, an enormous investment in energy efficiency and home insulation, and measures to counteract the expected rise in "fuel poverty". They estimate the costs of this shift as between 1 and 2 percent of GDP in 2050 (meaning that people in 2050 would be only 2.25 times as rich as they are today, instead of 2.3 times. Big deal).

If John Key really was "ambitious for New Zealand", he'd be mirroring this approach, committing to steep reductions, and laying out a concrete plan to achieve them. Instead, he's stalling. Not very ambitious, is it?