Thursday, July 23, 2015

Climate change: Ignoring the problem

Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity at the moment. It is the biggest long-term challenge facing New Zealand at the moment. While the headlines are full of noise about falling dairy prices, climate change may mean that we do not have a dairy industry in future. It is that serious. So you'd expect policy-makers to be paying attention to it, and assessing government policy for its effects on both emissions and adaptation, right?


Official documents reveal the Government ignored advice to take the impact of climate change into account whenever it developed new policy.

A Treasury paper shows the Government was also encouraged to establish an independent agency to advise it on greenhouse gas reduction target levels.

The Treasury advice was given to the Government last year as part of the lead up to the United Nations climate change discussions in Paris in December.

This is short-sighted muppetry from the government, which ensures continued failure. It ensures short-term targets which bear no relation to long-term ones, and policies which make things worse rather than better. And their reason?
"It's just getting a bit carried away with bureaucratic process and won't make any difference - having bureaucrats guess what impact a policy might have."

Except that bureaucrats "guess" about policy impacts all the time. That's their job. We have an entire process to "guess" the impacts of policy before introduction, so Ministers can know what the hell they're doing. And we have statutory and convention-based reporting requirements for impacts on human rights, women, people with disabilities, and Maori. Bill English knows all this, and in fact is even responsible for a bill to strengthen this scrutiny. So why doesn't he want climate change impacts analysed and reported? Its to escape the conclusion that its because he doesn't think its a real problem. And we are all going to pay for that short-sightedness and denial.