Monday, April 10, 2017

Climate change: Breaking our cycle of failure

The picture above shows New Zealand's cycle of failure on climate change. For the past 30 years the government has been talking about action, and yet never seems to actually get there. National's "50% by 2050" target is simply the latest example of this: while they have a target, they have no plan to meet it, and no policies which seem like they might get us there. Instead of action, we get half-measures and wheel-spinning, policies designed to produce the appearance of action (though headlines) while actually changing nothing. And meanwhile, the planet burns...

Generation Zero, the youth movement against climate change, wants to change that. They've released a proposal for a Zero Carbon Act, aimed at breaking that cycle of failure. The proposal follows the model of the UK Climate Change Act: a legislated long-term target (in this case net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 or earlier), a pathway of five-yearly carbon budgets set by an independent Climate Commission to get us there, and a requirement for the government to produce plans to meet them. The whole thing is backed by independent reporting, so the success or failure of those plans will be publicly announced - providing a strong incentive for the politicians to aim for actual emissions reductions rather than just the appearance of action.

In the UK, this model has produced significant reductions in emissions. Apparently, if you watch the politicians like hawks, they actually do the job. Who'd have thunk it?

There's some new features. The Act would set seperate budgets and targets for long-lived and short-lived greenhouse cases - meaning that we would simply have to reduce methane emissions to a "sustainable" level. And it applies only to domestic emissions, meaning no cheating with fraudulent Ukranian credits. I'm not sure about the first, in that it seems to provide too much wiggle-room for farmers; OTOH we may find that a sustainable level of methane is a lot lower than they think. The second is obviously a good idea. While international carbon trading is great in theory, in practice its just fraud and bullshit, and we're better off without encouraging that.

Generation Zero has a petition in support of the Act here. Please sign it, and send a message to the politicians that you want real action on New Zealand's greatest threat.