Thursday, July 27, 2017

Climate change: Getting there from here

New Zealand climate change policy is ineffective. The targets are crap, and the policies are disconnected from them anyway. Insofar as the government takes a long view and sets long-term goals, its with the aim of dumping the problem on future governments, rather than acting to achieve them. But a new report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment proposes that we change that, by adopting the framework of the UK's Climate Change Act.

In the UK, the government has climate change targets set in law. It is required to set five yearly carbon budgets well in advance in order to meet those targets, and state the policies and measures it will use to make sure those budgets are met. And they have an independent and well-resourced Climate Change Commission to report on those budgets and policies and keep them honest.

The PCE, like Generation Zero, suggests that we adopt a similar framework here. It would be a good idea. The PCE also expresses hope that such a framework will have cross-party support. Sadly, I think that's foolish. Out of government, National opposed any measures to reduce emissions. In government, they've had to pretend to care, but in practice have done everything they could to protect polluters. While there's been some promising signs, there's no real evidence that they see this as a serious problem, let alone one worth upsetting their farmer-cronies over. As a government, they won't act; if there is a change of government, I fully expect them to go back to their old Denier ways and oppose any action whatsoever. Action on climate change is going to be politically contested. It will require changing the government, and it will require defending any new framework against the efforts of National to reverse and undermine it. While I'd like it to be different, for National's MP's to understand the problem and support real action, I'm not going to fool myself that that's going to happen. So if we want to save the world, we need to bury them.