Thursday, August 31, 2017

Climate change: Suppressing the evidence

National appears to be suppressing a report on climate change impacts and adaptation in the leadup to the election:

Now, Carbon News [paywalled - I/S] has revealed that another key climate change report has been withheld by Government until after the election. This is the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group’s first report. The Report was to include “a summary of the expected impacts of climate change on New Zealand over the medium and long-term, and a stocktake of existing work on adaptation, by both central and local government” and has been presented to Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett.

Bennett said she would not release the report in order to “maintain the constitutional conventions which protect the confidentiality of advice tendered by officials”.

The delay in releasing the report has raised suspicions with constitutional law expert and former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer who says the public interest outweighs the constitutional convention. The Government’s refusal to release the report on the impacts of climate change suggests it might contain something politically damaging .

And what could that be? Pretty obviously there are significant impacts on coastal land, and those owners of expensive coastal property face being left with a worthless stranded asset. So do intensive dairy farmers in areas of the country predicted to become dryer - with Canterbury expected to be in severe drought every couple of years, and no snow on the Alps to replenish the rivers, dairy farming there is basicly finished (its just a question of how much they ruin their death spasm). And of course there's the impact of sea-level rise on our major cities: big areas of Wellington and Dunedin are expected to be at risk of storm surges or actually under water by the end of the century. And all of these things promise severe pain to voters, as well as questions about why the government hasn't acted sooner to prevent it.

Hopefully Carbon News has complained to the Ombudsman, and hopefully it'll be treated urgently and be released before the election. Meanwhile, you really have to ask whether we want a government so obsessed with secrecy and spin to be managing this issue, rather than one which will actually do something to fix it.