Monday, February 25, 2019

Ignoring the elephants in the room

The National Party held it's "BlueGreen" forum over the weekend, and released a discussion document on environmental policy. So what does it say? Ultimately, not a lot of substance. Our two biggest environmental challenges are climate change and water quality. And on those, National has nothing useful to say. On climate change, its the usual business-as-usual bullshit, committing to emissions reductions which minimise economic impacts and "on pace with our global trading partners". Which is National for "do nothing". It is telling that where other parts of the document actually propose policies, this section simply asks questions - the same questions National's discussion documents have been asking for the last 20 years. And no doubt, they'll still be asking questions in an effort to avoid action in 20 years time.

On water quality, they have actual proposals - but nothing useful. They're practically silent on the key issue of farmers poisoning our lakes and rivers. Instead, they try and move the water quality issue to beaches and urban waterways, promising a fund to upgrade sewers, and new water quality standards for coastal waters. Oh, and they want a new collaborative process to talk about "efficient allocation", and want to start funding irrigation schemes to subsidise pollution again.

So what do they have? A new national park in the Catlins, cameras on fishing boats, a bottle deposit scheme. These are all very useful and welcome proposals. But they really do seem to be ignoring the elephants in the room. And if that's what National calls "leadership on environmental issues", they're leaders we can live without.