Friday, October 25, 2019

Climate Change: You cannot compromise with physics

This morning's media on yesterday's agriculture sellout is a perfect example of the problems of establishment game-focused political journalism. There are various articles praising the political cleverness of Shaw's deal, because it leaves National "stumped" and with nowhere to go, or celebrating compromise for compromise's sake. And meanwhile, in all of that bullshit, the urgency of the situation the policy is supposed to address has been lost.

So let's remind ourselves: the planet is warming like never before. We need to halve emissions by 2030 if we are to have an even chance of staying within the 1.5 degree limit, or cut them by 20% if we are to make the old 2 degree target. And contrary to Judith Collins' uninformed opinion, the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming is disastrous (the 4 degrees we are actually on track for is absolutely catastrophic).

Against this background, saying that agriculture, our biggest polluter, doesn't have to do anything until 2025 is committing to failure. And if we are to meet the emissions reduction targets necessary for human survival, it forces us towards policy paths that are extreme, like an actual cow-cull, rather than being able to reduce cow numbers by efficiency gains through the business cycle. We could afford to piss around like that in 2000, and maybe in 2008 (if we'd actually followed-through, rather than giving them a free ride). But now, we are out of time. You cannot compromise with physics, and anyone who thinks you can is trying to kill us.

So, no matter how many times Shaw and Ardern try to pull this act, when looked at against the policy background, this policy is a bad deal. It is inadequate, it is a failure, and it needs to be replaced as quickly as possible with real action.

The tragedy for the Greens is that, as The Spinoff notes, this is Shaw's deal. He owns it, which means he can't change it. If we want a better deal, we will need a different Minister, and a different Green Party co-leader.