Wednesday, October 02, 2019

How to deal with the climate change roadblock

Last Friday saw the largest protest in a generation, as 170,000 people joined the school strike and marched to demand real action on climate change. The demands of the school strike were simple and clear: declare a climate emergency, set a climate target of net-zero by 2040, impose a total ban on fossil fuel exploration and extraction, invest in building a renewable economy, and support the Pacific. And with the Zero Carbon Bill due back from select committee in two weeks, the message on that is equally clear: it needs to be stronger (in particular, its target needs to be for 2040, not 2050).

You'd hope that the largest protest in a generation (and the implicit electoral threat it contains) would focus the government's mind and lead to action. But this is a coalition government, and we've long been told that its most regressive party, NZ First, is a roadblock to further action. They've come a huge way from where they were in the past, when they were basicly climate change deniers. But they're inherently defenders of the unsustainable status quo, whose first response to the suggestion of eliminating or limiting the unsustainable industries who are killing us is to wail about jobs and growth, rather than recognise that there's no status quo in a climate breakdown ("conservative" being a political synonym for "short-sighted and selfish"). Throw in the fact that the school strikers aren't really their demographic, and they may not feel the electoral threat as much, and so resist making those necessary changes. If that happens, how should the government deal with it?

I think the answer is clear. If climate change really is "my generation's nuclear free moment", then the Prime Minister should call a snap election to seek a mandate and remove the roadblock to action.