Monday, November 11, 2019

Climate Change: Thank Winston

The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in the hands of the Climate Change Commission. And we have Winston to thank for stopping him:

Shaw negotiated with the party over many months and was very keen to get bipartisan support for the landmark climate change law.

The minister is generally of the opinion that if the Commission were to set the target it would not be much different to the one the range the bill sets, which is based on the overall goal to limit the temperature climbing by 1.5C by 2050.

Talks between Shaw and National leader Simon Bridges restarted in recent weeks, and it's understood Shaw was receptive to removing the target - but wouldn't be able to get that to Cabinet thanks to opposition from NZ First.

It's understood NZ First have generally rejected the idea of the Commission setting the target, as it believes that politicians need to own the decision.

The problem here is that while the Commission might have recommended a similar target, they could simply be over-ruled by the Minister. And with National planning to gut the law anyway, they could have simply removed the provision and left us with no methane target at all. Thanks to Winston, they will have to explicitly own that decision, and pay for it at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, this shows the dangers of compromise for compromise's sake. A compromise for failure is not worth making. A compromise for failure means we all drown. And by supporting such a compromise, Shaw has shown that meeting basic targets is not a bottom line for him, and that he can no longer be trusted on this issue.