Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Climate Change: Not a priority

When running for election in 2017, Jacinda Ardern famously proclaimed that climate change was "my generation's nuclear-free moment". So you'd expect her government to commit the resources to develop policy to reduce emissions and solve the climate crisis, right? Wrong:

Early this year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw warned ministers the Government did not have enough staff or funding to progress key parts of the climate change agenda - saying some policies would need to be dropped.

On the back of that meeting, Shaw wrote to Environment Minister David Parker in April saying that already-agreed Cabinet decisions "will not be able to progress as directed by Cabinet with this level of funding".

Despite securing additional funding in the 2021 Budget, Shaw had to work with Parker in June to "reprioritise" the climate change work programme to fit the Ministry for the Environment's (MfE) stretched staffing for climate change.

And its not just MfE - one of the reasons the "emissions reduction plan" was so laughable and full of decades old ideas is because the agencies which were meant to contribute to it were not funded for that work, and do not have people working on ways to reduce emissions (or, in MPI and MBIE's case, have people working deliberately to impede progress and keep the polluting industries which have captured them alive as long as possible). Work on one of our three biggest policy crises is being impeded by Labour austerity.

Governments show their true priorities in their resourcing decisions. What gets funded is a priority, what doesn't, isn't. So what this tells us is that climate change isn't actually that much of a priority for the government. Some "nuclear free" moment.