Friday, December 22, 2023

Climate Change: A stupid move

National has finally proactively released the regulatory impact statement, briefings and cabinet paper on their repeal of the clean car discount scheme. And reading them, you can see exactly why they kept it secret until after parliament ahd voted: because the RIS is crystal clear that this is a stupid move, and that retaining the discount is the best option in the short-term to drive and lock-in emissions reductions:

Of the two options, retention of the scheme will best meet the objective to continue the momentum in shifting the light vehicle fleet to be low-emission as a means to reduce transport emissions.

The Ministry’s modelling suggests that if the scheme ended on 31 December 2023 the expected emission saving from the Clean Car Discount would reduce by between 1,104–2,181 kilotonnes to 2050.

It also points out that the benefits of repeal (in terms of avoided costs) are less than half those of retention. So much for "rigorous cost benefit analysis". Meanwhile, the initial briefing has huge sections redacted for legal advice. A table at the end and the cabinet paper however reveal that this is because repealing the discount threatens our ability to meet out second and third emissions budgets, potentially putting the government in violation of the Zero Carbon Act scheme and at risk of legal action. Repealing it was simply a stupid move.

This is not to say the clean car discount is perfect. The briefing itself points out that it would need to be changed over time as the EV market matured, and eventually phased out. But as a measure to boost initial uptake and shift the market away from dirty killer utes, it has been a stunning success. But the orc government regards that as a bug, not a feature.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023


So, Nicola Willis has presented her nano-budget, which wasn't really a budget after all, just a list of money she is planning to reprioritise. And the headline is that she's found almost $7.5 billion of "savings" to fund tax cuts for landlords. So what are these "savings"?

The mini-Budget outlined the $7.47b in savings, made up of $2.61b from stopping work on initiatives including Let's get Wellington Moving and Fair Pay Agreements, $2.0b from the Emissions Trading Scheme, and $2.8b from tax and benefit changes.
So, cut spending on vital infrastructure, on decarbonisation, and on the poor. Which might make the books look better in the short term, but at the cost of having to pay for it later. That cut infrastructure spending means higher economic costs and greater expense later. That "reprioritisation" of ETS revenue from decarbonisation to landlord tax cuts means higher emissions, which we will pay for in 2030. And cutting benefits and ECE means higher social costs later. In other words, these aren't really "savings" at all, but piling up costs for the future. Its exactly like a shitty council Keeping Rates Low by skimping on road and sewer maintenance. And we all know how that turns out.


When Donald Trump incited the storming of the US capitol on 6 January 2021 in a failed effort to overturn an election an re-install himself as president, he was unquestionably engaged in an insurrection against the constitution. And now, the Colorado Supreme Court has finally enforced the US constitution, ruling him ineligible for office, and therefore ineligible to appear on the ballot in 2024:

Former President Donald J. Trump is ineligible to hold office again, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, accepting the argument that the 14th Amendment disqualifies him in an explosive decision that could upend the 2024 election.

In a lengthy ruling ordering the Colorado secretary of state to exclude Mr. Trump from the state’s Republican primary ballot, the justices reversed a Denver district judge’s finding last month that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which disqualifies people who have engaged in insurrection against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it from holding office — did not apply to the presidency.

They affirmed the district judge’s other key conclusions: that Mr. Trump’s actions before and on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted engaging in insurrection, and that courts had the authority to enforce Section 3 against a person whom Congress had not specifically designated.

“A majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the court wrote in a 4-to-3 ruling. “Because he is disqualified, it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Colorado Secretary of State to list him as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot.”

It will go to the Supreme Court, of course. So I guess we'll see if the US constitution actually means anything, or whether the far-right majority will manage to contort it to allow the man who appointed them to run.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Burying the evidence

Back in 2020, IRD began a hugely controversial (among rich people) study of how much tax the rich are actually paying. earlier this year, it reported what we all knew: the rich aren't paying their fair share. The government refused to act on that, but they did pass a law, the Taxation Principles Reporting Act 2023, requiring IRD to report annually on the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of the tax system, against a specified set of measurements and principles. Effectively, this would provide ongoing evidence of the need to tax the rich more, as well as of any other problems in the tax system.

The first of these reports is due by the end of the year. But National must not have liked what it says, because they're going to repeal the law under all-stages urgency to prevent its publication. Effectively, trying to bury the evidence. Of course, the report, and its drafts and associated correspondence are all official information. They are - unless National has a giant illegal shredder party - held. Which means that they can simply be requested under the OIA. And I expect every political journalist in the country is doing that right now.

Climate Change: So much for "leakage"

One of the major arguments climate polluters have deployed against being made to pay for their pollution is the threat of "leakage": that they will simply move production to some country where they don't have to pay, resulting in no actual reduction in emissions. Which sounded superficially convincing back in the 1990's when almost nobody was pricing emissions, but a lot less convincing now when a huge chunk of the world is. But a huge chunk isn't everybody, and there are still holdouts - but there are ways of fixing that too. From 2026 Europe will be applying a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism - basicly slapping a carbon price on high-emissions imports at the border, to make sure they pay for their carbon. And now the UK is joining them:

Imported raw materials such as steel and cement will incur a new carbon tax from 2027 under UK plans designed to support domestic producers and reduce emissions, but the government is facing criticism for not moving fast enough.


The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said: “This levy will make sure carbon intensive products from overseas – like steel and ceramics – face a comparable carbon price to those produced in the UK, so that our decarbonisation efforts translate into reductions in global emissions.

“This should give UK industry the confidence to invest in decarbonisation as the world transitions to net zero.”

And the big argument against it? That they're not doing it quickly enough. Which tells you how much the world has changed. Countries with carbon pricing now see no reason to tolerate cheats who dump their pollution on others.

Now of course we just need major importers to do this to dairy products, and that will solve our agricultural emissions argument overnight.

Monday, December 18, 2023

The SIS is evading oversight again

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security released their annual report today. And it contains some rather worrying revelations about the SIS and their efforts to circumvent the restrictions on their use of intelligence warrants. When the government rams through new spy powers (typically under urgency, with no public input), it tells us that they are subject to oversight and therefore cannot be abused. But it turns out that the SIS is systematically evading that oversight. Which invites the natural conclusion that they are engaging in systematic abuse - otherwise, why bother to evade?

And this isn't over little things - its about intelligence warrants, the core of their legal powers. An intelligence warrant allows a spy agency to do something illegal to collect intelligence. Typically that's intercepting phone calls or internet traffic, or burgling somewhere to plant bugs or copy or steal documents. And when they do something like that which might affect a kiwi, they need to ask other people: both the Minister (who is a rubberstamp) and the Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants. These warrants are also reviewed after the fact by the inspector-General, who tends to be a lot more critical in their assessments than either of the other two.

Or at least, that's how it used to work. But John Key's spy law, passed in 2017, fundamentally changed the warrant system. Previously, SIS warrants had to be about a particular individual, and required particularised suspicion. Now, they can be about a "class" of people, and require only a generalised suspicion. Whether a particular person falls into the target class is up to the agency, and there's no external review of that. So of course the SIS is doing everything under class warrants, despite the fact that they are almost always targeting particular individuals:

NZSIS investigations are often focused on particular individuals. Over many years of producing individual warrant applications the agency became proficient at putting together ‘intelligence cases’ in warrant applications for intrusive surveillance of specific targets. Such applications are now disappearing. They are being replaced by applications for warrants against classes of persons defined in terms of the NZSIS having assessed them as threatening national security. It has become apparent that a class warrant can be drafted to cover any NZSIS investigation, no matter how closely it might be focused on a particular person. With a relatively small set of class warrants in place, an individual coming to the attention of the Service may be assessed as coming within an authorised target class (a class possibly approved months beforehand). That person may then be put under surveillance, potentially up to the maximum possible level of intrusion (if that is what the warrant allows), without their existence or any intelligence on them having been presented to anyone outside the NZSIS. That is obviously convenient for the agency. I seriously question whether it is consistent with the concept of a warrant as a safeguard for the rights of anyone prospectively in the sights of a state security agency.
Translation: the SIS's use of class warrants is undermining the entire oversight regime, and the entire concept of warrants as a safeguard.

The Inspector-General apparently has a report in the works about a particular class warrant, questioning whether it was lawful or proper. It will be interesting to see what comes of that, and whether the supposed safeguards in the law mean anything, or whether everything our politicians tell us about restrictions on the spies is just lies, and that the entire legal regime is designed to hide the fact that there are no effective restrictions on their activities. Meanwhile, people might want to consider whether an agency which systematically and repeatedly attempts to circumvent and undermine its own legal oversight regimes can ever be trusted, and whether it should be allowed to exist at all.

A walking pile of insincerity

Chris Luxon's reactionary coalition hates te reo. In addition to trying to eliminate it from public use by the government, they're also trying to cut the pay of public servants who can use it, and cut funding for public servants to learn. But of course Luxon is not practicising what he preaches:

Taxpayers have paid for Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s own Māori language classes, even as he criticised public servants for bonuses for its use.

As New Zealand grapples with a new style of Government and a new approach to the Māori language, the Prime Minister has fallen foul of his own advice to the public service.

Luxon appears guilty of a double standard after scolding bureaucrats for taking cash bonuses for understanding the Māori language, while using taxpayer funds to learn himself.


”In the real world outside of Wellington and outside the bubble of MPs, people who want to learn te reo or want to learn any other education actually pay for it themselves.”

However, Luxon did not follow his own advice. After repeated requests, the Prime Minister’s office confirmed taxpayers paid for Luxon’s own classes using a budget offered to the leader of the Opposition.

”As leader of the Opposition and a potential prime minister at the time, developing better skills in te reo was highly relevant to his role,” the spokesman said.

And it is highly relevant to his role. But taking government funding to learn, while cutting it for everyone else, makes him look like a two-faced dirty hypocrite, a walking pile of insincerity. But then, that's what you get from people whose political ideology is based on "one rule for me, and one for everyone else".

Friday, December 15, 2023

This stinks

The coalition government has barely been in office for a month, and they're already giving themselves fancy titles:

The prime minister has made Attorney-General Judith Collins a King's Counsel.

Christopher Luxon said it was an appropriate appointment, as Collins is now the Crown's senior law officer.

He said it also reflected her career achievements and the responsibility she now holds.

And of course it will significantly boost her prestige (among lawyers) and income when she eventually leaves politics. A pretty nice retirement package.

This is a pretty stinky decision, made more so by the fact that its normally the Attorney-General who recommends people for this title. But I guess Collins figures that awarding it to herself would be just a bit too obvious, so another Minister had to act in her place (which they can do). So its just Luxon handing out the retirement package, like some medieval king handing out duchies to his cronies, abusing the state to enrich themselves.

And no, we won't get any transparency over this. The appointment is technically made by the Governor-General. They only act on advice, but communications with them - even about our business - are covered by a special withholding ground in the OIA, because monarchy. The "counsels of the Crown" are, by tradition, secret - a medieval rule so obviously self-serving that it beggars belief that it has been retained. But it has, ostensibly as a protection for the "neutrality" of the foreign monarch and their local representative, even when all they are doing is rubberstamping the commands of the elected government. In modern Aotearoa, people might ask whether that should still be the case, or whether transparency rather than secrecy is a better safeguard against "politicisation" and a better means of ensuring accountability.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Secrecy is a fraud upon democracy

Last week, we learned that the coalition had suspended the normal regulatory impact analysis process for its "100 day" policies. Their pretence was that it wasn't necessary to assess the costs and benefits of simple policy repeals. The real reason? It lets them hide the true costs, while ramming stuff through Parliament:

The new Government is sitting on a potentially damning review of its decision to get rid of subsidies for electric vehicles (EVs), despite saying yesterday it would be released.


The temporary suspension of RIS reports was to help officials faced with “extreme time pressures”. However, transport officials, anticipating the new Government would make good on campaign promises to get rid of the scheme, drew up a draft regulatory impact statement early - meaning the RIS already exists. Brown has confirmed he has seen it.

Green Transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter believed the Government was sitting on the RIS because it did not like what it said.

“What possible other reason would the minister have for withholding the RIS analysis? If it supported his case, surely he would release it.

It is unlikely to support the Minister's case. I requested Ministy of Transport's estimates of the emissions costs of repealing the clean car discount back in October. They refused to provide them, claiming they were "confidential" (a withholding ground that almost certainly no longer applies now the bill has been introduced), but did point me at modelling from July 2021. That shows that the clean car discount was expected to save 1.5 to 6.1 million tons of CO2 from 2024 and 2030, and 3.4 to 13.5 million tons to 2040. Those numbers will have gone down due to Hipkins' chickenshit policy bonfire, but they're what we have. And using Treasury's estimated cost of $227 / ton in 2030 to meet our Paris shortfall, that's between $340 million to $1.4 billion.

(To use another metric, the US EPA estimates 226 excess deaths per million tons of carbon. So National's orc policy will murder between 339 and 1379 people by 2030...)

Hiding these costs from Parliament before it debates legislation is simply a fraud upon democracy. But that's how National plans to get away with its climate crimes: through lies and fraud.

Climate Change: National plans to fail

Yesterday He Pou a Rangi / Climate Change Commission presented its 2023 Advice on the direction of policy for the Government’s second emissions reduction plan to Parliament. As Newsroom's Marc Daalder notes, its awkward reading, from a different world. A world where the Commission assumes that the government will comply with its legal obligation to meet its emissions budgets, and where it is interested in finding effective policies to do so. But as we're finding out, that's no longer the case.

The advice is very clear: the review of the ETS - aimed at gracefully disentangling forestry from the ETS to drive gross emissions reductions and preserve the system long-term - needs to continue. So does the GIDI program to fund industrial decarbonisation. And the clean car discount, which has pushed transport electrification. Fossil gas needs to be phased out. And agricultural emissions need to be priced as quickly as possible.

If those policies seem familiar, its because they're all things National has explicitly committed to killing off in its coalition agreements. Today they added another one, with the admission that Waka Kotahi has been instructed to end work on reducing vkt (vehicle kilometers travelled). Chris Luxon says we will meet our targets. But they have no policies to make that happen, and there is no suggestion they will develop any. The natural conclusion is that its simply an outright lie, because they do not want to openly admit the reality: they plan to fail, because they do not care whether we all burn to death or not.

The good news is that the law currently obliges them to meet those targets. So if they ignore the Commission's advice, and present an "emissions reduction plan" which will not reduce emissions by the amount required, it will go to court, and the court can order them to do a proper job. That's what happened in the UK, and it will happen here too. But the cost will be years of delay in reducing emissions, years of further pollution. Which we cannot afford. We are already paying the price of past climate inaction. Lower Hutt got hit by an "unseasonal" tornado yesterday. We'll be seeing more of that in future. And if our government is just going to fiddle while we burn and drown, I think they're going to have what industry calls a "social licence" problem.

Shane Jones' orc fantasy

There's a scene in Lord of the Rings where Saruman is directing the orc "renovations" to Isengard, where he instructs the orcs to rip down all the trees. And that's basicly Shane Jones' speech during the address-in-reply debate last night. NewsHub highlighted comments about the government not meeting "the 2030 dreamy, fairy-tale, aspirational figures that we'll be freeing ourselves of fossil fuels as a source of generating energy", stopping work at the Ministry for the Environment,a nd restarting oil and gas drilling. But reading the full speech its a lot worse than that:

In those areas called the Department of Conservation (DOC) estate, where it's stewardship land, stewardship land is not DOC land, and if there is a mineral, if there is a mining opportunity and it's impeded by a blind frog, goodbye, Freddy. We are going to extract the dividend from mother Nature's legacy on the DOC estate in those areas previously called stewardship land.


Couple more things: we will have a strategic, fast-tracked piece of legislation in this House... Stand by for the fast-track process where the authority rests with the politicians. Fast track for aquaculture, fast track for mining, fast track for energy, fast track for infrastructure.

Last time the government tried to mine the conservation estate, they were greeted with 50,000 people marching down Queen Street. Next time there will be more. This isn't the twentieth century anymore, and people are no longer willing to tolerate the rape of the environment.

As for the second, the lesson from Australia is clear: putting resource consent decisions in the hands of politicians is a recipe for total corruption. But Jones probably sees that as a feature. After all, his party's secret foundation demonstrably took secret donations from interested parties in exchange for policy changes on housing, fisheries and racing. Being able to extort vig from every aquaculture or mining project and every property developer probably sounds great to them.

This is the government we have now: fundamentally corrupt orcs. We need to throw them out at the first opportunity. If not, we'll end up like Queensland.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

PiS off

Back in October, Poles threw out the Law and Justice (PiS) government in elections which saw record turnout. And now, after a failed last-ditch effort by PiS to retain control, the new coalition has finally taken power:

Donald Tusk has pledged to “chase away the darkness … chase away the evil” of eight divisive years of national-conservative rule, after Poland’s parliament voted to back his nomination as the country’s new prime minister.


In power since 2015, PiS has been accused of illegally eroding the rule of law, turning state media into propaganda outlets, rolling back minority rights and fomenting feuds with the EU, prompting Brussels to freeze tens of billions of euros of funds.

Tusk, who has promised to mend relations with the bloc and get the money released, is scheduled to address parliament on Tuesday, presenting his cabinet and laying out the government’s plans, before facing the formality of a confidence vote.

Besides rebuilding bridges with Brussels, Tusk’s campaign pledges included promising to allow abortion – subject to a near-total ban under PiS – until 12 weeks, declaring termination, IVF and contraception fundamental rights, and allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

You know, behaving like a normal European country, rather than some authoritarian Catholic theocracy.

I don't expect Tusk's government to be perfect. But its basicly saved Poland from autocracy, and seems to be working in the right direction. Its unquestionably better than what came before. The job for Poles is to keep it that way, and avoid another authoritarian return.

Climate Change: Not just phase-out, but criminalisation

As the climate crisis has worsened, there seems to have finally been an understanding that we need to phase out fossil fuels. Twelve countries, including most of our Pacific whanau, have endorsed calls for a fossil-fuel non-proliferation treaty. But the talks at COP28 in Dubai have failed to get the message, producing a draft with only vague talk of "reducing both consumption and production" rather than a full phase out. Which is what happens when you get an oil executive to run your climate change conference.

Many countries are refusing to sign a death certificate for small island states, which is good. We should also note that this isn't just about small island states - while they're on the front line, and may be first to drown, ultimately all of us are at risk. If climate change is not stopped, we face fires, floods, famines, sudden and large rises in sea-level, mass-migration, and ultimately a collapse in global agriculture and the civilisation it allows. And fossil fuels are the weapon which is causing this.

I use that word – “weapon” - deliberately. We think of fossil fuels as just an energy source, something to run the car or a factory. But like tobacco, every ton of fossil fuels we use is doing us damage. That damage is global, indiscriminate, and - if not stopped - promises to be every bit as destructive as global nuclear war.

Current models for a fossil fuels treaty use the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a model, adopting its pillars of non-proliferation, phase-out, and a just transition. But the use of nuclear weapons is a crime, and those who use them are criminals and terrorists, and we need to start adopting that thinking for fossil fuels as well. So we need a fourth pillar: criminalisation. We have models here too: the chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines, and nuclear weapons treaties all require their parties to criminalise violations on their territory or by their citizens (so e.g. its a crime for a kiwi anywhere in the world to develop, trade, use, or facilitate chemical weapons). We need to adopt such measures for fossils fuels after they have been phased out - or outside of a phase-out program (so e.g. in countries which refuse to be a party).

Obviously, not every country will sign such a treaty - the criminal petro-states won't. Which is why we need a fifth pillar: financial sanctions against fossil fuel companies and executives and their enablers, so that criminals who remain outside the phase-out regime cannot openly sell their climate weapon or enjoy the profits of their crime. we have a useful model here too: the current sanctions against oligarchs and companies supporting Putin's criminal invasion of Ukraine. If the fossil fuel industry won't phase down, that's how we need to treat them.

People might object to the framing of fossil fuel executives and traders as criminals, but these people are deliberately and knowingly trying to kill us for profit. They are deliberately and knowingly trying to burn our homes, drown our cities, and starve and bake us to death. What else should we call them?

Monday, December 11, 2023

Climate Change: The wrong direction again

In 2019, Aotearoa legislated a methane reduction target of 10% (from 2017 levels) by 2030. Dirty farmers think it is unfair that they should be expected to cut their pollution by a fraction of what the rest of us are doing, and want to do less. Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation says they need to do more:

The world's top agriculture body has presented a blueprint for how to get livestock emissions down at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says cutting methane burped by animals like cows and sheep is "essential to limit the global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, preferably less than 1.5 degrees Celsius."

The global food body cites research saying methane from cows and sheep must fall 11-30 percent in 2030 off 2010 levels, to keep the planet inside safer heat levels, limiting damage to human health and farming conditions.

The FAO is also clear that herd sizes need to reduce.

The different baselines make it complicated, but jiggling around with emissions tracker shows our 2010 biogenic methane emissions were 32.52 million tons, versus 32.78 in 2017. Meaning our legislated target is over half a million tons worse than the bare minimum of the FAO's range - and 6.7 million tons worse than its upper end. So with the new government primed to grovel to farmers, weaken targets, and give them another free ride, it looks like we will be headed in the wrong direction, again.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Another attack on te reo

The new white supremacist government made attacking te reo a key part of its platform, promising to rename government agencies and force them to "communicate primarily in English" (which they already do). But today they've gone further, by trying to cut the pay of public servants who speak te reo:

The government is trying to figure out how to stop any more public servants getting extra pay for being proficient in te reo Māori.

But it concedes it cannot dump existing allowances.

"I will ... ask for advice on how we could stop these bonuses being negotiated into future collective agreements," the Public Service Minister Nicola Willis told RNZ.

These allowances exist for a good reason: speaking te reo is a skill which is in demand in the public service. And the reason it is in demand is because public sector agencies owe specific legal duties to (for example) support the crown-Māori relationship and use te reo to promote public services and make them accessible to Māori. Both of those duties require that agencies maintain capacity, which means staff with the appropriate skills, and - as with any other skill - that needs to be paid for. And, as the article notes, they're in collective agreements, and the PSA has indicated they're going to fight for the rights of their members to be recognised for their skills. So, the government is going to have trouble implementing its white supremacist agenda. But the fact they even blurted this, when it wasn't in either coalition agreement, suggests they're going all-in on it, and that the elimination of te reo from public life is a goal they wholeheartedly embrace.

Climate Change: Failed again

There was another ETS auction this morning. and like all the other ones this year, it failed to clear - meaning that 23 million tons of carbon (15 million ordinary units plus 8 million in the cost containment reserve) went up in smoke. Or rather, they didn't. Being unsold at the end of the year, the units are scrapped, so no-one will be able to burn that carbon.

This is a great result for the environment, and it has the effect of rebalancing the ETS by accident. In 2021 and 2022 Labour's cheap carbon policy resulted in it dumping 14 million tons of extra carbon into the environment. That's gone now. And all because they destroyed confidence in the market by ignoring the Climate Commission and trying to keep carbon cheap, resulting in low bids and auctions which didn't clear.

It's also a problem for the government, which was relying on the revenue from the auction. But that doesn't really matter now. Under Labour, that revenue would have been spent on further decarbonisation, and its loss would have slowed decarbonisation. But National was just going to use it to fund tax cuts for landlords, so fuck them.

Looking forward, next year has a much lower carbon budget - 14.1 million tons, plus 7.7 million in a high-priced, two-tiered CCR which should never trigger. So we might finally see the system working properly to provide strong incentives for decarbonisation, like it was supposed to. But I'm sure National, ACT and NZ First will find some way of fucking it up. The last thing they want is actually effective climate policy, because then their donors and cronies might have to change what they do or go out of business.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023


When this government came to power, it did so on an explicitly white supremacist platform. Undermining the Waitangi Tribunal, removing Māori representation in local government, over-riding the courts which had tried to make their foreshore and seabed legislation work, eradicating te reo from public life, and ultimately trying to repudiate Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This agenda is highly controversial, to say the least, and this morning it resulted in the expected pushback, with nationwide protests against the racist government. They were organised at short notice, but a respectable size for all that, and the message was clear: if the government continues with its racist agenda, there will be more.

Meanwhile, in parliament there was pushback of a different sort, with te Pāti Māori MPs swearing their own oath first before doing the legally-required one. Its worth comparing the two. Here's what Tākuta Ferris went for (other te Pāti Māori MPs used similar language):

I, Takuta Ferris, swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to our mokopuna according to tikanga Māori. I will perform my functions and duties and exercise my powers in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
And here's the legal oath of allegiance, set out in unmodernised 70-year old legislation - which is itself cribbed from legislation 150 years old:
I, [specify], swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her [or His] Majesty [specify the name of the reigning Sovereign, as thus: Queen Elizabeth the Second], Her [or His] heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.
One of these sounds a hell of a lot more like modern Aotearoa and a hell of a lot more in tune with kiwi values than the other, and it wasn't the one full of archaic feudal bullshit. And while many people would prefer an affirmation with references to other parts of the constitution, its still likely to look a hell of a lot more like Ferris' than the legal one. Which tells us just how archaic and out-of-date key parts of our legislative framework are. Its long past time we changed them.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Climate Change: Fossils

When the new government promised to allow new offshore oil and gas exploration, they were warned that there would be international criticism and reputational damage. Naturally, they arrogantly denied any possibility that that would happen. And then they finally turned up at COP, to criticism from Palau, and a "fossil of the day" award. And that's just the first few days!

Meanwhile, in more evidence of the government's denier trend, yesterday they refused to sign the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, which would have committed us to work with other countries to triple renewable energy and double the rate of energy efficiency improvements. These are global targets, with a big "national circumstances" clause - which for us includes the fact that ~90% of our electricity generation is already renewable. Many of the specific commitments are things like easier permitting, which are strongly aligned with the new government's program. So you'd think signing up for it would be a no-brainer, what MFAT calls an easy win: a reputational boost with no downside (and supporting global collective action as well). But apparently not. The hostility of the new government to anything "green" is such that they won't even sign up for the easiest, most obvious, least-cost action. Instead, they'd rather shred our international reputation and risk trade sanctions with a purely ideological call to keep on drilling in the face of global apocalypse. And then they wonder why people think they're fossils...