Monday, October 30, 2006

Has climate change become politically viable?

Helen Clark gave a speech to the Labour party this week (hattip to John Armstrong from today's herald
about 2/3 the way down you'll see this section:
But the 21st century challenges we face don’t only lie in economic and social policy.

There is also the great environmental challenge of the unsustainable way of life of developed nations like ours.

As Britain’s Environment Secretary said last month, the United Kingdom is living as if there were three planets to support us, not one. So are we. That can’t go on.

The issues have come to a head with the climate change crisis – with extreme weather variation and its impact on human life and the natural environment.

The climate change deniers are in retreat as the evidence mounts. Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, is helping spread public awareness of the scale of the problem.

Here in New Zealand we did the right thing in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, and resolving to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

But it did come as a blow to learn that the net credit position we thought we had in the first commitment period had become a net deficit position.

That sent us back to the drawing boards to look for better, more comprehensive strategies.

Now policy decisions, proposals, and initiatives to help us pull our weight on climate change and on sustainability more broadly are pouring out – on everything from solar heating and fuel efficiency in the transport fleet, to afforestation and sustainable land use.

I believe it’s time to be bold in this area.

Why shouldn’t New Zealand aim to be the first country which is truly sustainable – not by sacrificing our living standards, but by being smart and determined?

We can now move to develop more renewable energy, biofuels, public transport alternatives, and minimise, if not eliminate, waste to landfills.

We could aim to be carbon neutral.

I believe that sustainability will be a core value in 21st century social democracy.

· I want New Zealand to be in the vanguard of making it happen – for our own sakes, and for the sake of our planet.
· I want sustainability to be central to New Zealand’s unique national identity.

And fostering our unique national identity is central to the purpose of our government, and to my purpose in being in politics.

a nice little linker section there. Of course, with a Labour govt running it, i suspect this means we get to choose (or rather, we are told) from these options:
    1. a small underfunded team run out of the old IRL basement co-ordinating (reviewing) the same research that is already going on in universities. on a 100% competitive funding basis. every 6 months. out of existing marsden funding. that isn't getting inflation adjusted.
    2. a disturbingly large, overfunded centralised govt dept that gets stuck in ever decreasing navel gazing circles trying to synergise the Waitangi implications of carbon atoms that have moved from the spirit world into the atmosphere and back again (maybe we could paint the tapu carbon atoms blue...). we could just take the stem cell 'debate' and use Word to automatically change stem cell to carbon atom. be cheaper.
    3. bugger all of anything
    Go on Helen, prove me wrong. Set a big hairy audacious goal. Back it up with some money. Make me beg to come home and be a part of a NZ project that shames the rich-world into how easy it was to whip away the curtain hiding the Wizard of O-il-Z. Go on, i dare you.
    If daring you doesn't float your boat, i'll beg if you think it'll help...


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