Mixed climate messages prevail
Despite an overwhelming consensus by scientists that climate change is real, and is a consequence of human actions, and that urgent action now is crucial, we still get mixed climate messages from our government.
On the one hand the message is that we are on track to meet our international climate commitments.
What that seems to mean, is that the 2015 Paris Agreement has been ratified.
Apart from fiddling with the ETS system, and spending millions on speculative innovations around dairy methane emissions, our government is doing little to ensure a sustainable future for our grandchildren.
On the other hand, we have Deputy Prime Minister, Paula Bennett, saying on Newshub, that it’s ’’not time for climate legislation yet’’.
Ms Bennett was responding to recent calls to enshrine in legislation, binding targets to reduce our carbon emissions.
Youth-led organisation Generation Zero have called for powerful new laws to get us on that track with their Zero Carbon Act.
And a group of activists wrote the Our Climate Declaration early this year to demand a Climate Action Plan from the government that is fit for purpose.
Then there is the Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa seeking support for a climate change action plan to be advocated to Parliament.
Their goals are to raise public awareness of the urgency of the climate situation and to expedite a timely, robust and united response by Government.
The most recent call came last week, from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright.
Her report ‘‘Stepping stones to Paris and beyond’’ explored how New Zealand is dealing with climate change, with comparisons to the UK’s approach.
Since 2008, when the UK passed their Climate Change Act, nine other countries have passed similar legislation. The consequence? Carbon emissions around the world have stopped increasing.
Except in New Zealand, where our emissions continue to increase.
Dr Wright’s vision is for a climate action law that enshrines emissions targets in law, and require carbon budgets to be set as stepping stones towards the achievement of those targets.
In resisting this need, Paula Bennett is jeopardising our grandchildren’s future.
We cannot rely on law student Sarah Thomson’s case before the Wellington High Court seeking a judicial review of the Minister’s climate change actions to force Ms Bennett in to action.
That climate actions are now crucial, was shown in a study published on physics.org, ‘‘Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century’’ shows a 90 percent chance that temperatures will increase this century by 2.0 to 4.9° C.
If dangerous global warming is to be avoided, then we need to be below that range, not within it.
Every one of those organisations calling for a Climate Act deserves our support.
And Paula Bennett deserves her mixed messaging to be given the boot.
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