Cli­mate ac­tion prom­ise no longer a joke

Franklin County News - - OUT & ABOUT - JOHN ALLEN

‘‘The world is on the edge of a precipice - is my hope that our politi­cians will en­sure a pros­per­ous fu­ture for my grand­chil­dren, a fu­tile one?’’

OPIN­ION:

Will my grand­child have a fu­ture that in­cludes the things we take for granted?

Things like ac­cess to clean wa­ter, nu­tri­tious food, af­ford­able hous­ing and sup­port­ive neigh­bour­hoods. Pes­simistic about that I am. The driv­ers of the great­est sin­gle is­sue fac­ing hu­mankind - cli­mate change - have ad­vanced to the point of there now be­ing but a small 5 per cent chance of avoid­ing the worst ef­fects.

This past month how­ever, has seen four de­vel­op­ments that give me hope for my grandy’s fu­ture.

First was the even­tual out­come of the Septem­ber elec­tion.

New Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter James Shaw will take the hard ac­tions that the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment avoided.

Shaw has com­mit­ted to en­act­ing a Zero Car­bon Act which will cre­ate the Cli­mate Com­mis­sion and en­shrine in law, the tar­get of New Zealand be­com­ing a car­bon-neu­tral econ­omy by 2050.

Time will tell whether achiev­ing that tar­get will be sub­sumed to the eco­nomics fo­cus of the Labour Party.

They will want to avoid ig­no­min­ious de­feat at the 2020 elec­tions when voter pros­per­ity and GDP fig­ures in­evitably de­cline.

Sec­ond was the re­lease in Oc­to­ber of the Our At­mos­phere and Cli­mate 2017 re­port by Stats New Zealand and the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment.

It was en­cour­ag­ing for its un­adorned ac­cep­tance that cli­mate change is real, is caused by mankind and rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant threat to our com­mu­ni­ties.

And then, this month, the High Court at Welling­ton re­leased its jjudge­ment on a case for ju­di­cial re­view of the gov­ern­ment’s cli­mate ac­tions.

This is the same le­gal pro­ceed­ings that ex-Prime Min­is­ter John Key dis­missed as ‘‘a joke’’ when first filed in the court.

The suit chal­lenged two cli­mate in­ac­tion de­ci­sions by gov­ern­ment.

Im­por­tantly, the judge­ment ac­cepted that the court had the ju­ris­dic­tion to make a find­ing on each chal­lenge. Which is good for democ­racy. As the judge noted, an ap­pli­ca­tion for ju­di­cial re­view is a con­sti­tu­tional check on the pub­lic power ex­er­cised by the Ex­ec­u­tive Branch of gov­ern­ment. Noth­ing jokey about that! The judge how­ever, de­clined to en­force the de­ci­sion in favour of the ap­pli­cant and make the gov­ern­ment do what the suit sought - the change in gov­ern­ment meant that the ac­tions sought were likely to hap­pen any­way.

The World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­gan­i­sa­tion last week noted that at­mo­spheric car­bon diox­ide lev­els surged in 2016, to an 800,000 year record high, and well above the tar­get set by the Paris (COP21) cli­mate change agree­ment. And fi­nally there is COP23. This year’s United Na­tions Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties started on Mon­day in Ger­many. Fiji is chair­ing the gather­ing. With Fiji res­i­dents al­ready af­fected by cli­mate change, per­haps this year, we will see in­ter­na­tional politi­cians agree to mean­ing­ful cli­mate ac­tions.

The world is on the edge of a precipice - is my hope that our politi­cians will en­sure a pros­per­ous fu­ture for my grand­chil­dren, a fu­tile one?

* John Allen is the director of Ru­ral Con­nect, www.ru­ral­con­nect.org.nz www.smal­l­Wind.co.nz www.small­block.org.nz

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John Allen

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