by Kennedy Graham
Tomorrow I leave these shores for Rio de Janeiro. My destination is the UN conference to review the original Earth Summit of 1992 which I also attended.
Yesterday I delivered a short speech in the House during General Debate on the need for a global approach to the global problems of population growth, sustainability and climate change.
I was immediately followed by Mr Ian McKelvie, of Rangitikei. He criticised the previous Green speaker for talking about the world out there. It was, he said, the job of the NZ Parliament to focus on New Zealand issues, and promote the interests of New Zealand.
A similar point was made by the National speaker immediately preceding me, Nicky Wagner of Christchurch Central, who assured the House perhaps ten times in five minutes how glad she was to be a Kiwi. Because, relatively speaking, New Zealand was extraordinarily lucky.
I shall not belabour the point. We have renamed our foreign affairs portfolio, ‘global affairs’, for reasons I set out earlier.
To contend that New Zealand, must pursue its national interest through acknowledging the legitimate interests of the other 99.94% of humanity, and collaborate rather than compete with the other 192 member states of the United Nations is not to work against our interests. It is to work for them.
To imply that the NZ House of Representatives has not the time or space, in the 21st century, to focus on the issues at play out there in the rest of world, reflects a provincialism of a mind-boggling dimension.
The difference between National and Green philosophy could not be more starkly portrayed.
What was it I said? Among other things, I quoted UNEP:
As human pressures on the Earth accelerate, several critical thresholds are close or have been exceeded. Once these have been passed, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life support functions of the planet are likely to occur, with significant adverse implications for human well-being.
And UNEP’s chief, Achim Steiner:
Once the tipping points occur, you don’t wake up the next morning and say ‘this is terrible, can we change it? That is the whole essence of these thresholds. We are condemning people to not having the choice any more.