Kennedy Graham

Climate Change & NZ: Whatever you do, keep it from the public…

by Kennedy Graham

Tuesday, I asked the Climate Change Minister about the future of New Zealand’s climate change policy.

After 20 years since Rio and the Framework Convention, we are approaching the end of the first, and only, five-year commitment period (2008-12) in which New Zealand has a binding obligation to ensure net emissions plus trading of carbon units equates with our 1990 level.

Hanging in the air is the question – what, if anything, is to be the nature of our obligation, and the level of our emissions target, post-Kyoto – that is, from 1 January 2013?  This, of course, is only ten weeks away.  Not too much, it seems, to expect an announcement from the Government about the future.

So, are we going with the EU into a second Kyoto commitment? Or are we going with the Asian-Pacific states, outside of any Kyoto-style commitment – with voluntary pledges?

The Minister was outside New Zealand, so the Associate Minister, Simon Bridges, sought (once again) to advise the House about Government policy on the matter.

While Mr Bridges did not ‘claim to understand the details’, his understanding was that ‘decisions have yet to be made’.


Brilliant.  What (I did not ask) is the point of an associate minister?

What about a target over the imminent ‘transition period’ (2013-20) starting very soon?  “The fact of the matter is – we have not made a decision”.

Is the Minister embarrassed over our comparison with other states?  The European Union has a 20% cut unconditional for 2020; Norway has 30% unconditional, Switzerland has 20% unconditional.  New Zealand has (mid-point) 15% conditional.  Is he embarrassed?

No.  We are providing ‘global leadership’ with some research on agriculture.  ‘Real solutions’.

I seek leave to table the UN document that sets out the voluntary pledges to date by the Kyoto Annex I states.  They show New Zealand languishing near the bottom of the pledge rankings, in poor company with Australia, Canada and the US.

A government member (cabinet minister) objects.  The document cannot thus be tabled, for the information of the House.

What, in God’s name, is the justification for vetoing the tabling of a document that sets out the factual state of each country’s greenhouse gas emission pledge?  Pure information.  What else can it be than willful obstruction of the democratic process?

Why do the Standing Orders of our Parliament allow any member (out of 121) to veto the tabling of a document, without the need for an explanation?  The identity of the MP is not entered, so it is anonymous to the historical record.

Fine to explain why the NZ target is as it is.  Fine to rebut the argumentation of the Green Party for a higher NZ pledge.  But to shamelessly oppose the sharing of factual information?

Is this as low as this Government can get?

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Kennedy Graham on Wed, October 24th, 2012   

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