Searching for common ground – over common sense: Hon John Banks, climate change, and me

Thursday was one of those rare moments when parliamentary debate tosses up a touch of democracy – a juxtaposition of deeply-held views, expressed back-to-back, in one bill before the House.

First up on the Order Paper was the Government’s latest foray into climate change legislation – the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading & Other Matters) Amendment Bill.  This is the Government’s (selective) implementation of the Review Panel’s recommendations.

The Government introduced the Bill on Monday evening, and forced the debate at the earliest opportunity allowed – Thursday afternoon – two working days later.  Having got it through first reading, it then requires report-back by the select committee by 17 October, an extraordinarily short time-period for a bill of this magnitude.  In short-circuiting the process, the Government knows no shame. But that is another story.  On to the substance.

The Green Party opposed the Bill.  Our principal argumentation was as follows:

  1. The Government is hewing to an outmoded economic philosophy and not having due regard to the global context within which national policy on climate change needs to be formulated.
  2. The global carbon budget for a 2°C threshold is some 1,600 billion tonnes of emissions from 1990 to 2100, almost half of which has been emitted already, leaving space for annual emissions henceforth of 9.5 b. tonnes – 20% of current levels.
  3. The voluntary pledges for emission reductions will result in a rise in global emissions from 48 billion tonnes today to 50 b. tonnes in 2020, whereas the 2°C limit requires 44 b. tonnes.  Clearly the international community is failing the challenge of averting serious anthropogenic climate change.
  4. New Zealand, in response to the UN appeal for 40% cuts (below 1990 levels) in 2020 and 80% in 2050, has pledged 15% (mid-point) and 50%, respectively. Clearly New Zealand is not doing its fair share.
  5. The current Bill would weaken an already weak ETS to the point of irrelevance – deferring agriculture indefinitely, deferring a rise in the price cap, deferring a one-for-one surrender obligation, making it easier for foresters to switch to dairying, and enabling importers to increasingly use dangerous synthetic gases.
  6. We should consider Sweden and Ireland, which have reduced agricultural emissions by 10% and 7%, while NZ has increased them by 16%.
  7. Where National regards its policy as a necessary deferral of a financial burden to selected economic sectors, the Green Party sees it as a societal opportunity to switch to a high tech, low-carbon, green economy.

I was immediately followed by Hon John Banks (ACT) who supported the Bill.  His speech is here. His principal argumentation was as follows:

  1. Parliament had never listened to so much claptrap as was contained in my speech since the 20th century.
  2. No Green Party candidate could ever get elected as a constituent MP; and I was challenged to stand in Epsom in 2014 and take my chances there.  Epsom voters will know that Green views are humbug.
  3. Parliament had never listed to such a bogeyman tirade as my speech, for which Hon John Banks could be forgiven for wishing to hurl himself out of the window of his 11th floor office in Bowen House.
  4. New Zealand, emitting 0.2% of global emissions, has negligible influence.
  5. Most of the climate change debate is humbug.
  6. ACT is pleased to amend the Climate Change legislation since the ETS is a monstrosity, and it is important to minimise its worst effects for the business community.
  7. The Bill should be retitled the Climate Change (Common Sense) Amendment Bill.

Seven points from each contributor.

There is only one point in Mr Bank’s argumentation that a person might be tempted to agree with.

14 Comments Posted

  1. Bingo – National would field someone competent. The seat WOULD go to National, as these are not the most sensible people in the country. After all, they actually voted for Banks… and the bulk of ’em would choose Anders Breivik rather than a Green if he were on the ballot.

    Better to run our best candidates in the seats where there’s an actual chance of winning the seat.


  2. Interesting idea for Kennedy Graham to stand against John Banks in the Epsom electorate. Provided the MMP review gets rid of the one-seat ‘lifeboat’ threshold, I’d put my money on Graham.

  3. The reason nitrous oxide is important is that it is relatively easily reduced. We just need to be more sensible with our use of nitrogen fertilizers. This would also improve water quality by reducing nitrate run-off.


  4. Andy S – I was being charitable.

    You either forgot about the oxides of nitrogen, deliberately ignored them or didn’t know about them. Instead you claimed that of New Zealand’s 0.2% contribution, 0.1% was CO2 and the rest was ruminant methane, without any mention of nitrous oxide or any qualification that could be taken as including nitrous oxide (like using the phrase “most of”). Given the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used in New Zealand and the much higher greenhouse effect of nitrous oxide, it is an important topic for New Zealand.


  5. I forgot about the nitrates of oxygen.

    Did I?

    Which other countries are “doing something” about the nitrates of oxygen?

    Let’s all talk about the nitrates of oxygen, it is clearly an important topic.

    Don’t also forget HFC-23. This is a very powerful GHG. New Zealander are paying the Chinese to manufacture HFC-23 so that they can destroy it.
    The carbon credits are worth about 70 times the cost of manufacture, therefore it is economic to do this.

    NZ pays $500 million a year in ETS charges. Some of this goes into the HFC-23 scam.

    It is good for our clean green image

  6. I think Banksie didn’t undertand all those big words you were using …
    did he say “Global Issions” or was it “Globalissions” ?

  7. That was magnificent. The Greens put forward a reasoned and rational argument that addressed reality whereas Act just made a lot of noise.

  8. Banks was almost right on the emissions figure of 0.2%.
    The CO2 component of that is 0.1%, the rest being made up of ruminant methane

    I think NZ is around number 3 in terms of renewable energy generation, after Norway and Iceland.

    We also have a large number of forests that weren’t factored into the Kyoto negotiations.

    I am not really sure how we are not doing our fair share.

    However, if you want to kneecap the economy and drive everyone into poverty, be my guest. I won’t be voting for you

  9. John Banks proves time and time again that he is not fit to be in a position of power, he has no understanding of ethics, science, social justice or true democracy. You can almost see the hand up his back as he throws out cliche after cliche like some ventriloquist dummy. It would be funny if he wasn’t a Minister of the Crown and even the Assistant Speaker struggled to call him honorable.

  10. Yes I watched the debate & frankly the ‘Hon. Banks’ looks more like a ‘class clown’ or ‘village idiot’ rather than a serious politician who the tax-payer is paying a large salary, to represent the people.

    As was stated by both Moana Mackie & yourself, the Govt. is just using their ‘1 or 2 seat majority’ to ram through THEIR policies & basically ignoring ‘standard procedure’ in regard to urgency & shortening select committee process.

    So much for the ‘Peoples’ parliament !

    Good Onya Kennedy.. keep up the good work


  11. Listened to both speaches. Banksie sounds very grumpy about something. Maybe he missed his morning cup of tea. Enjoyed listening to both debates. Kennedy’s for the quality of it’s arguement, the other for it’s humour becuase the only way to describe it is as a joke.

  12. And yet ACT has one seat whereas the Greens have 14. There’s also the interesting counter point that ACT wouldn’t be in parliament either right now if it weren’t for MMP.

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