Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start

On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.

Frankly, the events were a bit of a shambles.

The Government officials clearly weren’t expecting the 80 or so people who turned out for the evening meeting, as the organisers had to rush around finding more chairs. One conspicuous absence was Nick Smith, the local MP and Minister for the Environment.

Nelson's Climate Target Public Meeting

The consultation events were only announced last week, so it’s fair to say that they hadn’t been well advertised and people hadn’t had much time to prepare for them. It didn’t seem like many people from the wider region had been able to make it to Nelson at such short notice.

Despite that, it was great to see local Green Party supporters and people from the wider community at the events, advocating for the Government to show leadership and embrace ambitious measures to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

There was overwhelming support for meaningful action on climate change, and lots of criticism of the lack of vision and leadership from the Government so far.

The officials told the meeting that the formal Q&A section would be followed by open discussion in smaller groups. But with the crowd clearly sceptical of the Government’s lacklustre approach to climate policy, the meeting officials changed the structure of the meeting halfway through to shut down opportunities for more discussion.

Several people asked why the Government’s discussion document had focussed on the supposed economic costs of climate action and hadn’t contained more discussion of the economic benefits and opportunities of a cleaner economy. The officials generally brushed these concerns off by saying that they hadn’t made predictions about economic benefits because predictions are too hard to make accurately. But that hadn’t stopped them making predictions of the hypothetical costs of climate action!

The Nelson region has a thriving local food scene, for example, and local people will be well aware of the popularity and economic benefit of that.

This was the first day of consultation meetings that will be happening nationwide in the next week – click here for information about when and where the meetings are happening. I hope future consultation events will be better organised and more open to discussion in the future.

I strongly encourage everyone to attend the meetings near their homes and push for an emissions reduction target of 40% by 2030.

We need your help to keep the pressure on the Government and make them understand that New Zealanders want to be listened to.

We demand a climate plan to be proud of.

1 Comment Posted

  1. Feedback from Gisborne meeting.

    Attended consultation hui in Gisborne last night, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Great turnout of engaged, passionate and articulate people. Pity it wasn’t advertised well or in a timely manner. I think they’re in Whangarei tonight.
    I’ve added a summary of some points people might want to consider if they go to the meeting in their area They could be a resource to include in their submission, which can also be done online.
    The government is seeking public input into a target for greenhouse emissions that it must soon notify for a conference to be held late this year in Paris.
    While I don’t doubt the integrity of the public servants involved, they do seem to have a certain point of view through which they see the problems. That is, they tended to present solutions in terms of what it would COST to achieve certain targets.
    They were reminded from the floor that they were there to LISTEN to what the people had to say, and, to their credit, they proceeded to do that.
    Here are some of the views that resonated with me:
    • What are the COSTS of doing nothing, as opposed to the COSTS of setting a meaningful target?
    • There was no comparable list of the COSTS we will incur by going for a soft emissions reduction target, these being the costs from rogue weather events, and permanent climate changes, such as loss of life, broken infrastructure, social dislocations etc.
    • Household COSTS could be reduced by re-thinking the way in which power is produced and consumed. Why can’t the government give interest free loans and subsidies for domestic solar units, plus pay a reasonable price for surplus sold back to the grid?
    • More funding is needed for research into technological solutions, especially regarding methane from our farmed animals, since they account for nearly half of our total emission. Such solutions would be a money earner when sold overseas as well.
    • More education, not only at a public media level, but also inbuilt into the school curriculum.
    • The government appears to be going for the softest option, waiting for another couple of decades to see what everyone else is doing, and pleading a special case that we are only small, after all, our emissions profile is unique, and we won’t make that much difference overall to the bigger picture.
    • WE DON’T HAVE ANOTHER COUPLE OF DECADES! Climate change consequences are already affecting us.
    • NZ is (somewhat mistakenly) perceived overseas as clean and green, and the little country that can act ethically. We stood against world opinion and went nuclear free. Why not set a big meaningful target and make it happen?
    • We have a moral obligation to do the very best we can right here in NZ, especially in light of our Pacific neighbours whose homes and livelihoods are already going under the sea.

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