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.
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.