Benjamin Brooking: Ministry for the Environment just opened public consultations

Short personal story - going to COP20 in Lima last December was the first time I've felt embarrassment as a New Zealander in the wider world. Our government, acting on our behalf, was doing far less than necessary to ensure a successful and robust international climate agreement. But now we have a chance to change that.

Today, like literally two hours ago, the Ministry for the Environment opened public consultation to hear our point of view on what NZ's carbon emissions reduction goal should look like in the run up to the ultra-touted climate negotiations in Paris at the end of 2015.

This is big. It's also a bit of a surprise. The minister for climate change had made indications that he may hold public consultation, but had certainly not released any definitive plans to do so.

You can find a discussion document from MfE here and information about public meetings and hui here (also a fairly naff animation with some good simple info here).

There's a lot of good stuff in the discussion document, however, the ministry does seem to be attempting to pre-emptively reduce calls for climate ambition from the public. Their summary page (17) alone is enough to dampen even the most well intentioned spark of climate ambition.

This is my summary of their summary from the discussion doc:

1. Citizens, please consider our target in comparison to; previous targets, other countries targets, our 'national circumstances', our economy, the agreement's rules, technology, and the speed of global transition to low emissions (but don't think about the cost to our environment, livelihoods, and international reputation from an unambitious target).
2. Predicting the future is really hard guys, and depends on how we respond to technology (so let's just work out the reductions we can easily achieve and submit that, hey?).
3. Remember agriculture is 50% of our emissions and really, really hard to reduce! (so go easy on us, we don't want to have to diversify our economy).
4. You know how we said consider technology before... well it's too unpredictable!!!!
5. We need to do what's fair, but no more than that! Because, then we're not competitive (and we definitely don't want to be a world leader on this).
6. Assumptions that need to be made regarding technology are far more important to us than other countries because we have fewer low-cost reduction opportunities (so let's just let them take care of it, deal?)

We can do better than this. Public consultation is open until 5.00 pm on Wednesday the 3rd of June 2015 to submit and we need a robust response from everyone with a stake in the future of our nation and our planet. Share your views and ensure that the actions our government takes on the world stage this December are in line with your values and beliefs.


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.