PM Jacinda Ardern has been making waves in the Swiss Alps, we are informed by Amanda Larsson of Greenpeace NZ, writing in the Dominion-Post. It’s a feat to command worldwide attention.
Moreover, Larsson believes Ardern quickly emerged as a “star of the show” at the World Economic Forum and a leader on climate change.
“We should be proud that, with the eyes of the world on us, we’re returning to our rightful place on an issue of great moral fortitude”.
But, wait for it,
“ … before we bask too much, we must also turn our eyes closer to home and make sure that what we’re doing to tackle climate change matches our bold global stance”.
Larsson calls for a 2019 budget brimming with bold (there’s that word again) commitments to develop the clean energy needed to replace outdated fuels. Not only that, but NZ needs fewer cows. Agriculture, she says, is the worst offender, creating 49% of all emissions.
“The world is in desperate need of courageous climate action and Ardern has shown that NZ is —once again—ready to carry the torch on the biggest moral issue of our time. Now we just need to get to work back home”.
So will other world leaders become so enamoured with Ardern they will follow her “leadership”?
Here, at Point of Order, we are somewhat dubious. Yet it is the really big global emitters who need to act.
NZ, even if it cut its emissions to zero in line with government policy objectives, won’t make a blind bit of difference to global warming unless India, China, the US and Russia are in the forefront. And there is little sign they are ready to make the sacrifices being demanded by Greenpeace of New Zealanders.
And there’s this to consider: the science of climate change has been established. So too has that of genetic engineering.
But within the Green movement there is no consensus that genetic engineering can provide solutions to some of the issues raised by global warming.
New kinds of genetically engineered grasses might be the solution to increasing agricultural production. Rather than cutting the number of cows, isn’t the answer in new forms of agritech?
NZ should be following the example of Israel: agritech firms in that country attracted $171m in equity investment in 2017, considerably more than in bigger farming countries such as Australia and Brazil.
Companies in Israel are exploiting technological advances in areas such as plant biology and artificial intelligence. One company is developing edible coatings that extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables; another is working on new therapies to treat sick cows.
The Economist, in its January 19 issue, carries a report that a genetically modified house-plant can purify the atmosphere in buildings.
Back in NZ, the schism within Green lobby groups over the science of climate change and the potential offered by the science of genetic engineering goes deep.
It can also be seen in the recent stoush over the use of 1080 between the SPCA (against it) and Forest & Bird (for it).
The raucous cries of Greenpeace seeking to push NZ into sacrificing its agricultural and fossil fuel industries do little to assist intelligent politicians like Greens’ co-leader James Shaw to push ahead with sensible climate change measures.
While in Europe Green Parties are moving into the space of collapsing social democratic parties, there might be little chance of the Green Party in NZ doing something similar, if it were to follow the calls of extremists within the wider Green movement.