Govt’s fancy footwork on climate change will bedazzle you (but critics who want to hear the specifics may be disappointed)

Three Ministers, led by the PM, joined in chorus today to warble about a bunch of measures aimed at helping to meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon neutral target, create new jobs and boost innovation.

Mind you, the measures mentioned seem to be more matters of decisions yet to be made rather than anything to take effect now or next week – or even next month.

Other Ministers had something more immediate to deliver:

  • The Government is investing up to $10 million to support 30 of the country’s top early-career researchers to develop their research skills. The MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship will provide each successful researcher with a one-off fellowship worth $320,000 over two years to help them grow and develop their research skills in New Zealand.
  • A $500,000 Waitomo-based Jobs for Nature project will keep up to ten people employed in the village as the tourism sector recovers post Covid-19. The worekrs will undertake local track maintenance and improve the Ruakuri bush walk and scenic reserve “and other culturally significant areas.”
  • Minister for Climate Change James Shaw has spoken with President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. He told Kerry he was pleased that one of President Biden’s first actions was to re-join the Paris Agreement.
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced three diplomatic appointments:  Alana Hudson as Ambassador to Poland; John Riley as Consul-General to Hong Kong; Stephen Wong as Consul-General to Shanghai.

But let’s get back to the PM’s song and dance act, backed by the Beehive Bugle Brigade.

The programme notes brayed Government moves on climate promises.

And – wow – you couldn’t help but be bedazzled by the almost frenzied footwork.  The Riverdance crew could only be envious:

  • The Government’s “is delivering on its first tranche of election promises to take action on climate change”, and
  • “This will be an ongoing area of action but we are moving now to implement key election promises”, and
  • “We will receive further advice and recommendations mid-year from the Climate Commission but we are cracking on with this work now.”

The PM then trilled about transport making up our second highest amount of emissions after agriculture “so it’s important we reduce emissions from our vehicle fleet”.

“Tackling climate change is a priority for the Government and remains a core part of our COVID recovery plan. We can create jobs and economic opportunities while reducing our emissions, so it’s win-win for our economy and climate.

“We will be finalising our first three carbon budgets later this year following advice from the independent Climate Change Commission, which the Government receives mid-year.

Must we wait much longer for a chart-topping hit? 

Alas, yes.  

“The Commission’s advice is likely to ask a lot of all of us and require action in all sectors.

“Today’s announcement is a good step towards what needs to be done,” Jacinda Ardern said.

At that juncture Transport Minister Michael Wood stepped up to contribute his solo:

 “We’re making progress to reduce emissions by investing significantly more in public transport, rail, costal shipping and walking and cycling – but there is more to do,” said Transport Minister Michael Wood.

“Our Government has agreed in principle to mandate a lower emitting biofuel blend across the transport sector. Over time this will prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of emissions from cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes.”

But an agreement in principle doesn’t actually amount to action – does it?

So what else?

“There are economic opportunities for New Zealand in strengthening our clean green brand, encouraging innovation and creating jobs. It will also help our economic recovery. A biofuel mandate has the potential to create jobs and boost the economy through encouraging a local industry.

“Officials will consult with the public and stakeholders to help the Government decide on a way forward before the end of the year.”

In other words, we haven’t got to the consulting stage yet.

“We’re also committing $50 million to help councils fully decarbonise the public transport bus fleet by 2035. By meeting our target to decarbonise the bus fleet, we can prevent up to 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, which will make an important contribution towards meeting our climate targets,” Michael Wood said.

Actually, we recall this was announced in October last year.

But let’s hear him out:

“We’re moving quickly to introduce a Clean Car Import Standard to reduce emissions and Kiwis’ fuel costs. Legislation will be passed this year and the standard will begin next year, with the 105 grams of CO2/km 2025 target being phased in through annual targets that get progressively lower to give importers time to adjust. 

“The Import Standard will prevent up to 3 million tonnes of emissions by 2040, mean more climate-friendly cars are available, and will give families average lifetime fuel savings of nearly $7,000 per vehicle.

“The Government will also consider options for an incentive scheme to help Kiwis make the switch to clean cars. The Government will have further announcements on our plan to reduce transport emissions in the coming months,” Michael Wood said.

 So no FIRM action, readers.  Just the promise of action via the passage of legislation.

Never mind. Climate Change Minister James Shaw seems satisfied.

He said today’s announcement (announcement of what, exactly?) is a good first step that needs to be taken on the road towards long-term emissions reductions from transport – and that there will need to be many more steps taken after this one.

The window of opportunity we have to address the climate crisis is closing fast. Reducing emissions from transport will need to be a priority if we are to meet our targets and make sure New Zealand plays its part in keeping the climate stable. 

“For decades governments allowed emissions from transport to increase unabated. Today we begin the work to change that. In doing so I’d like to acknowledge the work of the former Minister for Transport, Julie Anne Genter.

“Together these measures will help to make our communities cleaner and healthier, and ensure the vehicles we use to get around leave a smaller carbon footprint. It is necessary first step towards making sure that the journeys we all have to take are better for the planet. The measures announced today also help advance the commitments in the Cooperation Agreement between Labour and the Green Party to decarbonise public transport and to introduce a clean car standard,” James Shaw said. 

 Latest from the Beehive


28 JANUARY 2021

Government moves on climate promises

Jump starting research careers

27 JANUARY 2021

Project protects jobs and nature

Minister Shaw speaks with U.S. Presidential Envoy John Kerry

Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments

One thought on “Govt’s fancy footwork on climate change will bedazzle you (but critics who want to hear the specifics may be disappointed)

  1. Kia ora team. The move to have lower CO2 emissions which is reputed to save kiwi families money ignores the massive growth in gas guzzling SUVS. But this is all about getting re elected right? So no moves likely on the Remuera tractors eh? Michael Dymond


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