Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election

Peters  is   back,  the  headlines  shouted.

Well,  not  quite.  Winston Peters  may  have  stepped  into  the political  limelight  again, after  a  spell  in political  darkness – but he  and  his  party  are a  long  way  from  Parliament.   And  even  though  he  looks  fit  and  well,   can he – at the age of 76 –  find  the  spark  which  will fire  up  the  NZ  First  engine  again?

His  disciple,  Shane Jones,  is  firmly  convinced  he  can.  Furthermore, Jones believes the  party can forge a  new  crusade  out  of  the  “perfidy”  of  what  the Climate  Change  Commission is  doing  to  NZ.

Jones   sees  the  commissioners  as  “ideological  termites”,  who  hold  sway  over  the  government  with  “mad  ideas”  of the sort that could  required us all as if we  are  all  going to  ride  bikes

Jones  cites the  example  of 10,000 bikers in  Birkenhead  exerting  their power  on the  government  to build a bridge  for them over  the Auckland  harbour.

He told Radio  NZ   the  country is  going  to  hell in a  hand   basket, importing vast  quantities  of  carbon  from Indonesia  because  the government has banned  coal mining  in NZ. 

The  climate commission, says  Jones, is  miles  away  from  the  way New Zealanders live.

Clearly  Peters  and  Jones have  divined  a  mood   in  the constituency they  see  as  their political  heartland    against  the rigorous  measures   which the  Climate Change  Commission  is  insisting  must  be  imposed  to   meet  NZ’s  climate  change obligations  under  the  Paris  agreement.  

Whether  the  proposals  of  the  commission are  seen  as  no  more than  a  road  map,  or  as  a programme  which must  be  followed  in  every  detail  is  yet  to  be  determined.  But even at  this  point  ordinary  New Zealanders  may be  asking  themselves  why  NZ,  with  its  relatively tiny  volume  of  carbon emissions,  must  be  setting  the  pace  in the  battle against global  warming. 

Even  the commissioners  understand that nothing NZ does  will materially  slow  global warming.

Already  some  of  the  early   measures  the  government  has  framed  have triggered  confusion  and  controversy.  The   $700m Auckland harbour  bridge  for  walkers  and cyclists  is  one:   the  “feebate”  scheme  for  EVs,  which  will favour  the  “haves”  against  the  “have-nots”,  is  another.

And  coal  miners  are  stunned  their industry is  being shut  down, while 2 million tonnes  of  coal  is being  imported  from Indonesia.

Where there  may  be  fertile  ground  for  NZ  First  to  work  over  in  its comeback  bid  is  in  the  apparent  belief embedded  in  the  Climate Commission’s  report   that  New Zealanders  must  radically  transform  every aspect of how  they  live  their  lives.

Critics  argue  the  commissioners –  in effect – are setting  a  new  kind of  economic  framework  for  what  Kiwis  know  to be the  NZ  way  of  living  their lives.  Richard  Prebble   called  this   socialist  quackery.  

Even  a  relatively  simple  goal  of  reaching  the target  of   generating 100% of  NZ’s electricity  from  renewable sources  entailing  investment in, for  example, 13  giant  windfarms  calls for massive  investment.

The  idea  that  NZ’s   dairy  herds    will  have to be  reduced by  anything  up  to  13%  implicitly carries  the  message  that  the  exports  on which  the  country  depends  will  shrink.  The  Climate  Commission’s  proposals  for  farming  have  been slammed  as  being  “unfeasible  and  unfair”.

Looming  over  NZ   is  an  external  issue  equally  massive.  It  lies  in  what  the  “Economist”  has called  “Bunged Up: how  the  green boom  could get  stuck”.  It  sees  supply-side  problems,  such  as  scarce  metals   and land  constraints.

“Far  from  being transitory, these  bottlenecks  risk becoming  a recurring  feature  of the  world  economy  for years  to  come  because the  shift  to  a  cleaner energy system  is  still  only  in its  infancy”.

It  points  out   that  only 22%  of  the  world’s emissions  are  covered  by  pricing  schemes  and those  schemes are not joined  up.

That  presents  NZ  First  with a  platform    which  could  resonate  with  voters.  NZ  does have an emissions  trading scheme – and it  cannot  fail to  deliver net  zero  emissions  whenever the  government  decides  to  set  the  cap at  zero.  As   designed, the  ETS  could  not  fail  to  deliver  the outcome  required, almost  certainly  at  the  least cost.

Way to  go:  is  this  Winston‘s  route  to recapturing   the  heartland?

3 thoughts on “Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election

  1. I think the `maorification’ of New Zealand will be the main focus for Peters.

    As a part Maori he has a status not available to most of us.

    Even so he won’t have my vote.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ACT has already addressed all this and its leader is not a geriatric with a poor reputation. Winston’s boat left the wharf ages ago and he was not on it.

    Liked by 1 person

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