POLL: What should NZ’s Emissions target be – and what’s the cost?

October 8, 2009

Emissions reductions will affect most parts of our lives – personal, work, travel, holidays and more. This is why it’s so difficult for our government to point to a line in the sand and say ‘that one!’ On one hand we need to change how we live, that much is clear. Things speed up so fast that before we knew it NZ had gone from being careful consumers who repaired, reused, and recooked that leftover spud up in a shepherds pie the next day, to a throw away and buy-it-new-cause-it’s-cheaper nation of consumers. On the other hand that all led to industry and some of us made a whole lotta money. And change might cost money. That’s the weigh-off.

Your mum’s fridge and tv that lasted 25 years from their wedding day now might last 5 years. Things aren’t built the way they used to be, parts aren’t available, repair costs more these days and often older appliances became less economic to run. Everything came with more bells and whistles and faster and more colourful… and pamphlet after pamphlet came in the letter box with more specials. Credit cards became pretty easy to come by so we just put our purchases on that and as we all got more technical we had more access to advertising and lay-bys and higher purchase, interest free, 50% off, 24-hour internet sales and free posting, boxing day sales, midnight madness, red light specials and red-dot rippers. Christmas started in October and easter eggs by Waitangi Day. Pretty much got so busy it was all we could do to find time to get a meal in box and stick it in the microwave for dinner. Followed by an Aunty Betties dessert. The world had swept us off our feet, and our fast cheap cars zoomed us there quicker n quicker.

And I’m no angel. I’m on my MacBook Pro (conscience abating as Apple make great environmental moves), and god help me if I see a pretty green scarf in a window. But there are things we can do… Op Shopping is the only way I let myself buy unnecessary clothing, there’s plans for my vege-garden and I make sure I think consciously about where I can bike and walk to save the fuel. The recession has started something at grassroots that the government never could. We’ve had to start thinking a bit more. And we’ve started thinking about making jam, dusting off the Avanti and staying at home instead of eating out.

But it’s not always as easy – I don’t have a baby or children to feed, wash and entertain. I don’t own a Used-Car salesroom, I don’t work in a mine and I don’t own a Mercedes guzzler or have shares in Air New Zealand. So the government have to think about how the public will take their emissions target, how the private sector will respond, the foreign investers, the Barack’s and Gordon’s and Susilo’s and Tuilaepa’s.

In 1992 the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed ‘policies and measures to deal with climate change should… ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. The International Emissions Trading scheme was drafted as a flexible mechanism to assist industrialised and non-industrialised countries to develop cleaner lifestyles. As forestry blocks are felled NZ will with little doubt fall well over Kyoto targets at the future markers. Unless there is the immediate facilitation of necessary changes they will need to purchase credits to do so and there is uncertainty around the price of these credits.

What’s not uncertain is that we need to think about the way we do things as a country. Which industries we should be supporting into the future, those that we need to shift sideways and perhaps those that need to be phased out or cut back drastically. Each globally economy has it’s challenges and ours is the agriculture sector. As one of biggest earners alongside tourism we need to protect and nurture this area carefully while we find the best way to proceed. As a country girl born and bred I’m well aware that there are deep divides between ‘suits’ and ‘cockies’. Methane from our farm animals makes up around half of NZ’s emissions and we need extensive research that needs to be started yesterday.

Bias as I may be, I highly recommend a read of the Green Party’s ‘Getting there’ document which details possible gains in several sectors including Electricity, Agriculture, Industrial Fuels, Transport and Forestry to name a few. It’s a modest report but one that importantly projects a saving of 36.2 million tonnes of reductions before 2020 at little to no cost – achieving 3/4 of our target. The Green’s are frustrated that the government have provided a perception that reducing emissions is hard and costly and doesn’t believe this approach stands up to scrutiny. It’s further frustrating that the government are wasting time and resources nitpicking this document to look for holes instead of adding there own information and careful consideration to best benefit the country. To be fair, I’ll provide a link on National’s stance on Climate Change and costs, and also reports from the Labour Party.

But let’s see what you want…? Feel free to send this far reaching through your social networks to see what will happen.

Please only vote once (the poll is designed that it will only allow you to do this anyway) but also please pass on to as many people as possible. This is a question that our government is very concerned with however it is hard to gauge the feeling of youth, especially those too young to vote!

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