By Trevor Ammundsen.
One of the major concerns for this election is the issue of Climate Change; Global Warming if you prefer the term. The reason why this is a major concern is that policies in this area have such a negative effect on the average New Zealander. Do you believe we need some balance, or should we just go for it and save the planet? Your response to this question may affect how you vote in October.
I do not wish to go into too much detail but will summarise. There are two sides to this discussion; the ‘total believers’ who believe that they are right, about the climate changing, regardless of what anybody may say and the heretics, who are not yet convinced of the ‘total believers’ arguments and feel we should be pragmatic with regards to climate issues.
The Climate Change discussion is an important one, as if handled wrongly, Government policies can rapidly turn us into a third world nation. What should we do? I think the first thing is to understand the Climate Change key issues. The main one is the theory that too much Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere increases the chance of the planet heating up, resulting in major weather events. Despite the science, the fanatics believe this is the major issue and we must fight carbon dioxide emissions. Heretics believe that climate fluctuations may also be caused by other things, such as the Sun, which you would think is a big influencer, and we need to be pragmatic. The key thing is what can we do about it and do we need to do it?
From a New Zealand point of view, we do not need to do anything. Our “problem” with carbon dioxide emissions is mathematical, not real. What I mean by this is, that our effect, based on ‘total believer’ theories, on the planet is measured by the difference between the carbon dioxide our country produces, and the amount it absorbs through forestry and so on. The key thing is measuring how much carbon dioxide our country absorbs. There are two methods, and our governments continually use the wrong one, the plantation forest method. This method leaves major forestry sink holes such as Fiordland and the Ureweras out of calculations thereby making us look far worse than we are. The truth, which the ‘total believers’ hide, is that the other method, the so-called, ‘Hedgerow’ method, will prove we absorb more carbon dioxide than we produce and so we are not responsible for any climate problems.
Where there is agreement between the ‘total believers’ and ‘heretics’ is the need to protect us from the effects of weather. Our country is a young piece of earth that shifts and changes easily to the effects of water, be it poured on us or chucked at us. As our climate changes due to various influences such as the output of the sun, the end of the last inter-glacial period and carbon dioxide output in China, so will the weather in New Zealand. So will the effects of water on our land. We have a need to protect ourselves and to be adaptable. We need a government with policies focussed on our protection.
There has been virtually no planned protection over the past six years; a period in which we were governed by people who are basically climate change ‘total believers’ . Protection has been ignored while they have proceeded on a path of ritual slaughter of the nation’s economy due to their belief that they can control the weather through taxation. Will they change their spots and give us the policies we need, or do we need to take another path?
Unfortunately, no party has policies to protect the people from weather events, the people are all being focussed on the emissions issue only. Therefore, your vote, if it is to be influenced by climate matters, will depend upon what flavour you would like. You have a selection. There’s the Maori Party which is the status quo with lots of grants for Maori added in. The Green Party is a continuance of what we have seen over the past six years which is also what appears to be Labour’s policy. The National Party is promising to ease the effects on the farming industry, including giving the rural sector the ability to offset carbon emissions through accounting for their on-farm woodlands, and rely more on technology than taxes. The Act Party are proposing to combat climate effects through innovation rather than taxes and to tie what we do to what our major trading partners, such as China, do.
Both Act and National promise a reduction in the harm that has been done to our economy. They are the opposition in this approaching election. Personally, I like the policy of expanding the ability to account for offsets outside of plantation forests as honest mathematics will make this issue more palatable. Farmers will like this, and so should Maori if they think about it. For example, what value are the Urewera Forestry offsets to Tuhoe?