Wise Response has made a comprehensive submission to New Zealand’s Climate Change Target Consultation.
The submission may be downloaded here (PDF 1.4MB): Wise Response Society Incorporated – response to Climate Change Consultation-1
1. A low carbon future offers a huge opportunity for NZ if we follow our suggested ‘Kea’ policy pathway. If we retain the view that we should only be a ‘Moa’ (the other pathway we describe), then we risk being left behind in what is likely to be a rapid global transition.
2. NZ’s mix of renewable energy resource and innovation potential means that it could potentially be a leader in some aspects of mitigation – for example, in reducing agricultural GHG emissions, geothermal energy, an electricity grid running on close to 100% renewable energy, swapping coal for wood-based industrial heat, and an electric vehicle fleet which (unlike other countries which largely rely on coal and gas-generated electricity) makes a huge amount of sense in New Zealand.
3. The shift to a low-carbon future is not simple. It involves on the one hand a change in ‘culture’ (norms, practices, technologies) amongst households and businesses, as well as changes in the broader structures such as policies and physical infrastructure to support the change. This wider structural change needs to be orchestrated so as to ensure that they are aligned rather than working against each other, and support change at the individual and business level. Many of the changes required to achieve a low-carbon future require investment today in order to achieve change in 5-15 years time (eg mobility infrastructure) so we cannot afford to wait until climate problems worsen. Again, this requires government leadership.
4. New Zealand risks being left behind if it does not adopt a credible position at the Paris talks, and sees that through with effective action domestically. On the other hand, there are huge advantages in being front-footed and actively transitioning to a low-carbon future. We have much to gain (and little to lose) from a positive and strong stance at Paris.
5. Science shows us that globally we may still have a small window of opportunity in which to alter an emissions trajectory to avoid catastrophe. New Zealand must be big enough to recognise that, given the magnitude of the reductions required, the only way we can fulfil our ethical obligations and responsibilities, is with a major shift in New Zealand’s policy direction.
6. We are thus currently gambling with the future in a manner resembling a game of “Prisoner’s Dilemma” – with a death penalty for losing.
7. Committing to truly ambitious and inspirational INDCs can set our Nation on a new and exciting path which conveniently now makes economic sense as well. This is what “being realistic” requires!
8. We must consider the climate change response in the context of the overall risk environment that we face. Our Society is calling for a comprehensive risk assessment across the broad spectrum of separate but interrelated risks. There are many other risks which we have to navigate concurrently as a nation, and species. We need to ensure that the climate change response is made in a manner that is cognisant of both the probability of occurrence and the severity of the impacts of the other risks we face. (Refer to the UK Institute and Faculty of Actuaries 2013 report on ‘Resource constraints: sharing a finite world. The evidence and scenarios for the future’ which is a comprehensive overview of the risks: http://bit.ly/1Hr4epA)
Wise Response Society Incorporated makes the following key recommendations for its ‘Kea’ pathway:
9. The Society calls on the New Zealand Government, “Mo tatou, a mo ka uri a muri ake nei” (“For us and our children after us”) to immediately commit to action of a scale commensurate with the risk that unabated climate change poses.
10. That the government submit and fully commit to an INDC which assumes a path of global cooperation, that will see all countries including New Zealand play its full part in keep temperature rise under 1.5 deg C. The pathway that science is telling us leads to that target involves zero carbon emissions globally by 2045-2060.
11. Given the the level of risk posed by climate change and its irreversibility, NZs INDC must align with:
a. the Precautionary Principle which requires that:
i. GHG emissions be reduced to the extent, and at a pace, necessary to protect against the threats of climate change that can still be avoided; and
ii, the level of reductions of GHG emissions required to achieve this, must be based on any credible and realistic worst-case scenario generally now accepted by mainstream climate change experts.
b. The measures required by the Precautionary Principle should be adopted without regard to the cost, unless that cost is completely disproportionate to the reduction in emissions.
12. The Government sets up a permanent, standing consultative body to interact with the community on climate change based on the principle of continuous dialogue rather than a one-off collection of submissions. This problem is going to require concerted effort, sustained across many generations, and it needs proper resourcing.
13. That all submissions to this consultation and the summary of the submissions be made publically accessible prior to the Government confirming the targets and a report be prepared giving reasons for the Government’s decision.