A copy of the submission is available here as a PDF: WiseResponse ETS Lt to MfE.
Wise Response Society Inc.,
c/o Alan F. Mark, FRSNZ, KNZM,
205 Wakari Rd.,
Hon Paula Bennett, Helensburgh,
Minister of Climate Change Issues, DUNEDIN.
Parliament House, 12 December 2016
WELLINGTON. Your reference 16-m-1360
Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
Dear Minister Bennett,
We congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Prime
Minister. The purpose of this letter is to give our Society’s support to the Climate
Change Adaptation Technical Working Group you have appointed, and to encourage
you to continue to take a leadership position by also establishing a forum to address
mitigation, and invite you to our rescheduled NGO’s climate change workshop.
We thank you for your letter of 11 November 2016 indicating you would be unable to
attend the NGOs climate change workshop on 14 November, which was postponed due
to the severe earthquake that day. We hope you can join us on Monday 13 February
2017. We are also holding a participatory climate change modelling workshop on the
afternoon of Sunday 12 February to work on scenarios.
The Wise Response Society would like to applaud your leadership in establishing the
Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group. The need for adaptation will
continue to grow. Global warming impacts are already being felt and the transient
response of the climate to the energy balance shift caused by increased
accumulation of green house gases is at least 30 years. This means that even if
emissions were halted today, climate impacts will worsen for decades.
We were encouraged by this statement in your letter:
“We need to make emissions reductions all across the economy and I believe
we, as a country are up for the challenge. I am considering ways to come up
with a long term plan to reduce emissions. I want people to start thinking past
just the next few years, right out to 2050 and beyond”
We agree absolutely that insufficient attention has been directed so far at what we
can do to reverse known causes of climate warming. However, the terms for the
Adaptation Working Group do not permit it to consider mitigation nor to develop
policy recommendations for reducing emissions.
Fossil fuels are used in all sectors of society. We acknowledge the political and
economic difficulty of addressing the reduction of transport fuel use, coal burning,
agricultural practices and land use. We urge you to consider that due to New
Zealand’s remoteness, culture of resilience, and bent for innovation, our companies
and organisations could be some of the first in the world to find profitable new
enterprises for accomplishing the energy transition and ecological recovery. Such
enterprise would help offset costs and risks associated with emissions reduction.
The Nationally Determined Contributions declared at Paris will almost certainly not
be adequate to keep global warming below 2deg. C. above pre-industrial levels. The
internationally agreed pathway would require at least 5% reduction in emissions
year-on-year from 2016. This level of reduction in fossil fuel consumption and
land use change will require innovative transitions in transportation demand,
agriculture practices and business operations, and consumer behaviour, as well as
social expectations and values. The next five years will be a critical period for
creative and heretical innovation.
Underscoring the situation is the fact that at any time, a tip-over point will be
reached where feedback loops – such as methane emissions from thawing
permafrost and more heat absorption in an ice-free Arctic – might make remedy
impossible. This means so much is at stake now that our best chance of a solution is
if all New Zealanders and political persuasions are availed of the bald facts about
mitigation options and their implications, as soon as possible and no matter how
politically or economically unpalatable they may be.
We thus ask that you urgently establish an additional forum focused on identifying
adequate and “just” mitigation measures that could operate in parallel with the
Adaptation Group. This way, elements common to both could be exploited to best
advantage and an integrated plan developed.
To address the range of practice outlined above, the terms for a new working group
would not only need to include a mix of specialist scientists, engineers and
businesses, but also the likes of young people, social leaders and behaviour
specialists. We would like to offer dialogue with our Society’s members to explore
innovative ideas and new ways that research and development could drive the
transition and how the forum might best operate.
We are very hopeful that you (or any new Minister of Climate Change Issues) and
ministry staff might be able to join our 13 February sponsored workshop, as it will
include discussion on mitigation and testing whether participatory mediated
modelling might provide a helpful way to build consensus on this important issue.
Wise Response Society Inc.
 Susan Krumdieck, “Transition Engineering”, In: Energy Solutions to Combat Global Warming, Ed: XinRong Zhang and I.
Dincer, Springer (2016) p. 647-706.
Bob Lloyd, Evidence to Fonterra Studholme Dairy Factory Expansion, Environment Canterbury, 2016.
 Andrew Winston, The Big Pivot, Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World, Harvard Business
Review Press, Boston, MA (2014).
Dear Prime Minister,
This is an Open Letter with reference to the statement ascribed to you under the heading: “Science key to climate” (ODT, March 23), in which you are quoted from your address to the Platinum Primary Producers annual conference in Wellington, that “The world is going to heat up if it’s [climate change] left unchecked. ….. [but people] …. are missing one fundamental point and that is science will deal with the issues, as long as we keep investing. If we did absolutely nothing and just allowed temperatures to continue to rise then we would have a huge issue but the truth is that won’t happen.”
We are reassured that you are acknowledging the potential seriousness of global warming but we consider your conclusion to be quite wrong. We are deeply concerned that you could rely so heavily on science to develop ways to curb the earth’s current warming trajectory when the mainstream science community has agreed that we must have a credible plan to reduce net carbon emissions to zero, as a matter of urgency. Science is important, but action on the basis of science is even more important.
As you are aware, virtually all (195) nations agreed at COP21 that in order to prevent a catastrophic situation of combined extreme weather events, continued sea level rise and ocean acidification, average warming should be kept to 1.5 deg C. above pre-industrial levels. It is now time for all national leaders to recognise the urgency of this situation and respond.
Meanwhile, the warming continues, with 2015 being the warmest year and January and February 2016 being the warmest months ever. Ambient CO2 now exceeds 400 ppm, and mountain glaciers, such as those in our Southern Alps, keep shrinking. Given scientific advice that such trends lag by up to 30 years and are very difficult to reverse, the lack of action by Government in developing comprehensive adaptation and mitigation strategies is effectively gambling with our country’s future. The absence of leadership is scientifically and morally indefensible.
Accordingly, we would be very interested to learn what advice you have received from your personal science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, aimed at addressing the many problems associated with global warming. Does he consider research is sufficient in its own right, or that action (including effective policies, targets, and strategies) is also required to reduce both current green house gas and nitrogen emissions?
Instead of promoting BAU and hoping that science will solve these issues, we consider that the only responsible way for New Zealand to play its part in meeting the 1.5 degree limit is to urgently establish a national carbon budget and emissions reduction programme. To be effective, this programme would need to be staged, allocated between sectors and critically require the participation of all New Zealanders, desirably with oversight by an independent Climate Commission.
Your response to the issues we have raised would be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely, Alan F. Mark, FRSNZ, KNZM. Chair, Wise Response Society Inc.
In November 2015, Wise Response appeared before 3 ORC commissioners to make a case for much more realistic recognition of the implications of resource limits in the Plan under the “precautionary approach” which is a requirement in the National Coastal Policy Statement.
Eight expert witnesses appeared for the Society addressing different threats to the business-as-usual model – Dr John Peet on Energy and engineering, Dr Bob Lloyd on the remaining carbon budget, engineer Nathan Surendran on energy and transport, Dr Bill Lee on the state of ecology and biodiversity, Dr Alan Mark on upland ecology and hydrology, Dr Liz Slooten on the state of marine ecosystems, Dr Alexandra McMillan on threats to public health and Chris Perley on land use.
We were limited to 2 hours for the entire submission and some of the experts phoned in, so it was something of a mission. But in closing, one commissioner remarked that the presentation had been “invaluable for them because it had come at the Plan from a completely different direction to other submitters”.
Once the commissioners have completed their deliberations, the RPS will be publically notified. Should any submitter still have concerns with the notified document, they can appeal the Decision to the Environment Court. Given the deep structural nature of the changes we seek and the wide range of submissions Council recieved, we anticipate having to appear before the Environment Court. More details at http://www.orc.govt.nz/Publications-and-Reports/Regional-Policies-and-Plans/Regional-Policy-Statement/Otago-Regional-Policy-Statement-Review/
The evidence given is available to download as PDF’s:
Oral submission to the RPS Final, Dugald McTavish
Upland Ecology and Hydrology, Dr Alan Mark
Energy and Engineering, Dr John Peet
The Remaining Carbon Budget, Dr Bob Lloyd
Energy and Transport, Nathan Surendran
The State of Ecology and Biodiversity, Dr Bill Lee
The State of Marine Ecosystems, Dr Liz Slooten
Threats to Public Health, Dr Alexandra McMillan
Land Use, Chris Perley
Petition for NZ Risk Assessment
In July last year a team of 4 representatives appeared before the Finance and Expenditure Committee in support of the Wise Response petition for a NZ Risk Assessment (link) put to the House on April 9. 2014. They included Dr Alan F. Mark Chair Wise Response; Dr Susan Krumdieck Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Canterbury; Dr Janet Stephenson Director, Centre for Sustainability, Otago and Mr Paul Young, founding and executive member, Generation Zero.
The Committee’s decision was to not recommend it to the House. It was however, a split decision, with the Select Committee Report including statements from Labour, Greens and NZ First providing reasons for their dissention.
The Committee’s report considers that there is already considerable work going in the area of risk assessments. However, our view is that these seem largely designed to assess threats to existing market logic, which is of course in large part responsible for our concerns. Both the submissions of Wise Response and the Committee’s report may be viewed at (link) – see what you think.
There is no formal appeal process to a Select Committee decision. It has however been suggested that it would be worth replying to the report and copying it widely to MPs. A reply will be prepared.
The Finance and Expenditure Committee’s decision is available to download as a PDF here: Decision_of_the_F_and_E_Select_Committee_160915
A post about the presentation to the select committee may be viewed here.
The Wise Response society presented its appeal to the Finance and Expenditure (F&E) select committee yesterday. Chairperson Sir Alan Mark was accompanied by Wise Response members Dr Janet Stephenson, Dr Susan Krumdieck, and Paul Young.
The presentation was covered on National Radio:
Dr. Susan Krumdieck from the Wise Response group spoke with Kathryn Ryan on National Radio about the presentation and the way engineers approach problems of this scale.
The presentation was covered briefly at the end of the paliamentary news round-up on National Radio.
The presentation appeared to be well received, and we now await an official response! Special thanks to the 40-50 supporters who were there in person to show their concern for the appeal.
Supporters are encouraged to engage with the MP’s listed above, and voice their support for the appeal.
Permanent members present:
David Bennett (chair) (N)
Andrew Bayly (N)
Chris Bishop (N)
Alastair Scott (N)
David Seymour (ACT)
Grant Robertson (L)
Stuart Nash (L)
Rt Hon Winston Peters (NZ First)
Russel Norman (Green)
Kanwalit Bakshi (N) – replacing Jami-Lee Ross
Hon Damien O’Connor (L) – replacing Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Members of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee;
My name is Alan Mark, I am the Chairperson of the Wise Response Incorporated Society, and am an Emeritus Professor in Plant Ecology at the University of Otago; and with me are:
Dr Janet Stephenson, Director of the University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability;
Dr Susan Krumdieck, a Systems Engineer and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury, and Co-founder of the Global Association for Transition Engineering; and
Mr Paul Young, Co-founder and Executive member of Generation Zero, of Wellington.
On behalf of Wise Response, we appreciate the opportunity to present a submission to this Select Committee, and elaborate on the petition and submission made to the House of Representatives on April 9 last year, with 4660 signatures, now 5036. In our 9-page submission to the Committee (to be taken as read but we would be happy to answer any questions) we are renewing a formal request of The House, based on our belief that New Zealand is now facing an increasingly difficult future, with increasing risks to its economic, environmental and social well-being, many of which arise from resource use that is starting to exceed the carrying capacity and sustainability of many of the resources that we depend on for our welfare, and particularly the perceived needs of future generations.
We share these problems with much of the world and in five major but inter-related areas. So we, as a group of well-informed New Zealanders, are formally requesting that The House; firstly initiates a Parliamentary, i.e., cross-party, agreement to undertake a National Risk Assessment of: Economic Security, Energy and Climate Security, Business Continuity, Ecological/Environmental Security and Genuine Well-being, as outlined in our petition, with an integrated, holistic approach; and, secondly, that from this Risk Assessment, develop and implement cross-party policies to avert any confirmed threats to present and particularly future generations of New Zealanders.
My colleagues will further elaborate on these issues, and I’ll now pass over to Dr Janet Stephenson:
We are concerned that New Zealand is underprepared for a future which will be startlingly different from the past; A future in which social and economic wellbeing are facing increasing risks, many of which originate internationally.
Recent reports by three well-respected global agencies – the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, and the global insurance market Lloyd’s – provide different, but equally concerning, perspectives on these risks.
The World Economic Forum produces an annual Global Risks Report, defining risk as ‘An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, can cause significant negative impact for several countries or industries within the next 10 years”. In their 2015 report, the four highest likelihood and highest impact global risks are water crises, interstate conflict, failure of climate change adaptation, and fiscal crises. In the statement that we circulated to the Select Committee previously, we included a diagram that showed these and other economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, technological risks. The largest increases in risk likelihood and/or impact between 2014 and 2015 are interstate conflict, state collapse or crisis, spread of infectious diseases and energy price shocks.
The United Nations Global Assessment Report 2015 on Disaster Risk Reduction focuses solely on risks relating to the natural environment: earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunami, volcanic ash, drought and climate change. They include country-specific analyses of the likely costs of these events. For New Zealand, they estimate that by far the greatest risk is from storm surges and flooding, with probabilistic Annual Average Losses estimated at $US323 million and $US399 respectively. The report also states that global climate change is already modifying hazard levels and exacerbating disaster risks through changing temperatures, precipitation and sea levels, amongst other factors.
Lloyds is a major player in the global specialist insurance market. They regularly produce reports on emerging risks (and their implications for insurance). Recent reports on risks from the natural environment note the dynamic changes already evident such as increasing occurrence of hurricanes and flooding. They have also produced other reports on risks to society and security such as the impacts of global food system shocks, and the risks of business failing to adapt to a low-carbon economy.
Almost all of the risks identified in these reports have the potential to impact on New Zealand, either physically (e.g. storm surges, flooding, droughts) or through the economy (e.g. oil price shocks, interstate conflict, fiscal crises) or society (e.g. disease outbreaks).
In failing to identify, understand and prepare for these risks, New Zealand puts itself in a very vulnerable position. The livelihoods of current and future generations are threatened if governance focuses just on the short term, and assumes that the patterns of the past are a decent predictor of the future. But, clearly, we do not have the luxury of continuing business as usual.
This changing risk landscape means that risk is exacerbated when the short-term economic cost of taking action is emphasised over the long-term economic and social costs of not acting. The World Bank makes this point in a recent report which provides policy advice on transitioning to a zero-carbon future.
The solutions exist and are affordable, the report says, if governments take action today. It warns, however, that costs will rise the longer action is delayed. To keep global temperatures within the 2°C limit, waiting just 15 more years and taking no action until 2030 would increase costs of transitioning by an average of 50 percent through to 2050.
The need for a long-term perspective on risk is one of the reasons we are asking for a cross-party agreement to undertake the risk assessment and to act on the findings – the issues are long-term and are relevant for much longer timeframes than a term in parliament. As the World Bank says with respect to climate change: “Getting to zero net emissions and stabilizing climate change starts with planning for the long-term future and not stopping at short-term goals.”
As well as the global risk assessments that Janet has talked about, there are plenty of example internationally of countries that have undertaken their own national-level comprehensive risk assessments.
One example is the USA’s Strategic National Risk Assessment undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose there is to support national preparedness for threats that pose the greatest risk to the US including acts of terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters. The assessment process has been used to support the development of collaborative thinking across all levels of government about prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery.
Ireland is another example, closer in scale to New Zealand. The Foreword of their draft Nation Risk Assessment explains: “One of the priorities or our country and our people as we move towards economic recovery is to ensure we learn from the mistakes of the past. One of those mistakes was complacency at a time of prosperity, so that serious questions were avoided. Never again should threats to our nation’s future be ignored. Never again should dissenting voices be silenced when warning of risks up ahead.” The Assessment sets out the risks (both financial and nonfinancial) which Ireland faces, including those beyond a short time horizon.
Importantly, the OECD is also encouraging nations to undertake all-hazards national risk assessments. The OECD’s recent Recommendation on the Governance of Critical Risks has been developed in recognition of the escalating damages that occur due to extreme events. They warn that recent events are a stark warning for economic systems that are dependent on global supply chains. The Recommendation proposes actions that governments can take, in collaboration with the private sector, to better assess, prevent, respond to and recover from the effects of extreme events, as well as take measures to build resilience to rebound from unanticipated events.
Once a risk assessment has been undertaken, the next mission is to develop a risk management approach – formulating responses that build resilience and support strategic decision making: How are you going to react, and do you have the management systems in place that enable you to make the correct decisions whatever comes along, in time to make a difference?
The whole purpose of risk management is to enable the right people to make the right decisions at the right time. You have to have scientific measurement, monitoring and reporting, and you have to have trusted, independent experts interpreting the data. Your risk management engineers and experts create scenarios – then, they stay on the job, adjusting their approach based on real-time observations, and working with local institutions and authorities.
One way of doing this is using the Managed Adaptive Approach – “Planning in” from forward scenarios and using on-going observations of problems as they arise. These scenarios must include compounding of coincident events and problems “perfect storm scenarios”.
We need to get a good handle on the worst that could happen, we have to use scenarios to deal with the uncertainties, we need to “practice” responses and decisions, and we need to be observing and learning continuously as we go along and things change and the global issues cause local risks and problems. Engineering for the “much worst case” may provide needed measures in a forward environment of “extreme” being the new norm.
I’m here to represent younger generations of New Zealanders, who it’s fair to say have more skin in the game when it comes to the longer-term risks we are discussing.
The serious flooding in Wellington, Dunedin, Hokitika and Manawatu-Whanganui over the past couple of months have given New Zealand a sense of the new risk environment that may result from the more frequent and severe weather events likely to be induced by climate change. We do not yet know the full impacts but Horizons Regional Council, for example, have put an initial figure of $120 million on the cost of flood recovery in the Manawatu-Whanganui region. Together with the Wellington, Dunedin and Hokitika events, this may not be far off the estimate in the UN Global Assessment Report 2015 that Janet mentioned.
A risk assessment for New Zealand needs to assess the impacts of single-issue risks such as more frequent flooding, droughts and storm surges on the economy and society. But even more importantly, it is crucial to understand the implications for New Zealand of combinations of risks playing out at the same time. Here are three brief future scenarios based on realistic risks identified by the global reports referred to previously:
Scenario 1: Increasing numbers of climate refugees on boats are attempting to enter New Zealand as a result of sea level rise impacting their low-lying nations. At the same time there is a significant outbreak of highly infectious disease. How should New Zealand respond?
Scenario 2: Inter-state conflict with oil producing nations leads to an oil price shock. At the same time, New Zealand’s long-running favourable exchange rate drops significantly. The cost of petrol and diesel would skyrocket under this scenario. What options are there to reduce the significant impact on New Zealand’s economic activity?
Scenario 3: The increasing costs of more extreme weather events create a significant negative impact on regional and national economies. However, low-lying infrastructure such as roads, sewerage systems, storm-water systems need investment to future-proof them against sea level rise and extreme weather events. Where is the money to come from?
The last example in particular highlights the intergenerational dimensions at play. Being unprepared for risks, and failing to take appropriate near-term actions to mitigate these, could see future generations in charge overwhelmed and unable to muster an effective response as multiple risks converge. As in medicine, prevention will invariably be better than cure. And as per the Government’s approach to social welfare, early intervention delivers the greatest value to society.
Speaking for my peers, my experience is that a great many are deeply concerned, fearful even, about the future we will inherit in the face of escalating risks such as climate change. Many are even losing faith in our political institutions to deal with these threats at all.
To address this, we need to see our leaders working together to effectively address the risks facing our society. Heeding Wise Response’s request for a National Risk Assessment would be an instrumental first step in the right direction.
In conclusion; we trust we have convinced the Committee of the urgent need for such a risk assessment and we request that the Committee initiate its own specific enquiry in to the subject matter of the petition, perhaps assisted by the Auditor General and/or the PCE, and/or the Prime Minister’s Science Adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, or the Committee may refer the petition to The House with a recommendation for appropriate action.
We now welcome questions and comments.
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.
Wise Response held a public meeting to discuss concerns with a Discussion paper, just released by Minister of Climate Change Issues, Tim Groser, on “New Zealand’s Climate Change Target: Our contribution to the new international climate change agreement.”(PDF)
This was in preparation for the meetings to be held nation-wide to consult on New Zealand’s Climate Change position.
The meeting passed a unanimous motion:
RESOLUTION: “N. Z. Climate Change Target” meeting, sponsored jointly by Wise Response Society and Sustainable Dunedin City, University of Otago, Dunedin, 18 May, 2015.
Moved Alan Mark; seconded Stuart Matheson: ~180 persons in attendance:
“That this public meeting strongly urges the New Zealand government to endorse both the moral imperative and the economic, social and environmental opportunities of a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy and society. To this end, it should adhere to the mitigation option proposed by the IPCC Mitigation Report 2014 that keeps us below a 2 deg. C. rise in global average temperature. This meeting moves that our government should propose effective GHG emissions targets, along these lines, at the Paris Climate Change Summit.”
More info and online submission form here.
An overview and critique of the Government’s position here.
Fix Our Future – a website dedicated to this climate change consultation with 6 key points:
(1) We need the Government to act on climate change as an investment in our future.
(2) We need New Zealand to call for a global zero carbon target, and walk the talk by committing to a pathway towards zero CO2 emissions by 2050 or earlier (alongside reductions in other greenhouse gases).
(3) Targets need to be backed up with a credible plan.
(4) We need a New Zealand climate law that holds the government accountable for reducing emissions, and an independent Climate Commission.
(5) We need the Government to establish a cross-party climate working group and an ongoing programme to engage meaningfully with New Zealanders on climate change solutions.
(6) We need to see meaningful policy changes that will start cutting New Zealand’s emissions, during this term of government.
Presentations were given from Dunedin’s Climate Change experts, and are reproduced below:
Prof Bob Lloyd, Physics Dept, on: “How much carbon can we burn?”
Prof. Janet Stephenson, Sustainability Centre, on: “Transitioning to a low carbon future.”
Dr Bill Lee, Landcare Res., on: “Effects of global warming on our biodiversity.”
Rose Penwarden, Oil-free Otago & 350.org., on: “Why we must curb our fossil fuel use.”
Dr Alex Macmillan, NZ Climate and Health Council, on: “Climate change & human health.”
Emeritus Prof. Jim Flynn, University of Otago, on: “Our targets must look beyond New Zealand.”
John Cocks, Sustainable Dunedin City, on: “Planning for a sustainable Dunedin City”
Carbon and Climate Change – Bob Lloyd (PDF)
Carbon and Climate Change, Bob Lloyd
Let’s recap where we are up to
IPCC reports 2014 came out last year
Critical information regarding mitigation is in a couple of graphs
RCP2.6 is the only scenario that keeps us below 2 degrees with a 2 in 3 chance and even this scenario assumes CCS post 2070
The allowable CO2 emissions for this scenario are 900 GT from the end of 2010 onwards. Or 250 billion tonnes of C. How much carbon have we got in existing reserves? Around 750 billion tonnes C (BP stats 2014) so we can only burn around 1/3 of known reserves.
Note IPCC 2014 says only 1/5 can be burnt.
The 900 GT is around 120 tonnes CO2 per person. The world is emitting a little over 5 tonnes per capita per annum which gives us 24 years at present rates of emission (NZ 8, China 7, US 19, Kuwait 30, TT 36, India 1.5, Nepal 0.1 )
But our emissions are increasing so the next question is what the increases for the future looking like are?
Historically (last 10 years): from 2004 BP energy outlook to 2035
Coal 3.3% 1% (BP)
Gas 2.6% 1.7%(BP)
Oil 1.1% 0.8% (BP)
Historical increases will put us over the line in 2031 with the IPCC range being between 2024 and 2036
BPs estimate extends the crossover by one year to 2032
If we managed to keep emissions from all fuels at 2014 levels the crossover extends by 3 years to 2034
To keep below 2 degrees we would need to reduce all emissions from the end of this year by 5% pa . If we wait until 2020 the reduction will need to be 7% pa. Fatif Birol IEA says 8% pa.
With these scenarios the total emissions in 2050 would need to be only 5GT per annum i.e. the total reduction from 2014 would need to be 87%, close to what some people in Germany are proposing.
But even this is not enough for rich countries as the poor countries (think Nepal) still want development and to increase emissions. The rich countries will need to reduce emissions even faster and at the same time transfer funding to the poor countries to assist their development.
If we decide to mitigate we have to meet the scientific targets, which are already too low and have pretty dodgy statistics i.e. would we build a bridge with a 33% chance of failing. Comparison with catching a plane. There is no point in trying to do our best if we cannot meet the targets.
Can we meet the targets? Technically yes but politically it is not likely.
Why 3 main reasons
1 The obvious one: vested interests: funding of climate sceptics, protection of corporate interests using instruments such as the TPPA , Coal lobby the oil lobby. There are over 100 trillion dollars in the carbon which should not be extracted.
2 Internal politics: . Together with peak oil we have peak economy. Almost all developed countries have a declining oil consumption, static or declining economies pumped up with huge debts, China cannot afford not to continue increasing incomes otherwise there would be revolt. US and European Governmentscannot afford to provoke the population even further from the already instituted austerity programs. Greece is at present rebelling austerity. The unions are demonstrating against CO2 reductions in Germany because this will mean loss of jobs in the coal industry.
3 International politics. Geopolitics will always trump climate change mitigation. There is no way China for instance is going to reduce emissions if this would endanger its economy with the US threatening from the side-lines. Ditto Russia and the rest of the BRIC countries. Ditto the US which is already losing economic ground to China. A new arms race is happening right now.
My Conclusion. Getting international agreement on mitigation is going to be next to impossible. Ten years ago I gave it 5 years in my opinion we have now much reached the end of the line. My last hope is Paris if not the move has to be to adaption.
Which brings us to the NZ climate change consultation document the subject of tonight’s meeting.
The intro is fine it agrees with the above analysis. Then the doc starts whining about NZs special circumstances, existing hydro, methane emissions from ruminants etc . Note the IPCC 2014 has no limit on methane emissions from agriculture in its mitigation scenarios only CO2 inc folu in fact the main limits concentrate solely on CO2 emissions.
Why is the NZ government asking the NZ public what emissions reductions should be? The scientists (including some from NZ) have already told us what they need to be. The question in NZ should be how to we meet the scientifically recognised targets. And how can NZ assist the developing countries to reduce their emissions while simultaneously developing their economies.
For climate change with nonlinear tipping points there is no point in doing the best you can. Again doing the best you can to get to the airport on time is not a good strategy if the best you can do falls short of the target. If you cannot make the flight the best you can do is ring up and cancel or postpone the flight. In fact to meet the mitigation targets we should cancel all flights. Ring ring excuse me sir/ mam We have a problem here on earth, I would like to put civilisation on hold for the next 2000 years or so is that possible? Click – oh oh I have been put on hold!
Why have they produced such a gross document? My guess is that the NZ Govt. has come to the same conclusion as myself: that mitigation is close to being dead in the water.
In this case the main object from a national point of view is protect short term national and corporate interests ie to do as little as possible while appearing to appease the international and local community. Game theory. Prisoners Dilemma
Is there hope? Only possibility at this stage is concerted international outrage to engender worldwide cooperation.
Prof. Janet Stephenson, Sustainability Centre, on: “Transitioning to a low carbon future.”
Summary of comments on Discussion Document: ‘New Zealand’s climate change target’
May 18, 2003
JANET STEPHENSON, DIRECTOR,
CENTRE FOR SUSTAINABILITY • Kā Rakahau o te Ao Tūroa, University of Otago.
- The government’s discussion document outlines some of the costs of mitigation but fails to discuss the hugely greater costs of inaction. The costs of climate change, if left unchecked, will make it increasingly difficult to be able to afford adaptation, let alone mitigation, because it will depress economic activity. And the longer it is left before acting, the more expensive it will be to change our systems to cope. This was a point made clearly by Nicholas Stern in his 2006 landmark report The Economics of Climate Change. An example is the costs of drought to NZ (predicted to become more frequent with climate change) – the 2007-9 drought reduced direct and off-farm outputs by $3.6 billion. The drought in 2012-13 reduced NZ’s GDP by 0.3 to 0.6%. Once we are on an economic back foot from the impacts of climate change, it will become increasingly difficult over time to have the financial capacity to adapt systems to climate impacts, let alone reduce emissions.
There is a significant overlap between actions required for adaptation and actions required for mitigation. These are often discussed as binary opposites – with a strong voice in NZ suggesting that we should only focus on adaptation. But rather than seeing them as alternate actions we need to recognise that they are complementary and often involve the same or similar responses. For example, both involve the development of systems (farming, transport, etc) that are resilient, adaptable to change, not highly dependent on resources that may significantly change in availability or cost.
To argue that we contribute only a small portion of global emissions and therefore should not worry about taking action, is akin to me saying that I should feel OK about throwing my rubbish all over my street because I’m only one of many people who live in the street, and people with bigger houses should stop throwing their rubbish around before I do. Nonsense. We’re all in this together.
NZers have a high per capita emissions profile and many of the goods and services that we enjoy are produced using the fossil-powered energy in the largest emitting countries such as China and the USA.
A low carbon future offers a huge opportunity for NZ. If we retain the view that we should only be a ‘follower’, then we risk being left behind in what is likely to be a rapid global transition. 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 NZ.
I observe significant concern about our climate future, and interest and support for a low-carbon future amongst businesses, households, communities and some councils. They see benefits that include retaining NZ’s clean green market status, improved resilience, improved public health, future-proofing, opportunities for innovation and new products and services. However NZ lacks clear leadership in this space (unlike UK, Scandanavia and EU more generally, for example). This means that efforts are currently fragmented and less effective than they might be if there was a more coherent and linked-up approach. NZ needs a clear government commitment and targets, and to show leadership that NZers will respond to.
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 infrastrcture 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 are upon us. Again, this requires government leadership.
- NZ 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.
CENTRE FOR SUSTAINABILITY • Kā Rakahau o te Ao Tūroa, University of Otago
Dr Bill Lee, Landcare Research, on: “Effects of global warming on our biodiversity.”
New Zealand’s Climate Change Commitment
Public Meeting 18th May, 2015
My research interests in climate centre on understanding the response of the indigenous biota to climate changes over the past 40 million years and to ways in which modern plants adapt to climate along resource availability gradients.
Our understanding or the potential effects of climate change on New Zealand’s terrestrial biodiversity were nicely summarised in 2011 in a report for the Department of Conservation by Matt McGlone and Susan Walker of Landcare Research (http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/science-and-technical/sfc312entire.pdf).
On the climate side, we are looking at rising mean and particularly winter temperatures, rising sea levels ( at least 1-2 m over the next century), increasing precipitation along the main axial ranges, and reduced rainfall in eastern and northern areas, and more regular extreme events.
- Terrestrial biodiversity declines in New Zealand are currently driven by mammalian predation (everywhere) and habitat loss (lowland-montane and coastal).
- Warmer temperatures, particularly winters, are expanding predator ranges (increasing altitudinal rat line) and increasing densities, impacting both meso-predators and top predators. This will make predator elimination and control strategies more challenging while increasing loss rates of vulnerable native birds, lizards and invertebrates. Mega mast flowering in beech and tussock biomes may further exacerbate predator numbers and impacts, although there is debate about the likelihood of this occurring.
- Habitat loss is currently via agricultural intensification (especially in threatened environments where little indigenous biodiversity remains or is protected), and there is concern that climate-change mitigation efforts around expanded plantation forestry hydro-electricity and water abstraction will further reduce native habitats. In addition, the coastal squeeze where rising sea-levels hit against hard infra-structure is also displacing native habitats.
- New Zealand is experiencing some of the effects of global changes. For example, a global analysis of phenological changes in vegetation based on remotely sensed absorption of photosynthetically active radiation (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) revealed strong shifts in the vigour of southern hemisphere forests, including those in New Zealand.
- Globally, forests are a major carbon sink, sequestering 26% of fossil fuel emissions. In New Zealand, with increased temperature, annual wood production could increase by 6-23% depending on rainfall, mostly confined to cool mountain environments. Maximum productivity and therefore carbon sequestration gains will require spatial shifts in structure and composition. Overall, the adjustment speed to temperature and rainfall shifts will depend on disturbance frequency.
- Freshwater systems are vulnerable to water warming where unbuffered by forest. Temperatures above 22 C may be lethal for stoneflys and eel migration. These habitats will also face more invasive fish and plant species from subtropical climates and will experience lower habitat quality in eastern catchments reflecting declining water flows from reduced precipitation and water abstraction for agriculture.
- Marine ecosystems changes are already occurring but the system is complex, depending on currents, Southern Oscillation Cycles etc. Most noticeable are recent declines in seabirds (9), including wandering albatross, red-billed gulls and titi. In some of these fishing is possibly a factor, but not all. A common influence seems to be the lower availability of krill or other food sources associated with locally warmer nutrient-poor surface water.
- Although there are few intrinsic constraints for indigenous biodiversity in the most realistic climate change scenarios for New Zealand, range readjustment to accommodate climate shifts are nowadays complicated by habitat fragmentation restricting migration and lack of suitable warm climate-adapted taxa to occur in northern areas.
- Conversely, many current and potential invasive species, both plant and animals, and including pathogens and diseases, will have increased opportunities in a warmer-climate New Zealand.
- Overall biodiversity is and will change to respond as the climate profile of New Zealand shifts. However, little of this is outside of the evolutionary climate envelope for most species. Climate change will exacerbate existing threats associated with predator pressure and habitat loss, and increase the potential for new invasive species. We need to maximise opportunities to maintain native dominance in systems and this could involve assisted migration and protection against ecosystem transformation, although these approaches would only be a sustainable option for very small areas.
Landcare Research/University of Auckland
This week Simon Bridges is in Melbourne promoting New Zealand as an exploration destination to some of the world’s largest petroleum companies. The NZ pavilion is being hosted by NZ P&M and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Govt-owned GNS Science is there too.
Asking us to help set a target for Paris while at the same time continuing with their fossil fuel expansion agenda is not, as Simon Bridges said, a “mixed and balanced approach to our energy future” but a sham.
More forests are being cut down than planted – to be mainly replaced with dairy pasture, only adding to our emissions. Our ETS is a farce – but even so, our highest emitting industry is exempt. We subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $46 million in 2013 while we stifle growth in clean low carbon enterprises. Our per capita emissions are some of the highest in the world, more than double those of the EU. With our carbon emissions going through the roof, instead of 5% below we are on track to be 34% above 1990 levels by 2020.
On Thursday the government will try to use the ‘cost ‘ argument. That’s what they’ve done in meetings so far – carefully framing action against climate change as a cost to households that we really probably can’t afford. They have carefully analysed the cost of mitigation, but have not analysed the cost of inaction. For example, the 0.5% this year’s February drought shaved off GDP growth, the estimated $1.3 billion cost to GDP of the 2013 drought and the $2.8 billion cost of the 2007-8 drought. That’s only droughts. How much have last week’s floods cost Wellington and Kapiti? The government’s intention seems to be to leave it to the next generation to pay. Continue fudging, playing around with carbon credits and forests, and leave true emissions reductions to them.
We can’t allow that. It will be too late by then. It’s crunch time. No room for pretence at action through creative accounting or figure fudging. We have to show the government that we have no time and no patience more flaky targets that they don’t intend to meet.
Oil Free Otago and 350.org urge Dunedin people to call the government out on Thursday before they try to fudge us with their one-sided cost argument.
Oil Free Otago and 350.org agree with Bob Lloyd and demand a target of carbon neutrality by 2030 according to climate science. Anything less is committing our children to an uncertain, possibly unsurvivable future. This is achieveable. NZ is in a unique position to do so, but it will take more guts than this government has thus far shown it is capable of.
Dr Alex Macmillan, NZ Climate and Health Council, on: “Climate change & human health.”
NZINDC expert public meeting 18 May 2015
OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council – part of a global movement of doctors and other .
“Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice. Responsible policymaking requires a rising price on carbon emissions that would preclude emissions from most remaining coal and unconventional fossil fuels and phase down emissions from conventional fossil fuels.” James Hanson 2013
The main responsibility for this action must fairly fall on the wealthiest nations with the highest emissions. New Zealand is one of those.
The government’s discussion document certainly does not represent “responsible policymaking”.
Why health professionals?
CC is not a fringe environmental issue, but one that is central to human wellbeing and survival – it’s at the heart of what we want as NZers… secure future for our children, less poverty, more fairness, social stability and safeguarding the things we rely on for our health and wellbeing – like freshwater, human-friendly weather patterns, adequate healthy and affordable food.
Both the British Medical Journal and The Lancet have called climate change the greatest public health threat facing us.
Health professionals have previously played a leadership role in in taking action to reduce global threats to wellbeing, including the threat of nuclear war and we are starting to see this happen globally about climate change
Most hopefully, if we place human health at the centre of climate policy, re-framing it as an issue of health and wellbeing, we can build political will and put in place policies to combat climate change that also bring exciting co-benefits for health and fairness – I’ll come back to these at the end.
Health impacts globally and in NZ
We can say with a high degree of certainty that climate change is already having important effects on health and wellbeing globally, including in New Zealand, with increasing heat waves, flooding, droughts and severe weather events, increasing food prices and loss of fish and shellfish stocks, increasing water and food-borne illness, and changing infectious disease patterns.
The future impacts of health depend heavily on our urgent actions to mitigate and are not currently being counted in the government’s discussion document.
As well as worsening of the very direct physical health impacts I’ve already described, the prospect of a facing a future of uncontrollable climate change will continue to bring worsening fear, anxiety and depression for many, especially young people – uncontrollable climate change would leave a legacy that would last uncountable generations.
The building blocks for health, a stable society and economy, healthy housing and safe, affordable, healthy food will also increasingly be affected through loss of climate-sensitive primary industry (we’re already seeing this with summer droughts and loss of mussel stocks); sea level rise and coastal erosion; poor adaptation of housing to increasing heat; and an increasing influx of climate refugees from the Pacific putting pressure on all our social systems.
Maori, Pacific and low-income groups are at risk of greater impacts of climate change. We also have the potential to increase or decrease existing systematic injustices for these groups through our choices about action – especially how we distribute the costs and the benefits.
But as I said before, there are also exciting opportunities for health, wellbeing and fairness from strong, well-being centred climate action in New Zealand.
Direct improvements for health are possible for heart disease, lung disease, cancer, obesity, joint problems, diabetes, road traffic injuries, and mental health, with big savings for the health system and the economy that aren’t being counted in the government’s document.
Burning fossil fuels has previously made substantial contributions to improving the lives of many in wealthy countries (often at the expense of the poor). However, we’ve reached a time when keeping our current level of wellbeing and improving health rely us to make big behavioural and policy transitions away from fossil fuels. Benefits to health would then fall into five main areas:
MOVING AWAY FROM COAL – will improve air and water quality reduce mining injuries and deaths, and could transition boom and bust communities to a more resilient and healthy future
A shift from car-dependency and road freight to active and public TRANSPORT, clean rail and shipping would bring exercise and neighbourhood connection back into people’s daily lives, while reducing air pollution and road traffic injuries.
Warm, energy efficient HOUSING and transitioning to clean, climate-friendly home heating would reduce winter deaths from lung and heart disease and improve social justice by reducing days of school and work for the poorest families
A LOW-RUMINANT ECONOMY and DIET would reduce obesity, heart disease and cancer, improve the quality of freshwater and could improve the affordability of healthy local plant-based food
ASSISTING LOW INCOME COUNTRIES, through funding and technology transfer, to take a climate-friendly path of economic development could improve women’s health by addressing unmet need for family planning services; achieve massive reductions in indoor air pollution deaths and reduce global health inequalities.
To avoid the health risks and achieve the potential gains fairly, NZ needs to include the costs and benefits to health and equality in its calculations; set consistent, clear, adequate targets and put human wellbeing and fairness at the centre of well-designed policies to meet those targets. I’ve supplied copies of OraTaiao’s written submission guideline, hot off the press – as well as three health questions to ask at the public meeting on Thursday.
“It makes no sense (to me) to spread fear and anxiety here and now, in order to reach a non-existent future where all our problems will be solved, allowing us to finally dispense joy.”Niki Harre
Let’s ensure we are able to dispense joy now and into the future by speaking up loud for a New Zealand national climate commitment that is cross-party, ambitious, and centred on human wellbeing and social justice.
Tena koutou katoa
Emeritus Prof. Jim Flynn, University of Otago, on: “Our targets must look beyond New Zealand.”
Four Key Points:
(1) To raise public awareness the government should hold a referendum proposing an environmental surtax – say at 1 % extra on the tax you owe – this would do an enormous amount to get the public talking.
(2) It should subsidise the use of biochar to make it competitive with phosphate fertilisers – and investigate osmotic power to replace coal.
(3) It should issue a public statement of urgency – detailing decade by decade the consequences for NZ (and the world) of the present drift – thus putting itself on record as rejecting climate denial – it should hold a series of public meeting to get this statement debated.
(4) It should detail a strategy of how nations in general can take the lead – and action its own contribution. This would include: financial contribution to at least one project to developing hydrogen fusion; the same to get Salter’s ships on the water (to send up sea spray and retard global warming); the same to encourage Amazonian nations to forgo development of the rain forest in favour of compensation.
John Cocks, Sustainable Dunedin City, on: “Planning for a sustainable Dunedin City”
Sustainable Dunedin City Inc.was established over 8 years ago after a public meeting in the Museum’s Hutton Theatre. The theatre was packed with people interested in the issues of: 1) climate change; 2) declining energy security; and 3) sustainability, as they affect Dunedin City.
Of the many activities carried out by Sustainable Dunedin City – submissions, student education programmes, public talks, the Big Green Challenge, and its fortnightly newsletter – the single biggest event organised to date was a Resilience Summit in 2011. This was a day long event with approximately 100 people – people involved business, education, iwi, local government, community groups , health services, and more.
Future scenarios were discussed – climate change and transport, food supply, sea-level rise, energy price rises, downside of reliance on coal, ideas for creating self-sufficient communities.
Actions to reduce carbon emissions and means of adaption to climate change were documented under the headings of:
- Climate Change Impacts & Sea-Level Rise
- South Dunedin
- Wider community
- Energy and the Economy
- Transport to and within Dunedin
- Resilience in Food Supply
- Transition to low levels of consumerism & waste
- Need for community participation
The actions identified remain applicable, and increasingly so.
The MfE discussion document starts with statement that Climate change is a truly global problem and all countries need to contribute to reducing emissions.
The third objective states that NZ’s contribution must guide New Zealand over long term in global transition to a low emissions world.
But where does NZ focus on transiting to a low emissions world, now and in the long term?
Some guidance is given in the document, yet doubt about the level of our commitment is seeded by:
- raising uncertainty about technologies to assist in reducing emissions levels, and
- the costs to households by reducing emission levels.
Of many important unanswered questions, we raise three.
- The document states that our key policy tool for reducing emissions is the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme. What has NZ achieved with in reducing emissions with the ETS to date? What are the implications for continuing with the ETS in a global market?
- How do we redress our diminishing forestry carbon sink
- What is the basis of determining costs to society both in terms of:
- Costs and risks of not acting, and
- Costs and risks and opportunities of acting to achieve a low carbon NZ.
Co-chair, Sustainable Dunedin City
Other points noted during the meeting.
Other key risks
- health impacts
- ocean acidification impacts – on our fishing industry for example, on biodiversity, on ocean ecology
- diminishing overseas marketing security
- global conflicts.
Need public engagement at an emotional level
In contrast to other movements involving others (eg Save Manapouri, Anti-Apartheid), reducing emissions will affect each of us and dramatically so.
What personal action can we take to reduce emissions – a guide.
We need government leadership.
Zero emissions by 2050. Reduction targets need to be set on a year by year basis
Think of / invest in our younger generations and their future.
A national forum on Climate Change and Zero carbon is needed.
A umbrella organisation to coordinate the many environmental groups petitioning for a low carbon NZ..
Need climate change awareness promoted through our education system.
Focus groups in Auckland have having success in influencing change to the housing market.
Wise Response has made preliminary comments on the Otago Regional Council’s Regional Policy Statement.
The comments are below or can be downloaded here: Wise Response Preliminary Submission to ORC RPS
Preliminary comments on the Otago Regional Council’s
Regional Policy Statement
To: Regional Policy Statement Review Team,
Otago Regional Council.
From: Wise Response Society
Contact: Sir Alan Mark,
What in Otago is important to you?
Wise Response Society encourages all levels of government as well as all New
Zealand citizens to ensure that our way of life and priorities are not leading us, either
wittingly or unwittingly, to deny our children the opportunity of a viable and fulfilling
Specifically the Society seeks to have addressed systematically this key question: “As
demand for growth exceeds earth’s physical limits causing unprecedented risks, what
knowledge and changes do we need to secure New Zealand’s future wellbeing?”
Evidence-based science on several fronts, shows that, due in large part to
encountering limits, New Zealand in general and Otago in particular are
environmentally, socially and economically vulnerable. Therefore, until we address
the implications of limits, planning is unlikely to be realistic; it may even undermine
critical needs over the next decade or two.
Following the Precautionary Principle, Wise Response asks the Otago Regional
Council to base its revised Regional Policy Statement (RPS) on an objective,
uncompromising assessment of the relevant science and associated risks. The risks
identified need to be prioritised and logical principles and policies developed
dispassionately from the consequent outcomes.
From these analyses, we anticipate that the RPS will need to place greater weight on
genuinely securing the longer term future and accordingly, given our current situation,
a level of near-term inconvenience will be unavoidable for us all if this is to be
achieved. Plan wording will need to be tough, explicit and unambiguous to make a
real difference and minimise legal challenge.
Relying on the free market and handing the management of our key resources over to
local management groups that may not be truly representative of the public at large or
have the necessary breadth of understanding, are policies that appear unlikely to
achieve sustainable management of the available natural and physical resources.
What do you think the major issues facing Otago are?
Wise Response Society considers the following issues to be the most urgent:
1. Lack of willingness by most of our leaders and citizens to accept credible
scientific evidence about the adverse impacts of our current living
arrangements and practices on the environment, and therefore our failure to
recognise the urgent need for transformational (mitigation) rather than
incremental (adaptive) change.
2. Vulnerability, due to the high level of dependence of our communities and
businesses, including farming, on carbon-based fuels and financial shock, as
well as the loss of diversity, loss of local control, and loss of skill base in
production and manufacturing.
3. Our failure to genuinely arrest and reverse a steady deterioration in the quality
of our land-based and marine ecosystems and their natural processes and
ecosystem services. In this respect we note that much better outcomes could
be expected if many of the polices in the current RPS were just properly
4. Our collective preoccupation with the accumulation of material wealth above
other measures of progress and quality of life.
A range of other issues flow from our failure to address these primary issues.
How do you think these issues should be addressed?
Wise Response suggests Council address these issues primarily in these ways:
1. demonstrates in the RMAct S32 analysis that it has systematically assessed the
scientific evidence relevant to the above issues and risks, then sets down
clearly what constraints and assumptions it will adopt as a basis for each of the
Policy Statement’s objectives and policies. The rationale for omitting or
altering any existing policies should also be clear.
2. acts consistently in accord with the Precautionary Principle as expressed in the
New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (Policy 3), as an underlying tenet
of the Regional Policy Statement and makes building both urban and rural
resilience its first priority in the face of growing uncertainty.
3. formally accepts the duty of each Otago resident, business and organization to
mitigate as well as adapt to serious threats to a living planet which appears
inherent in the Precautionary Principle.
4. accepts the implications of rigorous research and statistics, and the established
principles of physics, ecology and environmental management as a basis for
adopting principles and policies that will significantly reduce risk exposure,
including strongly sustainable approaches to infrastructure and economic
5. shifts the focus of its activity away from promoting economic development
throughout the RPS, and returns to sustainably managing the natural and
physical resources, as required under S5, RMA.
6. takes into account the global as well as the national context to give
“sustainable management” a fully integrated and defensible bio-physical
7. actively informs the general public of the need for any transformational policy,
and explains how citizens can best aid the process of sustainable management
of our natural and physical resources, at the same time as improving their
personal security and contentment.
Wise Response Society would like to submit further on the ORCs draft plan, and
produce further relevant evidence in support of our submission, once the draft plan is
prepared, and wish to be involved in the formal planning process, post-notification.
Meanwhile, the Society would be happy to liaise further on this preliminary
submission if that would assist the Council.