People from around the country, weary with waiting for the Government to take the necessary action to address climate change, have decided to take matters into their own hands.
The new movement, Our Climate Declaration, calls on the Government to phase out the extraction and burning of fossil fuels by 2050 – including stopping all new coal mines and coal-burning plants and ending deep sea oil exploration and fracking for oil and gas – and adopting bolder policy.
The event was launched around the country and Dunhedin’s address from Sir Alan Mark is reproduced below.
The launch was in the media at Scoop, The Otago Daily Times and The New Zealand Herald
Our Climate Declaration, Dunedin, June 18 2017.
Alan Mark, FRSNZ, KNZM, Chair, Wise Response Society NZ.
I’m speaking as Chair of the Wise Response Society, a Dunedin-based but NZ-Wide NGO, deeply concerned with New Zealand’s apparent blindness in fronting up to our rapidly deteriorating world. Global warming is a major issue, now widely acknowledged as the most serious threat of all time facing humanity and their many supporting ecosystems, globally, nationally and regionally. Its obvious cause is our inability to reduce and limit GHG discharges.
Wise Response hasn’t had any Government support from our recent petition to Parliament, appealing for urgent action. But neither have two Royal Society reports on the implications and mitigation of climate change, nor formal Government advisers: the PCE and the PM’s Chief Science Advisor. The PCE’s recent report on seal level rise clearly has very serious implications for Dunedin, as well as many other New Zealand coastal regions. In her report, Dr Jan Wright made a single recommendation to the then Minister of Finance, Hon Bill English, that he set up a working party to assess the financial implications of sea level rise. In response, Bill English said sea level rise was in the realm of speculation, that he had higher priorities and would take no action.
I contacted our new Minister of Finance, Hon Steven Joyce, who does have a science background, three times recently, from early April, requesting he reviews the PCE’s recommendation. And all I’ve had are formal acknowledgments of receipt, and a comment that the issue “will be considered and responded to where appropriate.”
There’s been a recent groundswell of public concern for action to urgently address climate change, with “Our Climate Declaration” the most recent. Wise Response endorses “Our Climate Declaration” as an excellent position statement on the issue. We support it “in principle” at this time, as we have yet to formally discuss it. My only comment is the recommendation we abandon the ETS for a Carbon Tax. Government is still to finalise its policy for the ETS, so I’d reserve judgment.
Wise Response has itself, produced a “Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa”, based on an extended consultation with some 25 ENGOs. Like “Our Climate Declaration”, we believe there is a clear global imperative for urgent action, and that relatively wealthy countries like New Zealand can no longer afford to free-load the system and rely on other countries to carry our burden while allowing GHG emissions to continue to climb as they currently are here in NZ. Rather, Government has recently announced plans to meet most of our already inadequate commitment to the Paris Accord by spending >$14billion over ten years to buy up Carbon Credits from overseas markets. We could and should be leading on these critical issues of human rights, public health, social justice and morality.
Frustrated by this situation and the Government’s singular failure to even start reining in our GHG emissions in all the time since the Paris Accord of Dec. 2015, Wise Response has, over the last six months, facilitated the development of a “Position Statement” with some 25 other NGOs under the name of “Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa”.
Its focus is on two aspects: One is identifying the required GHG emissions goal which sets the reduction trajectory, and the second is recommending key elements for an effective and just participatory process to enable development of a comprehensive plan to achieve that goal. Mechanisms include legislative establishment of a fully representative Climate Change Forum to develop the strategy, a Climate Commission to provide independent advice to Government and report to Parliament (Our Dec.), and a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Fund for implementation, impact relief, and to drive relevant research.
It’s clear from the content of “Our Climate Declaration” it too is borne of similar frustrations, and that it seeks the same outcome – a restabilised climate. A key difference between the Our Declaration and the WR Position Statement is the former is essentially “bottom up” while ours is “top down”. The Declaration seeks to mobilise the public and give them specific actions to adopt and promote, with or without Government support. Our Coalition Position Statement, on the other hand, offers a blue print – a target limit and a legal framework – for Government to adopt when they do decide to actually lead!
Thus, we see the two initiatives as entirely complementary and Wise Response formally support the Our Climate Declaration in our Coalition Statement, along with several other worthy initiatives, also considered synergistic. These others include: 1) Generation Zero’s Zero Carbon Act; 2) the cross-party Globe-NZ Group initiative of all political parties; 3) the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Commitment, for adoption by Local Government NZ; Waikato Univ. Law student, Sarah Thomson’s Supreme Court case next week against the Minister of Climate Change Issues, Hon Paula Bennett.
Co-ordination will be critical and in this context it is most fortuitous that both the Our Climate Declaration and the WR Coalitions Statement are being launched about the same time and we are pleased to have this opportunity to endorse “Our Climate Declaration” and wish it every success.