Wise Response Submission to the Social Services and Community Select Committee on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill. 2 May, 2018.

Wise Response Submission to the Social Services and Community Select Committee on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill. 2 May, 2018

 


BACKGROUND:

Wise Response is a Dunedin-based but New Zealand-wide Society www.wiseresponse.org.nz , launched in 2013, with the purpose of persuading the New Zealand Parliament, Government and New Zealand society in general, to confront and respond effectively to any confirmed threats arising from the 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 well-being?”

As Chairperson I conducted a nation-wide tour that year with 11 public meetings from Auckland to Invercargill to explain the Society’s purpose and strategy, and gain support. The Society has no formal membership beyond its committee of 15 persons and its Patron, Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC.

We received over 5,000 signatures for our petition to Parliament in April 2014, that recommended they undertake a Risk Assessment of New Zealand, in five subjects as follows:

  1. Financial security: the risk of a sudden, deepening, or prolonged global financial crisis.
  2. Energy and climate security: the risk of continuing our heavy dependence on fossil fuels.
  3. Business continuity the risk exposure of all New Zealand business, including farming, to a lower carbon economy.
  4. Ecological/Environmental security: the risks associated with failing to genuinely protect both land-based and marine ecosystems and their natural processes.
  5. Genuine well-being: the risk of persisting with a subsidised, debt-based economy, preoccupied with maximising consumption and GDP and increasing inequality.

The Appeal sought a commitment to a quantitative, cross-party risk assessment of how and exactly where New Zealand is exposed – environmentally, socially and economically – as a rational, integrated basis for planning a more secure future. The submission was referred to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, with a hearing in July 1, 2015. The majority response was negative; claiming Government was adequately addressing the issues of concern, but the three minority parties (Labour, NZ First, Greens) offered strong endorsement.

With two meetings in Wellington, the Society facilitated development of a Position Statement and Action Plan for ENGOs on climate change, under the name Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa (CCCA). This proposed a goal and a process by which to effectively meet the spirit and intent of the Paris Accord of Dec. 2015. So far, the total of individuals and the membership of organisations which have formally endorsed it, numbers approximately 330,000 from about 100 organisations.

In August, 2017 we made presentations of the CCCA Position Statement and Action Plan to MPs at Parliament, on behalf of its creators and supporters. There were two presentations – one in the morning to GLOBE-NZ members (chaired by Dr Kennedy Graham) and the second to an invited audience of all MPs in the Beehive Theatrette, hosted by GLOBE-NZ.

Our Society has also made formal submissions on several other relevant issues, including the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Resource Legislation Amendment

Bill, the Productivity Commission, the Otago Regional Council’s Regional Policy Statement. We also participated in Earth Day and the launch of Our Climate Declaration in Dunedin. On behalf of the Society I presented a resolution to the Royal Society Fellows AGM in October 2014, which resulted in the Society producing and publishing two substantial commissioned reports in 2016, on the Implications and the Mitigation of Climate Change in New Zealand.

More recently, Jan. 2018, the Society organised a public meeting in Dunedin on “Climate Change issues: from Bonn COP23 and beyond”, Central and Local Government responses, addressed by the Hon James Shaw, Minister of Climate Change, Mr Dave Cull, President of Local Government NZ and Hon Clare Curran, with some 400 attendees.

SUBMISSION:

The Wise Response Society supports the Government’s efforts to reduce poverty in New Zealand, as quickly and effectively as possible. We believe there is no moral justification for people in New Zealand having to live in poverty. All New Zealanders should have access to a basic standard of living that should include adequate food, housing, education, welfare and health care, and where appropriate, meaningful employment. The overwhelming majority of international (e.g., Universal Declaration of Human Rights), moral and religious codes state that society has an obligation to provide the social and economic institutions so that people do not have to live in poverty.

In recent decades New Zealand has adopted neoliberal economic policies based on the priority of markets to determine the allocation of goods and services, and a downsizing of the state to play a regulating and compensatory role. This has led to the widespread growth in poverty and in environmental degradation, including potentially catastrophic climate disruption. There are many reasons for the failure of this philosophy and its policies, at both theoretical and practical levels, which we can elaborate on as necessary, but central to our submission is the moral imperative that we have an obligation to sustain and care for all the people who live in New Zealand, particularly our children, and protect them from the consequences of poverty.

We applaud the stated aims of the Bill which are to reduce child poverty and improve the overall well-being of children. Its stated purpose is to: encourage governments and society to focus on reducing child poverty; to hold governments to account against published targets; and to require transparent reporting about levels of child poverty.

To achieve its purpose the Bill would specify child poverty measures and ensure agencies work together to improve the well-being of children. It would also require: specific child poverty targets to be set, reports about child poverty to be produced and published independently of Ministers. The Government of the day would adopt, publish, and review a Government strategy for improving the well-being of all children, with a particular focus on child poverty and the needs of children at greater risk.

We agree with Prime Minister Ardern in introducing this Bill, that “for a country with relative abundance, New Zealand has the opportunity, and the moral obligation, to ensure children are free from the burden of poverty.          

This Bill is the framework for measuring and targeting child poverty. It sets in law four primary and six supplementary measures of poverty and material hardship. It requires the government of the day to then set targets to reduce child poverty. It requires governments to develop a comprehensive child well-being strategy that keeps child poverty top of mind, and keeps the focus on improving the living standards of children.”

Our Society is particularly concerned with the persistence of, and the increase in, the numbers of children under the very low-income, 40% of the after-housing costs median moving line (140,000 children). There is thus a strong case for making this one of the primary measures for the allocation of resources sufficient to explain how families might fall below this line. This particular measure signifies the most serious end of child poverty and so policies are urgently needed to ensure that no child falls below this line.

Finally, our Society applauds the various proposals contained in this Bill and we agree that tackling and measuring child poverty is complicated and demanding, but our children are relying on civil society to act and so we strongly support this Bill.

Our Society has also endorsed and added our support for the Children’s Sector Joint Submission on this Bill and we also endorse the detailed submission presented by the Child Poverty Action Group.

Sincerely,

Sir Alan Mark FRSNZ, Chair, Wise Response Society Inc.,

Wise Response Presentation to Engineers for Social Responsibility

High Expectations for the Climate Commission;
Will Government’s action push us fast enough?
 
A seminar was presented, outlining the issues behind the push for the establishment of a Climate Change Commission to the Engineers for Social Responsibility Inc.
 
  Speakers included:
 – Alan Mark:  Introduction: NZ’s Climate Change Programme
 – Dugald MacTavish: Meeting the GHG Target: the Stabilisation Wedge
 – Bob Lloyd:  The Transport Sector
 – Janet Stephenson:  The Industrial Sector,  the Energy Sector
 – Hugh Campbell:  The Land Use Sector
 – Nathan Surendran:  The Waste Sector
 – Lisa Ellis: Ethical and Social Aspects.
 
A PDF of the presentations is available here (2MB): WR_ESR_Compiled_presntations_2018.

Commonwealth science academies call for action on climate change

On 12 March 2018, Commonwealth academies of science released the following consensus statement on climate change:

Commonwealth academies of science consensus statement on climate change (PDF 580kb)

The call is part of a Consensus Statement on Climate Change, launched today by 22 national academies and societies of science from around the Commonwealth, ahead of next month’s Commonwealth summit in the United Kingdom.

The statement, which represents the consensus views of tens of thousands of scientists, marks the first time Commonwealth nations have come together to urge their Governments to take further action to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases emissions during the second half of the 21st century.

New Zealand’s Royal Society has joined science leaders from around the globe to call on the Commonwealth Heads of Government to use the best available science to guide action on climate change. A PDF of the press release from the Society is available here: 2018-03-12-Commonwealth-concensus-statement-on-climate-change-media-rele…

 

 

 

 

Public Meeting: Climate Change and The Government

A Public Meeting was held in Dunedin on January 29th 2018, on: “Climate Change Issues: from Bonn COP23 and beyond”.

Public Meeting: “From Bonn COP23 and beyond.” Hon James Shaw, Minister of Climate Change, discusses the role of Central Government; Mr Dave Cull, President of Local Government NZ and Mayor of Dunedin, discusses the role of Local Government with special reference to Dunedin, and Hon Clare Curran, Dunedin South MP, discusses the South Dunedin situation.

The event is available on Youtube here: COP23 and Beyond, Climate Change Issues

 

 

 

The Future of Food: Lecture, Dunedin, 11 Dec 2017

A PDF of the talk is available here (4MB): Future of Food – Dunedin – Mike Joy

The talk was covered by the Otago Daily Times here.

 

 

The Future of Food

Mike Joy

Massey University – Ecology – Institute of Agriculture and Environment

When: Monday December 11 2017, 5.30-6.30pm

Where: St David St Lecture Theatre

OPEN AND FREE TO ALL INTERESTED PARTIES

About the talk:

The Future of Food: our deadly nitrogen and fossil fuel addiction. A discussion of where we are in relation to food production nationally globally and what is coming (we have been warned).

About the Speaker:

Mike Joy BSc, MSc (1st class hons), PhD in Ecology is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Science at the Ecology group-Institute of Agriculture and Environment Massey University Palmerston North.  He researches and teaches freshwater ecology, especially freshwater fish ecology and distribution, ecological modelling bio-assessment and environmental science.  He has and continues to supervise many Masters and PhD students doing research into freshwater ecology, with topics from native fish ecology to farmers’ attitudes to sustainability.

Mike has published many papers in scientific journals, many international as well as articles and op-eds for newspapers and magazines. He has authored many reports for Regional Councils and ministry for the environment, and has developed a number of bio-assessment tools and associated software used by many North Island Regional Councils.

Mike is an outspoken advocate for environmental protection in New Zealand and has received a number of awards including an Ecology in Action award from the NZ Ecological Society, an Old Blue award from Forest and Bird, he was named 2009 Environmental New Zealander of the year by North and South magazine, Manawatu Evening Standard 2012 person of the year, in 2013 he received the Tertiary Education Union NZ Award of Excellence for Academic Freedom and contribution to Public Education, the 2013 Charles Fleming Award for environmental work from the Royal Society of New Zealand, in 2015 the Morgan Foundation inaugural River Voice Award and in 2017 the inaugural New Zealand Universities Critic and Conscience award.

Integrated Landscape Management Seminar Presentations

All Regional and District Councils are required to achieve integrated management of natural and physical resources under the Resource Management Act.  Wise Response Society Inc consider that many of the adverse land management and water quality issues we are now experiencing could be avoided or significantly mitigated, if this requirement were being more effectively achieved. 

The general concept of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) appears to have huge potential to enhance resilience at a community, catchment or landscape scale.

Over and above the potential benefits of the approach some of the questions this seminar addressed aimed to get insights into include:

  • What are the goals, potential advantages and obstacles to an ILM approach?
  • What decision support options and tools are available to achieve more integrated landuse management?
  • What input data do the models require to give reliable results and does it exist?
  • What are the outputs of such models and how can they be used?
  • Would LUCI or other models be useful to a diverse group of stakeholders to learn and plan with?
  • Where and how might a the method be most usefully trialed? 

The following documents are available to download as PDFs:

Minutes from the meeting: WiseResponseMinutes ILM Workshop Nov 2017 Final

ILM Handout: WR_Handout_on_ILM

Presentations:

Nathan Surendran: A context: critical issues for WR relevant to land-use

Alan Mark: Scope for & potential of an integrated landscape approach to address emerging issues & risks

Dugald MacTavish: Scoping the potential for an integrated process for reducing risk

Will Anglin: A legal viewpoint on integration in ILM

Alex MacMillan: A public heath perspective on ILM & a participatory approach

Rhys Millar: The Halo Project: beyond the Orokonui example

Craig MacDonell (+ Aubrey Millar), Dept. of Surveying

James Renwick (NIWA): Climate & ILM

Bethanna Jackson, senior lecturer, School of Geography, Environment, and Earth Sciences (Victoria): ILM initiatives elsewhere & approaches we might consider

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice

Twenty Five years after Scientists called on mankind to halt environmental degradation, a second warning has been issued detailing the dire path that mankind is on.

 

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
William J. Ripple Christopher Wolf Thomas M. Newsome Mauro Galetti Mohammed Alamgir Eileen Crist Mahmoud I. Mahmoud William F. Laurance 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries
BioScience, bix125, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix125
Published:
13 November 2017

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the ­biosphere can tolerate ­without ­substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1, file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively. Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC-11-equivalent per year. In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1). The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1). Five-year means are shown in panel (h). In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%. Additional descriptions of the variables and trends, as well as sources for figure 1, are included in file S1.
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Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively. Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC-11-equivalent per year. In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1). The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1). Five-year means are shown in panel (h). In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%. Additional descriptions of the variables and trends, as well as sources for figure 1, are included in file S1.

Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends (figure 1). We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.

Read more here….