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


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,
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….

WR Newsletter, September 2017

Hi there – Your Wise Response (WR) Committee has continued to advocate for civil society on a number of fronts. This is to update you since the last one in June 2016.

Newsletter contents:

  1. Development of the Climate Coalition Consensus Aotearoa Position Statement
  2. Delivering the CCCA Statement to Parliament through GLOBE-NZ
  3. Appeal of Otago’s Regional Policy Statement (RPS)
  4. Submission on NZ’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Review
  5. Environment and Conservation Science Roadmap: Govt discussion paper
  6. Other WR activities and events during the year
  7. Looking ahead
  8. Some thought provoking links from the Wise Response discussion list


Also, sometimes we get enquiries as to what people can do to help. So in this addition we have highlighted several places where we see an “action op”.


  1. Development of the Climate Coalition Consensus Aotearoa (CCCA) Position statement and Action Plan – the major activity of the year.


The CCCA ” Position Statement and Action Plan” was put together by some 20 concerned NGOs using the Loomio interactive programme and managed by our intern student Jule Barth, Nathan and Dugald, combined with a well-attended workshop held at Forest & Bird’s central office in Wellington, over two days in mid February, 2017.


We took up the initiative because of frustration with the lack of action by central Government after the Paris COP21 agreement of December 2015. We had assumed Government would arrange a collaborative process with “stakeholders” to develop an Emissions Reduction Plan. It thus seemed prudent for NGOs as a sector to agree on baseline conditions and institutional recommendations ahead of time. The subsequent process of developing the Position Statement has been facilitated by our Society (WR) and was largely based on a discussion paper prepared by Prof. Jonathan Boston, Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University.

Figure 1 below is a schematic, developed to help explain how the entities recommended for the implementation of the CCCA Position Statement/Action Plan would interrelate with existing entities and represent the concerns of civil society.

In the event, central Government has preferred to establish direct “Technical advisory groups” rather than use a collaborative process. So the Coalition of NGOs decided to continue building support for a relevant statement. WR, notably Nathan Surendran, built the CCCA website (, ably assisted by our second Otago University student intern, Hannah Milner. We have been inviting support mainly from NGOs since late July. Anyone/organisation that endorses it becomes a member of CCCA. In addition to our major NGOs, the campaign has had us contact directly every Local Body and each Councillor in the country.

So far, the total of individuals and the membership of organisations which have formally endorsed this Statement and Action Plan numbers over 0.25Million from 80 organisations!


Action op: Please check and if an organisation with which you are affiliated is not registered already, then fill in the auto-generated email and send it to the secretary asking them to sign up asap! Many thanks.    

Figure 1: Concept of the main information flows proposed under CCCA (with new institutional entities highlighted)


  1. Delivering the Climate Consensus Coalition to Parliament through GLOBE-NZ


On 16 August, WR Chair Sir Alan Mark led presentations of the CCCA Position Statement and Action Plan to MPs on your behalf as its creators and supporters. There were two presentations – one in the morning just 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. 

Professor Jonathan Boston and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and representatives of 5 other NGOs, who helped develop the statement, spoke in support. These included James Drew-Young (GenZero), Adelia Hallett (Forest & Bird), Dr Roger Blakeley and Sue Kedgley (Wellington RC & Local Govt NZ), Gay Keating (Ora Taiao) and Katherine Peet (Network Waitangi Otautahi/One Voice Te Reo Kotahi).

A discussion session followed ahead of concluding remarks by Sir Geoffrey (for WR), and Tracey Martin (NZ First), David Parker (Labour) and Kennedy Graham (Greens), for GLOBE-NZ.

The result was a strong and united feeling behind all the principles of the Statement, particularly for the formation of an independent Climate Commission and Climate Fund.  And the entire process has given Wise Response a much stronger connection with politicians and other NGOs working on similar issues.

We will continue to build support through the website until the new Government is formed anyway, and will ask those organisations who have endorsed the Statement to spread the word through their social media in order to better embrace civil society.

Action op: Visit the Spinoff and compare the key policy concepts of all the parties for Election 2017: (click on the topics at the bottom of the website page)


  1. Otago Regional Council’s Regional Policy Statement (RPS) Review and Appeal (October 2016).

Following the notification of the Otago Regional Council’s (ORC’s) Decision RPS, notified 1 October 2016, we decided, to lodge an appeal to the Environment Court. This decision was made in pro-bono consultation with prominent Dunedin environmental lawyer, Dr Royden Somerville QC, and Richard Reeve (Instructing). This has involved appeal preparation, several sessions with Royden and his assistant, Will Anglin, and some three weeks of mediation, with about 30 other appellants, before an Environment Court Commissioner and ORC staff.

Considerable progress has been made correcting key deficiencies we had identified in the ORC’s notified statement – namely to strengthen concepts of resilience, ecosystem function, risk assessment and precaution, as well as addressing renewable energy and the causes of climate change (not just adaptation). Never the less, we anticipate that we will need to take, with expert witnesses, several outstanding matters to the Environment Court.

It is our intention that these revisions will force the incorporation of much more genuinely sustainable provisions in subordinate Plans when they are reviewed (Water, Waste, etc). We hope this will facilitate leverage of similar changes into other RPSs in other regions.

Action op: Contact your local Regional Council and find out when your local Regional Policy Statement is to be reviewed and submit. We can provide you with supporting material. You could request a review.


  1. New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Review (March 3)

A second round of so-called public hearings was held on at the Dunedin Centre for which a formal application was required and an ID presented at the door. Dugald and I attended the morning “Supply setting” session, but not the “Forestry matters” session in the afternoon. To our dismay, we found that the intention of the meeting was to convey MfE thoughts on updating the ETS to the public, rather than receiving views from the few in attendance: some seven public, outnumbered by officials from Wellington; a reflection of the lack of advertisement. WR expressed serious concerns with this situation and indicated we would follow up with written comments, which we sent to the MfE’s Senior policy Analyst on March 31; see:                        

Dugald and I also contributed an opinion piece in the Otago Daily Times of June 6; see:

The Government has subsequently made “in-principle” decisions on a package of four changes to how the NZ ETS will operate in the 2020s.

  • introduce auctioning of units, to align the NZ ETS to our climate change targets
  • limit participants’ use of international units when the NZ ETS reopens to international carbon markets (but with the purchase of some $14 billion worth over a decade)
  • develop a different price ceiling to eventually replace the current $25 fixed price option
  • coordinate decisions on the supply settings in the NZ ETS over a rolling five-year period.


  1. Environment and Conservation Science Roadmap: Govt discussion paper (July, 2016)

Sir Alan attended a meeting in Dunedin, convened by five Government staff from DoC, MfE and the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory group, in mid July, to discuss this Science Roadmap, along with some 20 other, mainly local scientists. Most were highly critical of this 54-page paper since it obviously presented a ‘business-as-usual’ approach. Alans submission is at:

The Government released its final report on the subject in February, 2017:

The final 78-page report still implies heavy reliance on “innovative science”, clearly expressed in the joint introductory message from the Ministers for the Environment and of Conservation: “We view innovative science as critical to achieve our ambitious programme of goals like our 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, being predator free by 2050, and having 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. … The Roadmap will ensure our science investment across agencies is more strategic and better coordinated.”


  1. Other WR activities and events during the year


  • Law Profs. Jacinta Ruru and Andrew Geddis, spoke to a Wise Response Committee meeting on October 5 2017 about the implications for elsewhere in New Zealand of legal personhood of Te Urewera and the Whanganui River.
  • Alan was invited to chair a symposium on climate change impacts on nature in New Zealand: “Climate change and conservation science”, organised by Forest and Bird Protection Society at the Wellington Zoo on November 15.
  • Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Bryce Johnson and Alan spoke on “New Zealand Futures” at a symposium organised by Ministry for the Environment and held at their office in central Wellington on 14 February. It was attended by many senior Ministry staff. Alan gave a power-point presentation entitled: “Planning for a Sustainable Future.”
  • WR facilitated a public meeting in Dunedin, with three members of the GLOBE-NZ, cross-party parliamentarians, Convener Dr Kennedy Graham (Green Party), Hon. David Parker (Labour Party) and Stuart Smith (National Party; Kaikoura), which drew a large crowd to the University’s Dental School. Dr Graham explained that their Vivid Economics Report provided an opportunity for developing an ambitious pathway to domestic emissions neutrality as called for in the Paris Agreement which we have formally supported.
  • Alan contributed to the nation-wide launch of “Our Climate Declaration” in Dunedin on June 18, which was held simultaneously in Auckland (where it was officially launched by Joanna Santa Barbara with a SKYPE connection), Wellington (with a SKYPE link to the talk by Dr James Renwick) and Christchurch. The Dunedin meeting was convened by Prof. Ralph Adler and involved 11 speakers, including Mayor Dave Cull. For Alan’s talk see:


  1. Looking ahead
  • Productivity Commission: The Government has asked the Productivity Commission to undertake an inquiry into how New Zealand can maximise the opportunities and minimise the costs and risks of transitioning to a lower net-emissions economy. The Commission is open and transparent and its recommendations are in the public arena and open to democratic debate so it seems like an opportunity to question the paradigm of growth with a submission – e.g. productivity for what?

Action op: Submit to Productivity Commissions Low Carbon enquiry                  

Action op: Get a few together and do Heinbergs “Think Resilience” Course at

  • Wise Response AGM: The Wise Response AGM was held on 24 August in Dunedin. The unconfirmed minutes will be available shortly.

Action op: WR is a charity and run on a shoe string, so if you would like to donate, Account details are as follows: Bank: Kiwibank, Name: Wise Response Society Inc., Account 38-9014-0100230-00. If you let us have your postal address we will issue a receipt for the donation after it has been credited to our account.


  1. Some interesting links from the WR Discussion List
  • Why are the crucial questions about Hurricane Harvey not being asked? George Monbiot – This is a manmade climate-related disaster. To ignore this ensures our greatest challenge goes unanswered and helps push the world towards catastrophe
  • CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017: 100 fossil fuel producers and nearly 1 trillion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018; 80% of the world’s oil has peaked, and the resulting oil crunch will flatten the economy by Nafeez Ahmed
  • Inside the new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse. And why the struggle for a new economic paradigm is about to get real. By Nafeez Ahmed
  • Climate projections are based on emission scenarios. The emission scenarios used by the IPCC and by mainstream climate scientists are largely derived from the predicted demand for fossil fuels, and in our view take insufficient consideration of the constrained emissions that are likely due to the depletion of these fuels. 
  • Lean Logic and Surviving the Future by David Fleming: A beautifully written and nourishing vision of a post-growth economics grounded in human-scale culture and community
  • Working for transition from consumer society to a simpler, more cooperative, just and ecologically sustainable society
  • Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility Ian Dunlop.
  • Submissions to the Irish Citizen’s assembly on doing more of substance to address climate change: and
  • Are You Ready to Consider That Capitalism Is the Real Problem?


Best wishes from the Wise Response Committee (2016-2017): Patron: Sir Geoffrey Palmer. Committee: Alan Mark, Bob Lloyd, Brian Turner, Pat Scott, Donna Watson, Janet Stephenson, Jim Simpson, John Cocks, Jocelyn Harris, Liz Slooten, Mark Jackson, Nathan Surendran, Philip Temple, Rob Lawson, Jule Barth and Dugald MacTavish.

Wise Response AGM, 24 August 2017

Wise Response Society Inc Society


Agenda of AGM, 2017
3.30pm Thursday, 24 August at Centre for Sustainability (CSAFE),

563 Castle St, Dunedin


The following documents have been pre-circulated

  • Minutes of the 2016 AGM: PDF
  • Treasurer’s report for 2017: PDF
  • Chairman’s Annual Report for 2017: PDF

Business of the AGM
Apologies: Niki Harre, Jim Simpson, Yvonne Curtis, Sir Alan Mark, John Cocks, Cath Wallace, John Peet (already received)

Speaker: Prof Jonathan Boston: The Case for New Climate Change Adaptation Funding Instruments

(a) Minutes of the previous Meeting
(b) Correspondence
(c) Chairperson’s report on the business of the Society
(d) Treasurer’s report on the Society’s finances and the Statement of Accounts
(e) Any Annual Plan (none)
(f) Election of Committee Members which will consist of between 4 and 14 members.
(g) Election of Officers (Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Spokesperson and any other that the meeting decides)
(h) Fixing the annual subscription/donations (if any) for the ensuing year
(i) Confirming patron(s)
(j) Motions
(k) General business and programme for 2017/18

  • Regional Policy Statement mediation under Environment Court
  • Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa and submission to GLOBE NZ – additional membership from CCCA website
  • LGNZ Climate Change programme and the Compact of Mayors
  • Elections and local public meeting with Sustainable Dunedin City
  • Submission to Productivity Commission on achieving a Low Carbon Economy
  • Other?

Panel on the New Zealand Election

Note also that the AGM is timed to coincide with a Panel on the New Zealand Election. Panellists are Prof. Jonathan Boston (Victoria University of Wellington), Prof. Hugh Campbell (Dept. of Sociology, Gender and Social Work), Prof. Janine Hayward (Dept. of Politics).  Thursday 24th August, 12.00 – 12.50pm, Burns 7 Seminar Room, University of Otago

Seeking support for a climate change action plan, to be advocated to Parliament.

A Coalition of twenty New Zealand social and environmental NGOs has pulled together an Action Plan for Sensible Climate Decision-Making, to focus discussion ahead of the election under the banner of Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa (CCCA). 

The CCCA hopes that, if Parliament adopts the Action Plan, the next three years bring:

  • adoption of a science-based emissions reduction target,
  • a legitimate, honest and coherent process around Parliament’s climate change decision making, and
  • political debate focused on how we achieve what the science says is necessary.

The CCCA is now inviting other NGOs big and small to join them, from around the country. Individuals can encourage any NGO (or similar) they are affiliated with to register their support or register directly themselves. So please distribute this email to your members if you can not sign as an Organisation.

We preferably need to know by August 7, so we can table the Action Plan on your behalf before Parliament rises for the election in mid August. We will continue to gather support after this date, so if approvals require more time, please still register when you can.

NGOs who helped develop this Plan include Forest and Bird, NZ Quakers, Engineers for Social Responsibility, Ora Taiao (NZ Climate and Health Council), Sustainable Aotearoa, Ngati Makino Heritage Trust, ECO, Network Waitangi Otautahi, Coal Action Network, NZ Alpine Club, Congestion Free Wellington, Gen Zero, Pure Advantage, Making a difference for Central Otago, Pacific Institute of Resource Management, Public Issues Methodist Church, Choose Clean Water, Sustainable Wairarapa, Sustainable Energy Forum as well as a number of academics.

Details of the Plan and other supporters are on the website. Please also pass this on to your contacts and other NGOs by email, Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you for any support you can give this critically important initiative.

Sincerely, Sir Alan F. Mark FRSNZ. Chair, Wise Response Society Inc (facilitating the CCCA initiative)


Our Climate Declaration Launched

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.                        

                                                                                             Thank you.

US vs NZ Climate Policy

Big spend-up prolongs carbon party


How much practical difference for climate change is there between the United States’ withdrawal, ask Alan Mark and Dugald MacTavish.

The Government recently announced its decision to pay $1.4billion annually over 10 years to buy carbon credits from overseas carbon markets to fulfil our obligations to the Paris Climate Accord.

This feels reminiscent of the $200million spent on phoney “hot air” Russian and Ukrainian credits the Morgan Foundation exposed last year, as an alternative to initiating effective mitigation measures here. This is short-sighted and reprobate, representing a massive subsidy to agriculture, and risks leaving our industries seriously lagging and exposed to rising carbon prices in the transition to a sustainable economy.

New Zealand is reviewing the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is the Government’s principal policy response to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets committed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Wise Response Society attended the two rounds of public discussions on the ETS in Dunedin. The second meeting, organised by Ministry for the Environment last March, was little short of a sham. There was no public advertising of the meeting so, not surprisingly, fewer than 10 members of the public attended, outnumbered by officials, and the public was told the meeting was to be explanatory only.

Key issues and flaws with the ETS as proposed at the meeting were:

  • The targets the ETS set to meet (New Zealand’s “intended nationally determined contributions”: INDC), are too weak and insufficient to play New Zealand’s fair part in retaining global warming below a 2degC average increase on pre-industrial levels.
  • Exemptions for agriculture (responsible for 50% of New Zealand’s emissions) and trade-exposed industries further compromise the ETS – all emissions must be included to allow the market to adjust to the new imperative.
  • Relying heavily on overseas unit offsets and local forestry (especially if it will eventually become a net emitter) is shonky and of little value unless accompanied by a serious national reductions programme.
  • Our assumptions and values shape our patterns of behaviour. So above all we need a public consultation process which considers these before setting what we believe are just and responsible emissions goals. Supporting policies need to include:
  • A sinking lid on permissible emissions to reach zero net emissions at least by 2050.
  • A fiscally neutral carbon levy, imposed at points of import and emission, with all dividends returned equally to citizens to incentivise emission reductions.
  • Annual reporting on CO2 reductions in relation to milestones and an agreed budget.
  • Any other revenues from the ETS be directed to hasten the transition to renewable energy and low-emissions land use.
  • The need to capture not just industry but all citizens, and promote behaviour change for practical action.

After exceeding 2degC, feedback effects are highly likely to make the situation irretrievable: the temperature will just keep rising irrespective of action taken, and continuation of historical trends will put us over this line by about 2030.

The nature of the threat already means we are at extreme risk. Climate stability is potentially already beyond retrieval. Accordingly, there is no longer the luxury for wealthy countries like New Zealand – no matter how small – to freeload the system in any way.

The ministry presentation outlined the many uncertainties in developing an effective domestic and international emissions market. Given the above concerns, and that we have one chance to avoid planetary overheat, the Wise Response Society considers a more directive, outcome-focused process is required: failure must not be an option.

Once the budget limit is set, market mechanisms may be used to allocate between emitters, but will not provide an optimum outcome without accompanying interventions and complementary methods like carbon efficiency regulations.

We acknowledged the ministry brief may exclude consideration of some of the above issues. However, an extraordinary situation requires an extraordinary response.

We thus urged the ministry to recommend whatever steps necessary to facilitate a stable climate. And as the government department charged with advising the public and the Government on a responsible position to deal with climate change, the ministry must greatly increase its publicity on this issue.

Given the ETS review is ongoing, it seems premature for the Government to state the amount of overseas credits needed. In essence, why should we feel we have the right to prolong our profligate carbon-rich lifestyle by buying huge quantities of overseas carbon credits, at great cost to the taxpayer, while other countries shoulder our carbon debt?

Like the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, this policy will be highly detrimental to our international standing. Inevitably we, but particularly future generations, will eventually pay a much higher price, financially, socially, politically and environmentally, to our country’s enduring shame.

Sir Alan Mark is chairman and Dugald MacTavish secretary of the Wise Response Society.