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.

March for Science across NZ – April 22nd 2017

In support of Scientist’s across the Globe..

Sign up on the international website to support your local event (Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin)

The Dunedin Science Rally is in the Museum Reserve: 11.00 – 2.00pm.

Speakers include Mayor Dave Cull, Metiria Turei and Sir Alan Mark.

A Press Release with details of this event is available as a PDF here: Dunedin_MFS_Press_Release

WR Climate Workshop – Wellington, 12 Feb 2017

Wise Response Mediated Participatory Climate Modelling Workshop


Hi  – This is for anyone who might be interested in joining a workshop on “mediated participatory climate change modelling” this Sunday 12 February, 1- 5pm at Forest and Bird Office, 205 Victoria St, Te Aro, Wellington Central.   There are a few remaining places and it seems a pity not to fill them if there is the interest.  There is no charge.

It will be suitable for virtually anyone wanting to know more about climate change and the nature and level of change we would need to make to stay below the 2 degrees above pre-industrial average agreed in Paris (i.e. laypeople, students, educators, consultants, public servants, policy makers, negotiators, politicians etc)
Workshop outline
This will be a participatory workshop run by Dr David Rees and Dr Marjan van den Belt on modelling climate change scenarios. The workshop will be built around “World Climate”, a climate negotiation role-playing exercise that puts people into the role of negotiators at the UN Climate talks. Utilising a computer simulation model of the dynamics of the climate system that has influenced the actual global negotiations, the exercise explores the science and geopolitics of international agreements.

People, as representatives of different countries and country groupings will be able to put forward their commitments and, by using the simulation model, see how they affect future trajectories. The model will also be used to show the impact of current INDCs on global temperature, sea level and other key indices.  Building around this core exercise David will:

  • Introduce the nature and size of the task confronting us and the effectiveness of mitigation options.
  • Provide insight into the role that dynamic simulation models can play in increasing understanding and building consensus.
  • Provide insights as to what climate models are available (including ‘micro-models’ that apply more locally), how they have been used by others for wider education purposes.
  • Reflect on both the potential and pitfalls of these tools for wider impact through education and consensus-building

Dr David Rees is a founding partner of Synergia and was a Director from 1999 to 2009. He combines his extensive facilitation skills with a range of systems methods to help individuals and groups better understand the complex systems within which they live and work, and their ability to design effective systems that effect change. Working with public and private sector clients both here and overseas, and in universities, David utilises qualitative systems methods and quantitative simulation models to guide his consulting and research work in the areas of health, social services and energy sustainability.

A/Prof Marjan van den Belt is Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) at Victoria University. She is an Ecological Economist and recent participatory research projects focussed on shifting conversations by making visible the (investable) benefits people get from ecosystems if we work with ecosystems rather than undermining their capacity to function properly. This applies to cities, rivers, oceans and coastal zones as well as the atmosphere. Marjan has build several energy models and wrote a text book on ‘mediated/participatory modelling’.

Everyone who wishes to attend needs to confirm their place by emailing me at <dugald@es.co.nz> no later than Saturday evening.  An alternative is to video link in on skype in which case we would need a skype address.

Sir Alan Mark and Dugald MacTavish (Tel 03 439 4824)

(For Wise Response Inc)

Climate Change Workshop rescheduled for Wellington, 12th/13th February 2017

WR_Logo_trans_whiteHow does civil society best help NZ honour Paris COP 21?

Hi – this is to confirm that Wise Response Inc have rescheduled and expanded the 14 Nov Climate Change Workshop (cancelled due to the Quake) for Sunday 12 and Monday 13 February 2017.   We are again inviting the representatives of groups who were at the first workshop in January 2016, those who have been assisting with the “Position Paper” development and others we know of who we think may be interested in representing a group or have a special interest.

Sunday 12th Workshop (1.00pm – 5.00pm)
Climate change modelling as a tool:
This will be a participatory workshop run by Dr David Rees on modelling climate change scenarios. The workshop will be built around “World Climate”, a climate negotiation role-playing exercise that puts people into the role of negotiators at the UN Climate talks. Utilising a computer simulation model of the dynamics of the climate system that has influenced the actual global negotiations, the exercise explores the science and geopolitics of international agreements. People, as representatives of different countries and country groupings will be able to put forward their commitments and, by using the simulation model, see how they affect future trajectories. The model will also be used to show the impact of current INDCs on global temperature, sea level and other key indices.  Building around this core exercise David will:

  • Introduce the nature and size of the task confronting us and the effectiveness of mitigation options.
  • Provide insight into the role that dynamic simulation models can play in increasing understanding and building consensus.
  • Provide insights as to what climate models are available (including ‘micro-models’ that apply more locally), how they have been used by others for wider education purposes.

Monday 13th Workshop (9.00am – 4.30pm – note earlier start)

The programme will be similar to that which was planned for November, as most of the speakers have kindly made themselves available again for February and is primarily directed at confirming the NGO position paper (see attached draft) and determining a strategy for its promotion.

Programme will include:

  • Welcome: update, objectives and approach – Sir Alan Mark, Dugald MacTavish
  • Quantifying the challenge: Review climate change modelling workshop and implications – Nathan Surendran
  • Psychology: resolving differing worldviews and values – Assoc Prof Niki Harre
  • Public health: perspectives on “fair share” and wellbeing – Dr Alex MacMillan and Dr Scott Metcalfe
  • Policy: International and local initiatives – Dr Adrian Macey
  • Economy and finance: purpose, hurdles and opportunities – Assoc Prof Marjan van den Belt
  • Legal and constitutional: hurdles and opportunities – Dr Catherine Iorns
  • Collaborative process: effective participation – Dr Roger Blakeley
  • Position Paper: review, confirmation and influencing strategy – Wise Response team

Links between workshops: The Sunday Modelling Workshop is intended to provide a firm foundation for understanding the scientific and political challenges for the Monday workshop.  The first session on Monday will briefly review the outcomes of Sunday’s workshop, but this will be no substitute for participating.  We would therefore strongly encourage you to attend both days if at all possible.  If we need to restrict numbers, preference will be given to those attending both.

Registration: Could everyone who wishes to attend (even those of you who were registered for the November workshop) please confirm with both Alan and Dugald whether it will be both or one or other of the workshops (or to Skype in).  If you know of other NGO groups who might be interested in being represented, please pass this on.

Venue: We will confirm the venue in Wellington for these workshops in the new year as there is still considerable uncertainty over options after the quake. We were fully subscribed for the November Workshop, so we will try and accommodate a few more this time if we can.  At this stage we anticipate there will be the facilities to Skype in to both workshops.

Travel and Accommodation: You will need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements.  Before booking please confirm with us that you are registered.

We think this will be a highly informative and important event and hope you can attend and contribute.  We will send out a more details nearer the dates.

Meanwhile, best wishes for an enjoyable Xmas,

Alan Mark and Dugald MacTavish

(For Wise Response)

WR Letter to Government requesting a formal body dedicated to addressing the causes of climate change

WR_Logo_trans_whiteWise 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.

Yours sincerely,
Alan Mark,
Wise Response Society Inc.

[1] Susan Krumdieck, “Transition Engineering”, In: Energy Solutions to Combat Global Warming, Ed: XinRong Zhang and I.
Dincer, Springer (2016) p. 647-706.
[2]Bob Lloyd, Evidence to Fonterra Studholme Dairy Factory Expansion, Environment Canterbury, 2016.
[3] Andrew Winston, The Big Pivot, Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World, Harvard Business
Review Press, Boston, MA (2014).

Marrakech Climate Action Proclamation

cop22-in-marrakechAlmost 200 countries met in Morocco for the annual UN gathering, against the backdrop of the rapid ratification and entry into force of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change deal. The Paris Agreement became international law on 4 November 2016, less than a year after it was adopted. This enabled the Marrakech conference to convene the first ever meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

The Marrakech climate conference (COP22), dubbed the Action and Implementation COP, set out to demonstrate that commitments made in Paris last year are being put into practice, and to act as a catalyst for further action. One of the key outcomes was the following proclamation:


Marrakech Action proclamation for our climate and for sustainable development

“We, Heads of State, Government, and Delegations, gathered in Marrakech, on African soil, … issue this proclamation to signal a shift towards a new era of implementation and action on climate and sustainable development.

Our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate and we have an urgent duty to respond.

We welcome the Paris Agreement, adopted under the Convention, its rapid entry into force, with its ambitious goals, its inclusive nature and its reflection of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, and we affirm our commitment to its full implementation.

Indeed, this year, we have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora. This momentum is irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels.

Our task now is to rapidly build on that momentum, together, moving forward purposefully to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster adaptation efforts, thereby benefiting and supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.

We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority.

We call for strong solidarity with those countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and underscore the need to support efforts aimed to enhance their adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability.

We call for all Parties to strengthen and support efforts to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and to take stringent action to deal with climate change challenges in agriculture.

We call for urgently raising ambition and strengthening cooperation amongst ourselves to close the gap between current emissions trajectories and the pathway needed to meet the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

We call for an increase in the volume, flow and access to finance for climate projects, alongside improved capacity and technology, including from developed to developing countries.

We the developed country Parties reaffirm our USD 100 billion mobilization goal.

We, unanimously, call for further climate action and support, well in advance of 2020, taking into account the specific needs and special circumstances of developing countries, the least developed countries and those particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

We who are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol encourage the ratification of the Doha Amendment.

We, collectively, call on all non-state actors to join us for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization, building on their important achievements, noting the many initiatives and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action itself, launched in Marrakech.

The transition in our economies required to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement provides a substantial positive opportunity for increased prosperity and sustainable development.

The Marrakech Conference marks an important inflection point in our commitment to bring together the whole international community to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time.

As we now turn towards implementation and action, we reiterate our resolve to inspire solidarity, hope and opportunity for current and future generations.”