Jacinda Ardern's climate change policies have failed to match her rhetoric.
Having cheered Jacinda Ardern when she declared that climate change was her generation's 'nuclear free moment', blogger and columnist Chris Trotter is now critical that the Labour-led Government's policies have not matched Ardern's rhetoric. But, still seemingly unwilling to acknowledge that its 'system change, not climate change', his criticisms of the Labour-led government are hopelessly compromised.

WHEN JACINDA ARDERN in 2017 declared that climate change was her generation's 'nuclear free moment' some of us didn't believe that she would take the radical steps necessary to effectively combat the issue that she claimed was close to her heart.

The reason's for our scepticism were broadly two fold. First, she led a political party that remained wedded to the political and economic orthodoxy. Secondly Jacinda Arden, as a routinely centrist politician very much embedded within the political establishment, had never demonstrated any willingness to rock the boat. Conclusion? Any Jacinda Ardern-led Government would do little to stem the environmental crisis that confronts us.

And so it has proved. This Labour-led government has done little but tinker around the edges of a problem that requires a radical solution. Instead this Government continues to try to square the circle: trying to reconcile the protection and maintenance of an economic system based on the destructive drive for more profit and the destructive drive for ever-increasing economic growth while, somehow, preserving the environment. The ultimate absurdity has been for Jacinda Ardern and her Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, to wax lyrical on the 'business opportunities' offered by climate change.

Someone who was convinced by Jacinda Ardern's empty rhetoric was blogger and columnist Chris Trotter. He writes in a new column: "I was seated in the Auckland Town Hall when Jacinda promised to make climate change her generation’s nuclear-free moment. Like everybody else I roared my approval." l might add that I likened this meeting to a Britney Spears concert - and I think I was closer to the truth.

However, long after the political hype has vanished and the party streamers have been put away, a disappointed and possibly chastened Chris Trotter has emerged. He bemoans the failure of this Labour-led Government to do anything remotely substantial about the existential crisis of our times. He writes:

Chris Trotter : Fails to provide a critique of capitalism.
"No one’s willing to advance the cause of fighting Climate Change from either the stage or the floor of Labour’s annual conferences. In 2018, the members look to the top for inspiration and guidance. On Climate Change, however, they look in vain."

We might have to give Chris points for calling out the Government's inaction on climate change, which is more than some other mainstream columnists have done, but has he really only reached this conclusion now after someone like Rachel Stewart, a columnist with the NZ Herald, has been consistently critical of this Government's inaction throughout 2018? I have too, but I don't have the profile of someone like Rachel.

This suggests a reluctance, even now, by Trotter to criticise a Labour Party he continues to support and will no doubt continue to support come the 2020 general election.

Conspicuously missing from Trotter's column is any explanation as to why the Government's insipid policies should have failed to match the rhetoric of Jacinda Ardern at that Auckland Town Hall meeting all those months ago. The closest he comes to an 'explanation' is this:

"Does the answer lie in a simple lack of faith in the ability of any one person – any single generation – to make any kind of difference? When a left-wing populist government declines to keep its promise to oppose the TPPA. When a Green Party Minister of Conservation refuses to protect her country’s pristine water resources. What realistic hope is there then that people’s voices, people’s votes, can make anything like the difference made by the nuclear-free movement of the early 1980s? Have we entered an age when words and gestures are as plentiful as sparrows, but deeds as rare as Hector’s Dolphins?'

Naomi Klein : We must confront the economic order.
But if this government really is as 'left wing' as Trotter claims it is, where is its critique of capitalism? And where is Trotter's critique of capitalism? Without questioning the viability of the system, Trotter opens himself up to the charge of engaging in liberal denialism: he thinks that the whole problem can readily be solved with a few virtually costless tweaks here and there, put into place by a new regulatory regime. A few market mechanisms and a little light-handed state regulation will suffice. There's nothing in anything that Trotter writes that suggests he thinks the system is at fault.

Naomi Klein, the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus The Climate writes: "We can confront that economic order and try to replace it with something that is rooted in both human and planetary security, one that does not place the quest for growth and profit at all costs at its centre".

She goes on to say: "The ultimate goal of course is not simply “to build the world that will keep us all safe” but to build a world of genuine equality and human community—the only conceivable basis for sustainable human development."

Its noteworthy that Trotter has never called for 'system change, not climate change', the slogan of the ecosocialist movement. Why not? Capitalism is now obsolete, since it is no longer compatible either with our survival as a species or our welfare as individual human beings. If Trotter is unable to acknowledge this then his criticisms of the Labour-led government are hopelessly compromised.

Bearing in mind the ecological disaster that threaten to engulf us all, it would be disappointing, to say the least, if Trotter's failure to declare his support for the kind of fundamental changes that activists like Naomi Klein have outlined is based on nothing more than an entrenched conservatism and an antagonism toward any kind of politics that lies beyond a failed liberal paradigm.


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