Although Climate Change Minister James Shaw says he is 'proud' of the market-led Zero Carbon Bill, it has failed to take on board the concerns and demands of the 170,000 people who demonstrated in September. Despite increasing demands for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis, the Government has refused to budge on its target of supposed carbon neutrality in 2050. The people have said that they want radical and immediate policies to fight climate change. But corporate New Zealand doesn't. And that's who this Labour-led Government is really listening to.
THE RUSHED PASSAGE of the Zero Carbon Bill through Parliament has highlighted the failure of New Zealand's so-called 'representative democracy'. There has been no credible resistance to this appalling bill that proposes a so-called market-led transition to carbon neutrality in 2050. Not one political party- or even one MP - has opposed this bill, never mind provide an alternative to it.
The only 'opposition' has come from National and ACT who think that this bill goes too far and impinges on the 'rights' of business. But the argument has been not about substance but emphasis. The dominance of market politics and ideology reigns supreme.
Left outside of Parliament altogether have been the concerns and demands of the growing number of New Zealanders who don't think that this Labour -led Government, loyally backed by the Green Party, are doing anywhere near enough to fight the climate crisis. In September some 170,000 people demonstrated throughout the land demanding urgent action on climate change. We have not been listened to.
We have had little more than doublespeak from Climate Change minister James Shaw. He claimed that he 'understood' the concerns of demonstrators but this week he has been in Parliament promoting a corporate-friendly bill that envisages carbon neutrality in 2050. He has simply disregarded the 2018 report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change that warned us that we have just 12 years left to avoid irreversible damage to the climate. Now we have just 11 years. Maybe.
Even as Parliament has been 'debating' the Zero Carbon Bill , a warning has been issued by 11,000 scientists worldwide that we face 'untold suffering due to the climate crisis'. The scientists say that mere policy tinkering is not enough and to 'To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. This entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.'
But this Labour-led Government, the Green Party and Climate Change Minister James Shaw aren't listening to the scientists either. They sit smugly in Parliament, grazing serenely on a market-friendly Carbon Zero Bill, like contented dairy cows with all the time in the world.
Missing in the mainstream debate has been any mention of a Green New Deal, the plan popularised by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the United States and recently adopted by Jeremy Corbyn and the UK Labour Party. The GND targets carbon neutrality by 2030.
The GND rejects the neoliberal, market-based solutions' to the climate crisis as proposed by this Labour-led Government. It demands heavy government investment into a green economy, regulation of industry, and a comprehensive program of nationalisation and wealth redistribution. The GND puts ordinary people, not the corporates, at the very centre of decision-making.
It has the potential to draw together solutions to the climate crisis with the fight to address the everyday injustices of New Zealand capitalism. The people have shown that they want radical and immediate policies to fight climate change. But corporate New Zealand doesn't. And that's who this Labour-led Government is really listening to. It is not willing to embrace the systemic economic and social change that the climate crisis demands.