In the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle Green MP Chloe Swarbrick is calling for 'radical transformation'. But just how radical is Swarbrick?

I've spent five years trying to figure out how to rationally and calmly talk about this climate emergency and for the past few weeks I've been out there with people ripping up carpets and curtains and speaking to people who have lost absolutely everything.We need radical transformation because actually transformation is inevitable whether it happens to us by the rapidly changing climate which is being driven to these extremes by virtue of human activity or we make that economic transformation to ensure that everyone has what they need to survive and that we are resilient to the changing weather. Chloe Swarbrick

IN THE AFTERMATH of Cyclone Gabrielle what is the Green Party's stance on climate change? Green MP Chloe Swarbrick outlined her view in a interview on Breakfast this week and above is a short extract from that interview.

Swarbrick seems to attribute climate change to 'human activity' and, in doing so, absolves our present economic system of any responsibility. But this does not square with views she has previously expressed in which she also seems to nail capitalism as the source of our injustices. In a February 2022 opinion column for the NZ Herald she wrote:

'But poverty and inadequate housing is not a natural phenomenon..., in the same way that wealth and "housing" per se isn't. As author Ursula K. Le Guin put it, "We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings."... Do we want to keep tinkering, or do we want a brand new deal? Are we willing to reset the rules?... It's not going to happen overnight and it's not going to be easily handed over, but history tells us we can, and the demands of the future require we must.'

It's difficult, on the surface at least, to not see this as anything but an attack on capitalism. Swarbrick isn't interested in tinkering with the status quo, but in overturning it.

Her reaction to Gabrielle has been similar. While the political establishment might be calling for further tinkering - or 'adaptation' as it is being popularly described - Swarbrick is again demanding radical action. She seems to be of the opinion, like Greta Thunberg, that the only option left is radical.

But some on the left of the Green Party have expressed doubts about Swarbrick's leftwing radicalism. They point out that she has done little to oppose the market environmentalism imposed on the Green Party by the present leadership. A Green Party activist has suggested she declined to take up the case for a Green New Deal.

But in 2021 Swarbrick tweeted a comment from the former Green co-leader, the late Jeanette Fitzsimon's, who said: 'If socialism is to survive as a relevant political movement in the 21st century, it must develop a response to the ecological crisis and a socialist strategy to build a sustainable future.'

The short extract from Breakfast was lifted by the Green Party backroom staff which has been busy posting it all over the social media. The Green Party has declared 'We're playing this clip of @_chloeswarbrick speaking about climate action on repeat today & every day until the election.'

The danger is already apparent. The Green Party will use Chloe Swarbrick to present a progressive face to the New Zealand electorate even though its conservative settings remain the same. Of course, Swarbrick doesn't have to play ball. She could oppose the Green Party's present conservative direction and remain true to her belief in the need for radical transformation. She would have plenty of support. Time will tell.


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