One Nat who got it

I have just been reading some speeches by Simon Upton made back when he was Minister for the Environment and it has really blown me away. Despite the fact that sum of them pre date signing of Kyoto they sum up the situation really well. In fact if they outlined the dithering following the ratification then they would be amazingly prescient. The advisor’s at the time had not predicted the dairy boom though.

Fortunately, the removal of agricultural subsidies and the concomitant reduction in stock numbers means that over this decade our methane emissions are expected to decline by around 10%. The indications are that selective breeding could permit an on-going reduction in emissions even if stock numbers stabilised. Other economies will have different emission ‘signatures’ to our own. It makes sense for each country to make progress on whatever gas for the time being holds the most promise. It just happens that New Zealand’s biggest contributing gas (methane) happens to hold some excellent emission reduction prospects. It would be foolish not to follow them up as a priority

Yes sheep and beef cattle numbers have declined. If it wasn’t for the massive increase in dairy cows then we would possibly be in a better position. However one has to wonder why hasn’t money been directed towards a breeding programme though yet?

One option was “Economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.” Some 12% of respondents supported this proposition.
A second option was “Protecting the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of slowing down economic growth.” Some 77% of respondents supported this statement.
‘Neither option’, ‘Depends’ or ‘Don’t know’ accounted for 17%.

Wow! I would love to see the result of the same question being asked today. Would be especially interesting in the shadow of the current gloomy economic pontification currently dominating the news. It does lead to an interesting question. What happened? 77% public approval in 1997 for action on climate change. I knew that various sector lobbies had done a lot of damage, and that this had been magnified by the National Parties quest for re-election. But 77% in some ways I hope that was an optimistic figure as if not it underlines a serious failing in the Green movement to capitalise on that support and turn it into action.

While Anita over at kiwipolitico hopes that Labour will not resort to whispering campaigns I hope that Labour do not regain control by the divisive tactics reminiscent of the national parties 2005 campaign.

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2 thoughts on “One Nat who got it

  1. Good post! 🙂

    As I recall, the original Kyoto & Rio climate conferences were well received by the general public, and media spin had not yet painted ‘climate change’ as a threat to business – which became an instant paradigm shift in the Bush II Admin years.

    Once the USA had painted Kyoto protocols as ‘business threats’, as well as having identified military defense activity (ie: dropping bombs) to be detrimental to the environment, there was significant lobbying and media spin to discount climate change and dismiss attempts to make polluters accountable for the consequences of their actions.

    Nandor could provide more info on this, he had an amazing handle on the various arguments as the Waste Minimisation Bill was being developed (as did his team of researchers and epa).
    [*That’s my disclaimer – I’m recalling someone else’s research!*]

  2. In a lot of respects (although he was much more enthusiastic about neo-liberal economic theory than the vast majority of Greens) Upton was a lot closer politically to the Greens than he was to most of his fellow Nats.

    Remember that he was also the Minister who gave us the Resource Management Act that his successors are now trying to gut.

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