Guardian exposes NZ shame

So how many times have you been sent a link to this article:

Some countries with big emissions growth started from a low figure in 1990. Arguably, they were playing catchup. There is no such excuse for New Zealand. Its emissions started high and went higher…

Where do all these emissions come from? New Zealand turns out to be mining ever more filthy brown coal to burn in its power stations. It has the world’s third highest rate of car ownership. And, with more cows than people, the country’s increasingly intensive agricultural sector is responsible for approaching half the greenhouse gas emissions.

Fred Pearce’s Guardian article has arrived in my inbox several time already today.  So, even if nobody else, my overseas acquaintances are reading it, and rapidly changing their opinion on New Zealand. As Russel Norman says it’s a massive economic risk:

“Brand New Zealand” is one of our greatest assets, and we’re rightly proud of our international reputation for being a small but effective country that punches above its weight in the international arena. But if we are going to add our environmental image to that brand, it needs to be authentic, and it needs to stand up to scrutiny.

And as No Right Turn notes any reason that gets people taking notice and doing something is good – whether it is losing money or the even bigger picture.

Personally I don’t think New Zealanders are engaged in the level of spin or hagiography that Pearce alleges. Most do genuinely believe in protecting and celebrating New Zealand’s environment. But we have failed for decades now to convert those personal beliefs into political action. Our failure to turn our personal believes into public political action allows ministers like Tim Groser and Nick Smith to get away with this sort of game playing. It’s an embarrassment, a very public one.

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