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Why virtual silence about climate change during election?

Nov 14th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Article, Opinion

NewsWire writer ANNE CORNISH, who has been writing stories about climate change, the emissions trading scheme and recycling, ponders why these environmental issues barely rated a mention during the election:

HOW bizarre it is that, in the excitement of an election campaign, we seem to have forgotten all about climate change and sustainability.

It is unlikely the issue has gone away. I suspect our climate is still changing, yet we are choosing not to notice.

Even the Green party wasn’t making a lot of noise about it during the campaign. Surely they don’t think the emissions trading scheme is the only solution. Isn’t it just the first step on the long and tortuous path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

I’m disappointed in the performance of the Greens in the lead-up to the election. They seem to be wary of the tag “loony greenies”, to the point where they are so hell-bent on being reasonable and non-alarming, they avoid confronting us with the deteriorating state of our planet.

According to Bernard Merwood of the Values Party, green politics is either pale (pressure groups) or dark (survival politics).

 It seems to me that our Green party is at the palest of pale green end of the spectrum. They had such a low profile in the campaign, all I can remember of them is a dud stunt about catching buses and Sue Kedgley muttering a bit about food.

Where are the dire warnings about our consumer lifestyle and its effect on climate change, using up the world’s resources; and the pollution of our own waterways, the air we breathe, and soil?

And where has this timidity got them? They are going to have very little clout in the new Parliament.

I am afraid for our environment under this new regime. Are we going to be dependent on Nick Smith to be its guardian? Quelle horreur.

And even more horrible, the spectre of Rodney Hide and his desire to get rid of the emissions trading scheme looms before us. (I’m not sure which is worse for our environment, ignoring climate change or trying to bring back Roger Douglas).

It was reassuring to see John Key on TV firmly stating he won’t have Douglas in his cabinet, and we will continue to have some form of emissions trading scheme. Stick with it, John, I say. Stay staunch.

Mr Key’s previous statements on the emissions trading scheme have made it obvious he will make changes.

He has stated a desire for more free allocations of emissions units, for big business not to be unfairly advantaged over small businesses by being allocated emissions permits, and to make the scheme fiscally neutral rather than the Government profiting from it.

So we can expect changes along these lines. And allowing forest owners to offset deforestation liability by planting equivalent forest elsewhere; this has been a hotly debated sticking point of the current legislation.

But we need a strong advocate for cleaning up our environment.

I don’t see that coming from the National Party, United Future, or Act. So it’s up to the Greens. That is their raison d’etre, isn’t it? I hope to see them come up with the goods this parliamentary term, and maybe they will poll better in the next election if they make a strong show of identifying environmental problems and suggesting practical solutions.    

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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