Zero Carbon Bill Submission

I'm not overly familiar with the Zero Carbon Bill, but I'm aware of its general purpose and what's at stake if it's done badly. I've written the following in the online form - submissions close tomorrow. You are all welcome (if you so desire) to copy my words or modify them to make them your own. Please, whatever you do, if you're an NZ voter, exercise your democratic right (and moral responsibility) and make a submission!

Comments

As a nation, we in New Zealand must ensure that all sectors of our industry as well as individuals are responsible - morally and fiscally - for the full weight they put on our shared environment. This is especially true for our agricultural industries which have previously been given immunity to measures that would make them accountable. Let us also enforce our existing regulations (which our regional government appears incapable of doing effectively today).

The real problem, that this bill doesn't seem to address, is that we need to achieve less than zero carbon production to make a real difference. And we need to take real, broad structural action to change the status quo in NZ, where we're perpetually digging ourselves a deeper hole.

It doesn't matter how much we, as a nation, affect the overall picture of the impending anthropogenic climate catastrophe - we must lead the change if we want to be able to respect ourselves and preserve any moral authority in the world. This will mean that our corporations lose profit. So be it. Their profits were illusory to begin with because they were not bearing the real cost of their profit-making activities. They continue to have an overpowering incentive to privatise their profits and socialise their costs - namely polluting our shared Commons. The people of NZ need our Government - who work for us, the voters - to stop pandering to profiteers, and help them recognise their moral obligation to our society - to stop sweeping the unsustainable aspects of their businesses under the Commons carpet.

To date, our "growth-über-alles" focused economic policy has resulted in profit-motivated entities (corporations) extracting value from our common environment, and replacing it with a festering mess of ruined land and damaged societies their fundamentally unsustainable practices leave behind - their profits have come at the expense of our future selves: while they and their shareholders have all the wealth (and, sadly, the political influence that comes with it), they have robbed us of some of our most precious things: biodiversity, beauty, equity, and a benevolent environment. They have shackled all of us and future generations with the monstrous cost of cleaning up their mess.

Recommendations

We must ensure that for-profit interests in NZ (be they multinationals or entirely domestic) are subject to the full cost of their production, and specifically with respect to carbon release. I am specifically talking about our agriculture industry. It is a false economy to allow them to be unaffected by our urgent need to change the structure of our economy. We must halt the "externalities" foisted upon us by those interests, and often subsidised by our government (at, of course, the expense of those affected by it, the taxpayer - we pay handsomely for the rod that will beat us).

To achieve a zero (net) carbon existence, we must also cut our nation loose from international agreements and treaties (like the TPPA) which grant special privileges to multinational corporate interests and threaten our sovereign ability to make just laws to preserve our shared environment - our precious and vital Commons.

Over all, though, we need to go deeper - we need to sequester more carbon than we produce to have a real impact on the impending climate disaster. We need to do much more than achieve "net zero carbon". Again, we need decisive and united action from our government, supported by policy and action by everyone.

Let us remove "growth" and GPD from our government's economic policy vocabulary. We need to aim for prosperity and equity. Every single person in our government should be conversant with the concepts described in Kate Raworth's "Doughnut Economics" which spells out

  •  all the ways in which current economic concepts have created a vicious circle of decline, by being built upon flawed assumptions, and balances that grim picture with
  •  a series of thoughtful policy aims and tangible measures which we can remedy the deeply flawed economic thinking of the past century.

We don't have time for any more adjustments around the fringes - that's just "rearranging the deck chairs" at this point. We have to start making hard, structural changes, and we need the motivations behind this Bill to be combined with clear thinking like that of Ms Raworth to do what is right, even if it is not what is most profitable for a few corporate interests. Let us explicitly value our Commons more than we value those whose reason for existing is to exploit it at the expense of the rest of us.

Update 2019-07-16: submissions are no longer being accepted, but I've just been shown this superb, well researched and presented submission by my friend Dr Christine Dann which is well worth a read... and well worth referencing when you're talking to people about this existential threat.