Now is not the time for New Zealand to be sticking its head in the sand over climate change over climate change, no matter what Rodney says.


Last week, Americans around the world were being kissed by strangers; so happy was the global population that the fine people of the US of A had chosen vision and hope over fear and greed. I cannot say the same feeling prevailed over the Land of the Long White Cloud on Sunday morning. Most people were too perplexed that Roger Douglas had risen from the ashes. (I for one had been certain “80s revival” only extended to garish wardrobes, but seemingly not).

In the library quiet of the election booth, Kiwis chose change and tax cuts, which is fine; democracy is democracy after all. But I admit to despair when I woke this morning to hear ACT Rodney Hide on the wireless, proposing to hold National over a barrel over climate change. Rodney “can’t wait for a warmer Invercargill” Hide wants the emissions trading scheme scrapped before he goes into coalition. He envisages the scheme being “a sticking point”. Hide is a notorious climate sceptic. For him to make calls on climate policy is like a teetotaller judging a beer competition. If you don’t buy the premise, how can you support the conclusion?

John Key, while fervently against the idea of New Zealand being a leader when it comes to climate policy, is also a realist. He has gagged climate sceptics in his caucus, and reversed his stance on global warming, because he knows that for a New Zealand government to ignore this rapidly unfolding crisis is not politically feasible. But he is likely to do the absolutely minimum to keep New Zealand’s head above water on the issue. If he were to cave in to Hide, it would have massive ramifications, not only for his standing as a leader but also for New Zealand’s relationship with trading partners and with consumers overseas who buy our products.

The world’s response to climate change is ramping up. New Zealand was just keeping pace under Labour and the fear now is that we are rendered luddites. The UK has just passed the progressive Climate Change Bill, and the US has just elected a new president who listed “a planet in peril” as one of his key challenges. Obama went up in world’s estimation because of strong stance on climate change; if he’s not careful, Key will suffer the opposite.