This year's Budget - just presented by Finance Minister Michael Cullen - does not read like the Budget of a Government committed to solving climate change.
Here's a couple of new initiatives contained therein:
- $1 million over four years will assist communities and local government to adapt to the physical impacts of climate change.
- Transport Minister Annette King also announced the government will provide $4.8 million over four years to enhance weather forecasting for severe weather events.
How ambulance at the bottom of the cliff is that?! "Hold on to your hats New Zealanders, we know climate change is coming, but don't worry we'll let you know in good time and we'll help fix a drainpipe in the aftermath."
This is a government that talks big on climate, wielding words like "carbon neutrality" and "sustainability" like they're enough to save us. But this rhetoric has once again not been matched by action, or funding.
Admittedly there is some solid investment in energy efficiency in the Budget, but most of the initiatives come care of the Green Party. There's also the Fast Forward fund, $700m which will go into agricultural research, a crucial area in which we need to gain ground. But all in all, this is not a budget for a society facing climate change and a government ostensibly trying to motivate its industry and people to reduce greenhouse pollution so as to avoid the worst costs and impacts. New Zealand's fiscal commitment to tackling climate change won't even touch the sides.