I’m considering building a panic room. No, not for if the US elections go horribly wrong, but because the 2008 Vote for the Environment poll has confirmed that neither of New Zealand's two main political parties cuts it when it comes to climate change.
As the NZ general election looms, Vote for the Environment looks at the fact that New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly increasing, our oceans are being depleted of fish, our rivers, lakes and streams are polluted and our treasured native plants and animals face extinction. The survey asked all eight political parties whether they’d implement 25 environmental policies identified as critical to turn around this decline in New Zealand's environment. They were invited to say "yes" or "no" and given space to qualify or otherwise comment on their answers.
Both Labour and National refused to make clear commitments, instead obfuscating as they are wont to do. It’s entirely possible that their answers have contributed to global warming. Perhaps most frighteningly, National had the worst response of any responding to climate change, scoring a tragic 4/20 on climate. This is the kind of result that would demand a parent-teacher meeting; it’s worse than “could do better”. It’s more like a did not attend class.
For full survey results see here: http://www.environmentvote.org.nz/party-ratings.asp
National’s climate score is an indication of why we confronted them over climate change last week at John Key’s electorate office. There’s been some criticism of our targeting a single party with our “Ready-Lawn” activity, but let’s be honest: it’s the National Party whose energy and environment policies (not to mention election campaign) barely mention climate change; it’s the National Party which declined to support the emissions trading scheme and is likely to amend the scheme to give agriculture even more of a free ride than it currently has; it is National that labelled the cutting down of forests a chainsaw massacre but then refused to identify intensive dairy farming as a cause, or offer solutions, and it is the National whose caucus includes notorious climate change sceptics and Gerry - “sexy coal” – Brownlee.
A commitment to being non-party political and not aligning ourselves with any political party underpins everything Greenpeace does. But we reserve the right to target those we believe have a responsibility to front up over an issue. And right now it’s vital that we hear more from the boys in blue about how they plan to keep New Zealand green.
Meanwhile, in cities and towns nation-wide, over 650 Greenpeace supporters have gone public with their demand that our planet’s survival be put before that of our politicians. Our Earth before Politics billboards have been a hit, and now grace fence posts and front windows from Gore to Ahipara.
The message is clear. It doesn’t matter what party colour you wear, or which way you swing, climate change must take precedence over politics. And we want climate change to be at the forefront of every New Zealanders mind when their pens hit paper in the polling booth.
Thanks to everyone who’s helped to spread the word.