By Suzi Kerr
The biggest environmental issue that New Zealand must address seriously now is climate change mitigation. In doing this we need to show leadership, use science (especially economics and psychology), and have politics focus on what really matters to voters.
The following post was originally presented as a speech at the Auckland University Business School Ballot Box event on Wednesday, August 13.
Why climate change?
It is irreversible, cumulative, systematic (affects all aspects of life on earth), and complex. While solutions need not be expensive if done well, they will involve all aspects of our society: economy, culture, diet, identity, recreation …
Climate change is the greatest threat to our biodiversity, water resources and oceans in the long term. In contrast to climate change, water issues are mostly reversible and biodiversity issues are more focused in both the effects and the solutions.
Addressing these other environmental issues is good and will often help with climate change but we cannot effectively address climate change only through related issues: significant opportunities will be missed and some effort will be misdirected. For example many people still talk about insulation programs as climate policy despite strong evidence that in the short run at least, they have had almost no effect on emissions.
So what should we be discussing about climate change in the context of the election?