|James Shaw : The corporate sector thinks he's a pleasure to work with.|
Climate Change Minister James Shaw thinks that targeting carbon neutrality in 2050 is 'ambitious'. He's not only wrong but his market-led environmentalism represents a clear and present danger to us all.
THERE IS AN INCREASING recognition within the global environmental movement that the fight against climate change requires major economic change. A mere fiddling with the policy settings will no longer do. We were reminded of this by the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change in 2018. Its report was the same report that warned we have no more than this decade to effectively tackle climate change before the damage done will be irreversible. And some commentators have argued that the report was far too optimistic in its conclusions.
It is this truth that is driving the momentum for the major economic change, the kind being proposed by proponents for a Green New Deal. It has its origins within the progressive wing of the US Democratic Party and it has since been adopted by other political parties such as the UK Labour and by Icelandic Government led by the Green Left's Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
However the full truth of the existential crisis confronting the planet has proven to be too much of an inconvenient one for the conservative leadership of the New Zealand Green Party and, in particular, Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. He has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that the economic transformation demanded by the GND is necessary. Instead he continues to argue that the very economic system that is eating up the planet can be brought to heel. Yes, there is 'green capitalism', Virginia.
It is this ideology that has now led to Shaw announcing that New Zealand’s biggest companies and financial organisations will be required to report on the environmental impact of their business activities and the attendant climate risk. It represents zero threat to the economic status quo and it is little wonder that it has been generally well received by the corporate sector who have always found Shaw such a pleasure to work with.
In a press statement Shaw said : “Today I am pleased I can say to him that businesses up and down the country will now play their part in making this world cleaner and safer..'
With the Green's struggling in the polls, Shaw is obviously playing to the gallery. But it is dangerous nonsense for him to suggest we can create an environmentally friendly capitalism if just a few governmental 'controls' are added. Technical 'fixes' like the one Shaw has just announced to nothing but entrench our present economic system and take us no further in the fight for a transformation of society based on a radically different economic and social paradigm that serves the welfare of people and planet.
In recent days various commentators have been expressing concern about the dangers that Advance NZ and its band of supporters represent. But, really, they are small potatoes and their media profile is far in excess of their actual support on the ground.
The Auckland rally of Advance NZ on Saturday attracted, from most reports, anywhere between 1000-2000 people. It pales in comparison to the 180,000 people who demonstrated throughout the country in September last year, demanding more urgent action on climate change.
Despite making sympathetic noises, the Labour-led Government ignored those demands and we're still supposedly heading to carbon neutrality in 2050, which will be about thirty years too late.
But according to James Shaw, 'the Government has put in place some of the world’s most ambitious climate targets' and the new rules on climate risk reporting 'build on the huge progress this Government has made to tackle the climate crisis.'
According to Shaw these new reporting rules are another 'step on the journey this Government is taking towards a low carbon future for Aotearoa New Zealand and a cleaner, safer planet for future generations.' But the problem is, in the face of the existential crisis that we now confront, we don't have time for the slow, corporate-friendly reforms that Shaw continues to propose. As author and activist Naomi Klein has observed:
'So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us.'
It seems to me that instead of worrying about Advance NZ, we should be worrying about the real and present danger that lives in Parliament right now. The future of the planet is at stake.