Dear John..

By | December 5, 2008

I finally got around to writing this letter to NZ prime minister John Key as part of Morgue’sDon’t be a Rodney” campaign. It’s probably a bit long, but, well, I had to get that all off my chest, and the key point is summarized at the end.

So far, I’ve only emailed it in, but I might print and send it when I’m back in New Zealand in a week.

Dear Mr Key,

I’m writing with regards the agreement on climate change policy in your party’s confidence and supply agreement with ACT.

From reading this agreement, it seems that the National party supports reasonable policy to meet New Zealand’s Kyoto responsibilities, and perhaps, policy that allows us to reinforce our international image, and allow us more latitude in the implementation of policy by taking some modicum of leadership.

However, it is also abundantly clear that ACT does not support this, and indeed considers it all to be a hoax, perpetrated by some unknown party for unknown or poorly substantiated reasons. From his statements in the house on September 2, it is clear that Rodney Hide, in particular, believes this fiercely. Furthermore, it seems that he was successful in shackling you to what will likely prove to be both a foolish and unpopular policy that, by returning to minority opinions already disgraced in years past, can only undermine you and make New Zealand appear foolish on the international stage.

I respectfully recommend and request that you either act to amend this portion of your agreement with ACT, or, while working within the provisions of that agreement, move swiftly to bypass the Mr Hide’s obsession by enacting the Emissions Trading Scheme as swiftly as possible. In particular, you should move past the ‘scientific review’ stage dictated to you in your agreement as swiftly as possible, and with a resounding acknowledgement of both the existence and magnitude of this problem.

I would like to offer the following arguments for why this would benefit New Zealand, the world, and you personally:

– First, and most obviously, climate change is perhaps the most significant challenge to face humanity. Naive appreciations of the problem in which global warming is thought of as an expensive annoyance are deeply flawed. Changes in climate tie into a web of global problems that, taken together, have the potential to be absolutely catastrophic. Changes in weather patterns could easily (and are most likely to) lead to massive disruptions in the global food supply at a point in time when the world is running low on cheap fertiliser from fossil fuels. Furthermore, small changes in climate now have the potential to (as they have in the past) lead to more catastrophic changes such as those associated with disastrous warming events in the deep past. Controlling our emissions is but one part of combating these possibilities, but one that is extremely important.

– New Zealand holds a great deal of prestige for its ‘clean, green’ image. This prestige factors strongly into our attractiveness as a tourist destination, our national pride, and in our ability to ‘punch above our level’ in international discussions. By arbitrarily back-pedaling at this stage, we stand to look like fools and diminish this prestige, just as the US finally begins to come around to dealing with the problem.

– There is significant economic opportunity in adapting current infrastructure and technology for reduced emissions. By moving swiftly, we open incentives for New Zealand companies to invest in improving our domestic infrastructure and, by doing so, place them and us in a strong position within the emerging global green technology industry. By moving slowly and, worse, by making our country seem backwards on this issue, we both lose opportunities, and increase the likely costs as we play catch up as the rest of the world forces us to control our emissions.

– Leading up to the election, your party participated in the development of the ETS bill. Furthermore, a strong mandate exists for New Zealand to move in this direction. Now, following the election, it seems that you have been emasculated by ACT, and forced to accept policies that do not echo your party’s policy, the mandate of the people, or the opinions of the best minds of our time. You must know how foolish this makes you look. It is emphatically in your best interest that you assert yourself and show us that you can be the leader you said you would be during your campaign.

You campaigned on a platform of making a place we are proud of. I simply cannot see how allowing yourself to be led around by Mr Hide on this issue helps you in that goal. I beseech you to do the right thing for New Zealand, yourself and the world, by moving swiftly to pass the Emissions Trading scheme.