Australia is without a doubt a worse perpetrator. In 2018, it broadcast about twice as much per. Person, as New Zealand did. We have yet to see a prime minister fall because they tried to do something about climate change. While New Zealand mines coal, it does not do so anywhere near the scale that Australia does. Our electricity market is almost all renewable thanks to our giant water dams; Australia’s is almost all based on fossil fuels. And we have a way of pricing carbon emissions – a complex ceiling and trade scheme rather than a direct carbon tax.
Probably the most appealing thing a Kiwi politician could get caught by waiting in line at the post office.
Still, the country has rested on its laurels so emissions can creep up over the years. Without huge forest fires, climate change still feels like something happening to other countries, even though farmers are struggling with the recent drought. The Hydro dams – largely built long before climate change was a political issue – give us a useful build in electricity generation, but we have not built a new one for decades, while wind and solar are unlikely to be able to power all the new generation of electric cars we get. need.
Then there is our largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions: agriculture. Decades after we got rid of subsidies for this most stereotypical of Kiwi industries, the sector enjoys an effective subsidy for climate change. All other emissions are part of the emissions trading scheme, it is not agriculture. Dairy producers, who are generally the newest on the spot and also the most guilty, retain a large amount of political influence.
There is a legitimate debate about whether methane emissions – which are more harmful than carbon dioxide emissions in the short term but go away much faster – need to be accounted for as they are. But that is generally not the debate. Instead, there is a lot of talk that metropolitan bureaucrats do not understand how difficult it is to cultivate the land.
Ask Ardern about this, and she will note that New Zealand technically has a plan to price agricultural emissions – by 2025. But that may prove politically impossible. Even a policy that could increase taxes on new higher emitting vehicles such as Utes, has already prompted nationwide marches from farmers. A proper charge on methane emissions is likely to get tractors driven up Parliament’s steps again. If the government does not keep its nerve, it will be difficult to disagree with Greta Thunberg’s withered attrition of the Ardern at the end of September: “It’s funny that people think that Jacinda Ardern and such are climate leaders. It just tells you how little people know about the climate crisis. ”
Ardern speaks a great game. But emissions continue to rise.
Henry Cooke is the Chief Political Reporter at Stuff.co.nz