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July, 2023

Primary sector leadership not addressing economics as the real climate change issue

The immediate past president of the Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA) says the leaders of the primary sector and government are ineffectively tinkering with lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Graham West says the key to getting emissions down is to get emitters to appreciate the economic costs of not cutting back their pollution.

“While we bicker over small changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), He Waka Eka Noa, and five-year emission budgets, our leaders do not seem to realise they are focused on things that will make no material change to New Zealand’s climate.”

“We know New Zealand’s contribution to global emissions is less than 0.1% and the world continues to emit about 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into our planet’s atmosphere each year.”

“Yet our strategy is not to address global climate change, but to bicker about domestic emissions budgets. This is like playing marbles in the corner while the house burns down,” Graham West says.

“What should be evident is that global climate change will severely harm New Zealand's economy and ultimately everyone’s standard of living.”

“More intense storms, and probably severe droughts, will hit our primary industries and most types of infrastructure.”

“The physical impacts of flooding, drought, and erosion are already becoming self-evident in primary production loss and infrastructure damage. Yet we seem to think we can adapt and live with these
catastrophes, year on year.”

Graham West says New Zealanders will steadily become poorer, borrowing more and more money overseas to maintain a lifestyle that was previously supplied by a moderate and temperate climate.

“Our strategy should be to work with other similar countries on how to influence the larger emitters and make strong representation that their choice to continue to burn fossil fuels, is hurting our lives and the lives of
many other small nations.”

“Our only successful mitigation option, sequestration in forests, is about to be halted by our leaders.”

“New Zealand’s strategy is to be Carbon Zero by 2050. Yet already the planet has exceeded the safe level of global warming and needs to reverse the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. A virtually
immediate reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide is needed if we are to return to our mild climate that holds such a crucial role in our wellbeing,” Graham West says.

“We seem to be prepared to accept this new climate without realising we're accepting a significant drop in standard of living. I ask our leaders to do some critical thinking, connect the dots, and revise our strategy. Our
discussion on climate change must be international and not just a domestic game of marbles.”

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