Thursday, March 30, 2006

This week I have had the pleasure of attending the Climate Change and Governance Conference here in Wellington. As the organisers said, it was a unique event for New Zealand as it was the first held in a setting where human induced climate change was accepted as fact.

I was however reminded of my letter to the editor of North & South - published only last November - where I had a crack at them for publishing a pre-election climate policy commentary from one Augie Auer. Auer - a meteorologist writing as a "climate expert" - started with "... first of all the Earth is not warming catastrophically." Auer then proceeded to justify his stance with a discussion of Kiwi weather. No word of climbing temperature and CO2 levels - no mention of the famous hockey stick shaped graph curve. And thats all I'll say right now about the media and environmental issues...

Anyhow, the conference had many an impressive speaker that collectively provided a timely reminder that our Government needs to provide clear policy direction. NZ business relies on strong policy in order to make investment decision, and ultimately policy will impact us as consumers as we are at the heart of our economy. I thought a key point made was the recommendation to establish a multi-party process to set policy. It's an obvious step with a good chance of producing policy to break through the political cat fighting that presently has us in no-mans-land. Our MMP setting means that policy established cross-party is a must.

The conference has come at a time when questions of climate change are in the news. Cyclone Larry, Westport water shortages, Matata cleanup, and the current Time Magazine. If you are still in doubt whether human induced climate change is real, just ask anyone from the insurance industry.

Climate scientists call it mitigation, we lay-people can simply see it as "how can we make a difference". ShoppingFix will provide a tool to make simple everyday decisions that contribute to emissions reductions. Supporting businesses that are energy efficient, that avoid intensive resource use where possible, and that treat the earth with the respect it deserves. Government has been unable to provide a setting for business to create tools, but ShoppingFix is happy to step in. In thinking about what we can do, I'm reminded of a scene from The Life of Brian (yes, the best film ever made). A rather satisfied Brian addresses the people from his balcony: "You've got to think for yourselves, you're all individuals!"

A valuable post conference event was a film and discussion evening at Paramount Theatre. 500 Wellingtonians showed up, paid their $10 and bounced comments and questions off David Vaughan who sits on the IPCC. If you're in ChCh tonight I urge you to go and listen to Lord Ron Oxburgh (ex Chair of Shell) at the Town Hall 7.30pm (its free). The Wellington conference, the Paramount event, and the Oxburgh talk are all crucial opportunities for us to get objective climate change information. More information will lead to better individual decisions. If the politicians cant provide leadership, as consumers we certianly can.

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