Speakers at the EYE of the STORM conference in Wellington this week are echoing the call made by Wise Response in 2014. The Wise Response appeal was signed by more than 6000 people including academics, former senior politicians and ordinary New Zealanders. The appeal called for the government to assess the risks in five priority areas (economic, energy, ecological and climate security, rapid decarbonisation of the economy and debt-driven consumerism) and from those recommendations, ‘design cross-party policies to avert any confirmed threats to give future generations the very best chance of security, peace, social justice and opportunity’. It was tabled in Parliament by Kennedy Graham.
Two years later a non-partisan approach to these serious issues has been strongly echoed by several speakers at the Eye of the Storm conference taking place this week at Victoria University in Wellington. University Vice Chancellor Grant Guildford called for policy which can guide action for 30 years and an end to the myopic focus on the cost of mitigating climate change. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown also called for a cross-party consensus. Kiribati President Anote Tong argued that progress to making the Paris Climate conference agreement deliver on its promise requires a serious move towards global solidarity on climate issues. Victoria University Lawyer Dr Dayle Takitimu argued for solidarity amongst the people’s of the Pacific to address climate change.
So, an ever increasing number of people who are deeply involved with the issues believe that limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius can only be achieved by working together across traditional party and national lines. The rapid changes in energy use, industry, agriculture and lifestyle require consensus over decades and not just months or years they are saying. It’s a growing and powerful message that our government could provide leadership for. The 2014 Wise Response presentation did not result in this change. To date the NZ response to the Paris climate agreement, advocating co-ordinated and measurable international action, has been disappointing. Let us hope that the ‘take away message’ from the Eye of the Storm conference of the need for a non-partisan approach and for international solidarity will convince the government to redouble their efforts in the serious work addressing climate change.