Over the last week the world has been made to come to terms with the fact that despite the 24th Convention of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, there exist some fundamental problems. There also exists, according to the United Nations and reinforced by an address by renown biologist Sir David Attenborough, a diminishing window of time to stop run away climate change.
The purpose of COP24 was to create a rule book that the world would agree to conduct its response to climate change by. And not surprisingly, with 200+ nations sending delegations, there was always going to be some disagreements.
New Zealand is part of what is considered a significant force including Canada, and the E.U. bloc who are actively pushing for a response to climate change, citing the threat it poses to humanity and the potential loss of island nations in the Pacific.
There are some powerful forces aligned against the “Rule Book” produced at the recent climate summit in Katowice, in Poland. Specifically Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia have come out against it. None of these nations appear to be co-operating in any way to jeopardize the “Rule Book” so much as they appear to be working for their own interests, though in the background I would not be surprised if Saudi Arabian official and their American counter parts are not having some informal conversations.
I would not be surprised if Australia is also against the “Rule Book”. Whilst it did not appear to be specifically against it, domestically the Liberal Party is for the most part a climate change denial party with emphasis on trying to get the troubled Adani coal mine operational. It agrees with the approach of United States President Donald Trump who denies climate change. And Brazil, which in the past has been an active participant, under its new leader the conservative Jair Bolsonaro who believes that economics are more important than environmental sustainability, also appears to be following Mr Trump.
Coming up with rule book type plans is all well and good and represents significant co-operation between nations on an increasingly problematic subject. The lack of long term vision displayed by New Zealand in terms of how it will tackle this major issue should be of significant concern for everyone. Announcing an oil and gas ban without giving thought to how our energy needs will continue to be met is not something that has gone down well in Taranaki where most oil and gas exploration takes place.
Not everything needs a select committee to determine a course of action though. Nor does it need international meetings halfway around the world to determine rules or guidelines when common knowledge could set them immediately. Simple things such introducing a nation wide aluminium recycling scheme with a payment per kilogram of aluminium dropped off at an approved site can potentially assist straight away. Aluminium is very energy intensive to make because the smelter powers use a lot of electricity. It is also very malleable and the recycling process on needs a fraction of the energy.
Making good on requiring landlords to properly insulate houses will also go someway towards reducing energy needs in individual households. Tens of thousands of properties nationwide are still uninsulated. Some landlords are stalling because they are not prepared to cough up the cost of proper insulation. Some simply do not care and others will not necessarily understand the legal requirements of the legislation. But with six months to go before it becomes mandatory, they are running out of time.