"Lowering our carbon footprint within a justice transition framework, will actually lead to increased well-being from more active lifestyles, more connected communities, better health and life expectancy, fewer suicides, alongside cleaner air and rivers."
My name is Paul Bruce
I am a Class one Meteorologist, and worked as a senior weather forecaster at NZ Meteorological Service over 33 years.
Most recently, I served three terms as a Greater Wellington Regional Councillor fighting for the retention of the 100% electric trolley buses and for light rail.
The Limits to Growth reports from the Club of Rome shifted me towards sustainable living and a vegan diet, using a bicycle for everyday commuting in Wellington.
However, in spite of our activism, we have seen NZ economy move to free market consumerism, a tripling of our carbon footprints, 50% of New Zealanders flying overseas every year and more vehicles than people. This has resulted in an obesity epidemic, the lowest air quality vehicle standards in the western world, polluted rivers and large numbers of youth suicides.
Lowering our carbon footprint within a justice transition framework, will actually lead to increased well-being from more active lifestyles, more connected communities, better health and life expectancy, fewer suicides, alongside cleaner air and rivers.
Of particular concern is the growing risk of moving beyond climate change tipping points with greenhouse gases concentrations last seen 3 million years ago when sea levels were 7 metres higher than present.
Not implementing strong enough measures to address this emergency will, on the other hand, lead to the eventual collapse of civilization, as we know it.
1: Urgency, enforceability and RMA
We recommend giving the Commission greater power to set targets and budgets, comparable to those of the Reserve Bank in setting interest rates.
The consequences of too little action implemented too slowly will be catastrophic.
Remove clauses which state “emissions budgets are not enforceable by law” and “that a person or body may, if they think fit, take the target into account”.
And replace with something like:
‘ Every person or body shall demonstrably take the relevant target and emissions budget into account in the exercise or performance of a public function, power, or duty conferred on that person or body by or under law.’
Repeal clauses SS104E and 90A in the Resource Management Act which forbid consideration of climate change risks in RMA decisions.
Be ambitious with strong net zero targets included for 2030, including short-lived methane –
Targets for 2050 are irrelevant if we pass tipping points during the next decades.
NZ studies suggest that 10% methane reduction by 2030 is too low a demand when 20% is easily possible.
NZ scientists such as Mike Joy, affirm that New Zealand has too many cows for a pasture-based system. Having intensified and overstocked areas suitable for dairying (Taranaki, Waikato), farmers have relentlessly expanded into completely unsuitable areas (Canterbury, the McKenzie Country, Southland).
It is an absolute joke to say that we are feeding the world, when we converted forests, cereals and horticulture to dairy farming in the most inappropriate places, selling our milk powder to lactose intolerant Asians, and bringing on heart disease and cancer within New Zealand. Methane and nitrous oxide from Dairy farming has the largest single warming impact, with methane warming potential 84 increased to 112 when adjacent to our exotic pine plantations, which give off volatile organic monoterpenes.
Our goal should be to “save the world by pioneering a new food system built for human and environmental resilience in the face of climate change”.
3: Bring agriculture immediately into the ETS and eliminate the 95% subsidy
The future may be a more creaturely world running on mostly plant-captured solar power with a major part of people’s material needs being grown, harvested, and crafted within a few miles of their homes, and the earth’s biosphere functioning steadily, resilient to impacts, with humans playing a vital part as stewards
- Establish a formal program for building carbon in soils with appropriate farming methodology
- Invest significantly in the uptake of plant-based regenerative farming
- Grant landowners "cumulative credits" for overall carbon sequestration across their farming operation
- End intensification of the herd by banning new dairy conversions and any further livestock intensification
- Ban synthetic Nitrogen fertiliserStop the import of animal feed
4: Energy sufficiency and degrowth
The question of limits and rapidity of emission reductions needed, means that the need for energy rationalisation is a far greater priority for dealing with climate change than the development of renewables. Renewables can power our economies but only if our economies are smaller
The bulk of emission reductions thus needs to come from demand management and wider use of existing low emission technologies, and commission membership should reflect this. For example, electric airplanes do not yet exist for use on domestic air routes, and are some way off, but electric buses and trains do. Greater localization prioritizing public transport, walking and cycling, with passive (warm) solar homes, rain water collection, community farming will also facilitate this.
The current EU target is to ramp up production of Electric Vehicles 200 times by 2030.
This would lead to an increased demand for production inputs of cobalt, lithium, nickel and copper to
build the electrical vehicles and batteries. However, at 100 times the current demand for batteries
(required to replace existing fossil fuelled vehicle fleet), world cobalt resources would be exhausted
in 8 months, lithium in 5 years, nickel in 4 months and copper in 5 months
Commission a report on an energy sufficiency agenda to complement the development of renewables
In preparation for carbon reductions by individuals and businesses, accompany all tax returns with a carbon account
5: International shipping and aviation
Explicitly include international aviation and shipping in the Zero Carbon Act, in order to create a framework to begin designing policy instruments to bring about a large reduction.
Legislation should require that airlines and shipping lines pay a carbon price for their emissions at least the equivalent of that borne by NZ companies, to an already existing international fund to assist climate action in least developed countries.