GUEST BLOG: Christine Dann – Full steam ahead for the Climate Change Corporation?

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The day after the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced that he had appointed Rod Carr to be Chair of the non-existent* Climate Change Commission, my partner Martin received a begging letter from Shaw asking him to donate $80 today to Shaw’s party to “show that the fight against climate change will be won through people power and not by corporate interests.”

Martin laughed.

If someone who has been a director of multiple companies, held executive or management positions in others, been a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, and chaired the Ministerial Inquiry which led to the corporatisation of New Zealand’s public health system between 1993 and 1997 is not a supporter of corporate interests – who  is???

The chief executive of BusinessNZ (a bona fide supporter of corporate interests) called Carr a “strong” appointee and said his organisation looked forward to selection of “similarly high-quality candidates for the remaining commission positions.” The National Party’s climate change spokesperson Scott Simpson welcomed Carr’s appointment, saying he would bring a practical, “level-headed” approach to the role. (Simpson may be hoping that Carr will agree with him that a 10% – not 47% – reduction in methane emissions from agriculture by 2050 is a suitable target.) When announcing Carr’s appointment Shaw himself referenced Adair Turner (a former vice-chairman of finance corporation Merrill Lynch Europe who was the inaugural chair of the UK Independent Committee on Climate Change) thus implying that a corporate management skill set is appropriate for a publicly-funded advisory commission on the most important environmental issue in human history. 

In fact, everyone at the climate change and business conference where Carr’s appointment was announced seemed to agree with ASB chairman Gavin Walker who said that “ Rod is a highly respected executive with broad management, academic and governance skills in the private and public sectors … skills and experience that will be of immense benefit…” Whoops! Sorry – that bit is from a 2018 announcement by ASB on Carr joining the bank’s board of directors. 

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Carr’s role in the disastrous ‘reform’ of New Zealand’s public health system 1993-1997 is recorded in the history of health system reforms in New Zealand on Parliament’s website. The Parliamentary history does not record what these ‘reforms’ felt like to the unsuspecting public on whom they were unleashed, but those who went to public hospitals expecting the usual care during those years were shocked and dismayed when they were asked to pay for it – immediately after the treatment. Just like in America, which has the most expensive and most inequitable health care system in the rich world. Of course most people couldn’t and didn’t pay, and many, many more dollars were wasted on debt collectors, bureaucracy, and causing more misery to already sick people before 2001, when the next Labour-led government created the system we have now. It has its faults, but it is way better than what Carr and Simon Upton (the then Minister of Health and now Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment) cooked up in the 1990s.

Given what a hash Carr and Upton made of health back then, why would anyone even consider letting them anywhere near the environment today? (Especially when Carr has never had any professional interest in the subject, and therefore knows as little about climate change now as he did about public health back then.) There are various theories on this. One is that Shaw’s career before entering Parliament consisted of greenwashing for global finance corporations (specifically the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers and the HSBC bank). He is therefore keen (or only able) to continue doing in the public sphere what he did in the private sector, and naturally gravitates towards the same representatives of corporate interests to do it with. Another theory is that the current Labour caucus contains so few people (three out of forty-six) with both prior ministerial experience and experience of parliament in the 1990s that there is no ‘institutional memory’ of the damage inflicted by Carr (and Upton) back then, and not much ministerial nous either. A third theory is that the current Labour government is as wedded to neo-liberal economics and its economic-growth-at-all-costs ideology as the previous two, and hence regards appointing known neoliberals to high positions as a good thing. These theories are of course not contradictory, and could all be true. 

I suspect that they all are. So where does that put the estimated 170,000 New Zealanders who turned out for the School Strike for the Climate on September 27 (c. 10,000 more than those who voted for Shaw’s party in 2017, and including a great many who will be casting their first vote in 2020) and all their friends and relations who also think that climate change is the most important political as well as environmental issue of the 21st century? Demanding change at the top, I hope.

 

* The Commission at this point exists only in draft form as the major part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. This Bill received just over 15,000 submissions and has been with the Environment Select Committee for the past three months. It is not due to be reported back to Parliament until October 21. The next step after that is for the original Bill to be amended according to any recommendations made by the Select Committee, and then to receive its second reading, where it is debated in the House. Further amendments may be moved by any MP at this stage, and if supported by a majority they become part of the Bill. There are 21 sitting days scheduled for Parliament after October 21st, between October 22 and December 19. Without knowing what other legislation is up for debate and what priority the government accords it, or what will be in the amended bill and how much debate it will provoke, it is hard to know how likely it is that the Bill will pass this year. But since we were told in 2017 that it would be law by October 2018, what’s another year here or there? It’s not like there is a climate crisis or anything.  Or that it is something really important, like stopping an MP from leaving their party, which Shaw’s party helped the government rush through over the summer holiday of 2018.

In any case, unless the amended Bill gives the Commission powers equal to those of the Reserve Bank – to keep emissions under a legal threshold level as the Reserve Bank is required to do with inflation (which were the powers requested by many submissions on the Bill) – then the longer it is before the public have to start funding a toothless Commission and keeping Carr in the corporate lifestyle to which he has become richly accustomed, the better. Will Shaw’s party move such an amendment to the Bill, and will a majority in the House vote for it? Don’t hold your breath…

 

Christine Dann is a political activist and blogger with an MA Hons in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent stuff, what are the pollies doing constantly giving jobs to their neo lib mates.
    Look at all the work Cullen has been pulled in for ridiculous.
    Good expose of Rod Carr and how he has filled his pockets over the years.

    Well the Green party hasn’t done anything of great significance under Shaw’s watch except support the Waka Jumping bill, something Jeanette, Rod et al, and anyone with half a brain were deeply opposed to, what’s more they didn’t need to do this it was never part of Winston’s agreement.

  2. Christine, thank you for a very concise rundown on this matter. I’ve been suspending my own doubts about James Shaw for some time, had a brief piffling dispute with him about the role of the media, and was surprised to hear there was nothing lacking in the media that couldn’t be fixed by a decent business model.
    His approach seems to be primarily designed so as not to frighten the horses, and to appeal to the great presumed mass of centrist voters.
    Not once have I heard the current Greens or Labour support or applaud Jeremy Corbyn, who stands for climate change action and social justice,as well as deploring imperial wars.
    Thanks for countering the collective amnesia about Rod Carr

  3. Thank you for that article…was unaware of Carr’s history re health reforms of the 90s….on that basis alone he is a curious appointment by Shaw.

  4. Thanks Christine.

    That is sooo depressing.

    And next year NZ misses the first of it’s three climate change targets. Being 5% below 1990 levels, which we are currently at least 19.6% over, so only 25% to achieve in a year.

    And the Govt can’t even buy electric vehicles with a budget surplus of over $3B.

    Let alone doing anything substantial.

    We’re f..ked!!

  5. Very astute commentary particularly in exposing the fake that is Shaw the banks man (I too mourn the fact that Rod is turning in his grave over what has happened to the Greens). However, it doesnt take the analysis any further and ask the obvious question as to why the banks would want one of their own to lead the Greens. In my opinion Shaw is a fake and a fraud carrying out the work of the banks. So whats in it for the banks for Shaw to push the global warming agenda? A little history shows that Enron was one of the first to push the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis and the carbon credits trading scam from which they hoped to profit massively from before all their other scams collapsed in on them.

    Far from being anti-science any hypothesis has to be open to continuous rigorous analysis and debate taking into account all the latest developments in scientific research. The central flaw in the global warming hypothesis is that from the beginning it assumed the suns output was relatively static. Since the 1980’s when this assumption was made solar observing satellites (and telescopes) have been launched with increasingly sophisticated monitoring technology. This has lead to much greater understanding of how all solar particles (plus cosmic rays) affect the climates of all the planets in the solar system (many of which have also been observed to be undergoing changes to their climates).

    The short version overview of this new knowledge can be found here (10 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tul07hx8V8w

    The long version (60 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEWoPzaDmOA

    These videos contain:
    1) A literature review of 700+ peer-reviewed papers. 95% from AGU, Elsevier, or TandF- [If you are thinking, “What do those mean?” – stop talking.]

    2) The IPCC has already allowed solar particle forcing for CMIP6 because of the 700+ papers in the last decade. This is in the video but most miss it somehow. It’s happening, I’m just telling you WHY, what is expected to happen by solar physicists, and then connecting some dots across a longer timeline. That’s it.

    3) A nuke tells you that a tiny bit of particle mass is worth tons and tons of energy waves. Climate science focuses on some energy waves and ignores the much more influential particles… until now.

    The next IPCC review will fully include all of this latest data and it will show that (so far) humans are not responsible for the changes seen in the earths climate = the suns energy in its many forms + galactic cosmic rays are the primary drivers of the earths weather. This will destroy the credibility of the Green party movement around the world while Shaw will slink off to a juicy position in a bank somewhere just like John Key well rewarded for helping to destroy the Greens on a fake crusade tilting at windmills.

    Dont believe me (and you shouldnt it took me years to change my mind based on my own reading of the independent research – hell I even used to work for Greenpeace pushing the global warming fairy tale)? Do your own research:

    The Hundreds of Papers That Drove Change in the IPCC Come Mostly From These Key Journals:
    – The Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
    – Advances in Space Research
    – Earth and Planetary Science Letters
    – Space Weather (AGU)
    – Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
    – Geophysical Research Letters
    – Quaternary International
    – Solar Physics (Springer)

    If you have an immediate need to find papers on a specific aspect of the climate, you can do an internet search for things such as “Solar forcing el nino” or “solar geomagnetic polar vortex jet stream” or “solar forcing sea surface temperature” – it’s that easy.

    The earths climate is changing thats for sure and we are still left with the question as to why? That is a whole other rabbit hole not for the faint hearted because what is really happening is far worse than a few degrees of extra warmth:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_zfMyzXqfI

  6. James Shaw is the reason I’m not voting Green at the next election, despite the other excellent people they have on board and despite James himself genuinely doing what he thinks is best. It’s clear from their current behaviour that they aren’t the people we need to solve this problem

  7. Thanks Christine. Maybe we can learn from this that the only way we can be sure that climate action is in the right direction is if it also includes wealth and resource redistribution away from the haves towards the havenots. Its a sure thing that James and Rod will not be trying to redistribute downwards or at the very least cut the excesses at the top. Keeping billionaires as a thing and finding ways to greenwash their excess is not going to cut it.

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