The decision by the Green Party to seek a broad consensus on the so-called Zero-Carbon Act has meant that we have a toothless creation that cannot achieve its goal to radically reduce carbon emissions by 2050.
The only tool the government currently has to achieve the goals that have been set – the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – has been spectacularly ineffective so far. New Zealand’s climate change emissions are increasing not decreasing after a decade of using the ETS.
One assumes that the hopes of the sponsors are that by setting the target in law and establishing an independent commission to monitor progress and make recommendations that the public will force further action on future governments.
The weakness of the new Act led to a series of critiques from environmental campaigners and former Green Party leader Russell Norman who was deeply disappointed.
The person appointed to head the independent commission, Rod Carr, was previously deputy governor of the Reserve Bank and headed up an inquiry that led to the brutal restructuring of the health system in the 1990s at the behest of big business.
Every year that passes will exacerbate the failure of the existing system from being able to fix climate change.
What is required is a series of interconnected measures that radically restructure society to put people and the planet before private interests and profits.
The entire energy sector should be a single public utility under democratic control and planning with the duty to end the use of all fossil fuels.
Methods of production in agriculture and industry must be moved towards cooperative forms and democratic planning to achieve our goals.
Finance must be taken out of the ownership and control of for-profit banks and finance companies and made a public utility that is put at the service of the whole society and to finance the transition needed.
These interconnected measures and the scale and urgency needed are being discussed internationally under the banner of a Green New Deal.
The UK Labour Party is making a Green New Deal part of its policy platform. The policy document approved at its national conference is one of the most radical and comprehensive.
Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are making a Green New Deal a central platform of their campaigns.
The failure of the current law to have any meaningful mechanism for achieving its goal should be taken as an opportunity to write our programme of transformative change.
We need a Green New Deal for New Zealand that protects mother earth and priorities and protects the interests of all working people as the transition is made in a just manner.
Maori will be central to a Green New Deal that delivers meaningful social justice in the transition.
We need to end our role in this society as isolated consumers of someone else’s products.
And we need to radically empower local communities to take control of all aspects of our lives – energy, employment, food growing, housing, education, culture.
For a Green New Deal with just a transition and democratic empowerment.