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Head in sand, or eye on the future?

Editorial

It's a hard conversation, how to limit greenhouse gas emissions and the warming of our planet — and many people don't want to have it.

Some readers were horrified at the prognosis of investment consultant Dr Paul Winton, covered in Saturday's paper, that to do our bit to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5C we could not replace cattle, stop felling trees and, yes, we definitely need to get petrol and diesel out of our lives within five to 10 years.

A key point is that the first two responses are the sort of actions that could be required to meet the 1.5C average global temperature rise (since pre-industrial times; we're up about 1C already) scenario embedded in the Zero Carbon Act 2019, that aims to get the country to net zero emissions by 2050.

Projecting out three decades seemed to comfort people but in reality “this battle is won or lost in the next five to 10 years”.

For now there was no real, meaningful action on climate change from either central or local government, he said. The risks for businesses and consumers came from either a continuation of not taking enough action, or a future government getting heavy-handed — and it would only take a few big climate change-exacerbated weather events to transform political sentiment.

A major capital reallocation was required for New Zealand to lower its greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to be pulling its weight in the global effort. Part of Dr Winton's argument was that we all needed to be factoring in these issues and scenarios, to prepare our “business and life for this new world”.

Cue some angry responses to The Herald for publishing these views in a front-page story, and no doubt to Trust Tairawhiti also for bringing Dr Winton to Gisborne.

The 2016 Paris Agreement fudges the rapid action required to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5C somewhat by acknowledging it is nigh-on impossible; while countries signed up to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase to 1.5C, the long-term goal in this key international accord is to keep the rise in global average temperature to “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels”.

As Dr Winton said, the world is currently on track for a 2.3C-4.4C rise in global average temperature.

If you and your business are not assessing the risks around climate change and the likelihood we will be required to act aggressively in the near future, you are not thinking long term. We should all thank Dr Winton for the warning.

Leave a Reply to Craig Bauld Cancel reply

  1. Dave says:

    If you want someone who knows what they are talking about, talk to Dr Mike Joy. I find that I can’t disagree with what he says at all. All common sense.

  2. Peter Jones says:

    I’m more worried about assessing the risks associated with falling for climate change, which is a global initiative fostered by UN agenda 21 to achieve the UN social development goals that Jacinda has promised to lead the way in. The chief way that the UN agenda is to be rolled out is through non-government organisations such as Trust Tairawhiti and the UN openly states that these non-government driven initiatives will be paid for by the people themselves.
    It is fitting that Trust Tairawhiti would bring in an agenda-driven individual like Dr Winton and try to achieve consensus based on his views.
    It shows you whose side the trust is on and it’s definitely not the people of Gisborne.
    If you are worried about the agenda driven nature of our leadership vote Jennie Brown, NZ Public Party local candidate in the election, so we can get an inquiry into the politics that is driving Corporate Local Government.

  3. Bob Hughes says:

    Thanks Editor
    Like you said, “We should all thank Dr Winton for the warning.” And “If you . . . are not are not assessing the risks around climate change and the likelihood we will be required to act aggressively in the near future, you are not thinking long term.”
    Please readers, believe it. It is getting late.

  4. Craig Bauld says:

    Jeremy, lots more people would be happy to join the conversation if you would stop crawling to the Europeans who manipulated the argument to include animals. No sensible person denies that digging up the carbon sequestered over billions of years and burning it off into our atmosphere in a couple of hundred years will have a dangerous effect. But you insist on featuring “experts” who don’t understand elementary biology. That just consigns them, and you, to my “why would I bother arguing with ill-educated nongs” group. Like listening to people who think only forests originating after 1989 are important. That’s a political judgement, not an environmental one.