A Canadian speaks to “Down Under” Countries

Australia is retreating from a strong climate change policy. New Zealand is wavering.  Why should Canadians worry about such developments down under?

Gordon McBean, a Canadian climatologist who is the President elect of the International Council for Science, encouraged New Zealand to take a strong stand on climate change.  He referred to the world wide increase in GHG emissions, the result of many countries, including Canada, not reducing their emissions. In his opinion, the world needs fresh inspiration, and a leading role by New Zealand as a down under country could embarrass other countries into following its example.

The New Zealand Parliament is elected using the mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) voting system.  This system encourages the formation of political parties, currently eight in number, all of whom seek representation in Parliament.  These parties all have policies on climate change.

  • The governing National Party will reduce GHG emissions by 2020 to the Kyoto target, but there are questions  whether its program and proposed path for reductions can assure this result.
  • The Labour Party is relatively more determined and promises a transition to a green, i.e. non-carbon, economy.
  • The Greens also have a transition strategy aiming at carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • The New Zealand First party proposes research and incentive programs for individual users to move to renewable energy.
  • Three other parties, the Maori, United Future and Mana-Internet party, have sensible programs to reduce emissions, but minimal representation in Parliament.
  • The ACT party – which has no representation in the current parliament – will not “act” to reduce emissions  as such efforts would be inconsequential.

Is the proliferation of political parties an advantage for the development of climate change policy?  We can only wait and see!

Side bar thought:  would electoral reform in Canada result in a similar proliferation of political parties?


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