Red Alert

We borrow the world from our children

Posted by on October 25th, 2012

I was reminded today of an ancient proverb:

We do not inherit our world from our parents, we borrow it from our children.

That’s a sound philosophy for any Parliamentarian but, sadly, I doubt many of the MPs on the National side of the House will agree with it.

I very rarely talk about my family in Parliament. I do my best to protect my kids from the vicissitudes of politics because they didn’t chose my job and they miss out on enough with me being in Wellington so often. Today, though, I was thinking about my sons and about their future children.

I know that, if things keep going as they are, then one day my sons will ask “Dad, why didn’t you do more to stop them from destroying our planet?”

National’s Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Bill is very dishonestly named. It’s the National Party’s latest attempt to gut the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) by giving special exemptions to their traditional backers and fundraisers. It’s an attempt to force everyone who sees through National’s spin to give a multi-billion dollar subsidy to people who don’t give a stuff about the next generation of New Zealanders.

Climate change is a scientific fact. It’s not a philosophy, it’s not a political statement. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists around the world say our climate is dangerously changing and humans are contributing to that change. Those who deny the scientific reality are often uninformed, in the pocket of Big Pollution, or lost in the conspiratorial fringe twilight.

Or they’re National Party MPs.

The last Labour Government’s ETS was world leading, moderate, but broad-based. It was a model the rest of the world were looking to as a way to smooth the necessary transition to a low-carbon future. National have already destroyed most of the gains that were made, and today’s children will surely pay the price for their recklessness – just as we’re all paying for National’s recklessness in abolishing Labour’s superannuation scheme in the 1970s.

This latest National environmental vandalism puts New Zealand squarely in the group of climate science denying countries. It’s a 100% Pure Disgrace.

National’s support partner, the Māori Party, are refusing to back National’s latest attack on science, so John Key and his mates are relying on the single vote of Peter Dunne to wreck the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Labour wants the Bill withdrawn, of course. But, as National won’t do that, we’ve put forward amendments, including:

  1. Ensuring the ETS is an all-sectors all-gasses scheme, so everyone plays an equal part in the solution.
  2. Bringing agriculture into the ETS in 2015, as scheduled, so a huge advantage isn’t given to the minority of dirty farmers who’ve done nothing to prepare for this long-established deadline.
  3. Restricting international units to 50% so that New Zealand Units are preferred over international ones, thus protecting our forestry industry.
  4. Make the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) publish annually the amount industries charge their customers for carbon.

National aren’t having a bar of any of it. As I type National MPs are sitting in our Parliament cravenly doing the bidding of their funders in Big Pollution. They genuinely seem to think if they can only get this Bill through then climate change will be history!

When Labour comes to government we will put good science and innovation at the core of our environmental and economic policies. We will put in place policies that support a future that is clean, green and clever.

22 Responses to “We borrow the world from our children”

  1. Bernie says:

    “Climate change is a scientific fact.”

    Regretfully David, it is not.

    Climate change is a spreadsheet.

    You need to wait for the result of the Michael Mann law suite against CEI (



  2. Dv says:

    Yep that will sort it out Bernnie, a law suit!,,,,

  3. Viv K says:

    Thank you Mr Cunliffe. Climate change and the related issue of ocean acidification are urgent, serious problems with potentially catastrophic consequences for our children and grandchildren. Is the Bernie who has commented here perhaps Bernie Napp from Straterra? If so, Bernie is your view on climate change your personal view or the view of the organisation you work for?

  4. Anne says:

    Dear Bernie (Colin)

    Are you perchance a member of this society?


  5. Mark says:

    Hi Bernie (Colin). Great heads up on the spreadsheet. I followed your link and poked around the site.

    Better send the spreadsheet to the this fellow mentioned in another story on the site: “Justin Touchon, post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, discovered that climate change in Panama may be altering frogs’ course of evolution. By analyzing long-term rainfall data collected by the Panama Canal Authority, Touchon discovered that rainfall patterns are changing just as climate-change models predict.”

    This story is that climate change isn’t causing frogs to die, just to evolve. Maybe it could do the same for human beings… however, when Wallace wrote the theory of evolution, before Darwin got involved, it was that the weakest or most stuck who were the ones who died out.

  6. Anne says:

    Seriously Bernie:

    You’re saying the esteemed Judge, his legal and scientific advisers (we’re talking about real scientists here not bogus ones) got it all wrong?

    Get your head sorted.

  7. The Al1en says:

    The argument over whether climate change is man made, or not, is moot.

    Like most things in life, some see a problem and try to fix it.
    Some see a problem and do their best, to the point of ignorance, to try and ignore it, hoping it all goes away.
    If your bath is naturally filling to the point of imminent overflowing, only a fool wouldn’t down turn a tap on full blast.

    And to the idiot that drives the hummer to my work, I’m the bloke walking home to negate your selfishness.
    About time road user charges were linked to engine cc.

  8. Monty says:

    I understand that the whole ETS scam has fallen apart and does not have any support internationally. The “price” of carbon credits is i think at about $5 per tonne. and dropping.

    As I said the ETS is a scam and has essentially impoded upon itself.

  9. jennifer says:

    On Planet Key, the proverb goes ‘we borrow the world from our parents, long enough to grab enough so our children never have to work.’ Of course, ‘and sod the rest of them’ goes unsaid.

  10. The Al1en says:

    “As I said the ETS is a scam and has essentially impoded upon itself.”

    A prime example of what happens when big money says no and the politicians bend over as requested?

    Nero, put down that bloody violin and pick up a bucket. 😉

  11. SJW says:

    Yes, it has been relayed to me that ETS is a dubious arrangement, relying on a similar mechanism as the recent derivative speculation trade boom…..and subsequent bust. I have read a few articles on this matter (one of which I put a link to on my comment above) and am yet to be convinced that creating another speculative market is the best approach.

    I was hoping that someone might write in and explain to me under what rationale NZ chose to use the speculative cap-and-trade approach toward enticing big business to go greener, rather than another option.

    Until I get this point clarified I feel very dubious about two of the main left wing parties supporting such an approach. Am I misunderstanding something? Or is the decision of both Labour & Greens to support ETS indicative of who is supporting these parties financially?

  12. OneTrack says:

    Alien – Time Road User Charges were thrown away competely and diesel taxed at the pump, the same as petrol. Job done. And less administration.

  13. AnnaLiviaPluraBella says:

    Congratulations on an excellent and passionate speech David. Spoken from your heart while drawing on solid evidence.

    To those who bother to engage with Berne/Colin/Deniers: don’t argue with a fool; onlookers might not be able to tell the differance!
    Those fools will never change. Don’t give them the satisfaction of a reaction.

  14. Ehoa says:

    David Parker’s bill in 2008 was excellent legislation but since dumped by John Key’s mob. Interesting to see the “silver spoon” son Simon Bridges (associate Minister for Climate Change) hint at quitting Kyoto in Qatar, which of course would go in line with National’s current stance on climate change.
    While it is imperative something serious be done about climate change there are two questions?

    1) What has Kyoto delivered in terms of global commitment or is it just a talk fest and can more be done by being outside it?
    2)Where is the commitment to capping emissions from the world’s largest polluters – the US, China, India, Brazil et cetra?

  15. SPC says:

    Simply enacting local ETS legislation is not enough to realise change at the global level.

    There needs to be global advocacy for bringing carbon taxation into international trade via the WTO. Thus nations that refuse to enact such local legislative action (because our local corporations control the government or we are still a developing nation etc) still have to comply whenever trade in goods occurs.

  16. SPC says:

    Monty/SJW, thus the proposal for half the credits to come from local sources (to promote local action such as forest planting), rather than offshore. The supporters of the National position oppose this – as they call this an effective carbon tax at the local price.

  17. I just don’t believe in global warming. Shouldn’t we be targeting individual polluters within communities?

  18. Jeremy says:

    What I understand is there are three systems proposed.
    Carbon tax, as an excize tax is passed on to consumers under the public statement that this sends a price signal to the consumer to avoid these goods. However as it is placed on addictive drugs or addictive (short-medium term) oil it is generally a revenue gatherer that does not influence behavior (unless there is a substitute to move to). ie there is no carbon limit.

    The other Kyoto (european style) Cap and trade “Caps” the emissions for a country first, and then the price comes in as you trade with the carbon sinks and non polluting countries if you want to carry on doing business. I think the other is called interest and dividend, which I am less familiar with and gives payments in and out between countries and over time, and can make big green projects viable. Oh and both of these offer credits to countries that help out in the developing world.

    I have also seen evidence that despite the bad rap the US gets for not being in Kyoto it is taking the issue seriously, and a lot of action we don’t hear about is at the state level and there is even an agreement with 6 states around NY and Canada to stop greenhouse and other cross border polluters.

    In Europe there are different countries running different methods, and it seems to be the imbalance that has destroyed thier ETS, yet with their R&D structure and north sea oil declining in production capacity they are still the world leaders in green tech.

    @ Anne
    You’re saying the esteemed Judge, his legal and scientific advisers (we’re talking about real scientists here not bogus ones) got it all wrong?

    There is a lot of debate among real scientists about the hows whys whens and even the if. There is even two schools of climate scientist (the modelers and the observers, who in the past have been more accurate) Be careful who you are calling a real scientist, always ask for the counter factual. And if someone has a question or reason why they doubt, we don’t need to call them names (deniers) just because we are also unable to answer their questions (yes a lot I can, some not). Oh – and just me, I wouldn’t be putting more faith in a judge (who chose him over a scientist?) than a lay person. Judges have got verdicts wrong before.

  19. The Al1en says:

    “I just don’t believe in global warming.”

    I’m not at all surprised.

  20. SJW says:

    @ Jeremy,

    Thanks for some elucidation on the matter. Interesting info re the US, will have to look that up!

    I do wonder whether the complications with cap-and-trade have been balanced with its supposed advantages; on reading articles listing the pros and cons of each system, it appears not, however I realise these issues are multi-faceted and I don’t know enough about it to take a strong stand either way. Expressing there may be problems is all I can do at present.

    I very much appreciate your response, thank you.

  21. Andy says:

    “Climate change has been a scientific fact”

    Yes as it has done so for the last 4.5 billion years.

    “The majority of the world’s scientists think that we are dangerously changing the climate”

    Er, no.
    In fact, global mean temps have not changed for 16 years.

    The world has warmed 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, nothing unusual is happening to sea level rise, and there is no evidence to support the theory that extreme weather events are occurring more frequently.

    This is all easily verified, even if you are “uninformed or on the conspiratorial fringe”