“Yes, we can” James Shaw’s Carbon Emission Target
Story and Images by Francis Cook
Green Party co-leader James Shaw today announced an emissions target initiative for 40% reduction by 2030.
He said agriculture has too long been used as a reason for inaction, a roadblock to action. With agriculture making up
50% of New Zealand’s carbon emissions, Shaw said it was time to stop seeing it as a block. He proposed a tax of 8 cents
per kilo of milk.
Shaw also criticised the National Government for their inaction. “We have a history of punching above our weight”, he
said. The Prime Minister’s apathetic recourse to use our size and population as indicators of insignificant emissions
encourages an inertia of inaction. It also flies in the face of research suggesting New Zealand’s soft-power has major
global influence. Shaw also warned that our influential soft power is a double-edged sword as our inaction might equally
influence other nations.
Mr. Shaw stressed that New Zealand has a role to play in helping our Pacific neighbours who are at major risk from
rising sea levels and the acidification of the ocean. Climate change, he said, exacerbates inequality by putting the
most vulnerable in danger.
The refrain used throughout his speech was “yes we can,” borrowed from Barack Obama. Shaw said it was a travesty that
West Coast miners lost their jobs without alternative options available to them such as the development of solar
industry. In the United States, he said, the solar industry employs two times that of coal.
Shaw also proposed a reallocation of resource from roading and motorways to trains and cycle paths, along with a student
and apprentice “green card” allowing them free public transport at off peak times.