Climate change minister James Shaw might want emissions cuts, but he’s stuck between industries looking to increase production (Getty Images)
Climate change minister James Shaw might want emissions cuts, but he’s stuck between industries looking to increase production (Getty Images)

The BulletinApril 15, 2019

The Bulletin: Emissions move wrong way for another year

Climate change minister James Shaw might want emissions cuts, but he’s stuck between industries looking to increase production (Getty Images)
Climate change minister James Shaw might want emissions cuts, but he’s stuck between industries looking to increase production (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Carbon emissions continue to move wrong way, size and scope of police database revealed, and Ngāti Kurī propose massive new protected reserve.

Yep, they’re going up. New Zealand’s carbon emissions continue to increase, with transport a leading cause, reports Stuff. Over 2017 they were up 2.2% on the previous year (it takes a while to calculate.) This is alongside standard high contributions from agriculture and energy. It raises worrying questions as well about where the carbon savings in transport are going to come from any time soon, given consumer vehicle preferences.

It also raises serious questions about aviation. There are of course dozens of domestic destinations with flights going back and forth. But there’s also the simple fact of New Zealand’s geography – it’s a pretty long flight from anywhere. That has serious implications for tourism and some of our biggest companies. Stuff’s Charlie Mitchell took a strong look at Air New Zealand’s environmental credentials. They outperform many of their competitors in various measures of sustainability. But they also fall behind on one basic test – their carbon emissions are rising year on year. Depending on your measurement, air traffic is the fastest growing sector of emissions worldwide.

These facts are distinctly uncomfortable, particularly for the politicians who got elected promising to do something about it. Climate change minister James Shaw talked to Checkpoint last month, and couldn’t say when emissions would actually start to reduce – perhaps peaking in the mid-2020s. Even though he’s now the one holding the bag, that’s basically an acknowledgement that emissions are going to increase in the medium term regardless of what politicians are willing and able to do. Under the current settings of most industries, more production is almost inevitably going to mean more emissions.

There are voluntary shifts happening in business, but they’re extremely slow going so far. For an example of this, look at this decision from Fonterra, which arguably reflects all of transport, agriculture and energy. They recently announced they’d be powering their milk tankers in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions with biofuel. Each tanker will produce 4% less in carbon emissions as a result. If every company in the country were to save 4% of their carbon emissions in certain areas of their business in certain regions, the cumulative savings would still be pretty negligible, even if it is in the right direction. For the trajectory to be put on track to meet global climate accord commitments – let alone a habitable planet – much more needs to happen, and quickly.

Incidentally, a global day of climate protest is starting today, centred around the network of groups called Extinction Rebellion – I wrote about them last month. If you see protesters out and about today, that’s probably what they’re doing. Some events are still taking place in New Zealand, though others like this one have been postponed as today also marks a month since the Christchurch terror attack.

Police have database alerts against the names of far more people than many would realise, reports the ODT. Two million New Zealanders or so are in the database, and generally without their knowledge. It might sound more alarming than it actually is – many are in there because they have been vetted by police on behalf of organisations. But there have also been a few instances of police officers being found to have misused the database.

Northland iwi Ngāti Kurī are proposing a massive new protected natural reserve over land and sea in their rohe, reports Mihingarangi Forbes from The Hui. The aim is to connect it up with other sanctuaries around nearby islands, such as Palau, Hawaii and Rapanui, with a view to saving the ocean. There are also interesting ideas explored in the article about trading a fishing quota for ‘ocean credits’, in the manner of carbon credits for emissions. By the way, if you read the story, you should watch the video too – the team at The Hui have done an amazing job of making a beautiful part of the country look even better.

Chorus has promised to do better on their issue of their subcontractors being exploited, reports Stuff. More than 100 firms involved in the ultra-fast broadband rollout might have breached labour laws, and a report commissioned by Chorus found significantly failings in how they oversaw the subcontracting process. Some workers are likely to have been paid less than the minimum wage. Communications Minister Kris Faafoi says adhering to labour laws is the bottom line of any government-funded projects.

The Citizens Advice Bureau is facing a hefty financial deficit, reports One News. They say that services might have to be cut back as a result, and with that the entire CAB project. They’re asking why more government money isn’t forthcoming, particularly from agencies that frequently refer people to CAB for assistance.

A wide-ranging accord between the government and construction sector has been signed. As part of it, both sides have committed to various improvements, to help a sector that in recent years has been hit by a range of scandals, and high profile collapses of companies. Speaking to Newstalk ZB yesterday afternoon, Fletcher Construction CEO Peter Reidy said it was actually a big deal, as opposed to being a bunch of nice sounding waffle. In particular, he was looking at changes to government procurement, where flinty spending practices had previously caused problems for construction companies suffering cost-overruns – companies like Fletcher, for example.

Initially I was immensely sad to see this story, then I realised I was probably in a very small way to blame for it. The NZ Herald reports the Capitol Cinema on Dominion Road is closing down, after operating as a cinema since 1986. It’s a real shame for those who loved the comfortable beauty of the space, and the richly rewarding movies the cinema showed. And I counted myself among those people, until I realised I hadn’t actually been there for about a year. Make the most of your favourite spots, everyone.

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Right now on The Spinoff: As we sometimes do, this section will be broken up into serious stuff and fun stuff. First, the serious: Critic Te Arohi reporters cover fresh allegations of sexual assault at Knox College, which is accused of having an endemic culture of sexism and criminality towards women. We’ve republished former All Black Robert Burgess‘s speech from the opening of the Nelson Mandela exhibition, where he discusses refusing to play against Apartheid teams. And I went along to John Tamihere’s venues policy launch to get a sense of what groups he was pitching his campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

Also, the less serious stuff: Lord have mercy on us all, for Dancing with the Stars is back. Sam Brooks ranks the first night of what is looking like a blockbuster season of half-hoping the celebrities do well, and half-hoping they’ll crash and burn. Clarke Gayford showed Simon Day how to skin a fish with his teeth. And you know National leader Simon Bridges is in trouble when Hayden Donnell is writing emotional ballads about him.

And one somewhere in the middle of serious and fun too for good measure: Alice Neville went to Hamilton, and has come back absolutely raving about how cool it is now.

Today’s feature is a deep dive analysing the battle over Ihumātao, by Māui Street’s Morgan Godfery. It’s an area that he has done considerable reporting on, amid an increasingly bitter battle over what becomes of a piece of traditional Māori land in South Auckland. Under current plans, it will be developed for housing, but opposing groups want it preserved as is. Here’s an excerpt:

Permission from mana whenua should be the very first thing a developer does before lodging a resource consent application. After all nearly every inch of land in New Zealand remains Māori land, even if we give it an imagined category like “freehold”.

This is an important point to establish, and it’s why SOUL isn’t a NIMBY group. Newton, for example, makes no mention of noise, traffic, “character”, “lifestyle”, or any other manner of urban nuisance when she argues against Fletcher’s development. Instead the argument is about protecting the mauri of the land, something quite different from character or any other form of perceived specialness, and the principle that stolen land – which Ihumātao is – should return at the first opportunity to the people from whom it was stolen. In the 19th century the Crown pinched the land for no other reason than the local people were “Kingites”. In the 21st century there’s an opportunity, however small, to give it back.

In breaking sports news, Tiger Woods has just won the Masters Golf Tournament. It’s his 15th major win, and comes 11 years after his last one. It’s honestly one of the most astonishing long term comebacks in sporting history. When they make the movie about Tiger Woods’ life, it’ll be built around this triumphant tournament.

After an incredible final round comeback, Israel Adesanya is the interim middleweight champion of the UFC. The NZ Herald reports he was badly rocked in the 4th round, but was able to unleash a furious late assault. It’s a big moment for the City Kickboxing gym in Auckland, who have helped pave the way for a champion.

Finally, farewell Yvette Williams, the first woman to ever win an Olympic gold for New Zealand. One News reports she passed away at the age of 89, after a lifetime of athletic excellence and public service. She was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and was inducted into the country’s sporting Hall of Fame. Yvette Williams and her husband Buddy Corlett had four children.

From our partners: Climate change has already affected how electricity gets delivered to customers, and it’s only going to get more challenging. Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha outlines what the lines company is doing to respond.

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