The Government’s announcement that it will export taxpayer’s funds to pay for the majority of this country’s pollution shows a breathtaking lack of vision, and they should hand the reins to Māori to create a climate solution that truly benefits Aotearoa, says Māori Climate Commissioner Donna Aware Huata.
The Government has announced a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of a 50% reduction of emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. Two thirds of the emissions reductions will need to come from funding reductions programmes in other countries.
Māori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere Huata says that despite their rhetoric on the significance of climate action, the Government is either too lacking in appetite or is too cowed by the pressure from lobby groups to choose an available local solution.
“What we have in the latest NDC is simply a proposal on behalf of the Government to export funds overseas to pay for the majority of our pollution,” says Commissioner Awatere Huata.
“That’s either direct transfer of funds overseas – at least $15billion of taxpayer money – or a similar amount being spent investing in projects that will create jobs, infrastructure and wealth in other countries.”
Commissioner Awatere Huata says the real travesty of the new system is that it will not only see billions of dollars spent offshore, but it will also do so instead of supporting local projects which are proven and ready to go here in Aotearoa.
By supporting local planting, particularly through iwi who hold a large proportion of low productivity land which is better suited to the development of permanent forestry, the Government has an opportunity to make a generational difference here in Aotearoa.
“It is without question that the Government could achieve these targets by working with iwi, farmers and local landowners across regional Aotearoa,” says Commissioner Awatere Huata. “This money could then be preserved for investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure in our communities, where it is needed the most.
“Instead, despite the Government and their officials being very aware that there are options to achieve these targets in New Zealand, they are either sitting on their hands or showing an appalling lack of vision.”
Utilising no more than two percent of Aotearoa’s land and planting it in managed regenerative forestry could deliver the same outcome announced by the Government, says Commissioner Awatere Huata, and this would also build sustainable jobs and wealth in some of the most poverty-stricken rural economies of Aotearoa.
“We must also ask, where is the Climate Change Commission in all of this?” says Commissioner Awatere Huata. “They were tasked by the Government to provide local solutions and a pathway to domestic reductions that would engage and benefit all of New Zealand. Surely any credible body with the mandate they have been given cannot support the Government’s proposal to export all our responsibilities along with billions in taxpayer funds to other nations?
“Local solutions – especially those that are iwi-led, given the depth and range of experience Māori have and the significance of our world view in managing our environment – do not need to be paid for by the taxpayer to deliver the same outcomes.
“But we do need officials to step out of the way and desist from their restrictive and punitive approach towards those in our community who are taking action, right here, today on behalf of all Aotearoa.”
“If the Government can’t or won’t prioritise local solutions to this issue, then we can. They should hand the mantle to Māori and stand out of the way. We can and will deliver for the good of our people, our economy and all of Aotearoa.”