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Barry Brill

Commissioning Transformation

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The Climate Commission’s first report is a huge disappointment.

It is little more than a well-polished propaganda vehicle. With its woke-word-smithed style, it could just as easily have been published by Greenpeace or one of the numerous New York foundations that drive most of the world’s climate agitprop.

The report leaves almost all the key questions unanswered. I touch on some of the Five Ws (what, why, who, where, when) here, for those who aim to make submissions before the short deadline of 14 March. 

In my 2019 submission on the Zero Carbon Bill, noting that the goal of reducing global GHG emissions had been common political ground in New Zealand for a quarter-century, I addressed the purpose of the Commission:

“Appetites for economic pain[1] vary widely, and for a wide variety of reasons. Because the “correct” level is a mishmash of quantitative and qualitative factors and is ultimately a matter of opinion/intuition, it cannot be calculated by technocratic means and has to be determined politically. In a democracy, of course, that means it must be decided by a majority of the voters, either directly or through their elected representatives.

How can an unelected Commission help with such a political process? Its opinions or biases on such issues can be accorded no more weight than any other group of voters. However, a Commission could certainly offer a major contribution by operating as the independent (i.e. non-political) fact-finder and issue-analyst in respect of the core elements that will or should matter to the political decision-makers. Insofar as those elements are quantitative, it can and should play the major role.”

Alas, this first report is dominated by subjective value judgments, biassed assumptions and activist-speak. It is cliched, jargon-ridden and has no novel ideas. It produces no new insights or data and offers no quantified cost-benefit analysis for any one of its many pain-inducing recommendations.

My 2019 submission was also more specific:

The  Commission must strive to balance the rate of reduction of emissions with the ability of the economy to absorb that rate without causing undue hardship, increases in poverty, reductions in the delivery of government services or in the general standard of living.

Everybody knows that the wicked problem of climate change policy is relentless regressivity. Every proposal  that will reduce global emissions will also increase child poverty and economic inequality.

Fuel taxes and other ‘carbon price’ imposts produce measurable results only when some people can no longer afford to buy energy. And those people are the lowest-income quartile.

Left-leaning US and EU politicians (and the NZ Greens) say that the solution to regressivity is “economic transformation” – by which they mean massive and unprecedented income re-distribution coerced by means of new wealth taxes, death duties, higher income taxes and the like.

In fact, the economic transformation slogan is far more ambitious than familiar socialist wealth  redistribution. It also requires Stalinist-style central planning. It means that all aspects of the economy must be subject to government edict.

As the Commission’s report says (p10) “transformational and lasting change across society and the economy will be needed”. It demands (6.2.1), the “integration of government policy-making across climate change and other domains” so as to “support behaviour change”[2]. The term “transformation” permeates the report, appearing in more than a dozen different sections.

Yes, this is both ideologically-driven and somewhat sinister. Yes, it is post-modern Marxism – and much more dangerous than its Soviet predecessor. That is the very reason why “climate change” has become the banner and the rallying cry of every member of every left-wing political party throughout the developed world. Resisters are hunted down and ruthlessly severed from the tribe.

The same banner has attracted an ever-growing multitude of Lenin’s “useful idiots” – from Hollywood celebrities to Silicon Valley billionaires. It has also been reflected in the “Great Reset of Capitalism” promoted so vigorously by Davos Man[3] as well as the UN’s Transforming Our World: Agenda for Sustainable Development. That same banner reigns supreme on social media, not to mention the bulk of starry-eyed reporters in the corporate media.

But will it work? Has socialist central planning ever worked? Can freedoms and living standards be reasonably maintained?  Can it even be done in a true democracy? Can a country which seeks to lead the world in “transformation” remain internationally competitive?

And will it fairly distribute money to the very people who have been hard-hit by climate policy? And if it does, how can that policy bring about a reduction in emissions? 

These key questions are seldom addressed in the pubic conversation. Instead, the real issues are all too often shrouded in repetitive but meaningless jargon, and crowded out by a virtue-signalling ‘cancel culture’. There is no conspiracy – just many tribes loyally moving in group-think unison in the face of poorly-understood complexity..

Those who had hoped for a cut-through by New Zealand’s independent and expert Climate Commission will be sorely disillusioned. 


[1] I will refer to this political issue as “Appetite for Pain”. Activists refer to it as “Ambition Level”.

[2] It even recommends (6.2.4) that all levels of government “factor target-consistent long-term abatement cost values into policy and investment analysis”.

[3] Along with HRH Prince Charles. The World Economic Forum publishes the Davos Agenda in a series of ‘Transformation Maps’ for the guidance of national governments.

PLEASE NOTE: The draft Climate Commission report is now open for public submissions. We urge everyone concerned to have their say before the closing date of March 14 – full details can be found HERE. Barry Brill has provided a submission that can be viewed HERE, and a second article HERE.