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Dr Muriel Newman

Stand Firm

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“In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.” – Jesse Jackson

In a democracy, well-organised minority groups pushing “deserving” ideological causes, can be a real threat to the public good, when backed by politicians eager to capitalise on their “feel-good” crusades. New Zealanders experienced this first-hand, when Parliament banned parental smacking in 2007 under the guise that it would prevent child abuse. As predicted, the ban has not stopped children being abused and killed, but it has affected the confidence of law-abiding parents and grandparents who are now experiencing great difficulty with the state’s unwelcome intrusion into the heart of family affairs.

The Citizens’ Initiated Referendum has given the public an opportunity to tell the government whether the smacking law is a good law, or simply an intrusion of the state into our private lives. And, with around 600,000 voting papers already returned, it looks like the public are determined to make their views known.

In response to public opinion polls which have shown strong support for the right of parents to discipline their children as they see fit, the Prime Minister – who brokered the deal with Helen Clark to facilitate the passing of Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill – has promised that if ordinary parents are being criminalised by the new law then he will change it. With research already showing that ordinary parents are being criminalised by the new law, the Prime Minister should stay true to his word.[1]

The political “left” has always been the champion of “we know best” causes. Driven by the belief that governments are benevolent (providing it is they who are in office!), socialists have long recognised the power of the collective: that organisational outcomes far surpass individual efforts. And when organisations are global, like the United Nations, their influence is even stronger.

It’s for this reason that there’s a United Nations committee behind most left-wing causes. Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking law was based on the United Nations Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children; the trade union movement has its power base within the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO); feminists draw strength from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Maori Sovereignty movement is supported by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); the anti-development aims of the environmental movement are fuelled by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

As could be expected, left-leaning governments have historically embraced the political agenda of the United Nations, with its emphasis on central planning and global government. Conservative governments on the other hand, have tended to take a more cautious stance, ever mindful of the conflict between global agreements and domestic law. However, when it comes to climate change, traditional caution appears to have been thrown to the wind.

In what is one of the most important decisions to be made by the new National Government – the setting of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions targets for New Zealand – National’s Climate Change Minister has indicated that he favours ambitious targets. While the US is opting to return emissions to 1990 levels, Canada is looking at a 3 percent reduction, and Australia a 4 percent reduction, Nick Smith is contemplating targets for New Zealand in the region of 15% below 1990 levels.[2] Considering that New Zealand’s gross emissions are currently 24 percent above 1990 levels, to get to 15 percent below, when almost half of our emissions are from livestock and our energy supplies are largely renewable, is a virtual impossibility.

As the Herald’s economics editor Brian Fallow recently argued, achieving Nick Smith’s 15 percent target “would be the equivalent of eliminating, within 10 years, all emissions from transport and electricity generation, and then some, or reducing by two-thirds emissions from pastoral farming.[3]

The United Nations’ global warming agenda was set in motion in 1992 when “climate change” was defined as changes in the climate caused by human interference with atmospheric composition.[4] This meant that all changes in the climate were considered by the UN to be caused by mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Pinning the world’s temperature changes on the emissions of man-made carbon dioxide, has enabled the UN to introduce a socialist “solution” in the form of a massive international transfer of wealth. By using the complex mechanisms of emissions trading schemes, money is being redistributed from the world’s richer nations to the world’s poorer nations. The fact that such schemes do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide, nor change the climate, is quietly overlooked.

Unbelievably, the UN’s socialist campaign has gained widespread acceptance, with governments and media from around the world perpetrating the fallacy that man-made global warming will accelerate towards a tipping point which will destroy the planet – unless we are prepared to sacrifice our living standards. And while scientists across the globe have refuted these outlandish assertions by pointing out that the planet has been cooling for over a decade, that climate change is a natural process which has seen the planet up to 5oC warmer than it is today[5] with carbon dioxide levels of up to 1,000 times higher (during ice ages, no less)[6], most politicians and most media have turned a blind eye. (Other arguments can be found in “The Skeptics Handbook” – click here)

The hypocrisy surrounding this whole issue is breathtaking. The Green Party, which has been leading the global warming campaign here in New Zealand, is a socialist collective with Communist Party leanings – cloaked for populist convenience under an environmental guise. As such, the Greens are resolutely opposed to any form of privatisation on the grounds that New Zealand wealth might be siphoned off overseas by foreign investors. Yet the Green Party has now become a cheerleader for a massive transfer of Kiwi wealth overseas through the purchase billions of dollars of overseas carbon credits!

Barry Brill, a former National Government Minister and this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator with his article 2020 Emission Trargets – An Appeal to Reason, has examined National’s approach to climate change. In particular he is very critical of their decision to announce an early emissions target for New Zealand for 2020 on the basis that doing so ahead of the negotiation meeting in Copenhagen in December deprives us of negotiating opportunities. He is right – only inexperienced negotiators show their hand before the negotiation process starts:

“Declaring such a premature Target appears to be against New Zealand’s interests, given that:

1. The government has previously committed to a 50% reduction by 2050 – to be achieved by technology changes. Reducing greenhouse gases BEFORE the new technologies emerge can only be achieved by unnecessary pain and sacrifice.

2. In accepting any Liability at all, the government will commit future New Zealanders to a substantial net welfare loss.

3. The quantum of any treaty Liability imposed upon us will be shaped by the government’s negotiating skills, and by perceptions of what is a “fair share” of the burden. A pre-announced target raises expectations and deprives us of negotiating coin.

4. The declared Target will be an “opening offer” to the international community. During the months and (probably) years of subsequent discussions, this initial number will be tortured and stretched until our competitors are satisfied that we have nothing left to give. The natural response is to bid low initially.

5. A Kyoto replacement can offer no positive benefits – only an arguable mitigation of perceived detriments in the distant future. And that possibility has to be regarded as very remote, considering the attitudes of most countries, Kyoto’s history, and the ever-changing science.

6. New Zealand accounts for 0.2% of global greenhouse gases and its actions over the next decade cannot change the future global or local climate. (ie no weather benefits accrue).

He goes on to explain that, “Issues of this complexity demand the use of standard decision-making tools, which would be applied routinely in the business sector – primarily cost-benefit assessments, with a range of sensitivities. In setting up the select committee on the Emissions Trading Scheme, the minister (Hon Nick Smith) directed that a quantified cost-benefit assessment be prepared. My submission to that committee  offered suggestions on measurement methods and targets. Sadly, it seems the government now intends to abandon the cost-benefit approach as being too hard. Instead, it will look to Economic Models for a vague approximation of first-level costs, and make unquantified feel-good assumptions that there’s bound to be some benefits.”

While Barry makes the point that the sort of measures that the Minister, Nick Smith has been discussing – a 15 percent emissions reduction level – is unaffordable, he concludes that the 40 percent target promoted by Greenpeace, “would pretty much shut down New Zealand, slashing living standards and inducing widespread poverty”. Clearly the wellbeing of New Zealanders is not a priority for these extreme environmentalists – nor their high profile eco-celebrities.

Meanwhile, the Green Party, which has signed up to Greenpeace’s extreme agenda, and which also – astonishingly – has the ear of the government on this issue, has outlined the sort of steps that New Zealand should be taking to reduce emissions: besides transferring billions of dollars of New Zealand wealth overseas through purchasing carbon credits on the international exchange, the Green Party has suggested exterminating one in five dairy cows in order to reduce the dairy herd by some 760,000 cows; genetically engineering (yes, you heard right!) cows to produce less methane; shifting people out of cars as their preferred mode of transport and onto buses, trains, cycling and walking; replacing coal used for industrial fuel with wood; closing down the Huntley power station and replacing it with windmills and other renewable energy; planting forests; and – bizarrely – killing possums, deer and goats![7]

As an avalanche of new evidence raises more and more doubts about the IPCC’s conclusions, National – in its blind desire to “make a statement to the world” (reminiscent of the strategy employed by Helen Clark) at the Copenhagen summit in December – is about to sacrifice our fragile economic recovery. All of the initiatives that National claim will generate employment and help New Zealanders who have lost their jobs find work will be wiped out if a wealth-destroying carbon tax is imposed across the economy. New Zealand simply cannot afford any new taxes, no matter what alarmist rationale is used as justification.

This country produces only 0.2 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. We could not influence the climate even if it was possible to do so. Committing ourselves to an ambitious self-imposed political target in the wealth-destroying scheme that is set to replace the Kyoto Protocol is not in the best interest of the country. I say to the Government, hold the line and don’t sign up. Back science and reason, not socialism. If the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, is right, there will be other countries waiting for strong political leadership to emerge so they too can over-ride the established bureaucracy and powerful vested interest groups whose livelihoods depend on global warming. Strong leaders should be putting the good of their country and the benefit of their citizens ahead of the United Nations’ global thrust for power.

1. Bob McCoskerie, Anti-smacking prosecutions
2.Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand’s 2020 Emissions Targets
3.Brian Fallow, Climate target crucial decision for New Zealand 
4.Vincent Gray, IPCC Wins Nobel Prize for Peace
5. Jay Lehr, Significant Evidence that Mankind has an Insignificant Impact on the Climate of Planet Earth 
6.Robert Tracinski, Fearlessly Independent
7.Green Party, Getting there