JAMES SHAW: All is not lost in the struggle against climate change


All is not lost in the struggle against climate change - written by Green Party co-leader James Shaw

As New Zealanders, we’ve never turned away from taking a stand or making the hard calls. We’ve stood up time and again for what is right – from Kate Sheppard’s courageous fight to give women the vote, to Whina Cooper’s land march, to standing up to apartheid when the Springboks toured. And we’re not afraid now, as Trump pulls the US from the Paris Agreement to reduce climate pollution, to step up and be a leader in the battle against climate change.

Now, more than ever, New Zealand must join with world leaders to put our environment and future generations first.

Luckily, we’re not alone; many countries, non-governmental organisations and businesses are committed to uphold the agreement;  Google, Tesla, the United Nations, World Wildlife Fund, as well as US states of California, New York and Washington who have said that in the absence of US govt action, they will take action themselves. This is not to mention the millions of people around the world who continue to make choices on a personal level, like installing solar, driving electric cars, purchasing sustainably-produced food, and campaigning for better public transport.  

Our governments and businesses need to support people to transition to new technologies, which will create new jobs along the way. Starting the transition away from pollution-intensive industries is in our best interest. Investing in modern public transport, clean energy and sustainable farming is good for jobs, our health, and our environment.

So what can we do about Trump’s decision? Doesn’t it mean the entire world will suffer?

As long as the rest of the world stands united I am confident that global action on climate change will continue over the next four years. My belief is that one day, we’ll look back on our time as fossil fuel consumers the same way we look back at the dark ages. We won’t be able to understand Trump’s misguided belief that climate change is a hoax in the face of such overwhelming evidence the same way we regard the Salem witch hunts or the belief that the world is flat. I refuse to believe that Trump’s decision is anything other than a blip on our journey to clean, green energy and a stable, healthy climate.

When Secretary of State Tillerson arrives in New Zealand next week, we can show him the very real impacts climate change is having on our Pacific neighbours, where sea-level rise threatens the physical existence of their nations. We can show him the communities like Haumoana and South Dunedin that could suffer the same fate. When the US denies that they don’t breathe the same air and share the same planet as the rest of us, we can show them that in fact they do.

We’ve said all along that the threat of climate change is an opportunity, not a burden. It’s just a shame that Trump and his administration can’t see that.