Submission on the proposed Zero Carbon Act NZ

This is a copy of the message you have sent via the form.

Name Richard Keller
Phone ….
Town / City Wellington
A Zero Carbon Act is important to me because… It’s getting late in the action period. Yes, it’s been 40 years since we in the West have become aware of where this was heading. Granted, since then facts have sharpened and understandings have become clearer, but there was opportunity to understand and get started on this globally 40 years ago but there has been a lot of obfuscation to prevent this beginning. All the more reason a hard structure and specific undertakings must be put into legislation. Otherwise there are those who would still want to stall. And that desperation may still win out. Or not.
Q1. What process should the Government use to set a new emissions reduction target in legislation? The Government should set a target for 2050 in legislation now. Let’s make that 2040 so as to give less time to find excuses (further obfuscations).
Q2. If the Government sets a 2050 target now, which is the best target for New Zealand? Before we get too excited here, it must be said again that we need more than just TARGETS (arrgh)! We need action.
The most ambitious target: reducing total greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 (2040). I also support taking a science-based approach to ensure our efforts to reduce emissions are as impactful as possible: we should aim for negative levels of long-lived gases, while reducing short-lived gases to sustainable levels with continual evaluation of what ‘sustainable levels’ are for this context.
Q3. How should New Zealand meet its targets? The Emissions Trading Scheme has been a failure. In fact it has been one of those obfuscations, and thus cannot be resurrected – dead in the water – in the dust bin of history.

By using domestic emissions reductions only (including from new forest planting).

Q4. Should the Zero Carbon Bill allow the 2050 target to be revised if circumstances change? The 2050 (2040) target should not be altered in response to “economic changes” as this undermines its long-term certainty. Given the long term costs of climate change, “economic changes” would be just another desperate obfuscation. However, the ability to revise the 2050 (2040) target in light of natural disasters, major changes in scientific understanding or international agreements should be permitted.
Q5. The Government proposes that three emissions budgets of five years each (i.e. covering the next 15 years) be in place at any given time. Do you agree with this proposal? yes – I agree with 5-year budgets set 10-15 years in advance, so that 3 are in effect at all times. This will allow a more realistic long term understanding, both backward and forward, of progress.
Q6 – Q7. Should the Government be able to alter emissions budgets? No – emissions budgets should not be altered in response to “economic changes” as this undermines their long-term certainty. Given the long term costs of climate change, “economic changes” would be just another desperate obfuscation. However, the ability to revise the 2050 (2040) target in light of natural disasters, major changes in scientific understanding or international agreements should be permitted.
Q8. Do you agree with the proposed considerations that the Government and the Climate Commission will need to take into account when advising on and setting budgets? Note here that the “Climate Commission” is usually proposed as an evaluation and advisory body and will not be charged with the responsibility of action.

I agree that the Government and the Climate Commission should take the following factors into consideration when advising on and setting budgets:
• scientific knowledge regarding climate change
• technology relevant to climate change
• economic circumstances and the likely impact of a decision on the
economy, as well as the competitiveness of particular sectors of the economy
• fiscal circumstances and the likely impact of the decision on taxation, public spending and public borrowing
• social circumstances and the likely impact of a decision on fuel poverty
• energy policy and the likely impact of a decision on energy supplies and
the carbon and energy intensity of the economy.

Q9. Should the Zero Carbon Bill require Governments to set out plans within a certain timeframe to achieve the emissions budgets? Yes – we must learn from the mistakes of the UK’s Climate Change Act and specify a strict time frame for producing a plan.
Q10. What are the most important issues for the Government to consider in setting plans to meet budgets? For example, who do we need to work with, what else needs to be considered? The plans must be made with the understanding that there has been much obfuscation over 40 years and that baggage must be dropped before the scale and depth of plans required can be grasp.
The Government’s policy plans to meet emission budgets should be comprehensive, fair, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and reflect a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Q11. The Government has proposed that the Climate Change Commission advises on and monitors New Zealand’s progress towards its goals. Do you agree with these functions? While a Commission with decision-making powers might be possible, politicians must be the ones communicating with, and held accountable by, the public. Therefore, the Commission should probably not be a decision-making body. However, the Government should be legally required to consider and formally respond to the Commission’s advice, and to provide an explanation if they do not act on it.
Yes – monitoring must be of the highest scientific and technical standard so that political and moral thinking can be correctly informed.
Q12. What role do you think the Climate Change Commission should have in relation to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS)? The NZ ETS has been a failure, and was always intended to be a significant part of the obfuscation. There is too much baggage carried by the NZ ETS and it should be dropped from consideration.
Q13. The Government has proposed that Climate Change Commissioners need to have a range of essential and desirable expertise. Do you agree with the proposed expertise? The Commissioners must have a range of essential and desirable expertise, and in order to communicate meaningfully with the government this must be informed by an in depth understanding of the political history of obfuscation over climate change which the government must and will be considering.

I agree with the following collective expertise:
• climate change policy (including emissions trading)
• resource economics and impacts (including social impacts, labour markets and distribution)
• te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo me ona tikanga Māori and Māori interests
• climate and environmental science including mātauranga Māori
• experience with addressing adaptation challenges like planning, insurance and local
• risk management
• engineering and/or infrastructure
• community engagement and communications
Also, public health.

Q14. Do you think the Zero Carbon Bill should cover adapting to climate change? Yes. Adaptation strategies and projects will likely be at the top of the political agenda much of the time so it must be considered in the Zero Carbon Bill. It would be possible for the focus on Zero Carbon to be distracted by adaptation issues and keeping them together in the responsibilities of the government should help political forces keep them both in mind.

This may require a separate adaptation sub-committee within the Climate Commission, however.

Q15. The Government has proposed a number of new functions to help us adapt to climate change. Do you agree with the proposed functions? These functions can be monitored and informed in much the same way as the Zero Carbon actions.

I agree with the proposed functions below, but recognise that nuance is required in terms of how local councils are involved:
• a national climate change risk assessment
• a national adaptation plan
• regular review of progress towards implementing the national adaptation plan
• an adaptation reporting power

Q16. Should the Government explore setting up a targeted adaptation reporting power that could see some organisations share information on their exposure to climate change risks? Yes
Further comments • A target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 should be in the Act. And ability to act on them.
• Setting up a conversation where it is recognized that there has been much delay in getting going, obfuscation if fact, so that inertia can be overcome.
• The emissions from transport, industrial activity, agriculture, and all other sources should be included in the target. Even ‘short-lived’ gasses can have a huge effect on our climate and need to be reduced.
• Emissions budgets should be at least as important as fiscal budgets, and the Government should set plans to achieve them.
• An independent Climate Change Commission of experts should monitor emissions and give advice to keep New Zealand on-track for its emissions reduction goals.

Submission to GWRC on bus driver contract

To the GWRC – You have an obligation to ensure that bus drivers who are affected by your decision to change contractors do not lose their jobs or have their incomes reduced. Next year you will be standing to represent us and our communities. You need to show good faith now by protecting these drivers and their families.

It’s bad enough that you have shown the Council’s desperation so openly with your aggressively irrational removal of the trolley busses which had another perhaps 15 years of usefulness.  Treating the drivers honestly and respectfully would be chance for you to both make a comeback towards fairness, and to put the irrationality of the trolley decision into the background.  Do you want to continue to look desperate?

Richard Keller
Lyall Bay

plea to the Labour Government to stop dairy conversions (Mackenzie)


Hello Mr Parker and Mr O’Connor,

There is no action more desperate and more neo-liberal in this Post Truth Era in New Zealand than dairy conversions.  They are and have for years been an ideological crusade, a cry of anguish and terror that the exploitative mentality is finished.  We either become nurturers in the deepest sense (not only toward people but also the land) or we will follow this out of date exploitative mentality toward an uncertain new phase, but likely demise, of civilisation.

Richard Keller

The Unsettling of America – presentation to SATRS seminar

The Unsettling of America          by Wendell Berry, 1977 (Sierra Club Press)

Gary Snyder, noted American ‘poet, essayist, environmentalist’, wrote on the back cover of this printing (2015, Counterpoint Press, Berkeley):

“This book is about culture in the deep, ripe sense; a nurturing habitat. With unwavering focus, Wendell Berry shows what we lost of our real human American potential when we lost our commitment to living well, in place, on the land.” Read the rest of this entry »

Submission to Tax Inquiry

What is the future of Tax?

The world is changing. The Post Truth Era is main stream here in New Zealand and around the civilized world.  Forty years ago there was a rising understanding that human cultures were destroying the ‘environment’ (‘ecosystem’ is a new and better word).  It became understood that human culture must recognize that it was part of the ecosystem, not separate and superior to it.  The changes required to reconnect with the planet also came to be seen as fundamental and terrifying.  Those four decades have been dedicated to trying to ignore that.  In fact, those who’s ideology was that human’s proper role was domination realized this was their last chance.   Those persons or constructs (e.g. corporation) most capable of accumulating vast wealth would be encouraged and inequality would be increased.  Neoliberalism became the preferred system to accomplish that and its tax workings need to be examined in that light.  Piketty more recently did the analysis of what was actually happening.

We must be careful about comparisons with other countries. There is disconnect widely across the globe about human culture’s place in the planetary ecosystem.  Tax systems must be seen in a new light.  Money systems must be seen is a new light.  It seems incredible to me that such a fundamental thing as money creation is left to large private profit making organizations (banks).   Money should be kept as a medium of exchange and not be something that can be owned, traded, and rented (interest).

Tax then needs to focus on controlling impulses to accumulate and dominate and on encouraging health of the ecosphere.


What is the Purpose of Tax?

As wealth has been used to further the ideology of dominance (planetary ecosystem, class in human relationships, etc) and increased inequality, wealth must be a strong focus of tax. (Capital gain could be a part of that, focusing on difference from a norm which is based on balancing negative impacts and enhancing impacts on the planet.)

Tax cannot be separated from other aspects of human relationships, government, etc. Once those fundamental changes are accomplished then the tax environment will look different.


Can housing affordability be increased through tax?

Housing has become a primary means to increase inequality in New Zealand.   Progress will come from a change in attitude toward productive soils and land use as that reflects the most primary exploitative attitude.  (see previous comments)  More modest housing models could result. Fewer people would be desirable. The whole philosophy of exploitation in human relationships must be rejected and resulting changes in attitude toward money would take power from the profiteer approach of banks.

Wealth in the form of land ownership and assets needs to be taxed, especially idle housing properties. Capital gains tax would work in this context.


My most important ?

The phrase “protecting the environment” doesn’t really capture it. Living realistically and healthily within the ecosphere does it better.  See my earlier comments to see how this needs to be seen.  Many other impacts would flow on to the other priorities you mention here.

The approach to retirement is another crucial factor. Kiwi Saver has primarily been an attempt to discredit National Super while creating winners and losers through the ‘market’, thus increasing inequality.

Wealth in the form of shares is a way to use productive activities to produce wealth which is not productive and should be heavily taxed.

Submission to Let’s Get Wellington Moving

These paragraphs were used in creating my submission (on their form) to the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project.

Scenario A is the place to start and finish. Getting people onto public transport is the top priority.  Providing better public transport must happen.  Light Rail would be the centre of those improvements.   This should be referred to as “Scenario A+”. Read the rest of this entry »

Questions for YHA NZ about Opotere hostel

Young people are becoming more urbanised and are increasingly turning to indoor activities; yet YHA surely has a duty to promote the outdoor life? Read the rest of this entry »