New Zealand’s Shell Game

9 December 2015

New Zealand will devote NZ$20 million to research methods for reducing its agricultural emissions over the next four years. Prime Minister John Key announced this news last Monday at COP21. Agriculture accounts for half of the country’s total emissions.
What the Prime Minister failed to mention was that, earlier this year, AgResearch cut a net 56 jobs, including researchers in the area of greenhouse gas emissions. AgResearch is the agricultural research institute owned and funded by the government. This funding shortfall was approximately NZD$5 million in 2015. Over four years this would – wait for it – add up to NZD$20 million.

At the time those cuts were made, the Science and Innovation Minister was quoted as saying, ‘AgResearch has seen significant change in its areas of research that people value, and what I mean by people I mean the sector that pays for their research…So some areas that were perhaps very important 10 or 15 years ago have less support these days’. Here’s hoping the money is applied in time to reemploy New Zealand’s researchers before the country falls even further behind in mitigating its greenhouse gases.

John Key wants to look like a climate champ, but simply moving money around isn’t going to cut it. The climate isn’t a shell game. Perhaps you could try again by supporting the Pacific Islands, New Zealand’s neighbours, in their push for a 1.5°C long-term target. Or by upping New Zealand’s pitifully low 2030 emissions reductions target. Or, at the very least, by implementing a plan to reduce the 50% of New Zealand’s emissions that do not come from agriculture. So many options!

New Zealand’s Shell Game

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