The elephant in the waiting room.
In the wake of Grant Robertson's $50bn recovery budget there have been, amongst other reaction, claims that climate change has been left out in the cold. Of over $50bn set aside to boost our country's economic recovery, just 2.2% of that figure - $1.1bn is destined for 'nature jobs'. This money will help to create 11,000 new jobs in conservation and environmental work.
New Zealand has comitted to being carbon neutral by 2050 and yet is currently on track to see a 20% increase in net emissions between 2005 and 2030. Therefore might we not have expected to see a larger proportion of the bailout dedicated not just to environment and conservation but to the core issue of climate change? - which I maintain is a far greater existential threat to New Zealand and humanity as a whole than Covid-19 or Spanish Flu ever were.
I think this ripple of negative reaction to the government's strategy is a case of people 'doing what they do', pundits adopting their respective positions, without taking time to look at the wider picture.
Seven weeks of effective lockdown has delivered a body blow to the New Zealand economy and has, for now, knocked the wind out of it.
Think of this situation as the triage tent on the battlefield.
Amid the artillery fire and strafing of global economics and day to day government of the country, medics are busy attending to climate change and working out a treatment plan for it - "we will be carbon neutral by 2050". The health care system, education, employment, and New Zealand's aging infrastructure are also waiting on stretchers in the tent. Some have been assigned priority and are being looked after, others are standing by as the more urgent cases receive attention. Outside, all hell breaks loose as the single biggest threat to the people of New Zealand explodes onto the field. Presently the doors burst open and stretcher bearers rush in carrying the economy - it's in a bad way and it needs immediate help. The other stretchers are hastily moved to one side as medics rush to revive the patient.
After a short period of frantic activity the economy is stabilized and the doctors look up and survey the scene around them. With the economy in intensive care, 'serious but stable' they begin to turn their attention to the other patients. Employment, healthcare, and education are high priorities because they will support the economy as it recovers. Environment and conservation can be treated and brought in to help with employment. Meanwhile climate change, which is effectively the cancer patient in the ward, can be left for a short time while the emergencies are dealt with.
Let's hope that once the most immediate needs of the other patients are seen to, the government will hold to its commitments and provide climate change with the care and rehabilitation it so desperately needs.