Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Reflections on the international climate negotiations

By Chris Bean 

Chris Bean observed the 2014 round of the UN climate negotiations in Lima as part of the NZ Youth Delegation, a volunteer organisation that brings youth closer to the negotiations.

Having studied climate change for part of my undergraduate degree, going into the negotiations as an observer I thought I had a pretty solid handle on things. Well, it turns out that humble pie became a staple at the negotiations. I had the privilege of attending the UN climate negotiation round as part of the NZ Youth Delegation in December 2014 and this blog covers some personal experiences that defined the negotiations for me, as well as some observations of the broader process and what’s coming next on my journey with climate change.

Confusion was the overwhelming feeling during the initial days of the negotiations. Forget solving climate change for now – it took me two days to figure out how to use the scheduling system. Embarrassing! After talking to some more experienced people at the negotiations, I learned this was not unusual and that it takes multiple rounds of negotiations to really get one’s head around what is going on. I have overwhelming respect for everyone involved in the negotiations, especially the negotiators and UN staff who have dedicated their lives to this work, as well as the youth driven to follow the negotiations year after year to push for outcomes that affect us all.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Subsidising sprawl: Why sprawl is bad for us and how public policies lock it in

By Louise Sherrell

© Karenfoleyphotography | Dreamstime.com - Driving In Atlanta Photo
A recently released report has found that urban sprawl costs big money and has long-term climate change implications, and yet public policy often encourages this approach to planning. The report clocks the economic cost of sprawl in the US at over US$1 trillion a year, in addition to substantial environmental and social costs such as greater emissions from vehicle use and poorer population health and fitness. Acting to implement smarter urban growth policies globally “could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than US$3 trillion over the next 15 years.”
“Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear an astounding $625 billion in extra costs. In addition, all residents and businesses, regardless of where they are located, bear an extra $400 billion in external costs. Correcting this problem provides an opportunity to increase economic productivity, improve public health and protect the environment.”
The report, An Analysis of Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidise Sprawl, comes from the New Climate Economy, the flagship initiative of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate – an amalgam of heads of state, finance ministers, and economists. While the data are US-centric, the study’s findings offer important insights for New Zealand; many of our planning regulations are similar, and our urban population densities for our three largest cities are comparable on a global scale to those of cities in the US. The report also details smart growth policies that can counter the planning and market distortions that foster sprawl.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The climate may be changing in climate change

This piece, by political analyst Colin James, originally appeared in the Otago Daily Times on 14 April 2015. It is also available for download on Colin's own blog, http://www.colinjames.co.nz/the-climate-may-be-changing-in-climate-change/

After the world cricket cup superhyperbole comes heroic Gallipoli. Periodically New Zealand mutates into Jingoland.

On Saturday our soldier Governor-General and non-soldier Prime Minister open the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. That day Te Papa launches "Gallipoli: The scale of our war", designed by Weta Workshop's Sir Richard Taylor, with videos.

That collaboration exemplifies Te Papa chief executive Rick Ellis's entrepreneurship. Ellis is developing non-jingo projects to project unique aspects of our culture and identity, including the bicultural accommodation, with events and collaborations here and abroad.