Victorious New Zealand PM Urged to Apply Covid-19 Classes to the Local weather Disaster

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who won a historic landslide victory in national elections a week ago on a deep green manifesto, is being urged to apply lessons learned achieving New Zealands’ near total victory over Covid-19 to addressing the climate crisis.

New Zealand PM Ardern urged to apply crisis skills to climate change

Environmentalists urge re-elected leader, who won praise for her handling of the pandemic, to double down on fossil fuel use and farming emissions.

New Zealand’s re-elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should use the skills she honed in successfully crushing the threat of Covid-19 to focus on a green recovery and help farmers tackle climate change’s “nuclear-free moment”, environmentalists said.

Ardern, whose Labour Party won a landslide victory in the general election last weekend, made a name for herself by responding decisively to the coronavirus pandemic and healing the nation after the killing of Muslims by a white supremacist.

Amanda Larsson, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace in Auckland, said Ardern had shown she excelled at leading her nation through a crisis.

The prime minister now needs “to apply the skills that she’s developed from dealing with the unthinkable, to tackling the ongoing, known crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss”, Larsson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Ardern, who previously governed with the help of the Green Party and New Zealand First, now has the numbers to govern without coalition partners. But she seems keen to maintain cordial relations with her green partners.

New Zealanders vote for climate ambition of Jacinda Ardern and Greens 

Published on 19/10/2020, 12:43pm

Jacinda Ardern won a second term as New Zealand leader with a landslide majority, in an endorsement of her government’s net zero emissions goal

By Joe Lo

New Zealand’s voters overwhelmingly endorsed the ambitious climate policies of Jacinda Ardern and her Green coalition partners, in a general election on Saturday.

Ardern’s Labour Party received nearly 50% of the vote and 53% of the seats in parliament, allowing her to govern for a second term without relying on other parties. However, she may still include the Greens in her next administration.

For the last three years, Labour has relied on the Greens and the populist New Zealand First to govern. While the Green Party increased its vote share from 6% to 8%, the climate-ambivalent New Zealand First lost all its seats.

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It is anyone’s guess how Ardern’s commitment to ratchet up climate ambition will play out. There is no doubt she has a strong popular mandate for greater climate ambition.

The original Maori inhabitants’ name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, means “land of the long white cloud”. This is a fair description of New Zealand’s normal weather, especially during New Zealand’s long, cold winters, so solar power is probably a non starter.

New Zealand has some very windy places, and with all their tall mountain ranges New Zealand has potentially excellent hydroelectric sites which could be developed. In principle they could also develop their plentiful geothermal opportunities; like Iceland, New Zealand has some impressive volcano complexes, with plenty of strong heat sources accessibly close to the surface.

Of course all of this green development would take lots of money. Money New Zealand does not have. New Zealand might have achieved victory over Covid with their early, hard lockdown, but New Zealand’s economy is a mess.

However New Zealand’s national debt, though deteriorating rapidly, is still a manageable 48% of GDP. So in principle there is plenty of financial room for Ardern to borrow vast sums of money to fund New Zealand’s green transition, should she choose to do so.

I suspect if there is one place in the world where a full hearted “green Covid recovery” will be attempted, that nation is New Zealand.

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