Climate change policy not up to scratch – academics

New Zealand academics have reviewed the governments stance on climate change and decried the lack of action in developing solid policies to address key climate issues.

In an article published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, researchers from Otago and Victoria Universities reviewed websites and media releases, evaluating the governments last three year’s policy and action on climate change related issues. The authors found little or no evidence of solid policy changes towards addressing the problems raised by climate change.

In the article’s conclusion the authors state, “In this last electoral term there appears to have been little substantive progress by the current government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (via work internationally or domestically), despite government targets (2020 and 2050) requiring material action. Government responses towards adapting to climate change impacts seem to be even more deficient (hardly more than some guidance documents). This lack of attention may be considered to be very serious given the potential size of the climate change threat – to public health and for the whole of society.”

For those with a NZMJ subscription, the full article is available here.

In an accompanying press release lead researcher, Associate Professor Nick Wilson said, “What we’ve seen in this analysis of the last three years is wasted opportunities to make critical progress to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions,”

“Instead what has happened are public relations, watered-down policy, and media releases with ‘aspirational’ goals which are unlikely to result in a major reduction in New Zealand’s climate-damaging emissions.”

With elections just around the corner, it is unsurprising that the critical research has been widely reported. Examples of coverage include:

Otago Daily Times: Researchers claim little done to mitigate climate change

Timaru Herald: Editorial: Debate warming up

TV 3 news: NZ climate change policy falls short – study

Yahoo News: Study critical of climate change action