The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
The performance art of climate emergency declarations

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The performance art of climate emergency declarations

As PMs of Australia and Aotearoa NZ, and Auckland Council, declare climate emergencies, use of coal and transport emissions rise; Performative politics beats policy on climate most days

TLDR: Politicians seem to love declaring ‘climate emergencies’ and then taking little actual action to achieve climate emissions reductions.

That’s been reinforced in the last week as the Prime Ministers of both Australia and Aotearoa-NZ declared climate emergencies alongside Pacific leaders already being swamped by storms and rising sea levels, but Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern are presiding over increased imports and exports of coal, are cutting fossil fuel taxes and, in Ardern’s case, has governed for years as emissions kept rising.

In my view, it’s time to treat ‘climate emergency’ declarations with a scepticism bordering on contempt after years of performative politics, rather actual climate change action. The best example closest to home over the last week was from Auckland Council, which successfully argued in the High Court its official climate policy of reducing transport emissions by 64% by 2030 was more of an aspiration than a commitment, and didn’t clash with an actual transport plan that is forecast to increase emissions by 6% by 2031.

Despite Ardern’s declarations of climate emergencies, her Government has repeatedly avoided effective - but politically risky - action on emissions reductions. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The Kākā

Paid subscribers can see more of my analysis and detail on this issue below the paywall fold and in the podcast above.

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