Climate Change, and the Policy Dilemma

Publication, Environment, Owen McShane

New Zealand has a long history of taking leading edge positions on public policy issues, and has a proud tradition of leading political and social change. More recently, especially during the term of the fourth Labour Government, New Zealand was a world leader in economic reform.

Our natural instinct is to join any world-wide movement,1 and to be one of the “leaders of the

Consequently, when the international community, and the United Nations in particular, decided that the risk of anthropogenic global warming was a major threat to present and future generations, New Zealand Governments lined up to support any initiatives needed to solve the problem.

New Zealand was among the first nations to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol and to commit to
its implementation.

It would be unfair to say government was “ahead” of the New Zealand public. New Zealanders want to “do their bit” and “shoulder their fair share of the load”. They have been willing to send their troops into foreign conflicts, even when there appeared to be no clear and present danger to our national wellbeing. New Zealanders have also been among the world’s most generous donors when tragedy strikes – whether they be tsunamis devastating the poor economies of South East Asia or hurricanes striking the wealthy communities of the Southern Seaboard of the United States.

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