Green Party co-leader James Shaw is denying accusations of hypocrisy for his decision to fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 conference on climate change:
The Green Party refused to attend Parliament while Wellington was still at alert level 4 on Tuesday last week.
Shaw at the time had said there was a perfectly serviceable option that would enable MPs to work from home – Parliament via teleconferencing software Zoom – and politicians should be modelling the health advice to stay home. He said the party was reluctant to be returning to the House even at alert level 3.
“I think it’s absolutely irresponsible, I mean it literally risks people’s lives by holding an in-person Parliament,” Shaw said. . .
That was last week in New Zealand.
The conference is a couple of months away in Glasgow, one of the UK’s Covid-19 hotspots.
Shaw will be have to quarantine on his return, taking an MIQ spot away from people who are desperate to return to New Zealand. If staff are going they too will take MIQ spots from people who anyone with a heart would acknowledge had far greater need of them.
National’s climate change spokesman has turned down an invitation to attend.
Covid-19 has meant that New Zealanders have had to sacrifice a great deal. They have missed funerals, weddings, births, and all manner of other special moments, National’s Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith says.
“It seems a no-brainer to me that now is not the time for me to be jetting over to the other side of the world for a conference, no matter how important the subject. That is why I have made the decision not to attend the 26th Conferences of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow this year.
“The Climate Change Minister James Shaw asked me if I was interested in attending COP 26 in Glasgow some time ago and I indicated that I was interested subject to the details and the circumstances at the time.
“Given I would be required to spend two weeks in MIQ when I returned, taking up a valuable spot that I know Kiwis overseas are desperate for, I could not justify the trip.
“I note Minister Shaw was vocal about the public health risk he considered Parliament sitting in Level 3 and 4 to be. One would think international travel in a pandemic would present a greater risk.
“The COP has been run by the United Nations for nearly thirty years and brings together people from all nations for a global climate summit. It is a worthwhile event and I look forward to hearing of the discussions second-hand.
“Since G20 was conducted online, it is disappointing that a climate change conference run by the United Nations would not also offer online engagement.
“I feel missing out on this particular event, while disappointing, pales compared to the sacrifices made by so many of my fellow New Zealanders.”
The greater hypocrisy isn’t Shaw’s going to Glasgow when he made a fuss about going to Wellington and applies not just to him but to all the people who are flying to Scotland for the conference. It’s that it’s an in-person meeting not a virtual one.
If they want us to take their claims of a climate crisis seriously, they must lead by example.
It doesn’t matter how many trees the conference-goers pledge to plant to offset their emissions, by flying a combined total of many, many thousands of kilometres they’re telling us to do as they say not as they do.
The truly green way to discuss the issue is to have a virtual conference. It worked for APEC, it would work for COP26 and it would show us that they are taking their claims of a climate crisis as seriously as they are exhorting us to.