Jan Wright – commissioner for our environment on what keeps her awake at night

Jan Wright

As New Zealand’s Environment Commissioner, Jan Wright is the authority on what is happening environmentally in our country. In this interview Jan gives us a breakdown on her latest report on the impending “fracking” or Oil and Gas Drilling industry, as well as the bigger environmental issues at hand. Her mission is to then get politicians to act on her recommendations.

Although we didn’t get to discuss this, the summary below, which ends her report introduction is certainly food for thought at this critical time. And if the Commissioner for the Environment is saying it, why aren’t we doing it?

– ‘The Government has committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to five percent below our 1990 emissions by 2020, but there is no plan for achieving this –neither the Energy Strategy nor the greatly weakened Emissions Trading Scheme will do it. Perhaps I have become particularly sensitive, but I seem to be increasingly hearing that it is pointless for our small country to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases because our contribution to the global total is insignificant. But this is a recipe for inaction everywhere.

The Minister of Climate and Environment in Norway – another small country – recently said it better than I can:
“Norway accounts for 0.04 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In isolation, what we do is of little significance. But we cannot think like that. Every Chinese city, every U.S. state, every coal power plant emission is small in the larger whole. We will not get anywhere if we just point at each other.”

During my time as New Zealand’s Environment Commissioner, I have often made recommendations about the need for a strong response on climate change. I will continue to do so.’

Jan Wright-Drilling for oil and gas in New Zealand: Environmental oversight and regulation -June 2014

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