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Five reasons why the Fast-track Approvals Bill threatens NZ’s already fragile ecosystems

Our latest selection of articles from New Zealand and around the world on environmental management and sustainability. Click here to subscribe.


In this issue, we take a very Aotearoa New Zealand perspective, starting with the Fast-track Approvals Bill, where public submissions closed last Friday.  Even the Auditor-General and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment are urging the Select Committee, which is currently reviewing the legislation, to consider changes to the decision-making process laid out in the new legislation.  Giving just three ministers the ability to override environment protections, all in the name of short-term profit, seems like long-term madness.


We also examine how we can best address our climate change and biodiversity crisis in a coordinated way, for example through planting native forests as a means of sequestering carbon as well as increasing our biodiversity.  And we certainly need to be more ambitious on tackling climate change and reducing emissions, given that we emit more per capita than the current highest net emitter, China.


We also take an economic assessment of the impact addressing climate change is likely to bring.  Nearly every action associated with actions such as managed retreat, building back outdated and inadequate infrastructure, rising insurance premiums, rising council rates, etc. is inflationary.  So how can the Reserve Bank insist on maintaining annual inflation at 3% or lower at the same time as addressing climate change?  It simply can’t and we may need to introduce two indexes, one for non-climate change activity and another for climate change activity.


We also examine how New Zealand has passed the electrification tipping point, where it is now more cost effective to buy electric appliances and vehicles and power them from rooftop solar or from our mostly renewable electricity grid.  We do however need fairer solar PV export tariffs to encourage a greater shift to rooftop solar PV.  And there is now work starting on the possibility of NZ offshore wind which could conservatively contribute $50 billion in GDP between now and 2050.


And NZ is going to need a boost to its GDP to maintain present levels of personal income, with modelling predicting an average 20% loss of income attributable to the rising costs associated with extreme weather events estimated to be costing US$38 Trillion per annum by 2050.  One thing for sure is that the fossil fuel industry is not going to go away quietly and is only certain to continue with their PR and misleading communications initiatives likened to that of a coercive controller, where they keep on telling us, the consumer that we can’t get by without them.  Well realistic alternatives in ever decreasing costs associated with renewable electricity generation are now available and better still, are cheaper than fossil fuels.


We finish this week with the sad news that nearly everywhere the loss of biodiversity is having a quietening impact, as the loss of species has meant the loss of sound associated with their presence, whether it be on the ground, in the air or even under water.  Nearly everywhere, except here in Wellington where the birds are all making a resurgence, whether they are kiwis running free in the hills, penguins swimming in the harbour or native birds safely nesting in Zealandia, but spreading their wings throughout the rest of the city.  If you are fortunate enough to live in Wellington you will know that the dawn chorus is both real and loud.


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Here is the full list of articles...


Public submissions for the Fast-track Approvals Bill have officially closed. As we sit in anxious wait while the government decides the fate of the bill, we’d like to lead this week’s SnippETS by stressing the environmental impact it could have.  The bill would allow government ministers to circumvent key environmental planning and protection processes for infrastructure projects, which threatens our already fragile ecosystems.  Our environment underpins our economy, health, and New Zealand culture.  Is sacrificing the measures put in place to protect our environment really worth the short-term economic gains? Read more…


It is important to stress that while we address the current climate crisis that we do not lose sight of the biodiversity crisis, which stems from the degradation and loss of species and habitats.  However, we don’t have to address each crisis separately.  Prioritising the planting of new native forests is a multi-purpose nature-based solution that would not only reduce emissions but would also help repair our damaged ecosystems and increase biodiversity.  The real challenge will be to harness the most effective policies, incentives, and actions across Aotearoa New Zealand.  Read more…


New Zealand isn’t too small to make a positive difference toward the climate crisis. Although we only contribute 0.15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, we emit more per capita than the current highest emitter, China.  By accepting our role in the climate crisis and continuing to make strides toward a low-carbon economy, we can influence others around the world to do the same.  Because when you view our emissions alongside those of other 200 countries that emit less than 2 percent each, we make the lion’s share of 38.4 percent.  Read more…


Talking of making a difference, it’s clear that climate change costs are compounding, putting upwards pressure on inflation.  More frequent severe weather events will cause more damage, which will become increasingly expensive to rebuild from and insure against.  The cost of assessing climate related risks, like flooding, is inflationary. Rebuilding outdated and inadequate infrastructure is inflationary.  Building back better, by looking to future proof infrastructure for an ever-increasing population, is very inflationary.  As a result, we are seeing, and will continue to see, rising insurance premiums, and council rates. Read more…


We can at least tackle excessive power costs by making it easier for New Zealanders to reap the benefits of rooftop solar.  The average Kiwi household is now better off financially if they buy electric appliances and vehicles and power them with rooftop solar and renewable energy.  For that to happen at scale, we need a level playing field so everyone can manage the upfront costs and access the benefits of electric technology. This Government promised cost of living relief.  In the electricity sector, there are solutions staring them in the face. Read more…


Aside from coming in XXL models, the contribution offshore wind has to energy security, GDP, and job creation in NZ is sizable.  PricewaterhouseCoopers’ impact analysis finds offshore wind projects in NZ can power more homes, more reliably, and enable more decarbonisation opportunities.  The impact study challenges the perception of expansive wind farms encroaching on marine real estate as it finds that us Kiwis are spoiled for choice.  The benefits don’t end there, making offshore wind a compelling – and maybe revolutionary – opportunity. Read more…


With the cost-of-living already surging worldwide, the most comprehensive model of climate impacts to income has delivered a brutal blow.  National average income losses ranging from 11-30% are predicted for 2050, with no guarantee that’s where it will end. The study finds massive disparities among countries, showing how global business-as-usual is not an opportunity for developing economies, but a punishment.  Researchers emphasise this is only a piece of the puzzle, with more factors at play.  Although, they do have some idea of what the solution will look like… Read more…


It has been suggested the accuracy of our belief - that fossil fuel companies are a sincere partner to respond to climate change - is characteristic of the emotional attachment of an abusive relationship we cannot leave.  As we are 'gaslit' by the industry, we perpetuate the abuse; by consuming the benefits of the products and ignoring they are damaging the climate and our existence.  In our state of trauma bonding and cognitive dissonance, we then convince ourselves that our economic wellbeing and future existence depends on fossil fuels.  It’s crazy. Read more…


Experts warn of a looming "deathly silence" in nature as wildlife dwindles, signalling a dire loss of biodiversity.  Ecosystems worldwide are experiencing a dramatic decline in their acoustic diversity and intensity, with familiar sounds like bird calls and insect hums disappearing.  This shift, documented across continents, poses significant implications for human health and well-being.  As natural soundscapes vanish, researchers mourn the loss while using sound data to monitor conservation efforts.  Urgent action is needed to preserve the dwindling symphony of nature before it becomes an acoustic relic of the past. Read more…


As cities worldwide fall silent, Wellington, New Zealand, sees a resurgence of native birdsong, thanks to conservation efforts.  Danae Mossman hosts a lively colony of little penguins under her house, embracing their presence despite the noise.  Decades of work, including Zealandia sanctuary's creation, have led to a booming dawn chorus.  The Fenaughtys now enjoy kiwi calls in their backyard, a testament to community-driven restoration efforts.  With pests controlled and habitats protected, Wellington's streets echo with the sounds of thriving native birdlife. Read more…




This week we have the following innovation articles we hope you find interesting:





Hydrology Report - 24 April 2024




Electricity Price Index - 24 April 2024







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