Forget NZ's Zero Carbon Goal. How about Zero Poverty?
It's a shame that our Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson, has an ambition, come what may, to achieve a Zero Carbon target, yet no plan to achieve Zero Poverty. "Monday is the most significant day in NZ's journey to combat climate change", Robertson said today. When was our "most significant day" in the journey to eliminate poverty?
So how about the following plan to achieve Zero Poverty (you be the judge about priorities):
Overturn Labour's ban on new oil & gas exploration. Had that ban not been implemented, then who knows - NZ may have discovered significant reserves. Under that scenario, we could've copied chunks of Norway's natural resource strategy. That is, put the oil & gas revenues into a Sovereign Wealth Fund and used the income to achieve intergenerational fairness, fund health-care & pensions, eliminate poverty & reduce inequality.
Yet due to his idealistic pursuit of the oil & gas ban, when NZ already prices carbon emissions, Robertson has thrown us into a cost-of-living crisis by his own admission. After all, he's the one blaming high oil prices for high inflation, not us. What's more, he has even backtracked on his commitment to chase lower emissions by cutting taxes on gasoline.
When the founder of well-being economics, Richard Easterlin, visited us in NZ several years ago, I hosted an event with him to which we invited Grant Robertson, who pulled out of a few days before. At that event, Easterlin made the point that the exploration ban had NOTHING to do with well-being economics, for the above kinds of reasons.