The Guardian on NZ’s carbon greenwashing

by Jake Quinn

You used to hear politicians talking about what was at stake if New Zealand didn’t do anything significant about its carbon emissions. Some listened, while others tuned out thinking “yeah whatever, no one cares what NZ does”.

Labour eventually got a meaningful Emissions Trading Scheme through Parliament (albeit as its last act after 9 years in government) that would have provided incentives for big polluters and emitters to make real reductions.  But now, under National, we look to be getting an ETS that will subsidize the polluter and emitter sectors for so long it almost seems pointless.

The article below justifiably does a great deal to undermine New Zealand’s brand as clean and green, something which is not just important for tourism but for making our wine, lamb and dairy products ‘appear’ better than they really are.

In marketing people talk about the value of a product and the additional ‘appearance of value’ of it. If you can sell something, but through branding and advertising make people attach additional value to it (that don’t necessarily exist) then you’re on the way to success.

Articles like this one strip down New Zealand’s facade exposing our products as, not just the same other countries, but worse because they are served with a side of hypocrisy.

Full article is here, some snippets below:

…my prize for the most shameless two fingers to the global community goes to New Zealand, a country that sells itself round the world as “clean and green”.

New Zealand secured a generous Kyoto target, which simply required it not to increase its emissions between 1990 and 2010. But the latest UN statistics show its emissions of greenhouse gases up by 22%, or a whopping 39% if you look at emissions from fuel burning alone…

To rub our noses in it, last year New Zealand signed up to the UN’s Climate Neutral Network, a list of nations that are “laying out strategies to become carbon neutral”.

But if you read the small print of what New Zealand has actually promised, it is a measly 50% in emissions by 2050 – something even the US can trump….

This is not just political spin. It is also commercial greenwash. New Zealand trades on its greenness to promote its two big industries: tourism and dairy exports. Groser says his country’s access to American markets for its produce is based on its positive environmental image. The government’s national marketing strategy is underpinned by a survey showing that tourism would be reduced by 68% if the country lost its prized “clean, green image”, and even international purchases of its dairy products could halve.

The trouble is, on the climate change front at least, that green image increasingly defies reality.