‘Climate emergency’ sweeps local councils

Louis Houlbrooke
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

‘Climate emergency’ trend sweeping the nation

Are you feeling alarmed? According to virtue-signalling local politicians, you should be, because councils across the country are rushing to declare ‘climate emergencies’. Following intense media attention on last week’s ‘climate change strike’, nearly every council in the country looks set to debate whether to make “emergency” declarations.

Nelson: Porky the Waste-hater comes to town

Since you last heard from us, Taxpayers’ Union friendly mascot Porky the Waste-hater and I travelled to Nelson to present our petition against Mayor Rachel Reese’s proposed climate emergency.

We made a short video of the meeting. We argued councils should stick to their knitting (roads, rubbish, rates) instead of throwing money and attention at fashionable global issues.

Nelson video

You can also share the video on Facebook here.

Despite the opposition of ratepayers in the public gallery behind us, the councillors approved the declaration, complete with a $100,000 funding commitment.

To underline the move’s hypocrisy, the Mayor refused to sign our pledge against ratepayer-funded (and emissions-spewing) international travel. So much for an ’emergency’.

Canterbury: Regional council’s hypocrisy on emissions

Environment Canterbury (aka Ecan) actually pipped Mayor Reese at the post, declaring the country’s first climate emergency just a few hours earlier.

So, does Ecan walk the walk? Jordan asked our interns to check some of the data we’ve been collecting on travel expenses at regional councils.

It turns out that, aside from Auckland, Ecan spends more than any other regional council on flights. In the last financial year, Ecan spent $262,000 on over 1,400 flights, with destinations including Vancouver, San Francisco, and Copenhagen (that last trip was, in fact, the same climate junket Nelson’s Mayor enjoyed last year).

Ecan flights

The Press has reported on our figures here.

Green Party tries (and fails) to get in on the action
The Green Party yesterday asked Parliament to declare a national climate emergency. Thankfully, National’s Todd Muller vetoed the motion. However, we won’t be surprised if the idea becomes a bill, meaning it will be subject to a vote from all MPs.

Chloe & Golriz

Successive New Zealand Governments have already dedicated an inordinate amount of taxpayer funding and red tape to the climate change issue. We say that declaring an ’emergency’ on top of this is pure virtue-signalling.

Your council is likely to follow

Not to let Ecan steal the limelight, Christchurch City Council has also rushed out a declaration. Meanwhile, Auckland Council has scheduled a vote for next month, and K?piti Coast, Wellington City, and Greater Wellington have all indicated they’ll be voting on declarations soon.

These movements tend to gather momentum, as local politicians across the country will want their names connected to the fuzzy headlines. In short, your council could be next.

This week we are writing to all local councillors asking them to vote down any proposed ‘climate emergency’, and focus on value for ratepayers through core services.

Grover and team

Learning from the world’s most effective taxpayer advocate

This week we hosted Grover Norquist, the founder of American for Tax Reform. (That’s him with some of our team in the photo above).

Grover started his career in the Reagan administration, but is now known as America’s most influential campaigner for lower tax. His group’s “Taxpayer Pledge” is now signed by 90 percent of Republicans, meaning it is basically impossible for the party to raise taxes.

(Grover featured in an interview with Q&A, which you can watch here.)

We’re looking at how we can translate the “Taxpayer Pledge” to New Zealand – perhaps starting with this year’s local elections. Watch this space.

Tomorrow’s budget

Leaks aside, Budget 2019 is being unveiled tomorrow. Our economic team will be in the Beehive for the media and analysts’ lock-up so we can send you our analysis shortly after 2 pm.

Here’s hoping someone thinks of taxpayers’ wellbeing in Labour’s “wellbeing” budget.