For too long the environment has been seen as a ‘left wing’ issue, but no more. Nature is our #1 asset as a country – alongside our people – as it generates the vast bulk of our exports, including tourism and primary produce. Our landscapes, flora and fauna are literally what make New Zealand special. As other countries destroy their environments in pursuit of economic progress, ours becomes all the more precious. Nature is why people come here, nature is why people stay. This is central to Paul Callaghan’s vision of New Zealand as a place talent wants to live.
Increasingly, business people are realising the importance of protecting our environment. The Sustainable Business Network kicked things off in 2002, but since then sustainability has become mainstream. Pure Advantage have pushed sustainability as a business advantage, alongside the international work of the B Tem. Even Business New Zealand has jumped in the game with the Sustainable Business Network.
This is not greenwashing. This is business leaders thinking deeply about the business of the future. Insurers want to prepare for climate change, rising natural disasters and rising sea levels. Fund managers are divesting from fossil fuel companies as they once divested from arms and cigarettes; because they can see their days are numbered. The tourism industry is calling for action on freshwater to protect our 100% Pure brand. Petrol companies are calling for a long-term price signal on carbon. Even groups of farmers can see that we have a strategic advantage in producing high quality, environmentally friendly food.
The only people not listening are the Government. That is because they don’t have to – the environment is seen as a left wing issue that comes bundled with left wing ideals. It is all too easy for them to write off. The government should be a leader on these issues, pushing society to think of the future. Instead it is the reluctant laggard, the last cab off the rank.
Our environment is not a left wing issue. It should be represented in government 100% of the time, not less than 50% of the time. That is one reason why The Opportunities Party exists. That is why we want to see the rights of the environment embedded in a written constitution.
Currently, unless Jacinda mounts a massive revival, the polls still point to a National – NZ First Government after the election. This would be disastrous for the environment; Winston opposes all water regulation, any price on carbon, and wants to ban 1080. The Opportunities Party offers both the major parties support for their government without having to revert to the 1970s as Winston wants us to do.
Let’s put the environment where it belongs: front and centre.