Flat White New Zealand

Jacinda's alternate climate reality

31 May 2022

1:00 PM

31 May 2022

1:00 PM

I sometimes wonder if I live in an alternate reality. A parallel universe, if you will. This is a universe where what I hear from the media and our politicians simply does not match the observable world. Their words and actions are often so contradictory as to melt my mind…

Take last week, for example.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, appeared on the Stephen Colbert show in New York.

‘Welcoming guests to New Zealand is so much of who we are!’ Ardern said, as part of a campaign to persuade American tourists to return to New Zealand.

Note: the tourism industry has been decimated by a two-year-long Covid-Zero closed border policy that excluded anyone except citizens and permanent residents – so maybe not so welcoming of guests after all? But I digress.

‘…please, come back and make us whole again, you’d be so welcome.’


She even personally invited Stephen Colbert to her wedding (he appeared very excited, obviously).

Is this the same Jacinda Ardern who, in December 2020, declared a Climate Emergency?

Or in 2021, said the climate crisis was a matter of ‘life or death’?

Or in an interview just a few weeks back she said, ‘We need to play our part in making sure that we are reducing our emissions as a nation.’

If so, and this really is the same Ardern, I’m terribly confused. Let me explain why.

A return flight (economy) from New York to Auckland equates to (depending on which calculator you use) between 1 to 4 tons of CO2. From Los Angeles it would be less, but still around 1 to 3 tons.

These are per person figures, not the whole flight you understand. This means a return to 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels of American tourism (ca. 300,000 American citizens) would equate to around 600,000 tons of CO2 (if we assume a two-ton return trip).

I haven’t even begun to factor in each visitor’s ‘within New Zealand’ CO2 footprint (hire cars, camper-vans, hotels, restaurants, food, and internal flights).

And what of Mr Colbert? Well, if he does come to the wedding that will probably equate to around 7 to 10 tons of CO2 (as he will no doubt fly first class you see, to avoid sitting in cattle class with the plebs). This will triple his CO2 emissions. To offset Mr Colbert’s flight, three Kiwis would need to ditch their cars for a whole year and cycle everywhere.

I think, dear reader, you can see where I’m going with this.

 Surely if there’s a climate crisis with ‘life or death’ consequences and there is an urgent need to ‘reduce our emissions as a nation’ then inviting hundreds of thousands of people, including Stephen Colbert, to fly halfway around the world to visit New Zealand doesn’t compute…

In fact, the best thing New Zealand and Ardern can do is to tell American citizens (and everyone else) to stay away – for the good of the planet, you understand.

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