by Mike Ward

The Silver Bullet

The Creative Alliance’s Carbon Credit Initiative, like all of our initiatives is designed to encourage engagement and to reward people for making wiser choices but it is no exaggeration to say that The Kiwi Carbon Credits could be the silver Bullet that transforms our lifestyles and makes New Zealand the stand out climate change mitigation (and lifestyle) role model.

If the increase in the price of energy this century hasn’t been sufficient to dent our passion for motoring, flying, consuming and living in ever larger homes, it is difficult to see why anyone ever thought that a modest tax on carbon was ever likely to bring about the behaviour changes necessary to reduce our carbon emissions

I have just googled the cost of offsetting the carbon emissions from a return flight from Nelson to Wellington.  The contributions are voluntary but even if they were compulsory did anyone ever think that $1.20 on the price of an air fare might be sufficient to persuade anyone to fly less frequently?

Setting a binding limit on carbon

The Creative Alliance Carbon Credit Initiative sets a binding limit on carbon and shares the emissions, (Kiwi carbon credits), over the entire population.  We would all get given a share of to spend on our carbon emissions. Friday’s Nelson Mail article that appeared on Stuff referred to the initiative as a tax.  It is not.  It is a currency but a finite and diminishing currency that would keep shrinking until we get to the level of carbon emissions necessary to ensure our compliance with international agreements… and our survival. 

Under the Initiative every time we make a purchase the carbon content would be deducted from our personal account.  The poor and the careful are likely to have far more credits than they can use but are likely to find that there is no shortage of people with deeper pockets and more extravagant lifestyles prepared to pay whatever they have to for spare credits… But rich and poor alike are incentivised to think about the implications of the choices they make, either because they care about the planet or the additional income, or simply to prioritise the activities they most care about.

Making the Kiwi credits go further

And what might we do to make our carbon credits go further? Well we could look at what a whole lot of people are already doing:  Down- sizing, moving closer to the places we need to be, buying local and taking of fewer of our holidays overseas (and more at the beach)… or you could buy a copy of The Lush Green Gospel which has a whole bunch of ideas for making life more fun, less expensive and a whole lot less energy intensive.

How would the initiative work?

Government would set the limit annually and establish and distribute the personal allocation (at no cost to the recipient) and set up the mechanism for making deductions and providing Kiwi Carbon Credit account balances with each purchase. Manufacturers and service providers would be charged with establishing the carbon content of their products based on the fossil energy component and any other green- house gas emitting component of each product.

Businesses would be allocated carbon quotas based on their previous year’s energy use in the first instance (less the targeted reduction).  Business growth would need to be carbon neutral or businesses could purchase surplus credits from other businesses… but their customers are likely to drive the push for carbon neutrality and business in New Zealand with our abundance of renewable electricity has an advantage over almost any other country on the planet.

A World Leader

New Zealand has a history of leadership and never has that leadership been more desperately needed than in the campaign to prevent catastrophic climate change.


 Why are we so many of us so unhappy?

I bumped into an old acquaintance out running last week, a health worker.  She mentioned that around 20% of New Zealanders are depressed.  Over the course of a year a frightening 50% are likely to experience depression.   Most of us survive it but our suicide statistics tell us that far too many don’t.  The irony it is that it is the very same behaviour that is making too many of us seriously unhappy that is overheating the planet.

I try not to focus on the problems for they depress me greatly but consumption is the problem.  We are literally consuming ourselves into oblivion and we aren’t having such a great time doing it.

 Two of the greatest determinants of wellbeing are feeling that we are in control of our lives and being in strong stable relationships but taking control of our lives and maintaining relationships take time… and we are stuff rich and time poor.

“We are living in a gilded cage… but the door is open”

As Clive Hamilton wrote at the beginning of this century in “Growth Fetish”:

“We are living in a gilded cage… but the door is open.  We could walk out any time we choose…”

 Many careful Kiwis are already making choices that enable them to work fewer hours in order to make time for more of the experiences that most delight… like strengthening our relationships and taking control of our lives. We are already showing that we can make these choices without help from anyone else but governments have the resources to establish and market the more aspirational goals necessary to persuade more of us to make the move to more purposeful, enjoyable and sustainable lives.

Making life good

My motivation for writing and broadcasting Gilding the Lily and forming the Creative Alliance was no different than my motivation for doing anything and everything: To make life good… for myself… and for all of the other species communities and generations with which I share this quite remarkable planet. Unlike some commentators I believe that living within the capacity of the planet to sustain has to be dramatically more purposeful, fun, prosperous, fair optimistic and sustainable than the status quo.

How is our campaign going?

The encouragement, with words like “a breath of fresh air” and “Brilliant”, has been a delight.  Sally at Hothouse, bless her, has made a great job of setting up ourwebsiteand Aldo has been having conversations with social media experts and I have gone back onto face book and frittered away much too much time on it already… but we need all of the help we can get to get the message out. 

What can you do?

Join the party and talk to your friends.

Go the Website and join up.  The subscription is just $5.00 but campaigning isn’t cheap so we do appreciate donations.

Time is short but we have time to get our 500 members before the 20th June deadline for party registration… and the membership page should be on the website today and if anyone in Nelson or elsewhere has a little energy we need a party secretary and I would happily buy coffee and feed a helper or two.

We have a regular session at the Hardy Street Sprig and Fern 3.00pm Sundays, for those who wo would like to learn more or help out but we must establish Creative Alliance branches in other centres.

Be a candidate or set up a Creatives branch in your area

I am prepared to travel to meet supporters and talk to potential candidates should anyone make the request and the arrangements… arrange somewhere to meet and get the word out.

Mike Ward

Suite 2, 244 Hardy Street, Nelson. 7010