The growing disconnect between the NZ government’s promotion of New Zealand as a 100% Pure tourist destination, and its desire to see more offshore oil and gas exploration and increased mining for coal and minerals is certainly attracting attention around the world. Graham Readfearn’s article New Zealand pushing plans to drill Middle-earth as Hobbit filming ends is top environment story on the Guardian web site today. Readfearn riffs on the completion of filming for the last part of the Hobbit trilogy, set against a frankly astonishing promotional video by PM John Key, in which he waxes lyrical about our beautiful country, and then describes how he’s committed to ruining it. Have a look: it is — as Greenpeace NZ noted — beyond parody.
Readfearn’s not the only one to notice: climate campaigner Bill McKibben tweeted “NZ doing its best to become a junior league petrostate, talk about bad timing” to draw attention to a 350.org blog post about Key’s tasteless little video.
The foolishness of trying to build an extraction economy around fossil fuels at a time when the carbon bubble — the over-valuation of carbon reserves by oils and coal companies — is beginning to gain traction in financial markets is all too obvious. Investing in assets that will be stranded by the inevitability of action on climate change is a strategic nonsense.
Unfortunately that’s part for the course for a government locked into an outdated set of political ideas, wedded to a world-view that considers action on emissions optional. Unless they wake up and see the world changing around them, they will find themselves as stranded as the tax payer funds they plan waste by subsidising fossil fuel exploration and extraction.