The environment topic has received considerable attention over the past several years and for good reason. Desirably, we need to push back the emotionalism and avoid simplistic analyses. Some truths -
- It is impractical for most of us to abandon our cars, the largest source of CO2 emissions within Nelson. If you conclude otherwise, go ask a working parent with active children or those living out of town. If I lived in or near the CBD, I would rarely drive.
- Any analysis or position needs to consider the end to end CO2 emissions and the waste stream impacts from input sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, delivery, maintenance, and disposal
- Any analysis or position needs to consider the impact on the New Zealand economy. For most, the environment becomes less of a concern when one is unemployed, with larger, wealthier countries continuing to emit vastly more significant quantities of CO2.
- New transportation technologies and deployments are coming online. Whether it's electric or hydrogen, petroleum powered cars are on their way out. The future is self driving vehicles resulting in more efficient roadway usage and a near elimination of roadway accidents. The dividends are so huge that the globe should develop various incentive initiatives to motivate companies, research groups, and entrepreneurs to get there faster.
- Migration away from plastic packaging is in progress. Humans invented plastic and what we have today is the result of many decades of plastic packaging innovation. It is essentially certain that humans will invent great alternatives in response to the environmental awareness. Research is ongoing.
- Everyone can help out by actively reducing their waste stream (business and residential), recycling organic waste, and avoiding unnecessary driving
- More cost effective environment policies are theoretically achievable at the national level rather than the local level
- It is cost effective for New Zealand to leverage the vast amount of experience and research available globally. Active emissions and waste reduction efforts began decades ago and look to be accelerating.
Constructive and practical, national legislation is required to address the environment issue. Banning plastic bags, a biological waste ordinance (which has been ongoing for decades in Germany and Austria), establishing a sunset date for plastic packaging (as the EU has done), and genuine recycling initiatives are all positive steps. International resources many, many times Nelson City Council's entire annual budget are being directed into environment friendly packaging materials, vehicles, and waste stream processing.
Really? So where is the emergency response team? Where is the clear and present danger? Declaration of an emergency in this case creates confusion, especially for the young who need to understand what an actual emergency is. A natural disaster, outbreak of disease, major supply disruption, war, and riot are situations of clear and present danger. I find it ironic that candidates promoting the environment are posting signs all over town. What a load of rubbish, literally! Most of our elected officials continue to drive their cars. The exclusive Nelson City Council car parks remain. Ohhh...they want US to walk.
What to Do?
We ALL need to continue on the path of implementing changes that result in measurable improvement, from household, to commercial, to government. Many of us have been active on this front for years. As for what Council can achieve, a Richmond Park and Ride makes obvious sense. It's so obvious, simple, and proven (e.g. Auckland has many). Several cost efficient and practical solutions are available to resolve the traffic congestion issues in Nelson. We certainly need to maximise our recycling potential in the context of our small population and remote location. Moving towards a bio-waste ordinance looks to make sense. If Nelson wants to be the "smart little city," we need to focus on continuing to implement proven solutions. Most of the time, being smart involves looking around at what smart people are doing. Do we want to regulate CO2 and waste emissions at an individual level? A question collectively worth asking.