28 Jun 2015

The climate change debate

From Sunday Morning, 7:10 am on 28 June 2015

A new study has found New Zealand has a relatively high rate of climate change scepticism compared with similar industrialised countries.

Drought conditions in mid-Canterbury, January 2015

Drought conditions in mid-Canterbury, January 2015

Photo: Jeremy Talbot

Researchers at the University of Tasmania analysed surveys taken from 14 countries and found 13 percent of those surveyed in New Zealand were climate-change sceptics.

Only Australia and Norway had higher rates, with the United States coming in just behind on 12 percent.

That compares with only 2 percent of Spanish people and 4 percent of Germans and Swiss.

The study found countries with higher carbon dioxide emissions had greater rates of scepticism - and the people most likely to be sceptics tend to be male, politically conservative and less concerned about the environment.

The authors of the study conclude that despite overwhelming scientific evidence climate change is real, scepticism endures and may even be on the rise in many places.

Govt accused of stifling climate-change debate

Some academics, including Economist Geoff Bertram and Climate Scientist James Renwick, say the Government is trying to stifle climate-change debate.

The Government has held a month of public meetings about what emissions target it should present when world leaders meet for talks in Paris in December.

But a former Victoria University economist, Geoff Bertram, told the Sunday Morning programme those meetings were not taken seriously.

"No minister or politician turned up to these meetings, well apart from one or two opposition politicians who were in the audience. The meetings were left to officials to conduct and I think that what it boiled down to was the Government really just saying 'hey do you guys care enough to turn up to a meeting'?"

Mr Bertram said during the consultation the Government overplayed the cost of reducing emissions.

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