James Shaw, hypocrite of the year

From the Ridge (FTR): Minister James Shaw, thanks for agreeing to an interview.

James Shaw (JS): My pleasure. I’ve heard about your interviews. This is not actually real though, is it?

FTR: Ah. What is real? Great question. Einstein said, “Reality is just an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. I like Pablo Picasso’s thought when he said, “Everything you can imagine is real”. Yeah, this is real. Trust me.

JS: OK, that might be the case but how do I know you wont just make things up and put words in my mouth? I want the truth out there.

FTR: What is truth? That’s trickier now that we live in a post truth world. President Trumps attorney, Rudy Giuliani once said “Truth isn’t truth”. Mind you, he has a decent chance of ending up in prison. Here’s hoping. Trump went onto say black was white, up was down and all manner of clever things so how could mere mortals like you and I James decide what is true, what is reality and who should pay for lunch?

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about this environmental summit you just have to get too.

JS: It’s called Cop26 and stands for ‘Conference of the parties’ and has been going since 1995 so this is the 26th time we’ve met.

FTR: That’s a lot of meetings over a long period of time. Hopefully it’s making a difference. There are a lot of green groups calling for this conference to be postponed again. It seems delegates from the most vulnerable countries to climate change face exclusion. They can’t get the vaccine and need to be immunised to attend, they can’t get connecting flights, they can’t afford two weeks in pricey MIQ’s in Glasgow so it will just be a bunch of rich nations gasbagging away. Hardly equitable.

I hear unlike everyone else on the planet in these pandemic times, you can’t meet virtually. Thus, saving massive amounts of the very thing you are talking about reducing, carbon emissions.

JS: They are not offering a virtual summit, so we must be there at the table to put our point.

FTR: Why?

JS: To put our perspective.

FTR: Why don’t you send them a letter? Wouldn’t that show more credibility than winging over there with your delegation of 14 others? Each one of you will produce 4 tonnes of CO2. That’s 60 tonnes James. You could halve it by not coming back I guess. Or sail there like Greta.

JS: We will be offsetting those emissions of course.

FTR: Who will be paying for that?

JS: The crown.

FTR: You mean the taxpayer?

JS: Yes.

FTR: I see one of the main topics is about banning coal. Wont you get some stick given that last year we imported a million tonnes of dirty Indonesian coal from Indonesia and this year we’ve been hooking into it again to keep the lights on in Auckland. It’s the worst fossil fuel available. I thought you’d called a climate emergency.

JS: The coal thing is tricky. If we don’t get enough rain and the lakes don’t fill, the wind doesn’t blow the turbines enough and because we have decided to get out of gas then we need to keep generating electricity with something. But I’ve got my people looking into it.

FTR: James, there is no other way of saying this, but this junket jaunt is rank hypocrisy. You and your colleagues bang on about riding your push bikes and driving around in your EV’s. My farming mates are all up in arms about the small matter of the ute tax which is being brought in to save the world. And we offset by actually planting millions of trees collectively each year. Frankly, you are getting the grief you deserve over this.

Let’s finish and talk about you and your 14 mates getting preferential treatment to get MIQ spaces. Heaps of us have got kids and relatives overseas who have been trying for up to 18 months to get back to New Zealand.

I see you went into the draw last week for a spot in the MIQ lottery and were 15,000th in the queue having said if you couldn’t get MIQ, you wouldn’t be going.

Now they’ve found a few rooms for you and your officials, and your prize will be ongoing seething resentment from anyone who knows anyone who can’t get back into their own country.

You would have been well advised to get our High Commissioner to travel up from London and do the table thumping on your behalf.

Why you would think that your presence will make any difference to outcomes is beyond me.

Don’t answer that, I’m not interested.

James, I’ll leave you with a quote from William Hazlett. He was an English essayist in the early part of the 19th century.

“The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy”.


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