Friday, 18 December 2009

One more day to go for the COP15

Hello people,

Just thought I better give you all a quick update.

It's very cold. Snow starting falling on Tuesday, and it hasn't let up much since. It's -4 with a windchill of -11.

Went to Sweden today as we've been completely locked out of the conference. They accredited 45 000 people with entry for a venue with 15 000 capacity... Welcome to the UN. Long queues, chaotic, hard to figure out what's going on. They started limiting numbers on Tuesday, with our delegation of twelve being allowed to bring in 5 people. Then today NGO numbers were limited to 1000 (allocated through constituencies - my one being YOUNGO or Youth NGO, and I don't think NZYD got any. There are nine NGO constituencies) Tomorrow they are limiting NGOs numbers to just 90 people, with 10 going to each constituency, because of the shear number of world leaders (120 to 135ish, including Mugabe) and their entourages who are going to be at the venue. So many NGOs are very unhappy. There was also a protest going on yesterday, which was my last day at the venue, where they tried to storm the building (without hope - there were so many police, and Danish police are very brutal, so we've steered well clear of them, and kept our conference badges well visible. They did manage to arrest a French Green MP, who they released once they realised who he was.)

Anyway talks don't sound like they're going too well... We'll have to see what world leaders can do when they talk tomorrow. Did the march last Saturday with about 100 000 people at it. It was an incredibly uplifting experience, and we carried the massive NZYD sail (signed by young Kiwis about what they think about climate change) the whole 3 hour walk, which gave us a great reputation - see the photo.

Other things we've done is hijacked the NZers in Copenhagen party when we presented the NZYD sail to Ministers Tim Groser and Nick Smith, and then gave a long speech that really challenged their policies (not being cute youth as they were hoping we were). There we met Simon Upton and Major Kerry Prendergast too (though she didn't react much to the speech...). We got a really long applause at the end though, even though the crowd was a mix of Kiwi NGOs, business people and delegates.

Other famous people I've seen include Desmund Tutu, Senator John Kerry, Helen Clark and almost Ban Ki-Moon (but he couldn't make his side-event due to negotiations). Also went to a Global Greens talk and saw a bunch of cool people talk including Elizabeth May (Canadian Green Party Leader) who absolutely rubbished the Canadian Government (which as of yesterday had the most Fossils of the Day, slightly ahead of the US). The current Canadian Government - which does not have majority support at all but is in power due to First Past the Post - is absolutely abysmal. She also said "Things may be better now that the US has a new administration, but unfortunately they are still the United States," to rapturous applause. Good ol' Canadians...

For the last day we will continue to send love letters to John Key, and try and get a meeting with him. Let's hope he commits to stronger targets - a conditional 10-20% by 2020 is not good enough - especially considering the strong conditions will not be met (such as other developing countries committing to stronger targets...). Plus we're trying to get the message out that the new Emissions Trading Scheme is crap - contrary to what our Government is saying, given it has no cap on emissions and thus will allow them to increase...

Anyway, it's being a crazy ride, and can tell you other things later, but should probably go. Will have to see how the final day of the talks go - which are likely to continue into Saturday before they wrap up - for better or for worse.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Fossil of the Day number one already...

New Zealand Youth Delegation

Press release

Fossil of the Day spoils youth day for young Kiwis in Copenhagen

10 December 2009

New Zealand’s first Fossil of the Day award in Copenhagen came at the worst possible time for the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD) after enjoying Young and Future Generations Day. They spent their time united with global youth by supporting a joint declaration calling for strong action on climate change. They also all wore bright orange t-shirts asking “How old will you be in 2050?”

After such a positive day focused on young people and solutions to climate change it was a huge blow to hear that New Zealand received a Fossil of the Day Award,” says Zachary Dorner, a 20 year old NZYD Delegate from Wellington.

We're surprised that John Key has reaffirmed New Zealand's position of a conditional 10-20% emissions reduction target for 2020 even though he also confirmed that other countries will have to make much deeper cuts to avoid dangerous climate change and pick up the slack.”

“Although John will be 89 and in his sunset years in 2050, he should be committing New Zealand to a 40% target for his children and grandchildren.”

Over 1000 global youth are participating in the UN summit, and they used Young and Future Generations Day to focus negotiators' minds on the importance of reaching a strong deal.

Amongst all the madness and complexity of the UN, there's one striking contrast. The young people here seem to get down and work together in a positive manner to achieve things for the greater good.”

On the other hand, it seems some developed countries like New Zealand are dragging their heels, trying to get the most out of the talks for themselves.”

It'd be great to put young people in charge to see what we could come up with. After all, if the world doesn't take strong action in Copenhagen, it will fall on our generation to clean up the mess anyway.”


See stuff for some of the coverage this picked up.

Radio NZ interview

Myself and fellow delegate Chelsea were interviewed for morning report this morning (though it was broadcast last night Copenhagen time). You can listen to it here (here if you're awesome like me and use open source software). It gives you an update of what we're up to, and in the process we teach Geoff Robinson about "electronic communication".

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Flight of the Kiwis

New Zealand stakeholder briefing meeting number one. Negotiators?”




Right. Item one. What should we talk about?”

And thus the first New Zealand briefing of day two of COP15 began, just like an episode of Flight of the Conchords. Small office, laminated sign, faded flag, not many people. The only thing missing was a poster saying “New Zealand – ewe should come,” or something of the like.

New Zealand really shows its importance at the UNFCCC by having a tiny office positioned strategically in the far corner of the delegation offices (and being told to pay $24 if the wanted another chair). The stakeholder briefing meeting I went to this morning was small and informal – but should get bigger and more detailed as things go on. Nothing much has happened at COP15 yet, just openings of negotiations. The meetings really are a great opportunity though; an incredible advantage of coming from such a small country that basically all Kiwis are welcome to come and talk details with the bureaucrats about what's happening, and even argue about policy every day.

But we do have to remember that we're not that big a player, but we can have a great positive impact. However, currently our 10 to 20% emissions reduction (below 1990 levels by 2020) targets will not help the developed world reach the 25 to 40% cuts necessary to stop dangerous climate change – and they are highly conditional.

For New Zealand to go to a 20% target, it wants to see global targets set at a level where temperature rises are limited to 2°C (which New Zealand itself wont be going far enough to reach). There are four other demands, including wanting to be able to purchase offsets to be able to reach most of those emission cuts off shore – meaning we'd be paying others to do what we don't want to do, even though ultimately everyone needs to substantially cut emissions. We also want to be able to grow lots of trees tat home to achieve these offsets. Without these, and other conditions being met (many of which having a low level of probability of success) New Zealand's target will be much lower than 20%.

So New Zealand is very demanding for such a small player. In reality we should actively be a positive voice for climate change to protect ourselves, our Pacific neighbours who are drowning under rising seas, and everyone else from the worst effect of climate change. There is so much more we could do, and that would be a huge business opportunity for us – already being well and truly seized by countries like Norway who have experienced strong economic growth recently, and plan to be carbon neutral by 2030. What ever happened to Helen Clark's desires for NZ to become carbon neutral too?

There's so much we could do, we've got a really talented negotiating team here, and New Zealand has a good reputation of purity to live up to. Let's hope John Key has (another) change of heart and directs the New Zealand Delegation to push for a deal we could truly be proud of. That's what COP15 should be about for the humble but talented Kiwis.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Staying COY about COP in Hopenhagen

Right now I am sitting in an apartment in Copenhagen where I arrived, along with the rest of the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD), just under a week ago! And what a week it has been.

First off, it's quite an adjustment to make going from almost summer to almost winter. Cold, grey and very little sunlight, making the jet lag real lame. Second, so much to do, so little time (and so much of that time spent sleeping!). We've been getting our bearings, setting up our base camps, and at the weekend we attended COY5.

COY5 stands for Conference Of the Youth number 5, and is where all the young folks meet to learn and scheme before the UN climate change conference begins (which was today!). The photo above is of four of the lovely NZ Youth Delegates walking around coldly in the square outside the old and very detailed building in which it was being held.

Then today we had our first day at the UNFCCC COP15 (the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). Yeah, that's right, the freakin' UN. And I had me a pass to get inside. The United Nations, full of important people. Such as myself of course.

I didn't go until the afternoon, as the morning was just a welcome ceremony and then plenary sessions - which means a massive room full of people from all over the world talking about how great their countries are (well, at least on the first day, before negotiations start in earnest). In the afternoon I went to a couple of very interesting "side events" where people pontificated about interesting climate related stuff.

So I've had my first taste - and it was such a busy taste. It will only get busier from here on in.

What's everyone doing at the COP15 you may ask. Well, the countries present are trying to reach an agreement on what to do about climate change. People like myself are here because we Hopenhagen that a deal will be reached, will be legally binding (so that no one can get out of it) and will mean that our climate that we so rely on is kept in a stable condition. And we will damn well do our best to pressure countries to make this happen.

There you have my last exciting week, concentrated into a sweetened form, like condensed milk. From here on in I will be blogging more regularly about more detailed and serious stuff, and you may even catch me on the news as the NZYD spokesperson.

The first week will be where we find our feet, the middle weekend should see huge demonstrations as the pressure mounts, and next week is where the magic will happen. Almost a hundred world leaders set to arrive at what is the most important and unprecedented meeting in human history. By 18 December we want them to have wrapped up a deal and make sure that this two weeks ensures the safety of our climate for all generations to come. Let's make sure they do it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I'm going to Copenhagen!

Kia ora everyone. Long time no post, I know. But you know the deal with these things.

Quick update since we last spoke: Haircut, university, got elected Environmental Officer for VUWSA (the students association at my uni), continued Co-Convening the Young Greens and now I'm off to Copenhagen next month.

Copenhagen? Yeah man. Copenhagen. It's where world leaders will be deciding the fate of the world, trying to get a global agreement on climate change, after commitment period number one of the Kyoto Protocol, which ends at the end of 2012.

Why you going, bro? Because world leaders need all the pressure they can get to make a deal that will lower the worst impacts of climate change from happening to us. I'm going as part of the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD).

How can I find out more about this whole thing? Well, here's an article I wrote a few months ago for the student mag at Victoria University.

Can I give you money to help you get there? Yes please! We need lots of money to get there and pay for accommodation and eats. Go here now. Cheers! If you are in Auckland you can also go to our fundraising auction, where you can buy re-usable shopping bags painted by famous people like Robyn Malcolm - who will actually be there! Details are hmmmere.

And how can I keep up to date with your shenanigans at this insane event? Right here at, where I shall be pumping out the posts again to save the world. Also through NZYD's website, Facebook... you know the story.

Monday, 13 April 2009

My cousin's even famous-er-er - therefore so am I

Kia ora whanua. I know it's been a little while since we last spoke, but I've been busy with university and Co-Convening the Young Greens you see, among other university shinanigans. However, I cannot honestly say I've been more busy than my cousin Phil.

No, that's not me on the unicycle, but yes he is a good looking guy. He's my Canadian equivilent, but is cooler than me. You see Phil Schleihauf is currently unicycling accross Canada for the charity Invisible Children which is dedicated to freeing the child soldiers who make up 90% of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, who are fighting in the longest running war in Africa.

Now, for those of you who don't know, Canada is a small country above the United States of America. Small in population that is, but large in size - the second largest country on Earth, after Russia. So it's a massive distance Phil will be riding, a lot longer than riding the length of our fair nation of New Zealand. So freakin kudos to him.

So follow his website if that kinda of thing floats your boat, but most importantly read about the Invisible Children. I had no idea about them, and I bet most of you (as informed as you are) wouldn't have heard of them either! And, of course, if you can, give them money. But at the very least learn about their story, and tell others that even though our corporate media ignores them, we will not.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

I'm famous-er!

This blog has been mentioned on another great blog by an awesome Global Young Green (GYG) from Deutschland called Georg (which has now appeared in the blogs that I like box to your right). I suggest you take a look, especially if your interested in active GYGs from around the world.

The GYGs will be having a meeting in Graz, Austria in August. This conference follows the founding conference in Nairobi in 2007, and the less official meeting in conjunction with the Global Greens Congress last year that I went to! Go to their website if you are interested in attending (and contact someone on the steering committee about it as there doesn't seem to be conference info up yet) to find out more. I wish I had the funding, time, and justification of the carbon emissions for a whirlwind trip to Europe to go...

Atleast I get to go to the exciting local Greens Policy conference all the way over in Silverstream this weekend - my first as the Co-Convenor of the Young Greens! Needless to say there will be plenty of discussion about economic issues.


Sunday, 8 March 2009

Hey John. And Roger.

On the eve of my second week of University ever, I believe it's time to reflect on my first week of University ever.

It was a week of excitement, a week of administration, a week of disappointingly little partying, a week of heaps of free time compared to what I'm used to (meaning I could focus on the more important things in life, such as cleaning my inbox, my room, and constructing a composter) and finally, of course, a week of meeting new people and getting stuck in with the Greens@Vic.

And, just so you know, I am doing a BA, but in really useful stuff - environmental studies and economics. It's going to be a packed three years of geekily exciting learning.

As I start my life of debt, of borrowing to live, I say hey John, I think it's about freakin' time you give students a better start to life. Especially given the ecological debt you're burdening us with by your disregard for the environment on which we depend.

I also start with contemplations of a $100 minimum wage... Come on Roger, use your influence in the new Government!
Disclaimer: For the record, I don't know why ACT on Campus thought the $100 minimum wage speech bubble (plus their other mildly sarcastic signs) was so clever. A $100 minimum wage is just as ridiculous as their desired no minimum wage let the market take it's course. That's not sarcasm, that's irony!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Dear mum, I'm having a great time at camp!

This last week's been a pretty crazy, full-on one, starting with Waitangi weekend. It was the second annual Young Greens Summer Camp at Jeanette Fitzsimons' farm and it was awesome.

The camp was an action pack time of meeting load of cool people, having workshops on many interesting topics and making decisions about the future of the Young Greens. We came from all over the country, ranging in ages from mid-teens to the "old people" who tagged along and it was great to be on the same wavelength with everyone and to have all our massively intelligent brains working together in harmony. Over the weekend we talked about topics ranging from taking a shit and watching the sun set in the brilliant three-sided composting toilet that looked out over the river (and was still very private) to economics and politics to the meaning of life. Our constant interesting conversations started in the medium hours of the morning (8am) and went till the small hours of the morning (3:30am for some).

Then we got down to business. After probably the strongest election campaign for the Young Greens ever we felt we really needed to build on that momentum and get something concrete down for the Young Greens. So at our AGM on the Saturday we decided on a structure for the Young Greens which will see us moving forward at a brake-neck but environmentally sustainable pace. We now have a Young Greens Executive, which has a representative from each province and is headed by two Co-Convenors. As a particularily inovative feature anyone who considers themselves a Young Green is welcome to attend the conference calls which it uses to meet - even those who are not Green Party members. How's that for oppenness and inclusiveness! The first meeting of this Executive happened just a few hours ago, and went really well. Anyone interested in becoming involved check us out a little more at, and/or email me at

Why email me instead of someone else I hear you say? Well, although we elected our first two Co-Convenors ever at the last camp (before we had our Executive) we now have two new Co-Convenors - and I am one of them. It's quite exciting, but a lot of work. A Co-Convenor is like the equivilent of President of the Young Greens, but power hungry people need not apply. It's the Green Party after all, and we believe in real democracy! So it's more of a facilitation role than a "this is how it will be. The end." role. The female Co-Convenor is Georgina Morrison and she's way cooler than I could ever hope to be.

So to end this post a big thank you to all that made the camp awesome, especially Jeanette and Harry who gave us their camp ground on their farm for a few days, and to Gareth Hughes who organised the whole freakin' thing, both this year and last. It was free, which was great, and it's made the future of the Young Greens solid like a tree.

(Photo explanation: I was too busy having a good time to bother taking photos. So out of the twenty I took this was the best one. O well! At least they're gorgeous people.)

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Planetary alignment

What a great week I've had, peaking in a 24 hour period that I will never forget.

On Tuesday night the man whose work has had such an influence on my life, yet who I never thought I'd get to see, played in Wellington. Tickets sold out in just a few hours (which must be some kind of a record for an old person's concert) and from experience I was there right when they went on sale to get the best seats I could get - and they were pretty decent. Leonard Cohen was in town, and received a standing ovation as he energetically ran onto the stage, defying his age.

The concert was profoundly beautiful. I laughed, I cried, and the whole time Leonard kept us in a place where the tempo was slightly faster, the mood more joyous and the pitches more harmonious; it was Leonard Cohen-land. The almost three hours were about giving - Leonard gave the crowd his beautiful music and words, he gave his musicians lots of space to play, and he thanked the audience for keeping his work alive for so many years. He was so incredibly humble. I've never heard his back-up singers sound so sweet.

That night the pinnacle of the concert was reached. Reviewer of everyone who's anyone that comes our way Simon Sweetman put it best in his article:

It's hard to put this concert into words, so I'll just say something I have never said in a review before and will never say again: this was the best show I have ever seen.

The next morning I woke up and due to the intense emotional experience of the night before (and possibly the Webb sisters who made up two of three of his back-up singers) I felt like I was in-love. My radio was switched on automatically to wake me up to news of the new President of the USA. He may not be perfect, but Obama is a unifier, and most importantly he's not George W Bush. The world breathed a joyous sigh of relief.

In Leonard Cohen's words in the song Anthem:

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Eventually I made it out of bed and onto the seat of my bike to get to work. Though every day and mundane, I new the day was a special one, and nothing could spoil my mood. Drifting in and out of thoughts and hazards along the waterfront a group of people standing by Frank Kitts Park bumped into my attention. Three of them were dressed normally, but one, an older man, was dressed in a fine suit and hat. I knew straight away the only person it could be, and that I had to stop and say hi. The only time our paths will probably cross. I don't like stopping famous people, and I know the conversation is usually short and light, but I couldn't miss this chance. When the other fans stopped pestering him I went up to him and said hi.


"Hey man." I Shook his hand.

"How're you?"


"I saw your concert last night."

"I'm glad you could make it."

"I thought you were so sincere and humble."

"Thank you!"

"I hope you enjoy your time in Wellington."

"Thank you!" And then he (or should I say He) continued on his lonely walk.

As I recovered from being star-struck I knew that though I could not see them, the planets on that very moment were certainly aligned.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

After a break I'm back with a vengence

Kia ora 2009 and readers of my blog - whom I hope will grow in numbers, both through word of mouth, and breeding. I hearby commit to you that 2009 will be a year of regular - though not neccessarily prolific - blogging. I will continue to cross-post onto where I see fit.

A couple of thoughts to start the year from my new years road trip, which took me to Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne, and north to the Coromandel afterwards.

1) We have a serious drug problem in this country in many ways (and remember, when I use the word "drug" when referring to recreational drugs, this always includes alcohol, which is the worst of the worst.) Having travelled around quite a bit last year, I saw that it's the same in many senses in many countries, but stastically we are one of the worst countries in terms of alcohol abuse. We just drink so much so quickly, and among many people, we lack the ability to have a beer or two or a glass of wine for the enjoyment of it. It's all or nothing. Many of us - especially of my age, but definitely not exclusively - also lack the ability to think beyond drinking as the only option for a Friday or Saturday night. I have my own opinions about how to deal with this - and raising the drinking age is not one of them. We need a shift in our thinking, especially in seeing alcohol as the harmful drug that it is. We should have fun with drugs, expand our relationships and our minds, but not over-indulge.

2) Greater wealth and the accumulation of stuff is the driver of so many people - Whangamata being case and point at this time of year. It definitely is not the driver for me, but drives our current economy. We need to snap out of the dream and focus on what's really important, and realistic. Our environment is in dire straights, but there is currently enough to go around. So freakin' share already!

(The picture above is at Whangamata harbour. What is it that you desire in the photo - the jetski and the "biscuit", or the pristine environment, and the protection of the rare and sensitive ecosystem below the water? What do you think we'll be thinking in 50 years time? It's about having fun, but not over-indulging.)

(Due to a lack of enthusiasm for photography this year, above and below are from a year ago at BW Campgrounds, where my friends and I stayed again in Gisborne for Rhythm and Vines. It was pretty much the same though. Above is New Years day and one of the casualities recuperating from the night before. Below is the workers, paid about $14 an hour this time, predominently brown, many quite young, cleaning up mountains of waste for rich white folk).

Disclaimer: I go to Rhythm and Vines because it's such a huge gathering of my friends and people I know. There's good music and lots of good times. But I ache when I see the mountains of waste from our throw-away existence, even if I may not show it so much at the time.

May your 2009 bring you greater consciousness in your relationships and your understanding of all those things that are bigger than us.