This series is made by politics students and aims to entertain and inform viewers about their potential representatives this election. Answers have been condensed for brevity. Click here to watch the full interview.
Are the Greens open to forming a government with National after the election?
James Shaw: It’s really important that people understand that when they’re voting for the Green Party they’re voting for more Green ministers sitting around the cabinet table with Labour.
What do you see as your biggest challenge if you continue in your role as climate change minister for the next three years?
The next term of government has got some really critical decisions to make, so we use a process we call emissions budgeting which is essentially saying as a country we’re going to give ourselves a finite amount of pollution that we’re going to limit ourselves from putting into the atmosphere.
Every five years that emissions budget has to be smaller than the one before until we get to net zero. We’re currently in the middle of our first ever emissions budget … so the next government will write the plan for how we meet the second emissions budget … [They will also be] setting targets and policies for 2030, 2035, 2040, and 2050 … so my question is, who do you want making those decisions?
Do you think the Emissions Trading Scheme is functioning and well-regulated as it stands, or do we need to do more?
We’ve got to do more. It’s a whole lot better than it was six years ago. The price of carbon when I got elected to Parliament in 2017 was, I think, $14 a tonne, it’s now about $70 a tonne, and that’s as a result of the reforms we’ve introduced. But there are still some pretty significant issues with it. Most importantly, what is the role of forestry offsets within the system, and what kinds of forests – should they be permanent, indigenous forests and/or fast-growing exotic harvest forests? At the moment the bias in the system is very heavily towards those fast-growing exotic harvest forests.
Other parties have been discussing climate change policies this election – do you see that as a positive thing or is this a form of greenwashing?
It’s a bit of both. The fact that climate change is even featuring in this election campaign itself is historic. It’s been a great frustration to us that often the only people that talk about climate change during an election campaign has been the Green Party and the media have generally not covered it.
But the media at this election have actually been really good – even when other parties don’t want to talk about it, the media have been questioning them. I do think that a lot of what National in particular are saying, is greenwashing. They’re saying they’re really committed to the targets for 2030 and 2050. That’s a lot of progress on where it was a few years ago, but every actual policy they release makes it harder to achieve those targets, and they don’t have a [credible] plan for how they’re going to achieve those targets.
You’ve said you’ll never work with National, so to what extent would that undermine the Green Party’s ability to negotiate for Green policy?
We don’t see the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, or the crisis of intergenerational poverty as separable from each other. Any agreement that we form with any party, to form a government, has got to ensure that we’re able to progress those things in equal measure … you cannot solve the climate crisis without bringing everyone with you and having an inclusive society and an inclusive economy. National has never been about that. They’ve always been about, essentially, making intergenerational poverty worse….there’s no chance on God’s green earth that [National would offer a better environmental policy to the Greens than Labour].
Why should students vote for the Green Party?
If you want to ensure that your rents don’t go up by more than the rate of inflation, if you want to ensure that you’ve got access to warm and affordable housing, if you want dental care for everyone … if you want stronger action on climate change than you have seen in the past, if you want to protect our oceans, then those are the priorities that the Green Party is standing for at this election. Everything that we are doing, we have fully costed out and we’ve said we can do these things within this term of Parliament.