Published date24 September 2022
Publication titleMix, The
Sometimes a single event can have a real impact. In a speech he gave in August, President Emmanuel Macron became the first major leader to talk of the limits to growth. It matters. He’s a G7 leader, and France is one of the major EU powers. Leadership involves being able to speak honestly on difficult subjects and tackling the big issues. And yet President Macron’s bold statement shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. There is a difference between an economy of enough and austerity

I remember some of our family’s experiences of living in France: the widespread practice of foraging, the local food markets and the leisurely meals. I remember the extensive rail network, the barter economy and the state support for basic needs. Not that all is perfect, but the social contract is strong and there is ready access to healthcare, public transport and healthy housing, alongside great cheese. Despite France’s reputation for protest, Macron’s leadership on climate and the economics of enough comes from a strong public mandate.

Here in Otepoti Dunedin we have our own leadership choices to make with local body elections now under way. Local government works for the needs of people in our communities now and for future generations. More than ever we need leadership that understands the urgency of the climate challenge. We need leadership that is able to plan, prepare and act not only for the present but for our children and grandchildren as well.

We can’t know exactly what the future will hold, but the global scientific consensus is that unless we decarbonise dramatically and urgently, we are in for a very rough ride. At a regional level we can already see the impact of unsustainable practices in the pollution of our waterways. The impact of rising greenhouse gas emissions is also being experienced in floods, rising snow lines, drought and fires. At a city level, while the city council has a target to reduce Otepoti Dunedin’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2030, much of our housing is old, cold and leaky. We have a car-centric transport system, homes and industry burn coal for heat, and we have to contend with rising sea-levels putting thousands of low lying and vulnerable households at risk. That’s a lot to turn around and we don’t have much time.

Fortunately, some of these things are changing. The central city upgrade is not only enabling critical...

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