We could not have chosen an appropriate winner while COP27 was going on given the staggering number of people flying to Egypt to crank up the AC and otherwise spew carbon to make promises they had no plan for keeping. But now that they’ve all flown home to catch flights elsewhere telling us how marvellous they are, we’ve opted for progressive darling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand who just broke that nation’s record for international flights by a minister in a quarter. Her caucus racked up $1.2 million and she alone accounted for $329,000. And we grant that if you’re going anywhere from New Zealand driving is an unattractive option. But Greta used to take sailboats. And anyway people have Zoom on their computers now. So is there a climate crisis or isn’t there?
As usual, it’s yes for thee and not for me. And not just on climate. Rebel News Australia noted snidely that Ardern has been blasting off to numerous trade summits and the UN and one rationalization was that “The leader responsible for harsh lockdowns during the pandemic said it was important to connect with international businesses and other leaders face-to-face.”
It’s also interesting that “Ardern used an Air Force plane on her most recent trip to Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand for the East Asia Summit” since the Royal New Zealand Air Force jettisoned its combat capability 21 years ago. As Wikipedia notes, “From a 1945 peak of over 1,000 combat aircraft the RNZAF has shrunk to a strength of around 48 aircraft in 2022, focusing on maritime patrol and transport duties in support of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the New Zealand Army.”
Where exactly it plans to transport the New Zealand Army to is not obvious. And while we do not wish to seem rude, and given Canada’s military procurement any effort to do so is liable to meet with a stinging verbal tu quoque rebuke, the “Combat Force” of the Royal New Zealand Navy is nothing of the sort, consisting of two frigates with impeccably aboriginal names that would last about 38 seconds in a confrontation with the real enemy, China.
It seems clear New Zealand is living in a strategic dream world. As Wikipedia also observes, “Initially, two more frigates were planned, but this was cancelled due to the political pressure surrounding defence expenditure following the New Zealand breakup of military relations with ANZUS.” Oh, and the New Zealand army is even smaller than Canada’s, with 4,500 active-duty and 2,000 reserve personnel; on paper our Armed Forces stand on guard at 68,000 though actual combat-capable strength is probably barely a third of that number. But we digress.
The point is, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, known in Maori as “Te Tauaarangi o Aotearoa” which means “The Warriors of the Sky of New Zealand”, should more properly be called “The Taxi Service of the Sky of New Zealand Climate Hypocrites” because the idea that leaders need to meet face-to-face to make trade deals is silly.
Canada actually undertook a major revision and expansion of its trade relations in the late 1980s and early 1990s with continental free trade. But it didn’t happen because people went to summits. It happened because real work was done by experts who communicated by telephone and facsimile machine in those dark days but now have cell phones, email and FTP capacity. Ardern just likes feeling important.
As for going to the UN, we’re prepared to put up with it provided they don’t come back. Otherwise forget it. Watch on Zoom.
As we wrote with respect to COP27, the Canadian government’s position on this carbon extravaganza to which it inexplicably sent over 300 delegates, was the vacuous “The Government of Canada is working with all delegates to ensure that carbon emissions associated with traveling to and from COP27 are being offset.” And note the oily “is working with” meaning nothing has been agreed let alone done. And anyway if it actually did happen it would only mean, as we also said, “Somewhere some peasant is walking to make up for it.” Or that some jiggery-pokery with carbon accounting is pretending a tree that was already there somehow swallowed your contrail.
We don’t actually mind political leaders flying around. Sometimes it has to happen and sometimes they’ll do it even if it doesn’t. But we do mind people who claim that getting to Net Zero by 2050, or 2030, or even Gross Zero it increasingly seems, claiming they just had to fly to a trade summit instead of sending a nice note extolling New Zealand butter’s superior flavour and nutritional qualities.
So our Hypocrite of the Week award goes to Jacinda Ardern. But there are plenty of other contenders in the, um, wings.