All over the world, there are those who believe in global warming.  There are those who believe in global cooling.  There are people who believe in climate change.  Then there are those who believe in none of the above.

Like many scientific arguments, if you can find one scientist proposing a theory, you can find another with an opposing theory.

In the politics of global warming, cooling and climate change, there are two distinct camps, both with an almost evangelical fervor for their particular position.

When the National Government announced its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, one camp said (predictably) that it was too low.  The other group said it was just right.

There is always going to be a difficulty in balancing the environmental and economic issues of making a commitment to emission reduction, particularly to 1990 levels.

While the Labour Government sat on its hands over this issue for nine years, New Zealand’s  rise in greenhouse gas emissions grew to the third worst in the world per capita.

The idea from Labour and the Greens that New Zealand can make big emission reductions without any costs on consumers or business is naive and unrealistic. If it were so easy, they would have made progress in constraining emissions during their nine years in government.

To reach the 2020 40% reduction target mooted by Greenpeace, we would essentially have to stop driving all vehicles, euthanase lots of ruminant animals, and stop using electricity.  That’s not feasible.

But we have to do something.  From a Government perspective, what is proposed is the best balance between environmental action and economic damage.  What we need globally is the biggest emitters such as China, India, and Brazil to agree to limiting emissions as well.

All of the major food retailers in Europe are working on a carbon branding regime so that their customers can make informed choices in purchases and we have a big risk of consumer boycott if we do nothing.

I’m told major UK supermarket chain Tescos is spending 400 million pounds to carbon standard brand 110,000 food products.

Legislation is also being drafted both in North America and Europe to levy products from countries who don’t declare a 2020 target.  There is a new bill in the United States Congress that specifically makes provision for tariffs against countries that don’t take climate change seriously, so our step towards reducing emissions also helps us avoid a trade ban.

At a fundamental level – in our homes and businesses – Kiwis are already looking at areas like energy use, insulation, and our own waste management.

We are, in general, taking personal responsibility to do our bit for the environment.  It’s a Kiwi trait and one which comes from an in-bred support of our clean, green Kiwi image.

National’s long-term goal of a 50% reduction by 2050 is about us as a Government being responsible too.

Advances in technology, in renewable energy, and in environmental awareness will all contribute to a lower emissions future.  That’s why 50 by 50 is a viable target.

We all have to do our bit.  Government has struck a balance between the two competing camps in the environmental battleground, and one which ensures we are doing something whilst not paralyzing our ability to compete globally.