Solar Panels over a field Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels
Solar Panels over a field Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Lloyd Burr: Why are we borrowing over $1b to give to the likes of Niue or Samoa or Tonga for 'climate change'?

Opinion 18/10/2021

OPINION: We’re borrowing billions of dollars as a country at the moment to help us through Covid. 

Our debt even before this delta outbreak had gone up by nearly $20b. And with it being week 10 of lockdown now, that’s another $10b we’ve borrowing to keep businesses afloat. It’s not too dire yet, and as a percentage of GDP, it’s pretty good compared to the debt ratios of most other countries, including the UK or Italy or Japan. 

But when I see the government giving away $1.3b to other countries to help them alleviate the effects of climate change and lower their emissions - it’s got me scratching my head. 

Why are we borrowing more than a billion dollars to give to the likes of Niue or Samoa or Tonga to build solar power farms? Why are we giving millions to global climate change funds like the United Nations? Is it really worth us borrowing all this cash? 

Surely it would be better spent on investing in clean, green technologies in our own country? Surely it would be better using it to supercharge our clean, green future?What about Research and Development in New Zealand? 

There must be more to it than simply climate change. It must be part of the government’s wider plan for the Pacific. 

It must be part of what Ardern has dubbed ‘The Pacific Reset’, whereby she wants New Zealand’s role in the Pacific to be much more substantial. 

She wants more influence in the Pacific. She admitted this during her tour of pacific nations in 2018. I was there. There were Chinese-funded infrastructure projects everywhere. Samoa’s new airport: funded by China. Its new Parliament: destroyed by a cyclone, the rebuild funded by China. 

Niue’s solar farm: funded by China. There are big signs everywhere reminding locals that these were ‘funded by China’. China’s fingers are in all of the pies of the Pacific. 

And from a geo-political point of view, that’s concerning for the West. So today’s funding lolly scramble for the Pacific is as much about climate change, as it’s about geopolitical change. 

Ardern’s government wants Pacific nations to rely less on cheap money from China, and more on free help from New Zealand. 

It sounds cynical… But it’s the reality. 

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