All posts by Sarah

We need to go to war – against our cars

In this well-constructed report, Roger Brooking uses an eco-global criminological lens to explore the problem of our greenhouse gas emissions from personal vehicle use. His findings are nothing short of startling!

This report focuses on the environmental harm caused by road transport emissions in New Zealand. Using an eco-global criminology perspective, it points out that these emissions contribute to greenhouse gas emissions around the world (now over 400 parts per million) and analyses the devastating impact this is having on the climate and the environment, including in New Zealand.

According to StatsNZ (2016), the most damaging greenhouse gas emissions emitted in New Zealand are carbon dioxide (43.8%), methane (42.8%) and nitrous oxide (11.6%). Combining the global warming potential of these gases into one formulation, the Ministry for the Environment reports that in 2017, the country emitted 80.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) – an increase of 23% on emissions in 1990. Even though our emissions are increasing, New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions make up only 0.17% of the world’s total emissions (Greenhouse Gas Inventory, April 2019).  Our tiny contribution seems to underlie the National Party’s approach to climate change which is to not take the issue too seriously and avoid “shutting down businesses here, only for them to go offshore to less environmentally friendly places” (National Party website, n.d.).

There’s another perspective on these statistics which is far more concerning. Although our total emissions are small, New Zealand emits 18 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person every year (Fyers, 2018).  Per capita, that makes New Zealanders the 21st biggest contributor to global warming. Out of 43 developed countries with international commitments on climate change (Annex I countries), this makes us the seventh biggest contributor per person (Ministry for the Environment, 2017).

Continue reading We need to go to war – against our cars

Nothing less than a Crisis

NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, Key and Title by Eric Fisk [Public domain]
This submission on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill urges the Government to get real about climate change and call it what it is – a crisis. Written by Roger Brooking from the Honours Programme at VUW. (Submissions close July 16)

Submission on the

Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

The Problem with the Bill

In June 2018 the Ministry for the environment published a 61-page discussion document titled: Our Climate Your Say: Consultation on Zero Carbon Bill.  There is no mention of crisis or emergency in any of the 61 pages.   The nearest it gets is to state that The Zero Carbon Bill proposes a plan to: “better understand the risks and to plan for how we adapt to climate change.”

The Zero Carbon Bill in its present form does not acknowledge that New Zealand, let alone the world, is facing a crisis. The Bill does not mention the word crisis or emergency even once.

(Instead, it talks about establishing “a framework by which New Zealand can develop and implement clear and stable climate change policies that contribute to the global effort under the Paris agreement to limit global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.”

It contains different sections on providing independent expert advice to the government through the establishment of a Climate Change Commission, setting emissions reduction targets, stepping stones towards those targets and processes of adaptation. Continue reading Nothing less than a Crisis

Dark places


I was member on a panel a few months back to discuss the theme of ‘dark environments’. The panel was run by the Stout Centre for New Zealand studies and was part of their ‘Stranger than Fiction’ series. Each panel featured members from very different disciplines, and the idea was to see how different scholars made sense of various themes.

I figured I got my invite for the ’dark environments’ panel because I’m a ‘green’ criminologist who studies environmental harm. Semantics and all that. But it got me thinking about our discipline and how the concept of dark environments is meaningful to criminology in a bunch of different ways, but also how it serves as a useful reminder about what it is that we are charged with doing.

We study dark environments all the time: city streets where the lights go out; night-time economies and the illicit drug cultures that thrive there; silenced stories of sexual violence; redacted and archived abuses by the state; shady deals between traders at the borders; concrete fortresses at the edges of our cities and towns. One could go on. Continue reading Dark places

It’s not OK to taser animals

When I was four, I had a pet goat called Skipper. It wasn’t most the most creative assignment of names. Skipper skipped around a lot. I also had a ewe called Mary (who, incidentally, had a lamb).

Last week, New Zealand Police released a video of an officer using his taser on a goat back in 2016. The officer is seen tasering the goat, which he later described as ‘stressed and uncooperative’, 13 times. The goat is seen in severe distress. Turns out that the police have used their weapons to subdue quite a few goats in recent years. Chickens and cats too.

How it that this kind of action toward an animal is considered plausible, and for such a minor offence like ‘getting in our way’? Remember when animals played with us and comforted us, and forgave us for giving them unimaginative names? Animals have taught all of us valuable lessons about empathy and responsibility, whether they lived with us, were in our storybooks or were not real animals at all but stuffed ones sitting on our bed. They were our teachers. Animals are known to help in rehabilitating offenders for these very reasons.

My postgraduate class and I have been discussing how our society is not just anthropogenic but actively speciesist. How as adults we shuffle our childhood animal mentors into categories like stock, wildlife or pest, based on how useful they are to our wellbeing. Continue reading It’s not OK to taser animals