It’s not easy being green. Kermit the frog knows it, we all do. New Zealand‘s political and business leaders do, too. After all, much of the country’s success is built on a ‘clean, green’ reputation, nurtured by the idea of a pristine environment. Surely they’ll do anything to maintain and protect this USP, priceless as it is in an eco-concerned world? In reality, it only takes a bit of scratching on the brand’s ‘clean, green’ surface to have black spots appear.
Unlike Canada (which entirely lost its environmental credibility due to tar sand operations and run away from climate responsibilities under the Kyoto protocol) and China (paying hard and bitter to make its air breathable again), New Zealand’s green coat is still its main asset, a beacon of lived environmental consciousness to the outside world. Or why would tourists endure 20 hours and more in uncomfortable airplane seats if not to get a glimpse of this nature wonderland? Likewise, grocery shoppers in the UK buying New Zealand apples because they believe in this purer, better place where cows graze on real pasture? Huge opportunities are waiting to be seized, a green, sustainable economy to be started.
Surprisingly – and to the amazement of the curious observer – the government is pursuing an entirely different path. Coal mining, gas fracking and off-shore oil drilling seem to be more attractive to the current prime minister John Key and his crew. Now what do you expect, some might say, New Zealand has always been seen a bit behind in terms of grasping new developments. Surely nobody would expect this far-away country to lead a low-carbon world?. Fair enough. If it wouldn’t be for the constant ‘clean, green’ proclamations, people mightn’t even notice. Just for how long New Zealand will be able to maintain its environmental image – who knows. Environmentally conscious tourists and overseas food importers might have long moved on by then.
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