Organizational Involvement in Carbon Mitigation: The New Zealand Public Sector
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Introduction: New Zealand (NZ) ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, committing to prudent greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. In an effort to promote public sector carbon management, in 2004, Clark’s Labour-led Government funded local government membership in ICLEI’s Communities for Climate Protection - NZ (CCP-NZ) programme. In 2007, the same Government, in tandem with efforts to price carbon and develop an Emissions Trading Scheme, through the Carbon Neutral Public Service (CNPS) programme, sought to move the core public sector towards carbon neutrality (Clark, 2007c). In 2008, the NZ government changed from a Labour-led to a National-led Government, and this resulted in a shift in its carbon emission mitigation strategy, including the termination of the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes.
Purpose: The research has two central objectives: First, to determine why NZ’s newly elected National -led Government cancelled the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes; and, second, to determine whether despite the discontinuation of these two programmes and in the absence of Government support, will NZ government organizations continue to strive for carbon emission reductions and neutrality.
Approach: This empirical research is investigative and probing, and comprises a series of semi-structured interviews with senior managers responsible for the delivery of the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes within their respective organization. The architects of each programme (e.g. the NZ Prime Minister and CEO of ICLEI/ Director of ICLEI Oceania) are also investigated in order to glean insight into the rationale for the ultimate termination of these two programmes. Fieldwork is informed by publicly available information that provides insight into Government’s rationale for creating and discontinuing the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes.
Narrative analysis and termination theory serve as the primary methodological tools for this study, providing insight into meaning, interpretation and individual experience as it relates to the dismantling of the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes.
Findings: This study finds that though economic constraints and programmatic inefficiencies may have played a contributing role, political ideology is the primary rationale for the termination of the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes.
With the ideological shift towards strong neoliberal market environmentalism, Government support for initiatives like the CNPS and the CCP-NZ programmes has declined markedly, with the desire to demonstrate leadership in this area in complete retreat. Ultimately, notwithstanding the desire of some government organizations to continue with programme objectives, albeit with less priority, NZ public sector organizational resolve towards these goals has weakened.