'Morality reset needed' - Mike Smith on global climate change conference

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Iwi Chairs Forum Climate co-chair Mike Smith is to attend the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 27) with world leaders to discuss the global climate emergency.

He is now in Ireland and will venture to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, where the conference is due to take place from November 6 to November 18.

Sinai is a battleground, with terrorist groups Al Qaeda and Isis carrying out attacks and Egyptian security forces continuing their counterterrorism efforts against them.

“You’ve got general instability in the region, in the Middle East as a whole, and then here we are on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula with all the assembled world leaders. It’s a juicy target,” he says.

Smith attended the first summit in 1992. He says he didn't go to any after that because “I thought that all we needed to do was get on with the job”. But he said he was back because the process of consensus on what to do to combat climate hadn’t kept up with climate change.

He puts it down to both global and local problems in extractive economies being full of “selfishness and greed”.

What will the outcomes be of COP 27?

“That puts profit before the well-being of our present and future generations, and we’ve inherited that as part of the history of colonisation.

“We need a new economic model.

“The polarisation between the rich and poor around the globe is making us more vicious and uncaring societies, incapable of responding to the need for collective wellbeing. We need a morality reset.”

Not New Zealand warming

Much like New Zealand’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, with protests from students being one of the main calls of action for government to do better, Smith wants to see more of the same done around the world.

“This is not called New Zealand warming, this is global warming. We’ve got to do this as a world population.

“As we see more of the extreme weather events happen across the lands, people are starting to wake up to what’s happening, so increasingly there will be a political mandate.”

With other Indigenous groups joining at the summit too, Smith says they need to come together and help play their part in the fight against climate change.

“Indigenous cultures have lived close to nature and as part of nature for a long time. We’ve developed tikanga and systems within our own cultures that guide us on how to walk softly on the earth.

“That’s what we bring to the party.”