Shaw speaks of Nats MP who was ‘true friend’, reveals new jobs

In his valedictory speech, former Greens co-leader James Shaw says “building alliances” have been key to his time in Parliament, as he thanked Christopher Luxon for keeping the Zero Carbon Act and several other climate measures.

The former climate change minister gave his final speech in Parliament today, as he looked back on his 10 years as an MP.

In a timed announcement with his speech, Shaw said he would take on four new roles in a pivot to being a climate change and environmental project consultant.

The former climate change minister and Greens co-leader announced his resignation earlier this year.

No rollercoaster like politics’ ‘white-knuckle ride’

Shaw became Green co-leader only a year into his first term as MP and faced his first election mired in poor polling and the departure of long-standing leader Metiria Turei.

He began his valedictory with an anecdote from that campaign, and later referenced it as he lifted the lid on the blind date that saw him meeting his wife.

The outgoing Green MP reflects on his time in Parliament, and what it would take to strengthen New Zealand’s climate change commitments.

“One night during the 2017 election campaign I was so exhausted that I swallowed my tongue in my sleep. I woke up on the floor, on my hands and knees, choking it back up. That was a difficult campaign.”

Shaw said he gave that term’s adjournment speech for his party only minutes after learning of a poll showing the Greens would be out of Parliament.

“We were on 4%. It seemed likely that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and was about to deliver the last speech by a Green Party Member of Parliament. Twelve weeks later I was the minister of climate change.

File photo of the House of Representatives at Parliament

“And I was on my way to Germany for the United Nation’s annual climate summit. But first, I had to stopover in Rome, to meet the Pope. There isn’t a roller-coaster on Earth that comes close to the white-knuckle ride that is politics.”

Later in his speech, Shaw thanked his wife, Annabel, for joining him on the rollercoaster.

“Annabel chose this life. A husband who is either choking to death from exhaustion and stress or overseas meeting the Pope,” he said.

Shaw reveals the one Nats MP who was a ‘true friend’

Reflecting back to his first term as minister, Shaw drew attention to “three friends” who served in Parliament he wanted to acknowledge — one was Jacinda Ardern, while another was Grant Robertson.

The other was National’s former climate change spokesperson Todd Muller — who would later go on to serve a short stint as the party’s leader.

Shaw told MPs: “I’m a liberal leftie from Aro Valley, so if you asked me at the start of my career, who I thought I would become close friends with, my first pick wouldn’t be a Catholic conservative from Tauranga.

Todd Muller speaking at Wellington Business Chamber after becoming National leader.

“But, in the face of strong political headwinds, Todd Muller earned my trust and my respect, with his integrity, commitment and candour.

“New Zealand would not have had an enduring Zero Carbon Act or a Climate Change Commission without him. There are also moments when this place has a way of revealing who your true friends really are.

“And it turns out, he’s one of mine.”

‘Build alliances’ not partisanship, Shaw suggests

Shaw again reiterated his achievements with the Zero Carbon Act, when drawing attention to another National politician — Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

The former minister said “most issues default to a tug-of-war over policy differences.”

“It’s possible for hard-working, well-meaning people to strive for change their entire career but accomplish very little — because there’s always someone else pulling just as hard in the other direction.

“My message to this house is that if you take positions that are lateral to those entrenched debates and you build alliances across them you can radically shift the political center in your own direction — because no one is resisting you.

“And where I did, it worked.

Simon Watts’ comments come after a mixed reaction to the pledge from international experts.

“The Zero Carbon Act, the Climate Change Commission, the emissions targets in our five-year emissions budgets, our 2030 target under the Paris Agreement and our 2050 net-zero targets, all seemed to have largely survived the change of Government, when very little else you have.

“I want to thank the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Christopher Luxon, for his personal leadership on this. Christopher used to be CEO of an airline. He was instrumental in establishing the Climate Leaders’ Coalition.

“We became friends during that time and I thank him for his support.”

Shaw added, jokingly: “I clearly have a fatal attraction for bald Tories.”

Risk of ‘climate culture wars’ rising, former minister says

While applauding “alliances”, Shaw warned of what he called “climate culture wars” arriving on New Zealand’s shores.

He spoke of his relationship with the former president of Beef and Lamb: “The partisans in our tribes thought each of us had sold out to the other. And pressure is building and the consensus is already breaking.

“Some of those partisans sit in this House. Some of them are now Government Ministers.

“The framework is being quietly sabotaged, subtly undermined.

“There is an increasing risk New Zealand will collapse into the climate culture wars that we see in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.”

Shaw reveals four new post-political roles

In a media release, Shaw has revealed he’ll become an operating partner with infrastructure investment company Morrisson to develop “investment opportunities that support global decarbonisation” and also become the director of climate opportunity and global development for Greenbridge Capital.

Shaw would also be joining Air New Zealand’s sustainability advisory panel and the board of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

An Air New Zealand plane (file image).

“My move into the world of finance and investment, start-ups and environmental NGOs is a natural progression from my work in government,” he said in a media release.