Dreaming of Rod

Matt Burgess
Insights Newsletter
4 June, 2021

It only took minutes for the ambulance to arrive after my call to 111 from the kitchen floor, the pain cutting through me like a cracked whip. I was in trouble.

As the paramedic wheeled me out, I saw “Climate Change Commission” on the side of the ambulance. Waiting next to it stood Rod Carr, the Commission’s chair.

I have been up to my head in climate change policy for months. And now Rod Carr is running an ambulance service. This must be a dream.

Rod had a plan. “I could just take you to the hospital, it’s only five minutes away,” he said. “But I have a better idea. I want to show you the real New Zealand.”

“People don’t appreciate how beautiful this country is,” said Rod.

Rod listed all the benefits of his plan. The view, the fresh air, the harbour at sunset. He would get me to the hospital in an hour.

Rod made a heck of a good case. But he only mentioned the benefits of his plan, none of the downsides. I could die, for example.

Rod could see my discomfort.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Rod said. “What about the emissions?”

“Don’t worry,” he said, smiling as he tapped the side of the ambulance. “She’s electric”.

“This is an emergency, Rod,” I sputtered. “Get me to the hospital. NOW!”

The tour was lovely. Rod was right, the countryside is stunning at this time of the year. As I passed in and out of consciousness, I remember seeing native trees, and a few farms and villages. But mostly just native trees. Rod sure likes native trees.

We even stopped and went for a forest walk. Rod wheeled me around the track in my gurney.

On the way back to the hospital Rod stopped again, this time to recharge the ambulance. It took 30 minutes. “Range anxiety is a real killer,” Rod said.

We finally made it to the hospital. I had survived. Rod placed the invoice for our trip into my pocket so gently that I barely noticed. There my dream ended.

Six months ago, Parliament declared a climate emergency. This week, like an ambulance driver taking the scenic route, the Climate Change Commission told the government we should take a needlessly difficult, costly and risky path to lower emissions.

Find a shorter route, Rod.

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