Editorial: An end to New Year resolutions

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Like United Nations climate change resolutions, New Year resolutions are oft forgotten when we return from holiday.

We will cut emissions. We will be more sustainable.

We will cut down our smoking. We will exercise more.

Yawn. Heard it all before. You could list the successful resolutions on the back of a new pack of cigarettes.

In 1992, we had the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the publication of self-help book Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.

Since then, our twin obsessions have been global improvement and self-improvement. The only difference being, the self-improvement books sell better.

In Copenhagen this month, the world's leaders set a target to limit the rise in global temperatures, and promised to provide funds to help the developing world combat climate change. But the resolutions are not binding: talks will continue in Mexico this coming year, and no doubt beyond.

It is a pity that our leaders do not take a tip from those self-help books: it's not enough to get carried away with charismatic fervour at a party, surrounded by people you want to impress, and to promise the world.

It is not enough to want to change. One has to seize a motivating factor, and then make the change. No ifs, no buts, certainly no maybes.

If you want to quit smoking, don't wait till New Year's Day - acknowledge that rattling cough and throw the pack in the bin now. If you want to lose weight, put away that leftover Christmas trifle, and go for a decent walk now. Don't wait.

And, if New Zealand is serious about reducing carbon emissions, there's little point waiting till the United States and China and Tuvalu all reach agreement sometime next year, or the year after, or the year after that.

Governments, corporates and individuals can cut emissions now, if they accept the scientific consensus that human industry, farming and lifestyle choices are clogging up the atmosphere.

There's no need to wait for everyone else to do the same.

So, enough with resolutions. The self-help books - and Nike - are right: just do it.

- Herald on Sunday

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