Love that new Steinlager campaign? The peace flotilla sails to Moruroa Atoll in 1995 to stop French nuclear testing in the Pacific: A great moment in our history, and Steinlager was there.
You know it was because there's a little moment of product placement, the flash of a Steinie can, on the yacht.
"You can go your own way," sings Fleetwood Mac on the soundtrack, or someone very like them. And, "Here's to doing things our way," says the slogan at the end, appealing to the best sense of Kiwi progressive nationalism, just before the sponsor's logo flashes up.
I'm not fussed that Steinlager is associating itself with the New Zealand nuclear-free movement, which it previously had nothing to do with. A New Zealand beer with a German name, owned by a Japanese company: Who cares?
Although somehow I doubt we'll be seeing a follow-up ad about Greenpeace sailing into the Southern Ocean to confront whaling ships.
On balance I think it's good when corporate New Zealand recognises the values inherent in activism and the mass protest movement. Better they are celebrated than ignored.
But if corporates really want to take a stand with the progressive forces that shape this country, rather than just make money off them, why do it under the safe cloak of historical distance? How about some leadership on the issues that really matter now?
I reckon a campaign to help eliminate child poverty would be good. It could be led by the banks! Their advertising spend is already enormous, so they could definitely accommodate it.
There are so many things they could do. First, they would have to overhaul their policies to ensure none of them helps make poverty worse. That would require some adjustment to housing loans, foreclosures, small business fees and, well, quite a lot more. Doable, though.
Beyond that, they could fund a public campaign to push the Government to commit to much more and better social housing, benefit levels, public health, mental health and community support.
We all believe in this, don't we? So why leave the essential work of raising public concern to the poverty action groups? Just think how powerful it would be if the banks lobbied publicly for the full implementation of the recommendations of the Government's own Welfare Expert Advisory Group.
And hey, if they really wanted to put their money into it, they could fund community housing programmes.
You probably think this is fanciful. Maybe it shouldn't be. It's Christmas.
Next. The Government and Auckland Council have both declared a climate emergency, so how about a really big corporate campaign on that? Aren't the climate-change activists of today the inheritors of the dreams of the anti-nuclear activists who sailed into the Pacific in the 1990s? Not to mention those who harassed visiting American nuclear ships in the 1970s and 80s.
Time for the NZ Climate Leaders Coalition to step up.
Good name, eh. The CLC is a corporate group. It has 103 members, including several of the most well-known companies in the country, as well as Auckland Council and several of its agencies.
The good thing about the CLC is that it provides mutual-support mechanisms for corporates to work on lowering their emissions. The bad thing is that it's a little hard to take seriously. That's because many of its members will have to change their business models profoundly if they're going to make meaningful contributions to the cause, or even survive the crisis.
CLC's founding signatories include Air New Zealand, Fonterra, Ports of Auckland and Z Energy. But a serious nationwide emissions plan would involve fast and affordable electric rail replacing many air services, a smart reduction in dairy and the fast elimination of petrol-driven vehicles.
I don't think the above-mentioned companies are keen on any of that.
As for Auckland's port, it should be focused on a speedy transfer to rail freight and a drop in visits from extremely carbon-polluting cruise ships. But those things are definitely not happening.
Good to see Lion is a member of the CLC. The company which owns the Steinlager brand even has a "zero-carbon beer".
I can see that a booze company can't directly associate itself with a movement in which school students are prominent, but there must be something it can do. A campaign to "drink beer and leave the car at home", perhaps?
As with that zero-carbon beer, most CLC members are busy with emissions-reduction projects and other environmental measures. They do a lot of good work. But they are not noticeably in the forefront of proposals to do the really important big stuff.
Could that change? The answer is yes. Actually, it's more than yes. It has to change. If the big corporates are not committed to the targets of the Zero Carbon Act, we will not achieve them. Those targets, by the way, are zero carbon by 2050 and, much more importantly, 50 per cent by 2030.
Perhaps the biggest single opportunity for meaningful change will hit us early next year, and it's definitely going to need a public campaign to make it stick. CLC members take note.
It's the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) refresh, currently being undertaken by officials in the Ministry of Transport and other agencies. ATAP is an agreement between the Government and Auckland Council on what projects to spend money on, how much and in what order, over the next 30 years, and in particular the next 10.
It has become the key transport planning document for this city, which makes it the key document for determining how we will lower our transport emissions.
The new Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, is saying the right things. "When the Climate Change Commission delivers its emissions budgets next year, we know transport is one of the areas where we're going to have to make big changes. We're applying this lens to the ATAP refresh and we'll have an announcement on the final package next year."
A spokesperson for Auckland mayor Phil Goff put it this way: "The revised package is still being developed and has not been finalised, but climate change is an important consideration."
But will ATAP really lower carbon emissions? Will it be the tool by which we can cut them in half, or more, as required, by 2030?
The current ATAP, adopted in 2018, suggests not, especially with the extra funding commitments announced in January factored in. We're getting big new roads in the south and north, very slow progress on rapid transit everywhere and almost no progress at all on cycling. All of this will increase emissions.
The MoT stated as much in its briefing to Wood, released this week. Current policies, it said, would overshoot the 2030 targets "given the size of the shift required in a closing window of time".
The new ATAP will probably not go to council or the boards of AT or the NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi for approval. It will simply be announced by the minister and the mayor. Their time to shine. Will they take it?
It won't sell beer, or anything much. But will any corporates step forward to help turn public opinion away from the complaints from people who can't bear the idea of not driving everywhere?
We have resets coming at us right across the economy and society next year, and they could be extremely exciting. So please oh please, this is my Christmas wish, let them not be endlessly, exhaustingly frustrating.
Happy Christmas. Think I'll have a protest beer.