Looking to long term

December 10, 2012

New Zealand has been criticised for its decision to opt out of a further commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. But, Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser and Associate Minister Simon Bridges say in doing so they are looking to the long term.

“While the formal agreements are extremely technical, the bigger picture both internationally and specifically for New Zealand is clear. Internationally, the key requirement has been to refocus political and negotiating attention beyond the Kyoto Protocol to a more comprehensive agreement that is capable of dealing with the real environmental problem – the vast bulk of emissions that would never have been covered by Kyoto.

“That figure is 86% and will reach 90% of total global emissions in a few years. It is a matter of simple arithmetic that the only agreement that makes environmental sense long term is an agreement that deals with the bulk of emissions, not an increasingly small part of global emissions,” Mr Groser says.

The Ministers added that they were pleased agreement had been reached on amendments to the Kyoto Protocol that will allow European countries and Australia to continue to use its provisions for the next 8 years, starting from 2013. The Ministers confirmed that New Zealand was on track to fulfilling its own Kyoto commitment for the period 2008-2012 but that the next commitment would be made outside Kyoto.

“This is a long-term problem and we have a long-term strategic approach to deal with it. Internationally, all the focus should now be beyond Kyoto, which up to now has dominated negotiating and political attention, in spite of its decreasing coverage of global emissions. Domestically, we have a world-class emissions trading scheme which we have maintained at current settings in the recent review. At current, deeply depressed international carbon prices its economic impact is low but the Government has no intention of forcing NZ businesses and households to pay higher than world prices in the current difficult international economic climate,” Mr Groser says.

The Ministers noted that it would take some time for international carbon markets to absorb the implications of what had been agreed at Doha and they expected New Zealand carbon markets would be no exception. What was clear, however, was that New Zealand would continue to have access to existing Kyoto carbon markets at least until 2015. What happened after that would be deeply influenced by progress made in negotiating the more comprehensive international Climate Change Agreement as well as progress made in on-going discussions to build regional linkages amongst carbon markets.

“Meeting the real challenge of global climate change has been aptly described as the most complex international negotiating problem the global community has yet tackled. We have every expectation that further progress will be made, but it will be slow, incremental and controversial. New Zealanders should be deeply sceptical of quick fixes and piece-meal solutions. But we are confident that New Zealand has the right strategic long-term approach.”

“This is a long-term problem and we have a long-term strategic approach to deal with it. Internationally, all the focus should now be beyond Kyoto, which up to now has dominated negotiating and political attention, in spite of its decreasing coverage of global emissions. Domestically, we have a world-class emissions trading scheme which we have maintained at current settings in the recent review. At current, deeply depressed international carbon prices its economic impact is low but the Government has no intention of forcing NZ businesses and households to pay higher than world prices in the current difficult international economic climate,” Mr Groser says.

The Kyoto agreement has lots of flaws, not least that it deals with only about 15% of global emissions.

New Zealand is doing more than its share in dealing with the problem and the decision to continue outside Kyoto doesn’t change that.


Comprehensive deal better than Kyoto

November 26, 2012

The Kyoto Protocol had several faults, not least of which was it wasn’t supported by some of the countries with the biggest emissions.

Climate Change Issues Minister is correct when he says it is far better to seek a comprehensive deal than to continue with Kyoto.

. . . Some nations want the Kyoto Protocol, which expires this year, to be renewed until 2020.

Mr Groser says the signatories to that pact make up only a small part of total greenhouse gas emissions, and New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Japan and others are seeking to replace the protocol with a new, comprehensive scheme.

“Kyoto Protocol will cover 15% of global emissions, you can’t make a serious argument that you’re dealing with climate change unless you have a comprehensive deal that captures the 85% of emissions left out.”

Mr Groser says the aim is to have countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil to lower the growth rate of emissions, and have a cap on emissions in some years time.

Excluding countries like these from any new climate change agreement would leave 85% of total emissions uncovered, he says. . .

The opposition will say this is a cop-out.

But New Zealand is already doing more through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Consortium which is attracting international support for  research than signing up to an extension of Kyoto would achieve,


Kyoto is the past

November 11, 2012

Quote of the day from Climate Change Minister Tim Groser:

“Kyoto is the past”, he said. “The future rests on getting countries outside Kyoto to start doing something serious about climate change.”

He said it would be wrong to tie the hands of a future New Zealand government for eight years while a single new treaty is negotiated.

The Kyoto Protocol was the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and reason.

It was a lot more about being seen to do something than actually making a difference.

It was riddled with inconsistencies and its one-rule-fits-all approach

The best thing done to address climate change is not anything achieved through the ETS imposed under Kyoto but the  New Zealand-initiated Global Research Alliance on agriculture greenhouse gases.

Instead of the tax-it approach taken by Kyoto and its supporters this initiative brings countries together to find ways to increase food production while minimising emissions.

Kyoto and its supporters take a negative approach, the Global Alliance takes a positive one.


NZ opts for UN Framework not Kyoto 2

November 10, 2012

New Zealand is committing the the UN’s Convention Framework rather than signing up for stage two of the Kyoto Protocol:

The Government has decided that from 1 January 2013 New Zealand will be aligning its climate change efforts with developed and developing countries which collectively are responsible for 85% of global emissions. This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies, Climate Change Minister Tim Groser says.

In the transition period 2013 to 2020, developed countries have the option of signing up to a Second Commitment Period (CP2) under the Kyoto Protocol or taking their pledges under the Convention Framework. The Government has decided that New Zealand will take its next commitment under the Convention Framework.

“I want to emphasise that NZ stands 100% behind its existing Kyoto Protocol Commitment.  We are on track to achieving our target – indeed we are forecasting a projected surplus of 23.1 million tonnes. Furthermore, we will remain full members of the Kyoto Protocol. There is no question of withdrawing. The issue was always different: where would we take our next commitment – under the Kyoto Protocol or under the Convention with the large majority of economies? We have decided that it is New Zealand’s best interests to do the latter.

“It is our intention to apply the broad Kyoto Framework of rules to our next commitment. This will ensure that at least New Zealand has started a process of carrying forward the structure created under the Kyoto Framework into the broader Convention Framework.  This had been a point of principle of some importance to many developing countries. It would also mean that there would be no changes in domestic policy settings which had been modelled on the Kyoto Protocol rules.” . .

. . . The next decision will be to set a formal target for NZ’s future emissions track through to 2020 to sit alongside our conditional offer to reduce emissions between minus 10% and minus 20% below 1990 levels. “Cabinet has agreed in principle to set that target once we know exactly what the final rules will be on some crucial technical issues, including access to international carbon markets.”

The opposition and others of a dark green persuasion are saying the government has done the as a result of which the sky will fall and the sea will rise.
They’d prefer we stuff  our economy to make token gestures which will have little if any impact on the environment.
Our emissions are so small on a global scale we could kill all our animals and people and the resulting decrease in emissions would barely register.
That could be used as an excuse to do nothing but instead we’re aligning our efforts with those of most of our trading partners – except Australia.
P.S. I note one of those doing as we are is Canada, do I remember correctly that it pulled out of its first Kyoto commitment?

Dare we hope?

October 29, 2012

The Sunday Star times reports that New Zealand has been tipped to quit the Kyoto Protocol.

Kiwiblog points out that isn’t the case. We’ve committed to the five-year period which ends in 10 weeks.

There is no international agreement for any commitment after that.

There is growing speculation the Government’s silence is because it could save face internationally by waiting for big players like China and the US to refuse to sign up to the second Kyoto round, before following suit.

Of course, as it would be economic and environmental madness to have an agreement without them (or India).

But not unilaterally agreeing to a future binding commitment, is vastly different to walking away from a current commitment. If reporters can not understand this, then here’s an analogy.

If I lend you $1,000 and you agree to pay me back $200 a year, and then after five years you have paid me back, are you walking away from your commitment if you don’t keep giving me money in the future?

But OM Financial carbon broker Nigel Brunnel thinks New Zealand will sign up to new commitments in Doha, but then delay ratifying them. That could buy time to pursue aligning with a group of Asia-Pacific partners, and adopting voluntary emissions targets outside of Kyoto.

That fits into two of the Government’s climate-change themes, New Zealand doing its share, and not damaging competitiveness by enforcing heavy carbon payments on businesses when trading partners like the US and China do not.

Because of that, about 85 per cent of world carbon emissions are not covered by international reduction agreements, and it is said in government circles that China’s emissions increase daily by New Zealand’s entire annual carbon output.

It is simple. Any agreement which doesn’t include binding targets by China is worthless in an environmental sense.

The Kyoto Protocol was the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and common sense.

It was riddled with inconsistencies for example the liability for some products fell on producers, for others on consumers.

It also used a blanket approach which took no account of individual countries’ differences. The clause which required trees to be replanted where previous ones had been cut down might have made sense if the aim was to preserve native forests. But it made no sense in New Zealand where it might be better to use flat land where pine trees had been felled for pasture and plant trees on steeper land where they would prevent erosion.

It also took a local approach to a global problem which could have perverse consequences. New Zealand has a very high proportion of carbon emissions from animals but we’re also leaders in efficient production of food. Nothing would be achieved for the environment if costs here led to lower production here and higher production from less efficient farmers elsewhere.

So the SST is wrong. We’re not quitting Kyoto but dare we hope New Zealand won’t make any commitment for a second phase and instead put scientific efforts and money into initiatives that really will help the environment without wrecking the economy?


Dare we hope?

April 13, 2012

Dare we hope that Rob Hosking is right:

. . . Underlying this appears to be a further calculation: that the Kyoto Protocol and its various policy offshoots is not going to be around, at least in its current form, by the time anyone has to make a decision on this. . . .

The Kyoto Protocol is the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and sense.

Initiatives like the Global Research Alliance which Climate Change Minister Tim Groser launched in Copenhagen are far more likely to do some good for the environment than the protocol which in some instances will do more harm than good.

Whether or not the suggestion that the protocol won’t survive is right, it does appear the government is sticking to its word that it won’t force agriculture into the ETS until the industry has the technology to counter emissions and our competitors face similar measures and the costs which go with them.


Smith speaks sense on emissions targets

December 11, 2010

A friend is developing a farm which has small blocks of forestry.

As the Kyoto rules stand at the moment if he fells the pines re-plants in the same place or fells the trees and leaves the stumps he will have no carbon liability. But if he fells the trees, clears the stumps and replants trees in a different place he will.

Many hectares of land around Taupo were planted in trees because stock grazed there got bush sickness. It has since been recognised that this was caused by cobalt deficiency which can be addressed.

In other areas development incentives encouraged farmers to clear marginal land which is prone to erosion.

It would be better for both the economy and the environment if the land near Taupo was cleared for pastoral farming and the marginal land was returned to forestry but that is unlikely to happen under the current Kyoto rules which were designed with native forests in mind.

New Zealand is one of few, possibly the only, country in the world with a large areas of exotic forestry.

There may be sense in requiring the replanting of trees where they’ve been felled if you’re trying to save rain forests but it makes no difference to carbon emissions if replacement trees are planted in a different place.

New Zealand has put a lot of effort into getting this changed and now Climate Change Minister is sensibly saying New Zealand won’t commit to emissions targets unless forestry rules are clear.

He told the United Nations conference in Cancun New Zealand wants a change to allow pre-1990 forests to be harvested and re-planted elsewhere and also to lock up emissions for wood which is felled and used for building  rather than have it count as being consumed and its emissions released on felling.

It’s such a good idea, Whaleoil, who doesn’t praise lightly, has given him politician of the week on the strength of it.


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