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.


Quote of the week – 7/7 at WTO

April 17, 2010

It’s best to forgive them, for they know not what they do – the assortment of anarchists, communists, warmists, “truthers”, drug dealers, arms peddlers, “peace activists” and other freaks who travel about the world beating their bongo-drums, performing second-rate capoerira, smashing up McDonalds, burning police cars and terrorising the locals while protesting against globalisation and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

So stuck in a zero-sum mentality are they that they can’t grasp basic concepts of gains from trade.

Nor can they grasp that the WTO is the most democratic multilateral institution in history – far more than the corrupt and dysfunctional UN, so beloved by the left. Everything must be agreed by every member – from China and the US to Lesotho and the Solomon Islands – before anything is agreed.

It’s beyond the radicals’ understanding too, that for the last few thousand years, up until living memory, trade disputes between tribes and states were settled with war.

Now for the first time in history, they’re settled in what amount to international courts in Geneva, with both sides agreeing to be bound.

Today the product with the least adequate coverage under WTO rules is petroleum.

The rioters should ask themselves if that might be one of the reasons that product continues to be a major cause of international instability…

That’s a very long quote but it comes from Matthew Hooton in the print edition of the NBR which isn’t available online.

The remaining two thirds of the column is worth reading too.

In it he reminds us that MFAT has a perfect record at the WTO – seven wins from seven cases. He also gives other examples of small countries which have taken on big powers and won.

The column leads me to one question, however: why, when our trade negotiators have been so successful did the people who negoitated New Zealand”s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol serve us so poorly?


February 16 in history

February 16, 2010

On February 16:

1032 Emperor Yingzong of China, was born.

Yingzong.jpg

1646  Battle of Great Torrington, Devon – the last major battle of the first English Civil War.

Burton, William Shakespeare- The Wounded Cavalier.jpg An allegory of the English Civil War by William Shakespeare Burton. It depicts a Cavalier lying on the ground wounded, while a Puritan in black stands in the background.

1770 Captain James Cook sighted what he called Banks Island but later discovered is was a peninsula.

James Cook sights Banks 'Island'

 1804  First Barbary War: Stephen Decatur led a raid to burn the pirate-held frigate USS Philadelphia (1799).

Burning of the uss philadelphia.jpg

1838 Weenen Massacre: Hundreds of Voortrekkers along the Blaukraans River, Natal were killed by Zulus.

1852 Studebaker Brothers wagon company, precursor of the automobile manufacturer, is established.

 The Studebaker brothers

1859 The French Government passed a law to set the A-note above middle C to a frequency of 435 Hz, in an attempt to standardize the pitch.

1899 President Félix Faure of France died in office.

1899 – Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur Iceland‘s first football club was founded.

KR Reykjavík.png

1918 The Council of Lithuania unanimously adopted the Act of Independence, declaring Lithuania an independent state.

1923 Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Pharoh Tutankhamun.

1926 Margot Frank, German-born Dutch Jewish holocaust victim, was born.

1934Austrian Civil War ended with the defeat of the Social Democrats and the Republican Schutzbund.

1934 – Commission of Government was sworn in as form of direct rule for the Dominion of Newfoundland.

1936 – Elections brought the Popular Front to power in Spain.

1937Wallace H. Carothers received a patent for nylon.

Nylon 6,6 unit

1940 Altmark Incident: The German tanker Altmark is boarded by sailors from the British destroyer HMS Cossack. 299 British prisoners were freed.

Altmark Incident.jpg

1941  –Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader, was born.

1947 Canadians granted Canadian citizenship after 80 years of being British subjects. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King became the first Canadian citizen.

1954 – Iain Banks, Scottish author, was born.

1956 Vincent Ward, New Zealand director and screenwriter, was born.

1957 The “Toddlers’ Truce“, a controversial television close down between 6.00pm and 7.00pm was abolished in the United Kingdom.

1959 John McEnroe, American tennis player, was born.

John McEnroe by David Shankbone.jpg

1959 Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1.

1960 Pete Willis, English guitarist (Def Leppard), was born.

1961 Andy Taylor, English musician (Duran Duran, The Power Station), was born.

 

1961Explorer program: Explorer 9 (S-56a) was launched.

1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.

1973  Cathy Freeman, Australian athlete, was born.

1978 – The first computer bulletin board system was created (CBBS in Chicago, Illinois).

 Ward Christensen and the computer that ran the first public Bulletin Board System, CBBS

1983 – The Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia claimed the lives of 75 people.

Ash Wednesday bushfires

1985 – The founding of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah emblem

1986 – The Soviet liner Mikhail Lermontov ran aground in the Marlborough Sounds.

Mikhail lermontov 1972.jpg

1987 – The trial of John Demjanjuk, accused of being a Nazi guard dubbed “Ivan the Terrible” in Treblinka extermination camp, starts in Jerusalem.

1991Nicaraguan Contras leader Enrique Bermúdez is assassinated in Managua.

1999 – Across Europe Kurdish rebels took over embassies and hold hostages after Turkey arrested one of their rebel leaders, Abdullah Öcalan.

PKK.svg

2005 – The Kyoto Protocol came into force, following its ratification by Russia.

 Participation in the Kyoto Protocol, as of June 2009, where green indicates the countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, grey is not yet decided and red is no intention to ratify.

2005 – The National Hockey League cancelled the entire 2004-2005 regular season and playoffs, becoming the first major sports league in North America to do so over a labor dispute.

05 NHL Shield.svg

2006 – The last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was decommissioned by the United States Army.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


December 11 in history

December 11, 2009

On December 11:

1282 Llywelyn the Last, the last native Prince of Wales, was killed at Cilmeri.

Llywelyn the Last at Cardiff City Hall.jpg

1789 The University of North Carolina was chartered.

1890  Carlos Gardel, tango singer was born.

1904  Marge, American cartoonist, was born.

 The first Little Lulu from the February 23, 1935 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

1907 Fire swept through Parliament Buildings destroying Bellamy’s restaurant but missing the library.

Parliament's library escapes great fire

1917 Lithuania declared its independence from Russia.

1918  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer and Soviet dissident, Nobel laureate, was born.

1931 the Statute of Westminster was passed granting complete autonomy to Britain’s six Dominions. It established legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Irish Free State, Dominion of Newfoundland, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa.

Statute of Westminster passed

1936  Edward VIII‘s abdication as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India became effective.

1940 David Gates, American musician (Bread), was born.

1941 Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, following the Americans’ declaration of war on Japan in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States, in turn, declares war on Germany and Italy.

1943  John Kerry, American politician, was born.

 

1944 Brenda Lee, American singer, was born.

1946 The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was established.

UNICEF.svg

1954  Jermaine Jackson, American singer (Jackson 5), was born.

1958  French Upper Volta gained self-government from France, and becomes the Republic of Upper Volta.

Flag Coat of arms

1972  Apollo 17 became the sixth Apollo mission to land on the Moon.

Apollo 17-insignia.png

1997  The Kyoto Protocol opened for signature.

2005 Cronulla riots: Thousands of White Australians demonstrated against ethnic violence resulting in a riot against anyone thought to be Lebanese (and many who were not) in Cronulla Sydney. These were followed up by retaliatory ethnic attacks on Cronulla.

2008 Bernard Madoff is arrested and charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

 

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


Learning to play the game

November 30, 2009

The ETS has been enacted and whether or not we like the rules we’re going to have to learn to play the game.

Most attention has been on costs, but there will also be opportunities.

I’ve yet to find anyone who fully understands what’s involved in carbon farming, but most reasonable sized farms in our district have hillsides and gullies which are probably better suited to trees than crop or pasture.

Farmers may also be able to develop micro-generation of power from small wind farms.

There is also an opportunity at Copenhagen, to negotiate changes to the one-size-fits-all rules which disadvantage New Zealand because most of our emissions come from agriculture, 94% of which is is exported, and we grow exotic trees well for forestry.

In Friday’s print edition of the National Business Review, Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson gave his wish list for changes:

* Excluding emissions from crops and farm animals from the successor to the Kyoto protocol; or if emissions from primary food production are included it needs to take a global not an individual country perspective. That would allow efficient producers like us to “over emit” because we “over produce” food, most of which is exported.

* International funding for the Global Alliance concept to tackle agricultural emissions.

* The inclusion of pre-1990 forests as permanent forestry sinks.

*The ability to count non-forest crops, plantings and grasses for credits (eg riparian plantings which aren’t Kyoto compliant).

* Global standardisation of foot printing methodologies.

* Inclusion of territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones as permanent carbon sinks.

How much progress our negotiators make on these points will be one measure of whether the focus is on making a positive difference to the environment or just on politics.


NZ a square peg in round ETS hole

November 24, 2009

New Zealand’s problem is that we’re different.

Primary production and industries based on it are our bigeest export earners; almost all our forestry is from exotic species; we have relatively little heavy industry and the bulk of our power is already from renewable sources.

The Kyoto Protocol wasn’t designed for countries like us.

The heavy reliance on primary production is much more common in developing countries. But around half our emissions come from animals and there is little, short of reducing stock numbers, we can do to reduce them immediately. Research is being undertaken to reduce emissions from livestock but practical, affordable solutions may be years away.

The rules requiring new trees to be replanted where old ones were felled was aimed at protecting rain forests and indigenous species. It seems no-one considered that a clause aimed at protecting indigenous trees shouldn’t apply to exotic timber species in a country where they grow as well as they do here.

Our private vehicle ownership is high by world standards but that reflects our relatively small, widespread population which means that public transport is neither practical nor affordable in many places.

New Zealand is a square peg and we were ill served by the negotiators who tried to fit us into the round ETS hole.

I have a lot of confidence in Tim Groser who will be working on our behalf at the Copenhagen summit.

But I thought the whole thing was a dog’s breakfast from the start and my concerns are even greater now that there are questions over manipulation of climate change data.

Over at Sciblogs Aimee Witcroft raises the possibility the leaked emails have been doctored and points to a Guardian story  on the issue. It quotes Prof Bob Watson, the chief scientific advisor at Britain’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who said,

“Evidence for climate change is irrefutable. The world’s leading scientists overwhelmingly agree what we’re experiencing is not down to natural variation.”

 Also at Sciblogs Gareth Renowden isn’t convinced by the leaked material.

For a contrary view see:  Ian Wishart,  Adolf at No Minister,  Roarprawn, Whaleoil,  Not PC, Poneke,  Mr Tips at NZ Conservative, Thoughts from 40 South, and Something Should Go Here  who says: 

I’ll say it a thousand times, climate change activism is about politics, not science.


WSJ: NZ taxes itself for sake of being green

October 1, 2009

Just three weeks after saying our cap and trade rationale is a bunch of hot air, the Wall Street Journal has another opinion piece criticising us for taxing ourselves for the sake of being green.

. . . from an environmental perspective, it doesn’t really matter what New Zealand does. The island nation contributes 0.2% of total global emissions. The amended scheme isn’t expected to reduce even that already-miniscule figure much.

The government is right to be concerned about non-trade barriers which might be put up against our produce if we aren’t seen to be doing something.

But doing something isn’t the same thing as doing good.

That’s the problem with the Kyoto protocol – much of the response to meeting commitments will come at high social and environmental costs for little if any environmental gain.

The intent of the protocol may or may not have been worthy but its effects are much more about looking green than being green.

Hat Tip: Matthew Hooton.


Where to with the ETS?

September 1, 2009

The majority report from the review on the ETS  has 34 recommendations and four parties have issued minority reports.

The recommendation for agriculture is:

For the agriculture sector, while it is preferable in the long term for the point of obligation to be at the farm gate, we recommend that it is initially set at the processor. Placing the point of obligation at the farm gate means regulating more emitters directly, with higher transaction and administration costs. However, it may also encourage them to respond more readily to a price signal. Therefore, it is desirable for the point of obligation to initially be set at the processor level, which would place obligations on only a small number of firms. The price impacts are likely to be passed through to farmers.

Of course the costs will be passed through to farmers. The alternative is to pass them on to consumers and as none of our competitors will be including agriculture in their ETS that would price our produce out of the market.

But whether its processors or farmers who pay, what difference will it make to emissions? It would be far better to put any money into research rather than an ETS.

As for the rest of the report, dog’s breakfast is the phrase which comes to mind. But I’m not sure that anything more could have been achieved when there are so many different perspectives and conflicting views.

Even the people who accept that the climate is changing and it is being caused by human activity have a wide range of differing opinions on what could and should be done about it.

Regardless of whether or not the science is settled, the politics is and we have to be seen to addressing the issue.

But there are no easy answers when the whole Kyoto protocol appears to have a lot more to do with increasing bureaucracy and taxes than reducing carbon emissions.

It might help if someone could explain how an ETS will have a positive impact on the environment without wrecking the economy.

I’d also like to know where the money will go and what will be done with it when it gets there.

Kiwiblog summarises the main recommendations of the majority report and the four minority ones.


First do no harm

June 18, 2009

First do no harm is a guiding principle in medicine.

If politicians and bureaucrats abided by it too we wouldn’t be saddled with the Kyoto Protocol in its current form. Nor would New Zealand be in danger of scoring an on-goal economically while at best making no impact on the environment and almost certainly  making it worse.

However, a joint report by the NZIER and Infometrics provides a glimmer of hope that reason might be brought to bear on our Kyoto commitments.

Environment Minister Nick SMith said at its release:

This report concludes that a modified emissions trading scheme is the best way forward. I am releasing this report to assist with informed public debate on climate change.

“The report highlights that the costs to New Zealand’s climate change policy are significantly greater if other countries do not put a price on carbon. This reinforces the Government’s policy of aligning our response more closely with other countries.

The report concludes:

On balance, our recommendation in the short run is to introduce an ETS with free allocation to competitiveness-at-risk sectors, with agriculture excluded if measurement of its emissions is prohibitively expensive. Free allocation should be output-linked and phased out as our competitors adopt carbon pricing. If agriculture is initially excluded it should be transitioned into the ETS, with free allocation if required, as measurement becomes economic.

The hardworking MP for Eketahuna, Alf Grumble, reckons this will give agriculture a bit of breathing space. I trust he’s lobbying his colleagues to ensure it does.


Kyoto take 2

May 24, 2009

New Zealand was very badly served by the people who negotiated our commitments to reducing carbon emissions under the first Kyoto Protocol.

Trade & Associate Climate Change Minister Tim Groser is doing his best to ensure a better deal, not just for New Zealand but the global environment in the next round of negotiations.

The ODT’s Agribusiness editor Neal Wallace has a comprehensive interview with Groser in which he speaks of the need to include developing countries in future agreements, for scientific solutions to reduce agricultural emissions, and the importance of food security.

He also spoke of the risk to trade:

International climate change and trade liberalisation policies were linked, he said, but equally there could be a distortion in international trade.

A carbon tax or emissions trading scheme imposed in one country could result in carbon leakage, or another country retaliating by imposing tariffs and other trade restrictions, he said.

“Simply, I suspect that those politicians in various countries who today believe there is a simple fix to carbon leakage through unilaterally imposed carbon-tax adjustment do not actually intend to put a time-bomb under the world trading system.

“But there is no doubt in my mind that that is the risk.”

Regardless of whether the climate is changing and human induced emissions are contributing to it, the international politics require us to be seen to be doing our part to reduce them.

At least with Groser in charge, there’s hope that any agreements won’t wreck the economy without helping the environment which is what the original agreement would do.

You can read the interview here.


Australia dealys ETS, Select Committee deliberates in NZ

May 4, 2009

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced his government’s Emissions Trading Scheme will be delayed a year.

Back here, the Select Committee reviewing our ETS has started hearing submissions.

Federated Farmers have asked for the scheme to be scrapped or substantially altered.

“The road to economic hell will be paved by an ill conceived ETS, because New Zealand doesn’t need the ETS to meet its Kyoto obligations,” said Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

Federated Farmers favours repeal of the ETS and non-punitive policy measures to transition New Zealand to a low-carbon economy. The Federation’s interim solutions put to the Select Committee include:

  • New Government-funded forest plantings via land leasing regimes, land purchases or other viable partnership arrangements. This will not just develop new permanent forestry sinks but also generate employment opportunities. This concept was also put to the Prime Minister’s Job Summit held earlier in the year;
  • A low-level carbon charge set at a rate that recovers just enough revenue to account for any emissions deficit;
  • Government purchasing the cheapest Kyoto emissions units available to meet New Zealand’s future liabilities, until the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012;
  • Lead internationally by advocating for each country to allocate a percentage of GDP towards climate change initiatives; and potentially,
  • Non-compliance, akin to the Canadian Government’s approach since 2005.

Feds’ other option was a substantial rewrite of the ETS to exclude primary food production and introduce economic tests.

“The primary production of food has no place in any emissions trading scheme,” Mr Nicolson continued.

“Precedent for this comes from Denmark. The Danish Government in March moved to specifically exclude the primary production of food from its Kyoto response.

Meat & Wool NZ and the Meat Industry Assocation  also want a rethink of the scheme.

They say including livestock in the scheme when no other country does puts farming at a signifincant risk and would have severe financial, social and environmental impacts.

They are using two case studies to show the affect the scheme would have. One of these is Southland farmers Julie and David Marshall:

Mr Marshall said the cost of paying for his emissions would equate to an extra $43,000 a year from about 2017 onwards.

The alternative would be to plant enough trees to offset his carbon footprint but, because of the unsuitable growing conditions near the coast, he would have to plant enough pine to cover half his 247ha property, he said.

MIA chair Bill Falconer said:

New Zealand’s 15,000 commercial sheep and beef farmers and about 80 processing plants collectively generated export earnings of $6.8 billion a year, which was in jeopardy under the current legislation.

“We could only contemplate an ETS for livestock if it properly incentives farmers to use proven mitigation technologies but leaves them no worse off compared to their overseas competitors,” he said.

The ETS is about politics and bureaucracy not the environment.

It is irrseponsible to impose significant costs on primary industry with the consequent social and economic impacts of that when there will be no environmental gain and possibly an increase in emissions.

There is no point in reducing emissions here if it will only lead to an increase somewhere else. We’ve signed the Kyoto Protocal but that doesn’t mean we have to sabotage our economy with an ETS which far exceeds what other countries are contemplating.

New Zealand and the environment would be better off if the energy and money going into the ETS was diverted to research  instead.


NZ led with first ETS

November 18, 2008

Farmers are relieved the Emissions Trading Scheme is to be reviewed and Federated Farmers is continuing to lobby for the exclusion of animal emissions.

Feds’ President Don Nicolson has just returned from a meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers and said:

They too asked us why New Zealand is going down this track when Kyoto doesn’t ask for it, doesn’t require it and doesn’t expect it.  They are shocked and concerned. 

In an address to Feds national council today he pointed out that New Zealand led the world with one ETS  but no-one else followed.

In 1985 New Zealand agriculture went cold turkey on subsidies and embraced the original ETS, an Efficiency Trading Scheme.  Aside from your Federation, no one recognised this in the lead up to the emissions trading farce. 

At the time we were told the world would follow. 

23-years later we are still waiting.  New Zealand remains the western world’s only beacon of unsubsidised agriculture.

Our mission as your Federation is to ensure the new ETS does not replicate the same mistakes of the one rushed through Parliament with indecent haste in the lead up to the general election. 

A root and branch review is one thing. 

Ensuring it does what it is meant to do is another.  A badly constructed emissions scheme will be the death knell for agriculture in New Zealand.  This is not melodrama but fact. 

There is no room in any way, shape or form for farm animals in any Emissions Trading Scheme.  

To gauge how wrong the last government got it, speak with your colleagues from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.  Last week, in Canberra, they shook their heads in utter disbelief at why farm animals were included in our ETS.  

Our efficiency as farmers means we farm with the lowest carbon footprint in the world.  

New Zealand’s farmers act globally by farming locally.  I’ll repeat that, New Zealand’s farmers act globally by farming locally

I have a loud message for the incoming Government and for the Opposition.  Do not include or advocate for farm animals in any emissions scheme.  

Including animal emissions won’t do anything for the environment and it will come at a huge economic and social cost. That would be bad enough at the best of times let alone now when we’re facing recession and agriculture is the best means of getting the economy growing again.

If there’s a silver lining to that recession it’s that other signatories to the Kyoto Protocol might realise the stupidity of a system which imposes huge economic and social costs with little or no environmental benefit.

Even if they don’t, we have to find a way to meet our international commitments without sabotaging our economy which is what including animal emissions will do.


Feds election wish-list part 1

November 4, 2008

Federated Farmers is often described as the National Party in gumboots.

That’s not right because the organisation is not aligned to any political party. However, given its members are mostly self-employed in small businesses there is no surprise that its election wish-list is more likely to be greeted favourably by parties on the right of centre than those on the left.

It includes:

* The reintroduction of competition for ACC.

Farming is a high risk occupation and levies reflect that but the current system is a one-size fits all one which doesn’t reward those with safer workplaces who make fewer claims.

* A revised needs analysis for trade access and biosecurity and food safety to determine what is required to satisfy customers.

Biosecurity and food safety requirements could be used as non-tariff barriers to restrict market access so it’s important we understand what our customers need.

* Reasonable animal welfare requirements based on sound scientific analysis and an understanding of farm practices.

Animal welfare is paramount. But emotion and ignorance sometimes fuel criticism of practices that are safe and humane.

* increased funding for biosecurity at the border and behind the border (eg regional pest management strategies).

I’d like a return to local pest management boards. Individual responsibility only works if everyone is responsible, if they’re not those who take pest destruction seriously have their efforts sabotaged by neighbours who don’t. 

* Investment in climate change technologies reflecting that farmers are operating at ,or near to, the limits of existing technologies.

* A renegotiation of the Kyoto Protocol to exempt all animal emissions.

* Climate change policies aligned ot those of our key trading partners.

* A delay in the start of the NZETS to enable a full review and ammendment.

There is no use sabotaging the economy and adding to world food shortages for little if any environmental gain.

* Young people, urban and rural, to be encouraged to consider careers in the primary sector, including farming.

We’re still suffering from the fallout from the ag-sag of the 80s when farming and other primary industry occupations weren’t popular.

* Adequate funding for providers of agricultural education and training.

* Recognition farming is a skilled occupation by the Minsitry of Education.

* Financial support for leadership development in the rural sector.

I agree with the first two points but if we want lower taxes it might be better to look to our own resources and sponsorship rather than the government for things like leadership development.


ETS high cost no benefit

September 9, 2008

Brian Fallow’s column in this morning’s Herald points out the uncertainties over the cost of carbon.

The price the Government is assuming for the purpose of reporting its liability under the Kyoto Protocol in the Crown accounts is €11 ($23) a tonne.

But the high-quality, low-risk units New Zealand companies with obligations under the scheme are expected to favour are trading for €20.

And is the money being paid for this hot air going into research or developments which will improve the environment? No, and it might even make it worse:

It would be a perverse outcome for the global climate if growth of the pastoral farming sector in New Zealand were hobbled by climate change policy here, only for the demand for dairy products and meat it might have satisfied to be met instead by production elsewhere in the world whose carbon hoof-print (emissions per litre of milk or kilogram of meat) is greater.

Agriculture isn’t the only area where exporting emissions is likely and that’s because of a basic flaw in the Kyoto protocol. It takes a country by country approach to a global problem which means carbon emissions might be reduced in one place but increased elsewhere by moving production.

We pay the economic and social cost and the whole world pays the environmental cost because the ETS will add to the costs of production, transport and consumption but won’t reduce emissions.

It’s an expensive feel-good achieve-nothing fraud.


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