Luxury beliefs hurt poor

27/07/2022

One of the surprising results from the recent Australian election was the support for teal candidates.

These are the blue-greens, generally well-off people who stood on an environmental platform.

They are not attracted to the red green parties with their hard left agenda but they are concerned about the environment.

However, are their policy wish-lists affordable, effective and practical, or could their agenda be an example of what Rob Henderson calls  luxury beliefs that have become status symbols?:

 . . Throughout my experiences traveling along the class ladder, I made a discovery:

Luxury beliefs have, to a large extent, replaced luxury goods.  

Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class, while often inflicting costs on the lower classes. . .

He quotes Thorstein Veblen who observed that in the 19th century a good way to size up people’s means was by whether or not they could afford luxury goods and leisure activities.

In Veblen’s day, people exhibited their status with delicate and restrictive clothing like tuxedos, top hats, and evening gowns, or by partaking in time-consuming activities like golf or beagling.

These goods and leisurely activities could only be purchased or performed by people who did not work as manual laborers and could spend their time and money learning something with no practical utility. . . 

French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu Echoed this theory:

In his body of work, Bourdieu described how “distance from necessity” characterized the affluent classes. In fact, Bourdieu coined the term “cultural capital.”

Once our basic physical and material needs are met, people can then spend more time cultivating what Bourdieu called the “dispositions of mind and body” in the form of intricate and expensive tastes and habits that the upper classes use to obtain distinction. . . 

Attempting to attain distinction from the masses isn’t confined to humans, for example the peacock’s tale.

Animals do this physically.

And affluent humans often do it economically and culturally, with their status symbols.

A difference, though, is that human signals often trickle to the rest of society, which weakens the power of the signal. Once a signal is adopted by the masses, the affluent abandon it.  . . 

The yearning for distinction is the key motive here.

And in order to convert economic capital into cultural capital, it must be publicly visible.

But distinction encompasses not only clothing or food or rituals. It also extends to ideas and beliefs and causes.   . . 

It’s not just what people wear or do, but what they believe.

In the past, people displayed their membership in the upper class with their material accoutrements.

But today, because material goods have become a noisier signal of one’s social position and economic resources, the affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs. . . 

These beliefs are often costly which the affluent can afford, but the less well off can not.

By now you probably know the answer to the question I asked at the beginning: what do top hats have in common with defunding the police?

Well, who was the most likely to support the fashionable defund the police cause in 2020 and 2021?

A survey from YouGov found that Americans in the highest income category were by far the most supportive of defunding the police.

They can afford to hold this position, because they already live in safe, often gated communities. And they can afford to hire private security.

In the same way that a vulnerable gazelle can’t afford to engage in stotting because it would put them in increased danger, a vulnerable poor person in a crime-ridden neighborhood can’t afford to support defunding the police. . . 

What do luxury beliefs achieve?

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education.

Members of the luxury belief class promote these ideas because it advances their social standing and because they know that the adoption of these policies or beliefs will cost them less than others.

Advocating for defunding the police or promoting the belief we are not responsible for our actions are good ways of advertising membership of the elite.

Why are affluent people more susceptible to luxury beliefs? They can afford it. And they care the most about status.

In short, luxury beliefs are the new status symbols.  

They are honest indicators of one’s social position, one’s level of wealth, where one was educated, and how much leisure time they have to adopt these fashionable beliefs.

And just as many luxury goods often start with the rich but eventually become available to everyone, so it is with luxury beliefs.

But unlike luxury goods, luxury beliefs can have long term detrimental effects for the poor and working class. However costly these beliefs are for the rich, they often inflict even greater costs on everyone else.

This comes back to those teal candidates.

A lot of environmental policies are put forward, and supported, by people who are wealthier and a lot of those policies make life more expensive.

That’s not a problem for those who can afford to pay more for food, fuel and power.

They have surplus money for more efficient vehicles, and heating their homes and, although they might support the concept of public transport, they are less likely to need it.

They don’t have to buy on price and can afford to pay more if the consequences of their beliefs are more expensive.

But that’s not the case for poorer people. Given the state of the economy and financial pressures on households it’s not just those on low incomes who would be hurt if environmental policies impose higher costs.

With inflation a lot of people on what used to be good incomes are struggling.

And if you’re constantly worried about feeding your family, paying your mortgage or rent, keeping your home warm, and getting where you need to go, pay-more-to-save-the-planet policies are luxuries you can’t afford.

It’s not just individuals and households,  whole countries are being hurt by luxury beliefs as Europe turns back to coal and gas but tells eveloping African nations to go greener

. . .Gas for me but not for thee, as rich countries would have it, is more than just bad optics. It’s bad policy: Putting the West’s energy security first while trying to force Africans to prioritize limiting emissions is counterproductive in reaching economic, geostrategic, and even climate goals. . . 

Bjorn Lomborg has a far better way to help the planet without destabilising the world and that’s with the research and technology to make green fuels cheaper:

For three decades, climate campaigners have fought to make fossil fuels so expensive people would be forced to abandon them. Their dream is becoming reality: energy prices are spiralling out of control and will soon get even worse. Yet we are no closer to solving climate change.

They’ve put the dark green cart before the economic, scientific and technical horses.

There are two reasons why the climate-policy approach of trying to push consumers and businesses away from fossil fuels with price spikes is causing substantial pain with little climate pay-off.

First, solar and wind are still capable of meeting only a fraction of global electricity needs. Even with huge subsidies and political support, solar and wind delivered just nine per cent of global electricity in 2020. Heating, transport and vital industrial processes account for much more energy use than electricity. This means solar and wind deliver just 1.8 per cent of global energy supply. And electricity is the easiest of these components to decarbonize: we haven’t yet made meaningful progress greening the remaining four fifths of global energy.

Second, even in the rich world it is clear that few people are willing to pay the phenomenal price of achieving net-zero carbon emissions. Soaring prices are hiking energy poverty in industrialized economies, and prices are set to climb even further. Germany is on track to spend more than half a trillion dollars on climate policies by 2025, yet has only managed to reduce fossil fuel dependency from 84 per cent in 2000 to 77 per cent today. McKinsey estimates that getting to zero carbon will cost Europe 5.3 per cent of its GDP in low-emission assets every year, or for Germany more than $200 billion annually. That is more than Germany spends annually on education, police, courts and prisons combined.

That’s luxury beliefs prioritising climate policies in spite of the cost.

Policy-makers in western countries can’t continue to push expensive policies without a backlash. As energy prices soar, risks grow of resentment and strife, as France saw with the “yellow vest” protest movement.

For the poorest billions, rising energy prices are even more serious because they block the pathway out of poverty and make fertilizer unaffordable for farmers, imperiling food production. The well-off in rich countries might be able to withstand the pain of some climate policies, but emerging economies like India or low-income countries in Africa cannot afford to sacrifice poverty eradication and economic development to tackle climate change.

And green energy’s failings are why carbon emissions are still increasing. Last year saw the highest global emissions ever. This year they’re likely to be higher again. Climate policy is clearly broken. By forcing up the price of fossil fuels, policy-makers have put the cart before the horse. Instead, we need to make green energy much cheaper and more effective.

Humanity has relied on innovation to fix other big challenges. We didn’t solve air pollution by forcing everyone to stop driving, but by inventing the catalytic converter that drastically lowers pollution. We didn’t slash hunger by telling everyone to eat less, but through the Green Revolution that enabled farmers to produce much more food.

We need a green energy revolution that enables more and less expensive generation in both financial and environmental terms.

Researchers for the Copenhagen Consensus, including three Nobel laureate economists, have shown that the most effective climate policy possible is to increase green R&D spending five-fold to $100 billion per year. This would still be much less than the $755 billion the world spent just last year on current often ineffective green technology.

That saving would get better environmental outcomes than the unaffordable and ineffective policy of trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels without the widespread availability of inexpensive and reliable alternatives.

We don’t know where the breakthroughs will happen. They could come in nuclear energy, which can provide reliable power around-the-clock, unlike the intermittency of solar or wind, but remains much more expensive than fossil fuels. With more R&D, “fourth-generation” nuclear could end up providing much cheaper, safer power. But we need to look for breakthroughs across all areas of energy technology, from cheaper solar and wind with massive and very cheap storage, to CO₂ extraction, fusion, second-generation biofuels and many other potential solutions.

Climate change will not be solved by making fossil energy unaffordable but by innovating down the price of green technologies so everyone will be able to switch.

Far too much agitation, and policy, on climate change has come from the left and that’s resulted in poor environmental outcomes at far too high economic and social costs.

Those Australian teal MPs are right to reject the red-green agenda. But if they are to make a positive difference they must put aside any luxury beliefs and advocate for replacing the current expensive and ineffective policies with less costly and more effective funding for green R&D.


The energy market explained

20/06/2022

Australia is facing an energy crisis.

Apropos of which, Clark and Dawe explain the energy market:


Rural round-up

24/05/2022

Challenging harvest conditions see NZ apple and pear crop numbers drop from previous forecast :

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI), the industry organisation representing the country’s pipfruit growers, today released a crop re-forecast that predicts a decrease of between 12% and 15% on last year’s crop total.

Extreme weather events in the major growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne and the impacts of Omicron during the peak harvest period have combined with increased shipping costs to further squeeze profit margins and make the New Zealand 2022 apple and pear harvest one of the most challenging in the past decade.

In January this year, the 2022 apple and pear crop was predicted to reach the equivalent of 23.2 million boxes (Tray Carton Equivalents, or TCEs, as they’re known in the industry), destined for customers in more than 80 countries. That forecast has now been adjusted to be approximately 20.3 million boxes, a drop of 13%, representing an estimated reduction in export earnings of $105 million.

NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says a perfect storm of adverse weather events in key growing regions and major labour shortages during the heart of the harvest combined to result in growers not being able maximise their crops. However, what has been harvested remains of a high quality for New Zealand’s export markets. . . 

Challenges navigated in ‘tumultuous’ year – Sally Rae:

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson has described the past 12 months as “one of the most tumultuous in recent farming history”.

In his report to the province’s annual meeting in Lawrence yesterday, Mr Patterson said agriculture had not faced such a challenging set of circumstances since the Rogernomics era reforms in the 1980s.

Implementation of major Government reforms of freshwater and land management, climate change regulation, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, pandemic management, land-use change and centralisation of local government services were some of the significant issues confronting farmers.

On top of that, Otago had been “book-ended” by back-to-back autumn droughts which had resulted in a medium-scale adverse event being declared in large swathes of the region, adding extra stress. . . 

The future for sheep – Keith Woodford:

Lamb prices are high but industry remains buffeted by big crosswinds

The sheep industry in Zealand has been getting smaller ever since 1982 when sheep numbers reached 70 million. The latest numbers are 26 million in 2021, having dropped from 32.6 million in 2010. Yet sheep still earn over $4 billion of annual export income.

In recent months I have had plenty to say about both greenhouse gas policy and forestry as they are affecting and will affect all New Zealand agriculture. Here, I focus specifically on sheep farming to seek answers as to where the industry might head.

Focusing first on market returns, the last two decades have brought lots of good news. Lamb and mutton prices have risen faster than other pastoral products, including dairy, and at a considerably higher rate than general inflation. Yet somehow it has not been enough to stem the decline. . .

Feasibility update on $4 billion Lake Onslow project expected next month :

The Energy Minister is expected to provide an update next month on whether a $4 billion pumped hydro storage in Central Otago might be feasible.

The Lake Onslow project is designed to serve as a giant battery to help protect against hydro electricity shortages and create more stability in the market.

It would involve a man-made lake likely to the east of Roxburgh in Central Otago where water would be pumped into a reservoir when energy demand was low and released when demand was high.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said Energy Minister Megan Woods would provide a brief project overview to her Cabinet colleagues this month. . . 

Dunstan Trail lauded with more than 80k riders in first year – Tim Brown:

Cromwell and Clyde businesses are celebrating the success of the Lake Dunstan Trail, and hope it will help sustain the area through the usually quiet winter period.

The cycle trail, which connects Clyde and Cromwell after opening in May last year, has blown away all expectations.

It was hoped it would attract 7500 users in its first year, instead it was more than 84,000.

The small Central Otago town of Clyde was home to about 1250 people and one of the Otago Central Rail Trail’s trail heads.

That trail attracted more than 10,000 users annually. . . 

Good moving day planning key to preventing pest plant spread & managing effluent :

Farmers are being urged to do their bit to protect farms from damaging pest plants by ensuring machinery, vehicles and equipment have been cleaned ahead of Moving Day.

Planning is also necessary when it comes to preventing effluent entering waterways and keeping roads clear and safe for road users in the region, says Waikato Regional Council.

Moving Day occurs in the week leading up to and immediately following 1 June each year. It involves the mass transporting of cows and machinery around the country’s roads as farm contractors relocate themselves and their stock in time for the new season.

“Through good on farm biosecurity practices, farmers and contractors can make a massive difference to preventing the spread of pest plants and weeds,” said regional council biosecurity pest plants team leader, Darion Embling. . . 


Bright ideas needed

28/03/2022

Reducing the excise tax on fuel shows what happens when politics meets climate change policy – politics wins.

That’s a very good illustration of what’s wrong with so much of the response to climate change – it’s focused far too much on taxing more and trying to force us to do or have less.

That’s not attractive to the wealthy,  it is unaffordable for the poor.

The economic and social costs of too much climate change policy are too high with little, if any environmental benefit.

There is a better way – bright ideas based on the research and science. That’s what’s solved so many other problems.

 

 

You can watch the clip on YouTube here.


Unobtanium doesn’t work in real world

15/02/2022

Mark Mills asks what’s wrong with wind and solar?

Have you ever heard of “unobtanium”?

It’s the magical energy mineral found on the planet Pandora in the movie, Avatar. It’s a fantasy in a science fiction script. But environmentalists think they’ve found it here on earth in the form of wind and solar power.

They think all the energy we need can be supplied by building enough wind and solar farms; and enough batteries.

The simple truth is that we can’t. Nor should we want to—not if our goal is to be good stewards of the planet. . . 

Too many proponents of wind and solar energy don’t understand the physics:

All sources of energy have limits that can’t be exceeded. The maximum rate at which the sun’s photons can be converted to electrons is about 33%. Our best solar technology is at 26% efficiency. For wind, the maximum capture is 60%. Our best machines are at 45%.

So, we’re pretty close to wind and solar limits. Despite PR claims about big gains coming, there just aren’t any possible. And wind and solar only work when the wind blows and the sun shines. But we need energy all the time. The solution we’re told is to use batteries. Again, physics and chemistry make this very hard to do.

Consider the world’s biggest battery factory, the one Tesla built in Nevada. It would take 500 years for that factory to make enough batteries to store just one day’s worth of America’s electricity needs. This helps explain why wind and solar currently still supply less than 3% of the world’s energy, after 20 years and billions of dollars in subsidies. . . 

Then there’s the inconvenient fact that wind and solar power plants, and batteries are made from non-renewable materials.

A single electric-car battery weighs about half a ton. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving, and processing more than 250 tons of earth somewhere on the planet.

Building a single 100 Megawatt wind farm, which can power 75,000 homes requires some 30,000 tons of iron ore and 50,000 tons of concrete, as well as 900 tons of non-recyclable plastics for the huge blades. To get the same power from solar, the amount of cement, steel, and glass needed is 150% greater.

Then there are the other minerals needed, including elements known as rare earth metals. With current plans, the world will need an incredible 200 to 2,000 percent increase in mining for elements such as cobalt, lithium, and dysprosium, to name just a few.

Where’s all this stuff going to come from? Massive new mining operations. Almost none of it in America, some imported from places hostile to America, and some in places we all want to protect.

Australia’s Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global “gold” rush for energy materials will take miners into “…remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”

It’s not just where it comes from but the fuel needed to mine it and get it to where it’s used. A friend’s abiding memory from a trip to Africa was the convoys of fuel tankers going from ports to the mines thousands of kilometres away.

And who is doing the mining? Let’s just say that they’re not all going to be union workers with union protections.

Amnesty International paints a disturbing picture: “The… marketing of state-of-the-art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks.”

And then the mining itself requires massive amounts of conventional energy, as do the energy-intensive industrial processes needed to refine the materials and then build the wind, solar, and battery hardware.

Then there’s the waste. Wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries have a relatively short life; about twenty years. Conventional energy machines, like gas turbines, last twice as long.

With current plans, the International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that by 2050, the disposal of worn-out solar panels will constitute over double the tonnage of all of today’s global plastic waste. Worn-out wind turbines and batteries will add millions of tons more waste. It will be a whole new environmental challenge.

Before we launch history’s biggest increase in mining, dig up millions of acres in pristine areas, encourage childhood labor, and create epic waste problems, we might want to reconsider our almost inexhaustible supply of hydrocarbons—the fuels that make our marvelous modern world possible.

And technology is making it easier to acquire and cleaner to use them every day.

The following comparisons are typical—and instructive:

It costs about the same to drill one oil well as it does to build one giant wind turbine. And while that turbine generates the energy equivalent of about one barrel of oil per hour, the oil rig produces 10 barrels per hour. It costs less than 50 cents to store a barrel of oil or its equivalent in natural gas. But you need $200 worth of batteries to hold the energy contained in one oil barrel.

Next time someone tells you that wind, solar and batteries are the magical solution for all our energy needs ask them if they have an idea of the cost… to the environment.

“Unobtanium” works fine in the movies. But we don’t live in movies. We live in the real world.

As the government commits – again – to its nuclear moment in fighting climate change, how much of what they do will be practical, positive and follow rigorous science and how much will be unobtanium?

Too many of those who demand less fossil fuel and more renewable energy aren’t in the real world where physics and science matter.

They are on another planet and their demands rather than saving this one, will damage it and its people.


Rural round-up

03/10/2021

Don’t be complacent about agriculture’s ability to rescue us – Gareth Kiernan:

The massive increase in tourist numbers coming to New Zealand between the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is well documented, lifting from under 2.5 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2019.

But it’s perhaps less well-known that agriculture and forestry exports held their own during this period, with their share of total exports increasing from 44 per cent to 49 per cent.

The drop in “other goods” in this chart implies that the squeeze was felt more by manufactured exports than the primary sector – a trend that is not unique to the last decade.

Since Covid-19 struck, a reliance on agriculture has been the defining feature of the best-performing regional economies. . . 

New visa some relief for rural communities :

The Government’s announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa will provide some welcome relief to rural communities, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Today’s announcement of the one-off 202 Resident Visa, which creates residence pathways for approximately 9,000 primary industry workers, is excellent news and will relieve some of the stress in our rural communities,” says RWNZ board member Sharron Davie-Martin.

Davie-Martin says that RWNZ understands the one-off visa will support workers elsewhere in New Zealand in retail, teaching, health care, construction and aged care which she says must be a great reassurance to all migrant workers and their families.

“However, RWNZ is acutely aware of the pressure on the health and well-being of rural communities caused by stressed migrant workers and staff shortages. . .

Sensible solution to desperate time keeping workers on farm :

Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.

“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.

“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.” . . 

Alliance welcomes decarbonisation investment

Alliance Group says decarbonisation projects at three South Island processing plants is a major boost to its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

Alliance Group and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will co-fund the projects at the co-operative’s Lorneville and Mataura plants in Southland and at Smithfield plant in Timaru. Together, the plants employ approximately 3,000 people at peak season.

As part of the decarbonisation project, Alliance will install an electrode boiler to reduce the use of existing coal fired boilers at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill, saving 11,739 tonnes of carbon per annum. . .

Soaring demand for beef drives 26 per cent increase in New Zealand red meat exports in August:

New Zealand’s red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by a growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year on year.

Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA chief executive, said volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high. . . 

‘TRY A NEW CHEESE, NEW ZEALAND!’ October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese:

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry. NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the success small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage. . . 

 


Cold kills more than heat

11/08/2021

More people die from the cold than heat:

It is much easier to cool down in extreme heat that usually lasts only hours to days than to warm up in the killer cold that can last weeks or months.

This isn’t an argument to ignore climate change. It is an argument for being very careful about unexpected, possibly fatal, consequences of policies designed to lower emissions.

Several weeks ago RNZ reported on fears for the elderly as frosts started to bite and on Monday night the power went off completely:

. . .General manager of operations Dr Stephen Jay told the Herald he couldn’t rule out any further disruption to the network, stating “the emergency is far from over”.

“Things are running tight. Supplies have been running to the wire this morning.”

Last night’s outages affected parts of Wellington, Kāpiti Coast, Taupō, Hamilton, Napier, Hastings, Auckland and Whangārei.

None were warned yesterday that they would be without power, on a night which saw many cities head towards, or below, zero degrees. . . 

Households were inconvenienced, many people had to endure the cold and, oh the irony, people who couldn’t charge their EVs had to rely on petrol and diesel fuelled cars.

The black out also caused problems for businesses. Stock had to be turned away from freezing works and cows were left unmilked on some farms that do 16-hour milking.

National Party leader Judith Collins likened the outage to that which happened in a third world country.

“We do not live in a third world country.

“It was one of the coldest nights of the year last night and many families couldn’t keep warm.

“We should always expect that it will be colder in winter and we’ll need to use more energy, but the Government has failed New Zealanders by not being prepared.

“The Government has to be able to keep the lights on. This useless lot has failed to do that. ” . . 

Power companies must accept some of the blame but government policies are also responsible:

. . .As   Point  of  Order  sees  it,  there  will  be  a  great  deal  of  hand-wringing  in the Beehive  (and   possibly  some  glee across   in  the  Opposition  wing).   For  this   is  a  crisis   all   of  the  government’s  own  making. 

Remember  that the  decision  to   ban  further  offshore  oil  exploration  was  Ardern’s  “nuclear  moment”.  It  drove  away  international  oil  explorers, just    at  the  time  a   bunch  of  companies  had  been  planning further  work,  including  the  exploitation   of  already discovered  fields.

Since  then,  first  the  Labour-NZ  First  coalition  set  the  target  of  becoming  100% renewable  which  spurred  the  big  electricity  generators  to  turn  away  from fossil  fuels, earmarking more investment  for  wind farms,  and  subsequently  demand  for  electricity   has  outpaced  expectations.   

Labour’s  focus  on  renewables yielded  the  kind of  political  irony   this  week  when  700 MW  of wind  turbine  capacity  lay idle  because the  air  was  so  still  (but  the  locals were freezing). . .

Neither solar nor wind generation is 100% reliable. The sun doesn’t shine every day, it never shines at night, and wind turbines need neither too much nor too little wind to operate.

The government blundered into policies to reduce the use of fossil fuels without a proper plan for the transition. As a result we’re burning dirtier imported coal than our own and having power cuts.

Hamish Rutherford explains:

. . .As has happened before, Woods blamed the issue on commercial decisions by private companies. That does not get us very far. Of course companies make commercial decisions.

Between the decision to rip up the rules on the gas market, to the difficulty consenting renewables projects, to the threat to build hydro storage at Lake Onslow, the market is simply responding to the signals that the Government is sending it.

The government might think climate change is an emergency that requires drastic action but it won’t get buy-in from people who expect a first-world power supply when its policies result in third-world service.

This is night time in North Korea, blacked out among its brighter, lighter neighbours.

,

We need security of supply so that we don’t have to endure the same cold, dark nights here.


Science must drive car policy

20/11/2020

Climate Change Minister James Shaw wants to ban imports of fossil-fuelled cars by 2030:

. . . The UK is planning to ban all new combustion engine vehicles by 2035 – though British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to bring this forward to 2030.

Shaw, the Green Party co-leader, is concerned about the fate of the UK’s cars after the UK ban, considering most of the world drives on the right. “If we let those into New Zealand, we are stuffed. We will have no chance of being able to reduce our transport emissions, which are the fastest-growing sector,” he said. . .

He is right there is a potential for dumping should the UK ban actually happen.

But a ban here is unlikely to do anything to reduce emissions. Instead it will encourage people to stock pile diesel and petrol fuelled cars before the ban comes in and to keep old cars longer once the ban is in place.

But worse, mass conversion to electric vehicles could increase global emissions.

Bjorn Lamborghini says:

Electric cars require large batteries, which are often produced in China using coal power. The manufacture of one electric car battery releases also a quarter of the greenhouse gases emitted by a petrol car over its entire life time.

The United Nations has raised environmental and ethical concerns about the mining of cobalt and lithium required for these batteries too:

. . .For example, two-thirds of all cobalt production happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about 20 per cent of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines, where human rights abuses have been reported, and up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income.

And in Chile, lithium mining uses nearly 65% of the water in the country’s Salar de Atamaca region, one of the driest desert areas in the world, to pump out brines from drilled wells. This has forced local quinoa farmers and llama herders to migrate and abandon ancestral settlements. It has also contributed to environment degradation, landscape damage and soil contamination, groundwater depletion and pollution. . .

Back to Lomborg:

Second, electric cars are charged with electricity that is in most countries powered by fossil fuels.Together this means a long-range electric car will emit more CO2 for its first 60,000km than its petroleum equivalent. . . 

Most of New Zealand’s power comes from renewable energy now, but could existing generation cope with a steep increase in demand from charging cars if the nation’s fleet had a lot more electric vehicles?

We need a reality check. First politicians should stop writing huge cheques just because they believe electric cars are a major climate solution. Second, there is a simpler answer. The hybrid car saves the same amount of CO2 as an electric car over its lifetime. Third climate change doesn’t care where CO2 comes from. Personal cars represent about 7% of global emission and electric cars will only help a little.

RIght now electric car subsidies are something wealthy countries can afford to offer virtue-signaling elites. But if we want to fix the climate, we need to focus on the big emitters and drive innovation in fusion, fission, geothermal, wind and solar energy. Advances that make any of these cheaper than fossil fuels would mean it’s not just rich Londoners changing their habits, but everyone, including China and India, switching large parts of their energy consumption towards zero emissions.

The problem with Shaw’s policy is that it’s driven by politics when it needs to be driven by science.


Labour will make poor poorer

11/09/2020

What is Labour thinking with its plan to have 100% renewable energy generation by 2030?

Labour’s energy policy will hammer Kiwis’ back pockets by increasing the cost of electricity by as much as 40 per cent, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

The Government’s own advice from the Independent Climate Commission said the 100 per cent renewable electricity will increase power prices for New Zealand businesses and families.

“The day after Grant Robertson pledged there would be no new taxes, we’re seeing even more costs piled onto New Zealanders.

“This is a policy that will cost thousands of jobs and put even more people on to the unemployment benefit.

“While we want to see more renewable electricity, all this policy will do is increase electricity prices and reduce reliability.

“While Labour wants higher taxes and hiked power prices, National wants to get the economy moving and create jobs for New Zealanders.”

Like the ban on oil and gas exploration, this policy isn’t evidence-based:

A goal of 100% renewable electricity needs to evidence-based and thoroughly tested, according to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ).

“The Government’s own Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) warned against a 100% target for 2035 given that it would be very expensive and have only minimal impacts on emissions,” says PEPANZ Chief Executive John Carnegie.

Nearly as bad as the oil and gas ban that will make emissions worse.

“We’d want to see careful consideration of the costs and benefits of bringing a 100% target even further forward, as well as for all other policies.

“A Government-backed hydro scheme is likely to be a major deterrent to any private sector energy investment given it could render them unprofitable. Its need could become self-fulfilling.

What are the chances of a hydro scheme, government-backed or not, getting through the resource consent process in time for it to be operating by 2030?

“The pace and nature of our transition will ultimately be determined by global economics. New Zealand has tried to hide from market forces before without success and at massive long-term economic and social cost. We cannot subsidise our way to prosperity, especially in the current highly uncertain global environment. . . 

Why would Labour, the party that imposed significant costs on landlords with the aim of making houses warmer, plan to implement a policy that will make it more difficult for poor people to heat their houses by significantly increasing power prices?

Why would the party whose leader said reducing child poverty was one of her most important priorities even consider a policy that will make poverty worse?

Why wouldn’t the party that exhorts us to follow the science on Covid-19, follow the science on energy, the environment and economics?


$30m investigating white elephant

29/07/2020

The government is spending $30 million investigating a white elephant:

The government is spending $30 million on an investigation into renewable energy projects including a hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in Central Otago which would solve the problem of dry years and the irregular supply of renewable energy sources. . . 

Engineer Dr Dougal McQueen said multiple smaller schemes would work better.

“If we don’t have the need for a dry-year storage, and we’ve invested in it, then of course it’s going to become the white elephant in the room and the Onslow scheme isn’t where the need is, which is in the North Island.”

Generating electricity closer to where it will be used would be a much greener option because it would reduce the amount that is wasted in transmission over large distances.

Sustainable Energy Forum spokesman Steve Goldthorpe said it’s great more renewable energy is being investigated but the scope of the Lake Onslow scheme doesn’t make sense.

“Storing water just for use on occasion, two or three times a year at most, seems to be an awful lot of expense for little return, so using it for that sort of battery capacity seems a little unusual.”

“Using Huntly Power Station as a back-up and for emergencies could make more sense rather than it competing in the market, but the government needs to work out the cost per tonne of CO2 emission reduction,” he said. . . 

It also needs to look at the way the transmission costs are averaged over the country which distorts the price.

If consumers paid the true cost of transmission, it would be much cheaper in the south and more expensive in the north. That could be a significant factor in decisions on locating industry.

National’s energy and resources spokesman Jonathan Young said the Productivity Commission looked into the Lake Onslow idea in 2018 but found it didn’t make sense economically and found the project would struggle to get through the resource consent process.

He agreed there were better options.

“There’s a lot more scope for geo-thermal to be developed and if we had that in the central plateau region we would be closer to the demand which will make it more affordable for the consumers who won’t have to pay huge transmission costs from the bottom of the South Island.”

The government’s claim the hydro project would reduce electricity costs don’t stack up, Young said.

“If we are going to spend $4 billion on our electricity system, then someone is going to pay for it. If it’s not going to come from higher electricity prices then it will come from the taxpayer.” . .

Taxpayers are consumers, either way we can’t afford $30m of borrowed money to investigate a white elephant.


Power for the south

13/07/2020

Love many fat royal people today.

That’s the mnemonic by which I can still recall sixth form geography’s lesson on the six factors which affect the location of industry – labour, market, finance, raw materials, power and transport.

When it comes to power, the market in New Zealand is distorted by averaging of transmission costs across the country. That is one of the major reasons Rio Tinto has decided to close the Tiwai aluminium smelter next year and Richard Harman points out it is Auckland votes that did the damage:

. . .Opposition from the city, and particularly its business community, to proposals, put up in 2016 to change the way consumers paid for the transmission component of power pricing killed off what could have been a $20 million cost-saving for the smelter.

That might have been enough to save it. Rio Tinto’s loss on the smelter last year was $46 million. . . 

NZAS has argued that it is forced to pay for investment in the country’s power supply network that has no relevance to it, such as upgrades in the North Island when it is based at Bluff.

In 2017 a company press statement said NZAS paid  around nine per cent of Transpower’s transmission charges to consumers, “including paying towards the $1.3 billion spent on upgrading the grid in the upper North Island since 2004 without receiving any additional benefit to its business.”

“When it comes to transmission charges, we believe you should pay for what you use,” said then-CEO   Gretta Stephens.

“This isn’t what is happening now, so we are committed to working with the Electricity Authority and Transpower to achieve a more sustainable method of pricing transmission services.”

Stephens was therefore ready to endorse an Electricity Authority proposal in May 2017 to radically overhaul the transmission pricing regime and essentially make it a user-pays system. The further a consumer was from their power generator; the more they would be likely to pay.

The smelter uses only about 40km of Transpower lines because the main transmission lines from Meridian’s Manapouri power station to the northern outskirts of Invercargill are owned by Meridian.

The total length of all transmission lines owned by Transpower is 12,000km.

So in proposing that this imbalance be addressed, NZAS, told the Electricity Authority in 2017 the smelter had been located in its current position to allow for port access and to minimise the need for transmission.

“Auckland, by comparison, grew organically because of the natural advantages the location has for residential living,” the company said. “These advantages did not include nearby economic energy resources.

“As a result, considerable expense has been, and continues to be, applied to transporting electricity to Auckland.

“Because of these characteristics, the economic cost of providing transmission services for NZAS is considerably lower than the economic cost of transmission to Auckland”.

Southern individuals and businesses have been and are continuing to subsidise those in the north.

The Electricity Authority then produced a new transmission pricing proposal which would have seen NZAS’s transmission costs drop by 34 per cent to $40 million a year. But to help pay for that, the Authority proposed increasing the transmission costs to Vector, the former Auckland Electric Power Board, by 44 per cent or $50 a household a year.

There was an immediate uproar. . . 

The uproar came from a much bigger voting block than the one in the south and the north won.

Steven Joyce is one northerner who understands this:

Nearly 5 per cent of the Southland workforce will likely lose their jobs — a massive body blow. For Aucklanders having difficulty comprehending what that means, a shock of a similar magnitude in that city would be 40,000 people losing their jobs at once.

The Finance Minister is conveniently trying to hide behind the skirts of Bill English, reminding everyone that Bill said “no more” to Rio Tinto after 2013, and as current minister he’s just sticking with the line. It’s weird how trapped he feels by an 8-year-old decision.

If it helps at all, the Bill English I know wouldn’t have handed out $10 million to a bungy jumping company in Queenstown. If desperate times warrant that much being handed to a single private tourism company, or a ludicrous $280m to support New Zealand Post, Southlanders will legitimately ask why not $30 or $50 million for 2600 jobs in their region?

A very good question and if the smelter was in Northland does anyone doubt that it would get the money?

The smelter has as good a case as the tourism or film sectors, and a considerably better case than what has become a glorified courier company. The international market for aluminium has crashed as a result of Covid-19 decimating the car- and plane-making industries.

More egregiously, the electricity for this and other Southland businesses comes from just up the road at Manapouri, yet Southland is made to pay to have power circulated around the rest of the country. The request for help is more a case for stopping an unfair levy than for a fresh subsidy. Southland is not the only region, and aluminium not the only regional industry that is up against it. . . 

Some people see a silver lining in the smelter closure in the potential for cheaper power. But the electricity the smelter uses is generated in Southland, upgrading transmission lines to get it to the northern North Island would cost many millions of dollars.

If those costs were averaged over the country it would be rubbing very expensive salt into the wounds the smelter closure will inflict on Southland, its labour force and economy.

But it’s not only Southland that is facing big jobs losses.

The Marsden Point refinery bankrolls a similar proportion of high-paying jobs in Northland, and the refining company is making near-identical noises about closure.

Meanwhile, Taranaki is continuing to come to grips with the Government’s pre-Covid oil and gas exploration ban placing an artificial sunset on its biggest industry, and associated companies like Methanex and the ammonia urea plant.

Outside of heavy industry, the Covid-19 border controls have put on ice a series of other sectors that normally contribute to New Zealand’s wealth and jobs.

The $5 billion we earn annually from international education is dwindling to nearly nothing — and that leaves schools, universities and other providers short $1b a year for tuition fees alone.

Tourism limps along on one domestic cylinder, which sparks up in the school holidays but is insufficient to sustain many of the companies reliant on it.

The tech companies that succeed in the world despite our isolated location are wondering how long they can operate from their New Zealand base while being physically cut off from their customers.

And the foresters are suffering from whiplash, feeling alternately loved and loathed, sometimes almost in the same press release, as the Government has somehow got itself to the point where it will decide when forests are planted and where they can be sold. No wonder politicians were belatedly cuddling up to the farmers this week. Food is in danger of becoming our only export sector, so let’s call a truce in the regulatory hostilities and pretend all that talk about the need to diversify away from agriculture was just a bad dream.

The more other export industries falter, the more important agriculture becomes.

Which brings us to the bigger problem that the smelter closure underlines. Exactly how do we plan to make money to pay off this huge debt the Government is running up on our behalf?

How will we fill the massive hole in our exports left by tourism, education, aluminium and oil and gas? And exactly how do we plan to magic up 2600 replacement high-paying jobs in Southland?

Our economic response to Covid-19 is looking ridiculously haphazard. If the Government likes you, you get a bucket of money. If they don’t, then tough luck.

We first need a level playing field, and then we need to focus on increasing the competitiveness of all our businesses. We also need, to paraphrase a certain Australian Prime Minister, to get out from under the duvet and start re-engaging with the safer parts of the world again.

Right now we are being way too cavalier with our whole economic fabric. We could wake up and find whole regions permanently crippled — the ultimate irony for a Government that claims to “champion the regions”.

And, given that our biggest power consumers will have gone, and taken with them their outsized contributions to the costs of the electricity grid, we may not even have cheap power to make us feel better.

Taking big electricity users out of the market won’t make power cheaper. If the big users who contribute most to the energy companies’ coffers go, the cost will be spread across fewer, smaller users including households.

Given the fall in the price of aluminum, even a lower power price probably wouldn’t save the smelter.

But the smelter’s closure should provide the impetus to stop the southern subsidising of the north’s power.

Finding new businesses to soak up the people left unemployed when the smelter closed won’t be easy.

But it could be less difficult if everyone paid the actual cost of getting power which would make Southland much more attractive than Auckland to any enterprises where electricity costs were significant.

Southland has the labour, a variety or raw materials, good transport options and finance is reasonably mobile. It might be further from many markets but much cheaper power could well compensate for that.

So much power is generated in the south, far less will be needed down here without the smelter. This is an opportunity to ensure it stays here and southerners get lower prices to benefit households and the businesses that could soak up at least some of the workers left jobless when the smelter closes.

But what’s the chances of cheaper electric power for the south when political power is in the north?


Blue cover for red Budget

14/05/2020

The cover of the Budget features a photo of Lake Pukaki.

The irony is that the lake is part of the Upper Waitaki Hydro Scheme, the like of which would be very unlikely to happen again and definitely wouldn’t under this government.

Also ironic is that the primary color is blue when the Budget is full of red ink and red prescriptions which are sadly lacking in a vision for the growth which is so desperately needed.

 


Mixed messages

06/12/2019

The government is sending mixed messages on fuel prices.

It’s imposed a carbon tax as part of its climate change strategy while it’s also criticising fuel companies for charging too much.

In doing the latter they are conveniently ignoring the fact that nearly half of the cost of fuel at the pumps is tax.


Westpower hydro decision shows need for better process

30/08/2019

The government’s decision to stop the Westpower Hydro scheme shows the urgent need for a better consenting process:

“The cancellation of the Westpower hydro scheme concession under the Conservation Act after years of community engagement has significant implications for the review of the resource management system that is about to commence and underlines the need for an improved system for planning consents,” says Paul Blair, the new CEO for Infrastructure New Zealand.

“Westpower, the locally owned electricity distributer and generator for Westland, had hoped to build a 20 MW hydro scheme on the Waitaha river on the South Island’s West Coast.

“The scheme would have improved resilience of electricity supply, was aligned with national carbon reduction priorities and would have injected millions of dollars into a part of the country whose traditional industries are under significant pressure.

An old joke asks: what do conservationists do if they see and endangered bird eating a threatened plant?

In this case conservation decided the natural beauty of the river trumped the need for renewable energy which gives credence to those opposed to declarations of climate emergencies.

“But it also would have reduced water flows along a pristine river, impacting recreational activities, and impacted the natural character of the area.

“This was always going to be a difficult decision, but the fact that a local company spent millions of dollars before a line call from a Cabinet Minister cancelled the proposal shows how tenuous and uncertain the consenting process is in New Zealand.

Is it any wonder we have such low productivity when so much time and money is wasted like this?

“Though this was a Conservation Act process, this is an excellent case study for the RMA review panel chaired by retired court of appeal judge Tony Randerson.

“How do we develop a system to optimally trade off the wider social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits of a proposal versus negative environmental effects?

“How do we balance local aspirations to grow and prosper against national objectives to retain areas of national significance?

“How do we provide guidance or accelerate decision making so that economic and social uncertainty, waste and frustration are mitigated, along with environmental impacts?

“In a better system, the need to expand renewable energy supply would have been part of a coordinated regional plan for Westland, led by the region, supported by central government, iwi and local communities, and linked to a wider programme designed to enhance regional wellbeing.

“National concerns about the significance of the Waitaha river would have been tackled through a collaborative planning process and either the effects mitigated or alternatives developed.

“That would have saved everyone a lot of time and cost and instead of wondering ‘what next?’ Westland would now be implementing an agreed strategy to lift incomes and improve the environment,” Blair says. 

Conservation concerns have stopped mining and forestry on the West Coast, now they’ve stopped the hydro project which could have provided jobs, renewable energy and energy security.

Whether or not the decision is the right one, the long and expensive process that preceded it is wrong and must be addressed through RMA reform.

 


Smartphone saves 444 watts

20/07/2019

Our home has a lot of things that weren’t invented when I was a child and many of them use power.

But while we have a lot more electrical gadgets, the one that fits in our pocket or purse, has replaced lots of others.

 


Energy use unsustainable with renewables

29/09/2018

Current trends of energy use won’t be sustainable when New Zealand relies only on renewable energy:

. . . Energy Research Centre co-director Michael Jack said the infrastructure and market structures needed to change.

“Wind is variable. It’s only generating when the wind blows.

“Solar is generating during the middle of the day, when there’s less demand for it.

Hydro generation is more reliable, except when droughts decrease river flows, but the chances of getting new hydro schemes through the consent process are remote.

“What you need to do is either shift your demand to those time when the renewables are being produced or somehow store those renewables for use at later times,” he said. . . 

Improved technology could provide better storage, but is unlikely to come up with something affordable in the near future.

He said if changes were not made, the switch to completely renewable energy would be costly.

Of course it will be costly and that will hit poorer people hardest.

This is another reminder of how ill-advised the government was to rush into the ban on oil and gas exploration.

Apropos of which, this week we learned that not only did the government rush into the ban, it’s also going to be rushing the select committee process:

PEPANZ says it is undemocratic and deeply unfair for the select committee considering changes to oil and gas legislation to have its consultation period slashed to just four weeks.

“Given the strong public interest and enormous ramifications of this decision, it’s crucial this process isn’t rushed,” says PEPANZ CEO Cameron Madgwick.

“Our industry doesn’t want a Block Offer this year if it means an undemocratic process. This means there should be no reason now for urgency.

“There has already been a shocking lack of consultation since the surprise announcement was made in April. To now slash the consultation time doesn’t seem fair, open or transparent to the communities, workers, and iwi directly affected.

“Given some of the outrageous comments from relevant MPs in the debate tonight, we have little confidence in a fair hearing from the Environment Select Committee. This is especially so in such a short timeframe which gives so little time for MPs to consider evidence and write a properly informed report.

“The legislative changes in the bill involves serious economic and environmental issues and go even further than expected. There needs to be proper scrutiny of the impacts through a normal four to six month select committee process.

“The entire process has been a disgrace with no warning, no consultation and the Government trashing their own expert advice on the devastating impacts of this policy.”

Why the rush?

Because the decision is made and the government has no wish to hear the facts submitters will put up to prove the economic, environmental and social damage the ban will do.

 

 

 


Emissions reduction project first victim

26/09/2018

The government’s misguided ban on off-shore oil and gas exploration has claimed its first victim:

The government’s proposed ban on new offshore exploration looks likely to halt plans by Methanex for a $100 million-plus emissions reduction project at its Motunui plant.

The company uses natural gas to make methanol and had been considering a project to recover and re-use CO2 from its production processes in order to reduce emissions per tonne of product.

But that project is now unlikely to proceed due to uncertainty about the longevity of affordable gas supplies in New Zealand, says John Kidd, director of sector research at Woodward Partners.

“This is a project that should have been an absolute slam-dunk,” he said. “It’s good for emissions, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for gas continuity.”

Unlike the ban which is bad for emissions, bad for the economy and bad for gas continuity.

Vancouver-based Methanex is the world’s biggest methanol maker and the biggest gas user in New Zealand.

Methanex New Zealand declined to comment on the emissions reduction project. In July it said it had secured sufficient gas to meet half its New Zealand requirements through to 2029, but noted its disappointment with the exploration ban which it said would impact it long-term.

Kidd said carbon dioxide recovery would be a good project, but it required a long pay-back period. Methanex refurbishes its production trains every five years and the uncertainty the government policy change has created means it would struggle to justify investments needing more than five to 10 years to pay off.

Kidd says it is an example of the environmental costs of the proposed ban, which he believes is more likely to increase emissions than reduce them.

The potential for carbon leakage as New Zealand-made products are replaced with products made overseas is “absolutely real”, he said. The fact the coalition is proceeding with the ban shows the government is more focused on shutting down the country’s oil and gas sector earlier than would have been the case, rather than reducing emissions.

“All of the scenarios are negative – some of them dramatically so,” Kidd told BusinessDesk.

“And the policy objective of reducing emissions is actually worse.” . .

If the policy was going to have a positive environmental impact it might, just might, be justified but it will make emissions worse.

Oil and gas account for just over half the country’s primary energy supplies. Kidd noted that gas – produced as methanol – brings in more than $1 billion in exports. When converted to urea it displaces about $200 million of imported product, while locally produced LPG displaces about $200 million of imported fuel.

The ban loses billions in foregone income, will lead to job losses, will increase emissions and reduce fuel security.

It combines rank stupidity with political posturing at a high environmental, financial and social cost.


Fueling inflation

22/05/2018

The headline said As fuel prices hit record high, govt mulls tax cut.

That was in India.

Prices are high in New Zealand too but the tax will be going up.

The AA’s weekly fuel price report last week noted:

Another increase in fuel prices, the second in a week, this time led by Z, with all fuels up 4 cents per litre. This brings the ‘national’ price of 91 octane to $2.30/litre, the highest price ever recorded – in nominal terms that is; as we note below, we’ve paid much more in real terms when you adjust for inflation. Plus the tax on petrol has now broken through the $1/litre barrier. And all this before Auckland Council is due to introduce a 10cpl regional fuel tax in July, and the Government a 3-4cpl increase in petrol excise later this year.

Why have prices risen 23cpl in the last 2 months? International refined commodity prices have risen over 16% since the last price cut in February due mostly to geopolitics, while the NZ dollar has fallen nearly 5c against the US$.

Petrol tax is already more than $1 a litre. It will go up three to four cents for all of us later in the year and Aucklanders will face another 10 cent/litre tax from their council.

It’s hard enough accepting more than $1 in fuel tax when it was going on roads. It will be even harder to swallow when it’s going to be spent on public transport in Auckland.

The government has been telling us about how it’s helping the poor.

With fuel prices rising and tax on top of that, they will be giving with one hand and taking with the other.

Everything we buy is transported. If the fuel price rises so will everything else and that will fuel inflation and it’s always the poor who are hardest hit by that.


Anti-oil greenwash adds costs for no gain

13/04/2018

A friend who has a horticulture business estimates the government’s ban on further offshore oil and gas exploration will add around half a million dollars a year to his costs of production.

That comes on top of a similar amount more he’ll be paying for labour with the increases to the minimum wage.

He might be able to absorb some of the increased costs but will have to pass on at least some of the increase.

Food in New Zealand is already expensive. Government policies will make it even more expensive and will also lead to job losses.

Adding extra costs for green wash is economic vandalism for no environmental gain.

The Government’s decision to ban gas and petroleum exploration is economic vandalism that makes no environmental sense, National MPs Jonathan Young and Todd Muller says.

“This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high paying jobs and $2.5 billion for the economy,” Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“Without exploration there will be no investment in oil and gas production or the downstream industries. That means significantly fewer jobs.

“This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.

“Gas is used throughout New Zealand to ensure security of electricity supply to every home in New Zealand. Our current reserves will last less than ten years – when they run out we will simply have to burn coal instead, which means twice the emissions.

“The Government says that existing wells will continue but that’s code for winding the sector down.

Climate Change Spokesperson Todd Muller says the decision makes no sense – environmentally or economically – because less gas production means more coal being burnt and higher carbon emissions.

“Many overseas countries depend on coal for energy production. Those CO2 emissions would halve if they could switch to natural gas while they transition to renewable energy.

“By stopping New Zealand’s gas exploration we are turning our backs on an opportunity to help reduce global emissions while providing a major economic return to improve our standard of living and the environment.

“We need to reduce global CO2 emissions. But there is no need to put an entire industry and thousands of New Zealanders’ jobs at risk.”

Mr Young says the Government’s decision today is another blow to regional New Zealand, and Taranaki in particular.

“It comes hot on the heels of big decisions that reduce roading expenditure, cancel irrigation funding, and discourage international investment in the regions.

“This is simply Jacinda Ardern destroying an industry in the cause of a political slogan pushed by Greenpeace.”

You can sign a petition against this economic vandalism for no economic gain here.

When oil and gas are mentioned, we think of fuel for vehicles.

But oil isn’t just used for fuel.

Filling up at the gas station is certainly one of the ways to use oil that is most familiar to us. But guess what: of all the oil we use, only 43 per cent goes to fueling our cars.

Given this, can we seriously consider ending our “dependence on oil”, as some would suggest? Someone who wants to stop using oil will have to say goodbye to smart phones, ballpoint pens, candlelight, clothing made of synthetic fibers, glasses, toothpaste, tires (including those on bicycles), and thousands of other products made from plastic, a petroleum derivative.

Good luck with that program.

Problem is, the anti-oil discourse so demonized this resource that we came to forget the many benefits conferred by its use. Oil and its derivatives have improved living conditions in Western industrialized societies, as the list quoted above quite clearly demonstrates, but also worldwide. In Africa, for example, earthenware jars used to transport water have been replaced by plastic jars, which are much lighter, providing some relief to women who have to carry out this task.

What’s more, some of these products shaping everyday life are designed locally. That’s the case for Eska water bottles or Kraft mayonnaise recipients, manufactured in Montreal. So much so that a high-technology sector has emerged around Montreal refineries over the years, providing quality jobs for more than 3,600 workers. . . 

Like other greenwash, the anti-oil movement has gained traction based on half-truths and emotion.

Like other greenwash, the government’s decision to ban offshore exploration will come at a high economic and social cost with no environmental gain.

Like other green wash the ban is about doing something, not doing the right thing,


O&G exploration ban greenwash

12/04/2018

The government’s decision to stop offshore oil and gas exploration is nothing but greenwash.

National Opposition energy and resources spokesman Jonathan Young said the decision had come without any consultation with industry.

“The Government had promised to consult but have now made an abrupt decision to stop any new offshore exploration,” he said. 

New Zealand has only about 10 years supply of gas reserves left, he said.

“So in 10 years time we will be buying imported gas to fire up the barbecue,” he said.

Young said 20 per cent of nationwide electricity generation depended on gas.

“What will replace gas as the demand for more electricity rose with electric vehicles and we don’t have enough renewables.

“It will be coal – good one Government.”

This move will do nothing to reduce the use of oil and gas in New Zealand or elsewhere.

It will just mean importing oil and gas from elsewhere. That will be more expensive and worse for the environment.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom called the decision a “kick in the guts” for the Taranaki economy.

The industry provided directly and indirectly up to 7000 jobs in the region.

“It was a kick in the guts for the long term future of the Taranaki economy and urgent work was needed on a plan to maintain Taranaki’s position as the provincial powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy,” he said. . .

Any gain from the projects which got money from the Provincial Growth Fund last week will be more than cancelled out by the jobs lost in the oil and gas industry and those who service and supply it.

This policy is economic sabotage for no environmental gain from a government long on rhetoric and virtue signaling and very short on reason.

 

 


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