If it’s really a crisis . . .

10/09/2021

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is denying accusations of hypocrisy for his decision to fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 conference on climate change:

The Green Party refused to attend Parliament while Wellington was still at alert level 4 on Tuesday last week.

Shaw at the time had said there was a perfectly serviceable option that would enable MPs to work from home – Parliament via teleconferencing software Zoom – and politicians should be modelling the health advice to stay home. He said the party was reluctant to be returning to the House even at alert level 3.

“I think it’s absolutely irresponsible, I mean it literally risks people’s lives by holding an in-person Parliament,” Shaw said. . .

That was last week in New Zealand.

The conference is a couple of months away in Glasgow, one of the UK’s Covid-19 hotspots.

Shaw will be have to quarantine on his return, taking an MIQ spot away from people who are desperate to return to New Zealand. If staff are going they too will take MIQ spots from people who anyone with a heart would acknowledge had far greater need of them.

National’s climate change spokesman has turned down an invitation to attend.

Covid-19 has meant that New Zealanders have had to sacrifice a great deal. They have missed funerals, weddings, births, and all manner of other special moments, National’s Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“It seems a no-brainer to me that now is not the time for me to be jetting over to the other side of the world for a conference, no matter how important the subject. That is why I have made the decision not to attend the 26th Conferences of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow this year.

“The Climate Change Minister James Shaw asked me if I was interested in attending COP 26 in Glasgow some time ago and I indicated that I was interested subject to the details and the circumstances at the time.

“Given I would be required to spend two weeks in MIQ when I returned, taking up a valuable spot that I know Kiwis overseas are desperate for, I could not justify the trip.

“I note Minister Shaw was vocal about the public health risk he considered Parliament sitting in Level 3 and 4 to be. One would think international travel in a pandemic would present a greater risk.

“The COP has been run by the United Nations for nearly thirty years and brings together people from all nations for a global climate summit. It is a worthwhile event and I look forward to hearing of the discussions second-hand.

“Since G20 was conducted online, it is disappointing that a climate change conference run by the United Nations would not also offer online engagement.

“I feel missing out on this particular event, while disappointing, pales compared to the sacrifices made by so many of my fellow New Zealanders.”

The greater hypocrisy isn’t Shaw’s going to Glasgow when he made a fuss about going to Wellington and applies not just to him but to all the people who are flying to Scotland for the conference. It’s that it’s an in-person meeting not a virtual one.

If they want us to take their claims of a climate crisis seriously, they must lead by example.

It doesn’t matter how many trees the conference-goers pledge to plant to offset their emissions, by flying a combined total of many, many thousands of kilometres they’re telling us to do as they say not as they do.

The truly green way to discuss the issue is to have a virtual conference. It worked for APEC, it would work for COP26 and it would show us that they are taking their claims of a climate crisis as seriously as they are exhorting us to.


Rural round-up

06/02/2021

Climate change: farmers should remain calm – Todd Muller:

National’s trade spokesman Todd Muller has advice for Kiwi farmers who may be concerned by the Climate Change report – remain calm.

“I think farmers in New Zealand should take a deep breath,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

The draft advice, released yesterday by the Climate Change Commission, said New Zealand would need to cut livestock numbers by around 15 per cent, halt conventional car imports, decarbonise the energy sector and move Kiwis into electric vehicles – all within 14 years.

In order to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets, the report also suggested an end to coal heating and more forestry. . . 

Climate change report: Focus on tourism not farming – Jim Hopkins:

If the government was serious about climate change it would curb tourism rather than agriculture, rural commentator Jim Hopkins says.

“They would say tourism’s off the table. Not for 12 months, but for 12 years – or longer – until the planet’s cooled down and we’re all happy again,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Last week research showed that New Zealand dairy was the most emissions efficient in the world, something that the government should be promoting, rather than trying to reduce, Hopkins said.

He also disagreed with the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on New Zealand cutting livestock numbers by 15 per cent to reach its ambitious greenhouse gas targets. . . 

Why open farm days matter – Daniel Eb:

Tell our story. That’s a line we hear a lot in farming these days. It’s supposed to be the way that rural New Zealand reconnects with urban Kiwis. How we bridge the divide. But as a marketing guy, I’m not so sure.

Farmer’s stories are everywhere. This very paper is full of them, Country Calendar’s ratings are unbeatable and the NZ Farming Facebook page is one of the country’s largest.

But it’s not enough.

To genuinely connect with people, to make the things that are important to you important to them, farmer storytelling needs to go offline. Videos, news articles and social media play an important role, but they can’t change behaviour alone. . . 

Ngāti Kahungunu joins Ngāi Tahu freshwater court action:

Two powerful iwi, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu, both of the Tākitimu waka, have joined forces in legal proceedings against the Crown.

Ngāti Kahungunu, the country’s third largest iwi, is working with Ngāi Tahu to have the tribe’s rangatiratanga over freshwater recognised, including the Mohaka River in Hawke’s Bay.

Ngāti Kahungunu, like Ngāi Tahu, has seen the traditional waterways and water bodies in its rohe degraded over time through government inaction, overallocation, and lack of environmental protections, including the 2016 Havelock North waterborne disease outbreak. . . 

Sustainably produced beef patties to become new normal:

It’s possible to produce a beef patty sustainably across the supply chain in New Zealand, a year-long trial has shown.

Key players in the red meat industry partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund to develop a model for producing independently verified sustainable beef through the entire supply chain. The project aimed to help meet the growing demand for ethically sourced and sustainable products.

“The project showed that New Zealand can do this, and the model can be scaled up – so this really is an encouraging milestone,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director Investment Programmes. “It provides transparency to customers and the public in a way that hasn’t been possible before.” . . 

DIY shearing seen by some farmers as a quick-fix to shortage – Chris McLennan:

A move by some farmers to cut through the shearer shortage by doing the work themselves has been described as a Band-Aid.

Shearing equipment suppliers from around the country are fielding increased calls from woolgrowers chasing gear with electric handpieces, cutters and combs the popular pick.

Industry leaders say the move is unsurprising given the shortage of shearers, chiefly caused by the loss of New Zealand shearers through the pandemic.

But those same leaders say the pandemic has exposed the industry’s shortcomings. . . 


Policy costs > problem costs

29/12/2020

Bjorn Lomborg, in a peer-reviewed article explains that policies supposed to counter climate change will cost more than climate change:

Climate change is real and its impacts are mostly negative, but common portrayals of devastation are unfounded. Scenarios set out under the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) show human welfare will likely increase to 450% of today’s welfare over the 21st century. Climate damages will reduce this welfare increase to 434%.

Arguments for devastation typically claim that extreme weather (like droughts, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes) is already worsening because of climate change. This is mostly misleading and inconsistent with the IPCC literature. For instance, the IPCC finds no trend for global hurricane frequency and has low confidence in attribution of changes to human activity, while the US has not seen an increase in landfalling hurricanes since 1900. Global death risk from extreme weather has declined 99% over 100 years and global costs have declined 26% over the last 28 years.

Arguments for devastation typically ignore adaptation, which will reduce vulnerability dramatically. While climate research suggests that fewer but stronger future hurricanes will increase damages, this effect will be countered by richer and more resilient societies. Global cost of hurricanes will likely decline from 0.04% of GDP today to 0.02% in 2100.

Climate-economic research shows that the total cost from untreated climate change is negative but moderate, likely equivalent to a 3.6% reduction in total GDP.

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢.

Long-term impacts of climate policy can cost even more. The IPCC’s two best future scenarios are the “sustainable” SSP1 and the “fossil-fuel driven” SSP5. Current climate-focused attitudes suggest we aim for the “sustainable” world, but the higher economic growth in SSP5 actually leads to much greater welfare for humanity. After adjusting for climate damages, SSP5 will on average leave grandchildren of today’s poor $48,000 better off every year. It will reduce poverty by 26 million each year until 2050, inequality will be lower, and more than 80 million premature deaths will be avoided.

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.

More effective climate policies can help the world do better. The current climate discourse leads to wasteful climate policies, diverting attention and funds from more effective ways to improve the world. . . .

The cries for people to accept the science on climate change are loud.

But the voices of those who seek to apply science to solutions are drowned out by politics and bureaucracy which is why the policy costs exceed those of the problem.


Rural round-up

13/12/2020

Totara could be part of the water quality answer:

Tōtara oil and milk might seem strange companions – but a project currently under way could one day see both become products emanating from dairy farms.

The pairing is just one option that could stem from a project looking at productive riparian buffers – native and/or exotic planting that can not only promote better water quality in New Zealand waterways but also create new income streams for farmers.

“We know riparian planting benefits the environment by reducing nutrient losses into farm waterways,” says Electra Kalaugher, senior land and water management specialist at DairyNZ. “However, riparian planting can often mean a loss of productive land for farmers.

“Productive riparian buffers are different – and the project is exploring new and existing plant product options and their ability to deliver environmental, social, cultural and financial benefits.” .

Top RWNZ award for shearer – Annette Scott:

A competitive and world record-holding shearer, Sarah Higgins’ passion for shearing has earned her a top award at the NZI Rural Women NZ 2020 Business Awards. She talked with Annette Scott.

SARAH Higgins’ Marlborough-based shearing business breaks all the stereotypes of how a shearing crew might look and behave.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” Higgins said.

And, it was her passion and commitment to harness her love of the land that has her Higgins Shearing business now firmly rooted in its local community. . . 

 

Farming through the generations – Colin Williscroft:

Members of Guy Bell’s family have been farming in Hawke’s Bay for five generations, with his sons making it six. Colin Williscroft reports.

The Bells are a family that farms four properties across Hawke’s Bay, from the Central Hawke’s Bay coast to the foothills of the Ruahines.

Guy Bell is the fifth generation of his family on his mother’s side to farm in the area, and the second on his father’s side.

He has two brothers and a sister who also farm in the district. . . 

Cut flower farming grew after few seeds planted – Mark Price:

Anna Mackay, of Spotts Creek Station in the Cardrona Valley, has diversified into cut flowers. She described to Mark Price her experiences so far.

During a family holiday in Matakana a few years back, I purchased a book called The Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein, of Floret Farms, in the United States, and I was totally inspired by her story.

In my past life, I have owned a florist’s shop, have been heavily involved with interior design, worked alongside Annabel Langbein as her prop stylist during her ‘‘free-range cook series’’ and, in later years, operated an event-styling company, Barefoot Styling, with good friend Sarah Shore.

When the younger of our two sons started school in September 2016 I wanted to slow my life down. . . 

Sowing the seeds of success :

Rangiora’s Luisetti Seeds’ warehouses, seed clearing facilities and silos are a constant reminder to locals of the town’s long agricultural history.

The family business was established by Vincent Luisetti in 1932 and while it may be 88 years old, the company is in expansion-mode and is investing in state-of-the art seed cleaning technology.

Edward Luisetti, Vincent’s grandson and Luisetti Seeds managing director says the company is in the process of installing the highest capacity ryegrass and cereal seed cleaning facility outside of America. It will be located in Ashburton.

The machinery has been purchased from Germany and initially, Covid delays put a spanner in the works. . . 

Are cows getting a bad rap when it comes to climate change? – Stu McNish:

A leading climate scientist, Myles Allen, believes the effect of cattle on climate change has been overstated.

“The traditional way of accounting for methane emissions from cows overstates the impact of a steady herd by a factor of four.”

That’s a problem, says Allen. “If we are going to set these very ambitious goals to stop global warming, then we need to have accounting tools that are fit for purpose. … The errors distort cows’ contributions — both good and bad — and, in doing so, give CO2 producers a free pass on their total GHG contribution.”

Allen is a heavyweight in climate circles. The BBC described him as the physicist behind Net Zero. In 2005, he proposed global carbon budgets and in 2010, he received the Appleton medal and prize from the Institute of Physics for his work in climate sciences. . .


Rural round-up

03/11/2020

50 Shades of Green disappointed James Shaw retains Climate Change portfolio:

The conservation group 50 Shades of Green is disappointed that James Shaw has retained his climate change portfolio.

“While we have nothing against Mr Shaw personally, we believe the portfolio needs a fresh perspective,” 50 Shades of Green chair Any Scott said.

“We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and planting good farmland in trees while we extol the virtue of protecting and increasing our biodiversity.

“It’s nothing more than a feel-good factor and will achieve nothing positive. We’ll continue to pollute, and the climate will continue to get warmer. . . 

China has vowed to cut its reliance on foreign food imports. What could that mean for NZ agricultural exports? – James Fyfe:

With China vowing to cut its reliance on foreign food imports in the coming years, experts say while New Zealand exporters shouldn’t start worrying just yet, they should start thinking ahead and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Leaders from the world’s second-biggest economy met earlier this week to lay out a five-year plan for the country. Among the priorities identified was to have a “lower reliance on foreign suppliers for strategic products such as food, energy, semiconductors and other key technologies,” the Associated Press reported.

With China a massive buyer of New Zealand agricultural exports, more self-reliance could have a direct impact on farmers and growers here.

Trade expert Charles Finny, a former senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says China is an “enormously important market” for New Zealand, twice the size of our next-largest market, Australia.  . . 

Alliance weathers the year’s many challenges – Sally Rae:

It is more important than ever for Alliance Group to invest in Southland in the wake of uncertainty over the future of Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The company was committed to Southland and it had spent significant money at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, in the last couple of years, Mr Surveyor said.

That included spending $12.5million to install the latest processing technology — including new generation primal cutters, middles and fores technology — a major engine room upgrade, and reconfiguration of its venison plant so it could also process beef . . 

New Zealand’s little-told Far North wild horses story :

In 2012 Kelly Wilson’s family saved 12 Kaimanawa horses from slaughter and then two years later they had their TV  show Keeping up with the Kaimanawas when they successfully tamed another 12.

Kelly appeared on the TV series with her sisters, Vicky and Amanda, and has also written four best-selling books about horses.

An adventurer who “loves anything to do with an adrenalin rush”, she enjoys ice climbing, scuba diving and snow boarding wherever she is in the world.

“But a lot of my time now is invested into wild horses and both photographing them in the wild and then taming them first-hand and then writing the books about them.”   . . 

Swings and roundabouts – in defence of animal source foods :

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or?

It seems the religion of old is out the door in favour of belonging and identifying with a food camp, whether it be vegan, plant-based whole food, carnivore, flexitarian, keto or paleo, and it seems there are some people who sit in judgement of those who don’t adhere to their food religion. However, the food agnostics amongst us don’t want to jump on this bandwagon, and quietly prefer to not put a label on it, and simply follow a balanced diet. 

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or? . . .

Mountain Blue Orchards grows from farm and nursery to a globally integrated business – Michelle Hespe:

With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they’ve adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Ridley Bell of Mountain Blue Orchards is considered the grandfather of Australia’s blueberry industry.

By becoming the 2010 NSW Farmer of the Year he feels he was also put on the map for other farmers and for the horticulture industry in general.

“The awards opened up whole series of different networks and supports,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

20/07/2020

New apple ‘Dazzles’ Chinese consumers :

New Zealand’s largest organic apple producer says it cannot keep up with the Chinese demand for New Zealand’s newest apple, Dazzle.

Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says Dazzle is the best apple he has ever grown organically in his 30 years of growing organic apples.

“Without any doubt, I believe this is the best apple since the worldwide domination of New Zealand Royal Gala. It looks and tastes amazing, it’s bright red and sweet and it also yields and packs well.”

It’s the first year the company has had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle apples available for Chinese retailers.   . .

Nats hit the rural hustings – Mark Daniel:

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum.

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed.  . .

Honey business finds sweet spot – Colin Williscroft:

When James Annabell’s budding rugby career wasn’t quite going the way he hoped the former Taranaki Bulls hooker put his drive into honey, which has led to the development of a multimillion dollar business, as Colin Williscroft reports.

James Annabell was back in Taranaki on a break from playing rugby in Hong Kong when the chance that changed his life came along.

He’d already tried a law degree in Wellington and played rugby for Taranaki from 2006 to 2008.

But there was no regional contract on offer the following year so he went to Hong Kong and Germany to continue with rugby. . . 

Adventure, experience affords view of pig picture – George Clark:

From his travels and experience in pig farming, Ian Jackson knew he was going to breed pigs in the open air.

A Scot by birth, he was brought up on a pig and poultry farm in the UK. Uninterested in poultry, he specialised in pigs at Usk Agricultural College.

After working in the UK pig industry, he was eager to see the world and set off on an adventure with a tent on his back, wandering across Europe and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jackson met Kiwi wife Linda 21 years ago this month. She had never lived on a farm and did not know anything about pigs. . . 

Food service finds new pathway – Hugh Stringleman:

A refreshed strategy for its food service business is being introduced by Fonterra to counter the disruption caused by covid-19 to eating out in restaurants and hotels.

Food service revenue is bouncing back, especially in the number one market of China, but positioning has changed, Asia and the Pacific chief executive Judith Swales told a webinar for Fonterra shareholders.

Covid-19 has accelerated trends already apparent in the market like more home cooking, outsourcing in food preparation, more home delivery and investment in digital and contactless technologies. . .

Planting trees to fight climate change ‘ not best strategy’ :

Mass tree planting to mitigate climate change is ‘not always the best strategy’ – with some experimental sites failing to increase carbon stocks, researchers say.

Four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland was analysed as part of a new study involving UK scientists.

They found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage.

The team found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil. . . 


Not the time for contentious legislation

07/04/2020

The government is, rightly, expecting the opposition to support it through the lockdown.

In return it ought to hold back on contentious legislation.

Instead we have this:

The Government is using Parliament’s select committee process to sneak climate change provisions into the Resource Management Act, National’s RMA spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“A recently-released report by the Environment Select Committee recommends several changes to the Resource Management Amendment Bill, including provisions for climate change considerations in RMA decisions.

“These late changes are an abuse of the select committee process because they were made after public feedback was called for, meaning submitters have not had the opportunity to properly consider the new bill.

“The climate change considerations were not in the original bill, and it appears only some of the people who submitted were aware of them.

“The amended bill also gives submitters the right to cross-examine each other during RMA applications. This would significantly increase the time and cost of hearings.

“The Government’s expert review panel is likely to recommend significant reform when it reports back in May so it makes no sense to proceed with these changes now.

“Last week, Environment Minister David Parker said he was working on ways to improve the speed and certainty of consenting. This bill will have the opposite effect.” 

Could there be a worse time to add such contentious provisions to the Bill?

Now is not the time to be adding contentious, expensive and time-consuming hurdles to the RMA.

Now of all times, the government should understand the need to relook at everything that could hamper the recovery.

When the lock down is over we’ll be facing a new, and much poorer, normal. We need to be reducing red tape and simplifying regulations not adding to it and complicating them.


Water, water . . .

12/02/2020

We had around 70mms of rain last week – it was welcome for both the timing and amount.

For once North Otago has been blessed with enough but not too much, unlike Southland which was inundated and further north which is suffering from drought.

This photo, taken a week before the rain, shows the difference irrigation makes:

Without irrigation, all of the district would have looked like the hillside in the background, and had it not been for last week’s rain, we’d have been facing drought.

While nothing beats water from above, dry weather here doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to.

Before we had widespread irrigation the district lurched from one drought to the next, playing catch-up in the good years but never making progress.

Enough of the district now has irrigation which allows grass and crop growth in dry weather and gives opportunities for people on dry land to buy feed or grazing or to sell stock to those who have water.

It’s drought-proofed farms and created more jobs on farms and in town.

Many other districts aren’t so blessed.

Large areas of the country are now facing drought and don’t have the option to irrigate. But many places could if there was more water storage.

If predictions of dry weather caused by climate change prove to be right we should be investing in more dams to store water when there’s an excess to use when it’s dry.

It has economic, environmental and social benefits, not just for farms but for towns and cities which are facing water restrictions now as they wait for rain.


Petition against preaching

17/01/2020

Federated Farmers has launched a petition seeking to have the government’s climate change teaching resource withdrawn until it’s corrected:

The Ministry of Education has made a new Climate Change resource available to teachers on the Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website. This is not compulsory but is a ready-made unit of work designed to be picked up and taught by teachers. The “Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow” unit has significant information missing which would provide important context about New Zealand’s emissions, it makes food choice recommendations that are not supported from a health perspective, it refers to overly simplistic and inaccurate messaging, it refers students and teachers to websites that are not intended for primary school age students and/or are not appropriate for the NZ context, and it encourages activism. In its current form it is not appropriate for use by teachers in classrooms.

Some of the content is scientific but some is inappropriate, simplistic and/or simply wrong.

The resource is also incomplete. It covers the risks with nothing about the remedies that could be available through innovation and technology.

It’s not unlike telling children they will all get diabetes without giving them reliable nutritional information and informing them about insulin.

Sign this petition to demand that the “Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow” is removed from the TKI website (and any other distribution forms) until such as time as it has been reviewed and amended to ensure completeness, accuracy, and relevance to the NZ context. In particular:
1. Provide information about the short-lived nature of methane in the atmosphere, and the difference between emissions and warming
2. Provide context around NZs agriculture emissions which are largely methane based
3. Encourage critical assessment of “food miles” and “buy local” messaging which is often simplistic and inaccurate
4. Remove suggestions around food choices, beyond “avoid waste”
5. Remove teaching of activism
6. Ensure all material is age appropriate and relevant for the NZ context

Education should be encouraging children to think not stirring up feelings of hopelessness.

Teachers should be encouraging pupils to investigate, question and problem solve, not inciting them to activism.

And schools should be teaching not preaching.


Need right response

16/01/2020

Climate change agitation started on the left.

Some of it was driven by genuine concern for the environment. Some had, and still has, a wider anti-capitalist political agenda.

Climate change is now an issue that spans the political spectrum but most response is still shaped by the left with its usual recipe of less of this here and more tax on that there.

Ironically, given climate change activists’ demands to accept the science, a lot of the response does not follow the science.

Much of the response is also simplistic and does not take into account all the costs and consequences of prescribed actions nor does it follow the prescription for sustainability which requires a balance of economic, environmental and social concerns.

The teaching resource on climate change issued by the Ministry of Education exemplifies this, mixing misinformation and preaching with the science and teaching.

There is a huge opportunity here for the right to promote a much more positive response that will counter the eco-pessimism and provide real solutions with technology and innovation.

That is what has provided answers to problems that have beset the world in the past and that is what is needed if we’re to safeguard the health of the planet for the future.


Stuff won’t publish this

13/12/2019

50 Shades of Green:

Today we sent a piece to stuff in response to an opinion piece written by Green Peace. Thanks but no thanks to our views, so what better place to post it, than to our facebook group.

We’d like to respond to the opinion piece published in Stuff 7th December 2019 written by the Greenpeace agricultural campaigner, or as it reads anti agricultural campaigner, trying to further demonise the ag industry (https://www.stuff.co.nz/…/agricultures-role-in-getting-to-z…)

Gen Toop writes as if she thinks New Zealand farmers are sitting on their hands in the race to mitigate global warming waiting for a mythical solution, she is offbeat in that view. While it’s true the industry continues to look to technology to innovate and improve, she has highlighted something that needs to be understood about the way we grow animal proteins for the world.

Agriculture in general is nowhere near as harmful to the climate as is often described and New Zealand, with our large swaths of native bush possibly contributing less to global warming than any other international producer. We wouldn’t know because not everything behind the farm gate is measured or measured accurately.

First some inconvenient truths, emissions do not necessarily result in global warming. As we now know from multiple government reports our methane emissions only need to be reduced by a minuscule 0.3 percent per year to avoid further warming. This is because once stock numbers have stabilised for around 10 years, methane decays in the atmosphere at around the same rate as it is being emitted.

The outdated GWP100 metric, which our ETS is based on, assigns methane a warming value of 28 x CO2. This is how much warming a single pulse of methane will cause over the next 100 years. Farm’s however emit a steady flow of methane over time so it is the inflow versus outflow we must measure if we want to understand our impact on warming.

According to Ministry for the Environment data, farmers have reduced their methane by 2.8 percent since 2014 putting them well on track to achieve the 10 percent by 2050 needed to remain climate neutral. Notably, Agriculture is the only sector being asked to reduce emissions below the point of zero warming and this is a direct result of the failure to properly articulate how methane effects climate

It is an absurd situation that agricultural methane accounts for 35 percent of our country’s entire emissions, yet how it is accounted for does not consider the rate it is decaying in the atmosphere. Because NZ’s methane emissions are stable the decay is equal to what is being released. It is similar to a factory planting trees to offset their Co2 emissions. Any emissions cause warming in isolation but not necessarily when measured on a net basis. Perhaps Ms Toop would like to explain why she promotes a net zero release of emissions for CO2 emitters but still finds this unacceptable for Methane?

A more accurate accounting method called GWP-we has been developed for the specific purpose of measuring the warming effect of flow methane over time. Inexplicably this option has so far been ignored, the folly of which is even more surprising given the entire objective of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures

How are farmers to measure success against this stated goal if they are not measuring the methane’s warming effect?

Add to this, the major oversight of not collecting more data on farm trees. 1.4 million ha of trees already are growing on drystock properties not presently being assessed for their annual carbon sequestration rates.

An agricultural emissions scheme should count ALL measurable offsets. Simply put, make it fair, make sure the accounting system is the correct one, make sure farmers can claim for trees annual carbon sequestration rates, and any other measurable offset so New Zealand continues to grow the most carbon efficient animal proteins in the world.

Until this is done, the likes of Greenpeace and other anti-farming campaigners will continue to use incomplete information and half-truths to criticise the industry.

Instead, let’s celebrate our industry, the day in day out work in all weathers all year round by our 46,000+ farms and celebrate the extraordinary fact that in one amazing minute every day in NZ, our country exports five and half tonnes of pastoral agricultural product generating more than $100,000 for NZ. That is almost twice the average annual income of a New Zealand household. In less than a minute the pastoral sector that works so hard for this country generates income that helps pay for a school teacher, a policeman, a nurse. Maybe that minute also makes it possible for a non farming household to take their family on a holiday, or provide their children a better education

More broadly, we all need to do some serious navel glazing rather than opining on ideology and travelling the same old road of finding someone else to blame for everybody’s problem. Let’s face it, it’s not so much the ruminants, it’s people. Here is agriculture already reducing its impacts, yet on the other hand a recently released report tells us Wellington’s vehicle emissions, have risen 12% between 2013 and 2018, and not to pick on Wellington, it’s airport also proposes to DOUBLE numbers flying into the city by 2040.

Is the keen focus on agriculture because dealing with the growth in emissions from other sectors is too close to home, and will impact individuals requiring a change their own behaviours?

Stuff has decreed that it will publish nothing that could be construed as climate change denial.

This piece from 50 Shades of Green isn’t denying climate change, it’s responding, rationally, to an opinion piece Stuff published and that in the interests of balance it ought to have published.


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.


Rural round-up

26/10/2019

The deal’s done – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers now control their emissions destiny but industry leaders warn the hard work starts here.

The Government has adopted He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment, which Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said is a good outcome for farmers.

“I hope farmers understand the importance of today,” he said.

“This is a piece of work that empowers us as a sector to put the tools in place to measure the mitigations, the sequestrations against our liabilities. 

“That’s our goal and that will drive the right behaviours.”

But now the office work is done the farm work will start. . .

Water policy stymies green work :

Hill-Country farmers will be deterred from doing environmental protection and enhancement because of limits put on land use by the proposed Essential Freshwater policies, Tararua farmers Simon and Trudy Hales say.

They believe restrictions on farmers’ ability to realise the productive potential of their land will stymie investment in environmental protection.

The couple, this year’s Supreme Award winners in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region Ballance Farm Environment Awards, estimate over the past four years they have spent about $120,000 on environmental protection on their 970ha, 819ha effective, hill country farm. . .

Taranaki farming couple reap benefit after lifetime of responsible land management – Mike Watson:

When Norton and Coral Moller decided to plant trees on a bare coastal dairy farm south of New Plymouth, the response from neighbours was disbelief.

Nearly 50 years later the retired Oakura couple are reaping the benefits.

Last month they were among 17 Taranaki Environment Award winners, for environmental leadership in dairying. . .

New Zealand’s anti-science GMO laws need to change to tackle climate change – Mia Sutherland:

If this coalition government is serious about tackling climate change and ensuring future generations are left with a prosperous planet, GMO law reform must be considered.

A poignant aspect of making a difference to New Zealand’s carbon emissions is discontinuing ‘business as usual’, meaning that the lifestyles we have founded and the way our society operates now needs to change. It’s not sustainable, and doesn’t promise the 170,000 people who took to the streets on September 27 or their children an inhabitable future.

We need to be exploring new methods, changing the way we think, and reevaluating ideas we have while taking into consideration the increasingly fast development of science. We need to reform the law about genetically modified organisms. . .

Kiwifruit pushes onto dairy land – Alan WIlliams:

Two properties destined for conversion to kiwifruit are among the few dairy farms being sold.

The farms are in the Pukehina area, east of the main kiwifruit zone at Te Puke in Bay of Plenty.

It is fringe kiwifruit land away from the main post-harvest infrastructure and indications are the buyers are already in the industry with the knowledge to make the bare-land investment, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.  . .

More Trades Academy places good news for primary sector:

The announcement of up to 4000 more trades training places in schools will help meet demand from students to learn about farming and horticulture, Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says.

The Government will fund 2000 more Trades Academy places, where secondary students combine full-time study with experience in the workplace, as well as up to 2000 Gateway places, where students have job placements along with classroom learning. The Trades Academies are across a number of sectors.

Primary ITO currently has New Zealand’s biggest Trades Academy, with approximately 830 students, and Mr Philpott says schools have asked for nearly 1100 Trades Academy places for next year. . .

Genetic engineering, CRISPR and food: What the ‘revolution’ will bring in the near future – Steven Cerier:

Humankind is on the verge of a genetic revolution that holds great promise and potential. It will change the ways food is grown, medicine is produced, animals are altered and will give rise to new ways of producing plastics, biofuels and chemicals.

Many object to the genetic revolution, insisting we should not be ‘playing God’ by tinkering with the building blocks of life; we should leave the genie in the bottle. This is the view held by many opponents of GMO foods But few transformative scientific advances are widely embraced at first. Once a discovery has been made and its impact widely felt it is impossible to stop despite the pleas of doubters and critics concerned about potential unintended consequences. Otherwise, science would not have experienced great leaps throughout history­­—and we would still be living a primitive existence


Working with better than against

25/10/2019

The government has seen sense and is accepting the primary sector’s proposal on agricultural emissions.

The agreement means agriculture will not join the Emissions Trading Scheme but instead work with the Government to reduce emissions.

There will be no processor levy from 2020 to 2025 as initially proposed but farmers and growers will have to implement farm plans and calculate their emissions and offsets at the farmgate from 2025.

A processor level would have penalised more efficient farmers and given no-one an incentive to improve.

Such a tax would have taken money from farmers, leaving them with less to invest in on-farm solutions.

Progress will be reviewed in 2022 and if the Government is unhappy it will revert to the original legislation.

That threat will hang over the sector but at least there’s breathing space.

We are pleased that the Government has recognised that it does not make sense to bring agriculture into the ETS and that we have a pathway to work with the Government to develop a more appropriate framework,” the sector said in a joint statement.

“We welcome this pragmatic and sensible decision by the Government to work in partnership with industry to achieve tangible on-farm change and hope that it might provide a blueprint for the way we work together to solve environmental challenges in the future.”

Would it be too much to hope a similar approach could be taken to water policy?

The 11-member primary sector group has committed $25m over five years to achieve these goals.

That group is Apiculture NZ, Beef + Lamb, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association, Deer Industry NZ, Federation of Maori Authorities, Foundation for Arable Research, Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ and the Meat Industry Association. . .

This shows the importance of unity and what can be achieved when working together.

It also shows the sense of government working with the sector instead of trying to impose impossible goals on it.

Federated Farmers’ response is here.

DairyNZ’s response is here.

 


Focus on right solutions

23/10/2019

Stephen Franks explains why he supports climate change investment:

An article in Forbes magazine reports on George Shultz recounting how Ronald Reagan gained a consensus to support the Montreal Protocol to combat the fluorocarbons that were thought to be creating the hole in the ozone layer. He refers to the problem of persuading people who felt there was too much uncertainty in the science.

“And then he [Reagan] did something that nobody ever does anymore,” Shultz said. “He went to the scientists who didn’t agree and put his arm around them and said, ‘We respect you, but you do agree that if it happens it’s a catastrophe, so let’s take out an insurance policy.’”

For 20 years I’ve used the same analogy in trying to counsel people who trap themselves into claiming more confidence in the “denialist” case than they can possibly justify, just because they can’t stomach the religious fervour and anti-human callousness of many climate campaigners.

I see precautionary investment against climate change as equivalent in political decision-making, to expenditure on defence. Both require spending for highly uncertain benefit. No one can know whether we genuinely have an enemy who will attack. No one can know if our precautions will be effective. Hopefully the investment will be untested. We can’t know until afterwards whether it is wasted. Yet it is rational to try, because the catastrophe could be so overwhelming if the risk matures without resilience or mitigation precautions.

But such investment remains foolish if it is unlikely reduce CO2 levels materially, or to improve New Zealand’s ability to cope if change happens nevertheless. Given NZ’s inability to affect the first, an insurance investment should focus primarily on resilience. . .

Proposed measures do the opposite.

And so we have in NZ a closing of ranks against climate “denialism”. Our elite hunts for heretics. We should instead respect those who are suspicious of compulsory ‘scientific consensus’ but ask them to join in working out what is likely to be most efficient (given we are going to spend on ‘insurance’ anyway).

It is wicked to take steps just for expansive show. The Zero Carbon Bill approach will actually increase world CO2 emissions, just not here.  So we are posturing to an indifferent global class, impoverishing ourselves (reducing resilience) and achieving as much against climate change as the Summer Palace did for the Qing dynasty and China.

It is frustrating that climate evangelists insist we accept the science on climate change but don’t follow the science on mitigation and solutions.

In doing so they are ignoring the high economic and social costs for at best little environmental gain and too often losses.

Bjorn Lomborg also writes about the need to focus on the right solutions:

As it is becoming obvious that political responses to global warming such as the Paris treaty are not working, environmentalists are urging us to consider the climate impact of our personal actions. Don’t eat meat, don’t drive a gasoline-powered car and don’t fly, they say. But these individual actions won’t make a substantial difference to our planet, and such demands divert attention away from the solutions that are needed.

Even if all 4.5 billion flights this year were stopped from taking off, and the same happened every year until 2100, temperatures would be reduced by just 0.054 degrees, using mainstream climate models — equivalent to delaying climate change by less than one year by 2100.

Nor will we solve global warming by giving up meat. Going vegetarian is difficult — one US survey shows 84 percent fail, most in less than a year. Those who succeed will only reduce their personal emissions by about 2 percent.

And electric cars are not the answer. Globally, there are just 5 million fully electric cars on the road. Even if this climbs massively to 130 million in 11 years, the International Energy Agency finds CO₂ equivalent emissions would be reduced by a mere 0.4 percent globally.

Put simply: The solution to climate change cannot be found in personal changes in the homes of the middle classes of rich countries. . .

If these changes won’t work, what will?

We must look at how we solved past major challenges — through innovation. The starvation catastrophes in developing nations in the 1960s to ’80s weren’t fixed by asking people to consume less food but through the Green Revolution in which innovation developed higher-yielding varieties that produced more plentiful food.

Similarly, the climate challenge will not be solved by asking people to use less (and more expensive) green energy. Instead, we should dramatically ramp up spending on research and development into green energy.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center asked 27 of the world’s top climate economists to examine policy options for responding to climate change. This analysis showed that the best investment is in green-energy R&D. For every dollar spent, $11 of climate damages would be avoided.

This would bring forward the day when green-energy alternatives are cheaper and more attractive than fossil fuels not just for the elite but for the entire world.

Right now, despite all the rhetoric about the importance of global warming, we are not ramping up this spending. On the sidelines of the 2015 Paris climate summit, more than 20 world leaders made a promise to double green-energy research and development by 2020. But spending has only inched up from $16 billion in 2015 to $17 billion in 2018. This is a broken promise that matters.

After 30 years of pursuing the wrong solution to climate change, we need to change the script.

The predominant script is a red one not a green one. It’s driven by an anti-capitalist political agenda.

We need to write a new one directing efforts towards research and innovation that will save the earth without imposing huge costs on the world.

 


Rural round-up

01/10/2019

The climate change blame-game:

In spite of the abuse heaped on farmers by urbanites, the causes of climate change are a town and country problem.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern undersold New Zealand when she told the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York that we were “determined to show that we can be the most sustainable food producers in the world”.

By most key measures, and even counting food miles for our exports, we already are. But that message needs amplifying.

Never mind the world stage – farmers need defending at home against the current fashion for demonising them as the prime culprits for greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. . . 

Farmers’ inner-city BBQs aim to boost urban connections, mental health – Maja Burry:

A farming group is hosting barbecues in cities around the country to try to strengthen the relationship between rural and city people.

Ag Proud, a group formed by Southland farmers, aims to promote positive farm practices and raise awareness around mental health in the farming-sector.

Dairy farmer and Ag Proud co-founder, Jon Pemberton, said a recent winter grazing campaign by environmentalists in his region and some of the stress that had created among farmers sparked the group’s formation. . . 

Celebrity chef Al Brown pledges support for NZ farmers, takes swipe at ‘urban keyboard warriors’ – Angie Skerrett:

Celebrity chef Al Brown has taken a swipe at “urban keyboard warriors” he claims criticise farmers unnecessarily.

Brown posted a message on his Facebook page pledging his support for New Zealand farmers and calling on city-dwellers to stop bagging them.

“I just want to say thank you to our farmers of New Zealand,” the Depot owner wrote.  . .

‘M. bovis’ costs $203m to date – Brent Melville:

The costs of Mycoplasma bovis to the agricultural sector continue to stack up.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says the eradication programme has cost more than $203million to date – excluding compensation to farmers.

In that respect MPI has received a total of 1450 claims with a value of $109.9million and has so far completed 1100 of those, cutting cheques to farmers valued at about $96.5million.

According to the latest figures from MPI more than 116,526 cattle and cows have been culled in just over two years since the M. bovis eradication programme was launched.

That’s getting close to initial estimates that around 126,000 animals would be culled during the course of a multi-year surveillance and eradication strategy, or around 1% of New Zealand’s cattle population. . . 

New dehorning rules are here :

New rules will require pain relief when dehorning and disbudding cattle.

From tomorrow, new rules require people working with cattle to use local anaesthetic when dehorning and disbudding.

Veterinarian and director animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says removing horns or horn buds is necessary on the farm to keep animals safe from each other, as well as for human safety.

“These regulations highlight that removal is painful and those carrying it out need to reduce the pain experienced. . . 

Wool price rebounds after dip :

After an extremely turbulent few weeks, fine-mid wool growers are breathing a sigh of relief that prices are on the mend.

The US-China trade war has been affecting demand, with factories in China feeling reluctant to buy wool to make garments they might struggle to sell.

PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager for wool Dave Burridge said at its peak three weeks ago mid-fine wool prices in New Zealand were down 50 percent compared to the same time last year, but they had now made a notable recovery, sitting about 25 percent back on 2018 levels. . .

 


Eco-anxiety exacerbated by emotion not facts

25/09/2019

Parents are being told not to terrify children over climate change:

Rising numbers of children are being treated for “eco-anxiety”, experts have said, as they warn parents against “terrifying” their youngsters with talk of climate catastrophe.

Protests by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, the recent fires in the Amazon and apocalyptic warnings by the teenage activist Greta Thunberg have prompted a “tsunami” of young people seeking help. . .

The Cold War and spectre of nuclear obliteration hung over my generation but I don’t recall being terrified by apocalyptic reporting like that which we’re getting on climate change.

A group of psychologists working with the University of Bath says it is receiving a growing volume of enquiries from teachers, doctors and therapists unable to cope.

The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) told The Daily Telegraph some children complaining of eco-anxiety have even been given psychiatric drugs.

The body is campaigning for anxiety specifically caused by fear for the future of the planet to be recognised as a psychological phenomenon.

However, they do not want it classed as a mental illness because, unlike standard anxiety, the cause of the worry is “rational”. . .

Is it rational or is the problem that a lot of the reporting in mainstream media and more so what’s spread by social media is more emotion than science?

Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg rose to global fame this year as she supported the protests by Extinction Rebellion, which brought parts of central London to a standstill.

Thurnberg argues that the EU must cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2030 to avoid an existential crisis – double the target set by the Paris Accord – while Extinction Rebellion demands the UK achieve net-zero emissions by 2025. . .

What’s the science behind those claims and more importantly where’s the science in response?

The CPA recommends a four-stage approach to explaining responsibly climate change to children without scaring them.

Parents should first gradually introduce them to the known facts, then ask them how they feel, before acknowledging that the ultimate outcome is uncertain.

Finally, parents should agree practical steps to make a difference, such as by cutting down on non-recyclable waste and choosing food with a better climate footprint. . .

Where’s the science that proves recyclable is any better than non-recyclable?

Where’s the promotion of nutrient density in the carbon footprint equation for food that, for example, proves real milk is far better than the highly processed pretenders and that New Zealand Milk is best of all?

Where’s the promotion of practices that would make a real difference?

But how can we blame psychologists for spouting solutions based on emotion not science when our own Prime Minister is making promises contradicted by her government’s policies?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit that New Zealand is “determined” to be the most sustainable food producer in the world. . .

“We are determined that New Zealand can and will play our part in the global effort,” Ms Ardern said. . .

New Zealand farming is already the most sustainable in the world.

When the Prime Minister told the United Nations (UN) she was determined for New Zealand to be the most sustainable food producer in the world, she should have realised that we already are, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The Prime Minister told the UN Climate Summit that ‘We are determined to show that New Zealand can and will be the most sustainable food producer in the world.’ When really she should have been promoting the fact that our primary sector is already the most sustainable food producer by some margin.

“New Zealand farmers have made massive gains over recent decades and continue to stay ahead of the pack in terms of efficiency and sustainability. In the last 30 years we’ve managed to produce more sheep meat from 32 per cent fewer sheep due to improvements with enhanced breeding mixes and enhanced lambing percentages.

“Our dairy products are so much more sustainable that a litre of New Zealand milk shipped to Ireland, the next most efficient producer, would still have a lower emissions profile than Irish milk produced locally.

“If the Prime Minister supported lowering emissions she would be promoting our primary sector on the world stage, and encouraging people to eat New Zealand produced food.” . . .

Playing our part in the global effort would be encouraging more food production here, not decreasing it by encouraging forestry on land best suited to pasture and other policies which would decimate farming at a high environmental, economic and social cost.

Playing our part would be following the Paris Accord’s stipulation that climate change mitigation would not come at the expense of food production.

Playing our part would be backing science not exacerbating ‘eco-anxiety’ with words and policies based on emotion not facts.


Contradictions fuel frustration

05/09/2019

Climate change is supposed to be this government’s nuclear moment.

More renewable energy generation  is consistent with that.

But the government has killed off the Waitaha River hydro scheme even though it had sign-off from the Conservation Department, Iwi, and local councils.

The government wants farmers to reduce methane emissions but the   National Environment Standard on Freshwater Management and rewritten National Policy Statement want more wetlands and wetlands produce methane.

The policy also wants to reduce E.coli in rivers but that pollution in several waterways, including the Kakanui River from which we get our drinking water is caused by seagulls. Those birds are protected and so can’t be moved.

Farmers are very concerned about today’s announcements and contradictory messages sent by measures like these fuel their frustrations.

 


Science isn’t settled on response

22/07/2019

Bjorn Lomborg accepts that climate change is a real, man-made problem but he says trillions of dollars will be wasted on ineffective policies:

Climate campaigners want to convince us that not only should we maintain these staggering costs, but that we should spend a fortune more on climate change, since our very survival is allegedly at stake. But they are mostly wrong, and we’re likely to end up wasting trillions during the coming decades. . . 

Global warming is a real, man-made problem — but it is just one of many challenges facing humanity. We shouldn’t base our policy decisions on Hollywood movies or on scare scenarios but on the facts. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even if we did absolutely nothing to respond to global warming, the total impact by the 2070s will be the equivalent to a 0.2 per cent to 2 per cent loss in average income. That’s a challenge that requires our attention — but it’s far from the end of the world.

Over-the-top environmental activists are not only out of synch with the science but they also are out of touch with mainstream concerns. A global poll by the UN of nearly 10 million people found that climate change was the lowest priority of all 16 challenges considered. At the very top, unsurprisingly, are issues such as better education, better healthcare and access to nutritious food. We need to address climate change effectively — but we should remember that there are many other issues that people want fixed more urgently. . .

Climate change, like many issues which become politicised, is generally a pre-occupation of educated, healthy, people with more than enough to eat and generally with middle or upper incomes.

Many of them while wanting “something “ to be done are unaware of how costly, ineffective and unsustainable most of the “somethings” being promoted are.

The present approach to climate change isn’t working. If fully implemented, analysis of the leading climate-economic models shows that the Paris Agreement will cost $US1 trillion to $US2 trillion every year in slowed economic growth. Our response to climate change is so expensive because alternative energy sources remain expensive and inefficient in most scenarios. It is still very expensive to switch from fossil fuels — hence the fortune being spent on subsidies, to little overall effect.

Despite costing a fortune, the Paris Agreement will have virtually no impact on global temperatures. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has estimated that even if every country makes every single carbon cut suggested in the Paris treaty to the fullest extent, CO2 emissions would be cut by only 1 per cent of what would be needed to keep temperature rises under 2C. Incurring an annual $US1 trillion cost while failing to rein in temperature rises is a very poor idea.

A realistic and credible response to global warming needs to bring China and India on board. They are not going to slow their economies and imperil the fossil-fuel-driven growth that is lifting millions out of poverty.

When 27 of the world’s top climate economists and three Nobel laureates looked at the gamut of potential climate solutions for my think tank, Copenhagen Consensus, they found that the current approach, which tries to make fossil-fuel energy as expensive as possible, is very inefficient. Moreover, it is likely to fail since citizens in most countries are unlikely to accept the steep energy price hikes that these policies require. We can look to France’s “yellow vest” protests or to the elections in The Philippines, the US and Australia of politicians who loudly reject these policies to see that voters are making their choices heard. . .

Price increases would have to be prohibitively high to slow people’s use of fossil fuels and that would come at a very high political cost.

What’s needed instead, is much more research to find the green technologies that will replace fossil fuels. Lomborg says that would leave money to fix other problems.

His suggestions for those fixes include access to contraception; better nutrition for pregnant women and infants; and more investment in agricultural research:

This will make farmers able to produce more nutritious, reliable crops, especially in developing and fragile countries. We can generate extra yield increases by investing in agricultural R&D and by boosting the use of better (sometimes genetically modified) seeds, which give farmers more resilience and ability to withstand climate shocks, while lifting the poorest out of hunger. For a cost of $US2.5bn a year, we can produce benefits worth $US85bn. Each dollar spent will help generate more food security, reduced food prices and other social benefits worth $US35. . .

He also recommends treating TB which is still a scourge in poor countries.

Then he comes to trade:

The most powerful thing governments could do to transform lives would cost next to nothing at all: embrace freer trade. During the past 25 years, China lifted 680 million people out of poverty through trade, and there are similar stories from Indonesia, Chile and others. Genuine, global free trade would have benefits that would reach every single country. Far more than any aid dished out by donor countries, lowering trade barriers is the most powerful way to reduce extreme poverty. A completed global Doha trade deal would make the world $US11 trillion richer each and every year by 2030 according to research considered by the Nobel laureates. . .

This is such a simple solution that would help the poorest people most but it needs the political will to achieve it.

In developing nations, the increased wealth from the Doha deal would be equivalent to an extra $US1000 for every single person, every single year by 2030. This alone would cut the number of people living in poverty by 145 million in just 11 years. The annual cost would be $US20bn in pay-offs to those sectors (such as farmers in wealthy countries) who would lose out, and who politically are holding up the deals.

The list goes on. We could halve malaria infections for $US500m annually, save a million children’s lives through $US1bn of increased immunisation, triple preschool access in Africa for $US6bn and get every child in Africa through primary school for $US9bn. We could halve global coral reef loss for $US3bn, and save two million babies from death every year for $US14bn through policies such as providing expecting mothers with nutrients and protection from disease, having nurses and clean facilities at birth and ensuring best practice childcare afterwards.

All of these amazing policies will cost in total $US78bn. Together with the $US84bn for green energy R&D, the total comes to $US162bn — or what we’ll spend on subsidising inefficient renewables this year.

The total benefit to humanity from achieving this total list of policies will be around $US42 trillion. This would be the same as increasing the average income in the world by 50 per cent, and the benefits would mostly help the world’s poorest.

Of course, we also can spend 10 times as much on the Paris Agreement and generate about a thousand times fewer benefits from slightly reduced temperatures.

The choice really is clear. Do we want to be remembered in the future for being the generation that overreacted and spent a fortune feeling good about ourselves but doing very little, subsidising inefficient solar panels and promising slight carbon cuts — or do we want to be remembered for fundamentally helping to fix both climate and all the other challenges facing the world?

Whether or not the science on climate change is settled the science on the response is not.

One reason for that is the response is driven by politics and bureaucracy rather than science.

But Lomborg’s prescription would not only be more effective, it would be a lot more politically palatable than any of the current ones which will add huge costs with little if any benefit.

You can read more from him at lomborg.com  and you’ll find the think tank he heads, the Copenhagen Consensus, here.


No electric sheep

19/07/2019

The government reckons it is on the same page as farmers when it comes to countering climate change.

Farmers beg to differ:

The ‘Action on Agricultural Emissions’ discussion paper is a positive first step as farmers and the government hammer out a practical path to reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions, Federated Farmers says.

“We are agreed that a priority is to find a workable and affordable way that farmers can measure emissions and sinks at the farm level, and to adopt practices and any new technologies that will help drive down methane and nitrous oxide emissions,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard says.

But there’s a but:

“Where we differ is that the Government keeps emphasising pricing as the predominant tool.  Federated Farmers does not agree with universal pricing of methane.  The ETS has failed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport – in fact, transport emissions have near doubled since 1990.  Universal pricing of methane will be similarly unsuccessful.”

If it was successful it would reduce production at a significant economic and social cost with no global environmental gain.

If New Zealand was the only country to tax animal emissions and production here decreased as a result it would increase in other countries where production is far less efficient.

What Federated Farmers has committed to is working with the government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change.  Such pricing would be set at the margin – that is, only applying to methane emissions over the 0.3% per annum reductions that science tells us is enough to ensure methane no longer adds to global warming.

The government can’t tell us to accept the science on climate change then not accept the science on ways to counter it.

New Zealand farmers are proud to be among the most efficient producers in world and, unlike many of their overseas competitors essentially stand on their own two feet, as their animals stand on their own four feet. Farmers here are largely unsubsidised by consumers (by way of inflated prices) or taxpayers, and that has been so for over 30 years, Hoggard says.

If New Zealand’s milk and meat export volumes reduce as a result of lower on-farm production, the gap will be filled by less efficient producers. This is known as “emissions leakage” and will ultimately increase global emissions and food costs.

“So any pricing should only be a tool to incentivise farmers into taking up economically viable opportunities to cut methane, just as the Government might use incentives or a nudge to encourage people to switch to an electric vehicle.

“Unlike for a fossil-fuel powered vehicle, there is no ‘electric sheep’ equivalent for farmers.  But there is the potential for methane inhibitors or a vaccine, albeit some years away from proof and coming to market,” Hoggard says.

Breeding low-emission animals and selecting low-emission feeds are options being explored meantime.

The agriculture sector has committed to work with the government and iwi/Maori to design a practical and cost-effective system for reducing emissions at farm level – including a pricing mechanism as part of the broad framework – by 2025.

Meanwhile, the sector’s proposed 5-year programme of action is aimed at ensuring farmers and growers are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver emissions reductions while maintaining profitability.

Education and tools will do far more good and a lot less harm than the government’s plan which is not just another tax but a tax which is  counter to the science.


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