Guyon Espiner interviews Nick Smith on Q&A this morning. I thought it was a good performance from Nick:
GUYON What about here in New Zealand. What sort of climate effects are we going to see here and by when if we don’t get this under control?
NICK Well if we take the sort of estimates that have been made by NIWA scientists, you know we’re looking sea level rises over the course of the century of about .6 of a metre, we’re looking at temperature rises of about two degrees.
Great to have a politician not exagerrate the impacts. Nick correctly quoted the IPCC consensus of around 60 cm increase over 100 years. You get all sorts of hysterical nonsense about eight metre increases from some politicians.
NICK Well the government’s commissioned this report from Infometrics and NZEIR to try and get a feel for what those numbers would be if we went for the target that Greenpeace is promoting of minus 40, that indicates a cost of about you know 15 billion dollars per year at 2020, you know that’s more than the entire expense of our health system,
This is what the Green Party is campaigning for. To spend more money on this, than we do on Vote Health. And that is $15 billion a year – not one off.
The report from NZIER is here – NZIER Infometrics Report 26 July 2009.
Their model basically says that the cost would be $3,000 per person per year for a 40% reduction. That is $60 a week.
NICK Yeah I do, I think that argument is incontrovertible, you know how can we, emitting about 17 tonne a year, per New Zealander, say to the Bangladeshi who’s doing a tonne a year, hey guys you’ve gotta get your emissions down because we’ve got a global problem. But the other part we have to understand is this, even if every one of the developed countries signs up to a zero target which is totally unrealistic, and you see the continued growth in emissions from China, India, Brazil, those countries, we are not going to beat this problem, you know the projections are that you’d get emissions up to sort of 650 parts per million, even with zero from the developed world, and so that really shows how important it is in Copenhagen that we get the developing countries to come on board.
This is key. An agreement must include China, India and Brazil.
NICK I want to reassure you, that in the government making its decision both on the ETS and the 2020 target, that needs to be at the front of our mind. You know if we look at the new bill that’s in the United States Congress, they’ve specifically made provision there for tariffs against countries that don’t take climate change seriously, and so what the sort of balance that the government’s going to have to strike here, is one that has us not getting out too far of the pack. What that economic report shows if you get too far out, the costs really escalate.
GUYON So we could face a trade ban, so your 15 billion dollars pales into nothing if we are getting our goods boycotted by an international trading ban.
NICK Absolutely, and that’s why I say to farmers in the agricultural sector, look guys climate change has gotta be taken seriously, not only is it an environmental risk, it is a trade risk, and that’s where New Zealand needs to find this balance, recognise that we’ve got a tough job, but saying that look too far ahead, costs get too high, too far behind and the costs get ugly as well.
It is a balance. If we do nothing we will get hammered. If we try to be the most pure country in the world we will just get a lot poorer and possibly outsource our emissions to China.Tags: carbon emissions, Climate Change, Guyon Espiner, Nick Smith, Q&A