Greens on ETS

February 9th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An evaluation of the Emissions Trading Scheme shows the Government has “weakened the scheme to the point of ineffectiveness,” says Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

The Government released three technical reports last week, to help New Zealanders engage with a public review of the ETS. 

One of those, a Ministry of Environment report into the performance of the ETS, found it provided businesses nearly no incentive to look at how to reduce their emissions.

Shaw said that with expenditure of $40m on setting up the ETS, and despite it being the Government’s main policy for tackling climate change, it was failing.

“The ETS is supposed to provide businesses with an incentive to reduce their emissions – but two thirds of businesses no longer give any consideration to the ETS when making business decisions.

The Greens are correct that the ETS is not sending a price signal to businesses that will greatly impact production of greenhouse gas emissions.

But this is more due to the collapse of the global price of carbon after the failure of Copenhagen some years ago. The agreement in Paris may see prices rise.

The cost per EU unit was 30 Euros in 2006 but by 2007 had fallen to 10 cents.  So it is not just NZ that has had the challenge of a trading scheme with low prices.

However that is not to say local policy settings don’t have some impact. The 2:1 subsidy was needed to cushion the initial impact, but I think it is time for that to go.

2015 hottest year since records began

January 25th, 2016 at 8:56 am by David Farrar

The NOAA reports:

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.

Specifically:

  • During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average.
  • This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century.
  • This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken.
  • Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year.
  • The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.

temperature

However what matters more is not the temperature for one year (as they get affected by many variables).  In the last 40 years or so the average temperature (sea and land) has risen around 0.7 degrees. The graph above shows the average by decade.

China and India to continue increasing emissions

December 19th, 2015 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

While the Paris agreement sees every country make a pledge to limit greenhouse gas emissions, there is a huge gap between countries that have stated they will actually decrease emissions (such as NZ, EU, US) and countries that merely promise to slow their increase.

Carbon Brief has analysed pledges of two of the largest emitters in the world. Here’s what they preduct:

screen-shot-2015-06-30-at-173643_599x408

This is China’s pledge.  As you can see they are saying they will have emissions grow from 10000 today to over 12,000.

830-india-est-ghgs-indc-copy

This is India’s.  Their pledge is that emissions will grow by 50%

Total emissions from NZ are around 71 Mt. Our 30% reduction target will see that reduce by around 21 Mt. China and India will increase by around 4,000.

The Paris agreement

December 13th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Governments have signalled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change at crunch UN talks in Paris. …

The deal set a high aspirational goal to limit warming below 2C and strive to keep temperatures at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – a far more ambitious target than expected, and a key demand of vulnerable countries. It incorporates previous commitments from 186 countries to reduce emissions which on their own would only hold warming to between 2.7C and 3C.

It’s a good thing 200 Governments managed to get an agreement. That is a huge advance on the Kyoto Protocol which was around 30 countries only.

The business as usual projections for future temperature rises were around 4.5C above pre-industrial levels. This, and previous agreements, now has a track of around 3C. It is possible that future technology may find some way to efficiently extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to get it closer to 2C. I don’t think there is anyway it will peak at 1.5C as we are already at over 1.0C.

temperature

As I previously blogged, when you take the temperature decade by decade, there has been a large increase since the 1970s.  Even if you don’t find reliable the pre 1970s measurements, the trend for the last 50 years is pronounced.

 

Developing countries are those blocking more meaningful climate targets

December 8th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting report at Politico:

Here’s how the game works: The negotiating framework established at a 2014conference in Lima, Peru, requires each country to submit a plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, called an “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC). Each submission is at the discretion of the individual country; there is no objective standard it must meet or emissions reduction it must achieve.

Beyond that, it’s nearly impossible even to evaluate or compare them. Developing countries actually blocked a requirement that the plans use a common format and metrics, so an INDC need not even mention emissions levels.

And many don’t.

Or a country can propose to reduce emissions off a self-defined “business-as-usual” trajectory, essentially deciding how much it wants to emit and then declaring it an “improvement” from the alternative. To prevent such submissions from being challenged, a group of developing countries led by China and India has rejected“any obligatory review mechanism for increasing individual efforts of developing countries.”

So what will be the impact of Paris?

MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change calculates the improvement by century’s end to be only 0.2 degrees Celsius.

I’ve seen others say it may be up to 0.7c

China, for its part, offered to reach peak carbon-dioxide emissions “around 2030” while reducing emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent by that time from its 2005 level. But the U.S. government’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory had already predicted China’s emissions would peak around 2030 even without the climate plan. And a Bloomberg analysis found that China’s 60-65 percent target is less ambitious than the level it would reach by continuing with business as usual.

So China has a target that it is almost impossible not to make.

The INDCs covering actual emissions reductions are subjective, discretionary, and thus essentially unnegotiable. Not so the cash. Developing countries are expecting more than $100 billion in annual funds from this agreement or they will walk away. (For scale, that’s roughly equivalent to the entire OECD budget for foreign development assistance.)

And we’re put in $200 million.

Rich countries are bidding against themselves to purchase the developing world’s signature on an agreement so they can declare victory — even though the agreement itself will be the only progress achieved.

I think that is a bit harsh. I think having every country having a target, even weak ones, will be useful. If over the next decade the temperature gain is significant, then there will be greater pressure to strengthen the targets. It can be harder to get a country to have any target at all, than it is to strengthen it.

Professor Dave Frame on climate policy

December 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting and sensible interview with Professor Dave Frame of Victoria University’s Climate Change Research Institute in the NZ Herald:

Q. On New Zealand’s new target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels and 11 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030. Do you see this as a reasonable commitment?

You can see it as glass half full or glass half empty.

It’s true we could be doing more; but claims that we are radically behind Europe are a bit overblown – our 2005-2020 commitments have been roughly in line with what would have been expected of us if we had been a country within Europe, with the same per capita income we currently have.

I think that is pretty spot on. We certainly could do more but the claims we are radically out of step with other developed countries is not true. No matter what our policy is, some groups would claim it is disastrously low.

Q. Given criticism of the effectiveness of carbon trading markets, do you hold any concerns with countries relying on systems like the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme to meet their targets?

Trading is more economically efficient than other ways of limiting emissions, such as regulation or taxes.

The issues around our weak price have more to do with policy choices such as the two-for-one deal, our access to cheap hot air units and so on.

It’s not that the ETS itself is inefficient, it’s that some of the policy choices that surround it are enfeebling.

The ETS is a sensible market response to something that has a negative external cost. The two for one deal was needed in the early days to lessen the impact, but I think the time has come to phase it out.

The other weakness in the ETS is the lack of a binding post-Kyoto agreement means the market price for carbon “permits” has dropped dramatically. But post Paris one may see it go up significantly which will mean the emissions market will send stronger price signals.

Q. Are there any areas – such as policy for developing nations – where you see New Zealand making any meaningful difference at COP21?

We can have more influence with our ideas than we can through our emissions alone.

Fossil fuel subsidy reform is arguably our most valuable contribution to date – by getting countries to focus on eliminating bad policies we can leverage emissions reductions far in excess of anything we can do at home.

So far, we’ve been the country that has thought the most about agriculture and climate change, but the issues we have in the agricultural sector are mirrored in many developing countries.

If we can create policies that contribute usefully to international efforts, work for us, and are attractive for others to adopt, we can help shape the way climate policy develops.

This is important. One can also contribute significantly through thought and policy leadership, not just through what happens to your own emissions in a particular year.

Q. In terms of the big picture: who are the big players, why, and how much depends on them to come away with a robust agreement?

There is a scale parameter to climate policy – the smaller you are the less you capture the benefits of your mitigation.

So the big guys will lead and set the precedents whatever they do — either by creating a world where strong policy is the norm or one where weak policy is the norm.

What we can do is suggest ideas that other countries might find useful as they think about climate policy.

As I say get the Big 10 to agree, and everyone else will follow. But the minnows can’t dictate to the big emitters.

Q. Generally, what do you anticipate will be the biggest stumbling blocks at Paris to limiting temperature rise to 2C this century? From attending previous conferences, are you somewhat cynical about getting a good outcome?

Paris should be judged on its ability to get countries to participate in climate policy, subject to some meaningful but basically domestic compliance mechanisms.

It won’t limit warming to 2C, and it’s unrealistic to expect it to do so.

The three main things you need from an international climate agreement are participation, compliance and stringency.

Kyoto made a mistake by focusing on stringency for some before participation by all.

That’s the wrong approach in a problem like this.

Paris is a chance to start over, focusing on getting broad buy-in and potentially signalling some carrots and sticks around compliance.

On the whole, we should judge Paris on the basis of its ability to get everyone to offer something.

Paris is a very important building block and direction setter.

Q. Much has been made of what this conference means for the fate of the planet. Is this really our last chance to achieve a 2C limit before it’s too late?

We’ve been having these last chances for years.

There are several reasons that’s a bad way to view the negotiations: (1) negotiations alone can’t determine that outcome; (2) repeated threats regarding last chances have diminishing credibility; (3) the 2C target is an aspiration, not a physical threshold – there’s no evidence that the world is radically different at 2.1C than it is at 1.9C; (4) choices made today to limit emissions out to 2030 or 2040 cannot guarantee remaining under 2C, because the actions of future generations matter crucially, too.

What we can and should do, is be clear about how to give those future people the best possible shot at limiting warming.

And that means focusing on limiting cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide.

The “last chance” thing is neither compelling nor constructive, nor credible.

The media should take note of this. Every conference since 2001 has been billed the “last chance”. It is wrong, and counter-productive.

Is the temperature rising?

December 1st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Some people say there is no global warming, because 1998 was a very hot year and the rate of increase since then has been smaller than projected (note not zero).

Just as the temperature varies greatly from day to day, even an average over a year isn’t that robust, as you have factors such as El Nino.

What I find more useful is looking at the average over a decade. That is long enough that the average (of 3,653 days) is pretty robust.

temperature

The data is from NASA. The average global temperature is around one degree higher than 100 years ago, and since the 1970s has risen around 0.7 of a degree.

I’ll deal in a later post with issues over cause and impact, but for now want to highlight that denying we have had global warming is simply not true.

temp2

As you can see 1998 was a very hot year. But not the hottest year in the last century. That was 2014 and 2015 after 10 months of data is looking to break 2014’s record.

Different methods of temperature recording and different outlets all produce slightly different results (as you would expect), but the difference between them is minor compared to the very clear trend – both by decade, and annually.

Again you can have your opinions on the cause of the warming, and on how much warming there will be in the future. But the fact the world is warming is a fact, not an opinion.

Herald says Len should not go to Paris

November 21st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Many Aucklanders would have been open-mouthed with amazement at the announcement that Mayor Len Brown is going to the world climate change conference in Paris at the end of the month. The audacity of the discredited mayor never ceases to amaze. He ought to have resigned long ago but any credit he recovered with his decision last week not to stand for re-election next year probably evaporated with this announcement. What purpose can he serve at the climate change conference?

Sight seeing?

The conference is going to hear that his council has set a target of reducing Auckland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2040, and that it is preparing for the impacts of climate change such as severe weather events, floods and sea level rise.

The Council’s target is nonsense because the Council has almost no ability to impact the level of greenhouse gas emissions in Auckland.

National governments can impact the level of greenhouse gas emissions by imposing a charge on such emissions, determining energy sources etc. A local authority has no such power, so the 40% target is basically wankery.

Sea level rise in NZ

November 20th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a report:

New Zealand needs to better prepare for the impacts of a rising sea on its coastal towns and cities, warns the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In a major new report released today, Dr Jan Wright called for an overhaul of the way New Zealand is preparing for sea level rise.

“Homes, businesses and infrastructure worth billions of dollars have been built on low-lying land close to the coast,” Dr Wright said. “Rising sea levels will have major impacts in many places. In time, some coastal land will become uninhabitable.”

The Commissioner found that councils and communities face a very difficult task in planning for sea level rise. On the Kapiti Coast and in Christchurch City, for example, the process has been particularly adversarial.

“Perhaps the most difficult aspect is the impacts on people’s homes, which for many are much more than financial security. Councils must use science that is fit for purpose, and engage with communities in a measured way and with empathy.”

One key finding of the report is that preparing for sea level rise is very much a work in progress and that the Government needs to do more to help. There is a need to take some time to develop a better approach.

“We must plan for sea level rise, but there is time to do it carefully”, Dr Wright said. “There are a few cases where action is required soon, but in most cases it is more important to do it well than to rush.”

The report contains eight recommendations to the Government. The first seven are focused on improving the direction and advice given to councils. These are to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Conservation.

The last recommendation is to the Minister of Finance and is focused on the fiscal risks of sea level rise.

I’ve read the report and it is well done. Many reports scaremonger about 10 metre rises, while this one does not. It focuses on the possibility of a 50 cm rise, and identifies 9,000 homes that could be impacted by that.

Sea levels have been rising slowly but steadily for the last century and there is no reason to think this will stop. The question is whether the rate of increase stays the same, or quickens.

The increase since 1900 has been around 20 cms globally and locally. So the long-term rise rate has been around 2 mm a year.

But since around 1990 the rate has been around 3 mm a year. So the most conservative estimate of future increase would be to remain at 3 mm a year.

So what could be the extent of any rise in say 50 and 95 years? I use those time periods as 50 years is probably the outer limit of impacting a current owner of a house. The 85 year period covers economic impact, even if not current owner impact.

In 2065, at 3 mm a year, the increase would be 15 cm or half a foot. This is unlikely to have a huge impact.

However the upper boundary of the most pessimistic scenario of the IPCC has more rapid rise, which would be 40 cm by 2065. In that scenario around 9,000 homes are affected.

So the likely range is 15 cm to 40 cm by 2065. They are not equally likely – the 40 cm is the current top estimate. As we get better data and information over the next decade, projections may change.

How about out to 2100? Well at 3 mm a year that is an increase of around 25 cm or almost a foot. But what under the most pessimistic IPCC scenario?  That is almost a metre. Again that is the upper end of the scenario. The midpoint for that scenario is around 70 cm.

So over close to 100 years the likely range is one foot to three feet.  Obviously if it is at the upper end, that will have a significant impact on coastal properties.

Bolivia’s climate change solution

November 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

You have to read the official submission of the Government of Bolivia to the climate change conference. Their 10 point plan is:

  1. Adoption of a new model of civilization in the world without consumerism, war-mongering, and mercantilism, a world without capitalism; build and consolidate a world order of Living Well that defends and promotes the integral rights of our peoples, undertaking the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.
  2. Construction of a climate system based on responsibility to Mother Earth, the culture of life and the full realization of humanity in their holistic development, humanizing the economy, surpassing the simplistic approach to decarbonization of the economy.
  3. Protection of the Rights of Mother Earth in an articulated and complementary manner to the rights of peoples to their development.
  4. Defense of universal common goods such as the seas and oceans, water, atmospheric space, as well as the technological monopoly, promoting people’s access to the common heritage.
  5. Elimination of patents on technologies and recognition of the human right to science and technology of life.
  6. Effective implementation by governments of the human right to water.
  7. Establishment of the International Court of Justice Climate and Mother Earth to enable countries to fulfill their international commitments to climate change in a context of respect for the rights of peoples and of Mother Earth.
  8. Allocate the resources of the military machinery of the imperial powers and the war-mongers to finance the activities of the peoples against climate change.
  9. Eradication of commodification of nature and carbon markets promoting business climate millionaires, which do not solve the problem of the climate crisis.
  10. Decolonize natural resources environmental colonial biased views that see the peoples of the South as forest rangers of Northern countries and communities as enemies of nature.

It sounds like a Green Party manifesto :-)

Hat Tip: Mark Steyn

China’s correction nine times greater than NZ’s total emissions

November 9th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limitglobal warming.

Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.

The new data, which appeared recently in an energy statistics yearbook published without fanfare by China’s statistical agency, show that coal consumption has been underestimated since 2000, and particularly in recent years. The revisions were based on a census of the economy in 2013 that exposed gaps in data collection, especially from small companies and factories.

Illustrating the scale of the revision, the new figures add about 600 million tons to China’s coal consumption in 2012 — an amount equivalent to more than 70 percent of the total coal used annually by the United States.

That extra 600 million tons is nine times greater than the total emissions of New Zealand.

You need the major emitters on board

November 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Christopher Brooker writes in The Telegraph:

China, now easily the world’s largest emitter, contributing 24 per cent of the total, plans by 2030 to double its CO2 emissions, not least by building 363 more coal-fired power stations. India, now the third-largest emitter, plans by 2030 to treble its emissions. The fourth-largest emitter, Russia, despite slashing its emissions after 1990 by closing down much of its old Soviet industry, now proposes to increase them from their 2012 level by up to 38 per cent.

Which makes a mockery of anything the rest of the world does.

If you want a binding agreement on climate change, you need to get the top 10 emitters to agree on a cap. If they can all agree, then the rest of the world will probably follow.

But if China, India and Russia are all saying they’ll massively increase emissions, then any impact of emissions reductions from the rest of the world is an expensive waste of money.

Here’s the top 10 emitters:

  1. China 22.7%
  2. US 15.6%
  3. EU28 10.9%
  4. India 5.7%
  5. Russia 5.4%
  6. Japan 2.9%
  7. Brazil 2.6%
  8. Indonesia 1.9%
  9. Canada 1.7%
  10. Iran 1.6%

Those 10 represent around 72% of global emissions. Again whatever they agree to, I am sure countries like New Zealand, Tanzania and Singapore who are around 0.2% each will match them.

Christchurch Council’s flawed data for sea level rise

November 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

A new review has slated the sea-level findings used by Christchurch City Council to assess risks to coastal properties.

While council has scrapped fast-tracked plan changes based on the findings, coastal residents want hazard warnings removed from their properties’ LIM reports.

The findings were in a report on 50-to-100-year climate change risk, written by consultants Tonkin & Taylor. The report identified 18,000 properties as being threatened by rising sea levels, and 6000 by coastal erosion. LIM reports were amended to match.

Mathematician and policy analyst Simon Arnold has now reviewed Tonkin & Taylor’s report. He considers it was statistically flawed, based on outdated law, and exaggerated the effects of sea-level rise.

“Scientists and engineers are good at talking about what is happening, but they struggle with this level of forecasting – it’s too complex,” Arnold said. “You really need to get a specialist statistician involved.”

Arnold said the report was not fit for purpose and the council should never have relied on it. He urged them to back away from it.

“The Council is in an untenable position. This exaggeration of risk is costing homeowners now, a lot of people are affected by it,” he said.

Arnold is a mathematician with experience as a policy analyst and forecaster for government , and has worked as an advisor to the McDiarmid Institute, and previous Prime Ministers. He lives on the Kapati Coast but said his property is not affected by coastal hazard projections.

He sent his review to both the Christchurch City Council and Tonkin & Taylor last month. 

So what do they say?

A spokeswoman for Tonkin & Taylor said they had already spoken to Arnold about his review, and did not want to wish to comment publicly. No-one was available from the Christchurch City Council to discuss the review.

I bet – very embarrassing for them.

Arnold’s review questions the statistical methodology of the report, which he calls misleading. He asserts much of it is based on 1994 coastal policy statements in the Resource Management Act, rather than the updated 2010 version.

The review also says while the Tonkin & Taylor report is based on possible hazards, the law requires recognition of likely hazards only when assessing risk. 

There is a huge difference between likely and possible.

He also pointed the city council towards a report written this year by retired principal Environment Court judge Joan Allin, which criticised how coastal risks were increasingly over-estimated.

Allin’s report said she had “developed concerns about what other NZ coastal experts are doing. It seems that a number of them consider that it is appropriate . . . to provide only results that are very unlikely, or overstated.”

This is from the former principal judge.

You can’t negotiate an end to storms

October 21st, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A rather silly post by Danyl:

One thing we should have learned from the TPP is that we’re entering a period of diminishing returns from free trade deals. But there’s also an opportunity cost here. While all of our diplomats are trying to negotiate lower dairy tariffs to grow our economy they’re not doing anything about climate change, which is a major economic challenge that requires a diplomatic solution.

Droughts and extreme weather events are expensive things. The 2008 drought cost the country about $2.8 billion in one year (the TPPA is supposed to bring in $2 billion over ten years). To avoid entering a period of catastrophic droughts and storms we have to agree on a global reduction of carbon emissions. So that’s something need to be negotiated between states. Y’know – diplomatically. It is so, so stupid that we have all of these diplomats running around trying to eke out trivial gains from trade agreements while ignoring this massive looming crisis that is going to devastate our economy.

Wow this is pretty weak stuff. Where do I start:

  • Incredibly stupid to suggest that MFAT can’t both negotiate trade deals and negotiate on climate change. It is not an either or.
  • Comparing the cost of a drought to the gains from a trade deal is also stupid. MFAT can’t negotiate a drought away
  • Yes increased greenhouse gases will probably lead to more extreme weather events, but even if an agreement was made this year to reduce emissions, it would take decades to make an impact

 

A good u-turn by Christchurch Council

September 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Beachside Christchurch residents are celebrating “democracy at its best” after a plan to deal with long-term flooding and erosion risk was dropped.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Environment Minister Nick Smith and Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel announced that plan changes affecting property owners as a consequence of future coastal hazards would be dealt with through normal planning processes and not through the fast-tracked District Plan review process.

The Christchurch City Council sparked anger and anxiety among coastal property owners in July when an assessment it commissioned of the long-term threat posed by sea level rise identified 6000 properties that could be susceptible to erosion and nearly 18,000 that could face coastal inundation over the next 50 to 100 years.

The council immediately amended Land Information Memorandums for those properties to indicate they were in a coastal hazard zone and announced it was proposing through the Replacement Christchurch District Plan (RCDP) to limit new development in the areas considered most at risk. 

That sparked concern people would not be able to develop their properties, values in coastal areas would dive and it would become harder and more costly to get insurance.

Christchurch Coastal Residents United spokesman Tim Sintes said the decision to step back was “fantastic news”.

“To get a result like this, it’s democracy at it’s best.

“It has to go this way, with a national standard, rather than ticking off one town after another.”

The issue of sea level rise is a complex one, and not one Councils should be doing in isolation, and rushing through.

Smith said Christchurch had enough on its plate and did not need to have the added burden of leading the country and the world on how to deal with the issue of climate change and sea level rise.

The Government was proposing both legislative changes and national policy guidance on such hazards as part of its Resource Management Act reform programme.

“More time will also allow contestable advice and normal appeal rights to the Environment Court. It makes sense for the timing of this work to be aligned with national policy. I am satisfied that the existing plans provide adequate interim measures to deal with these risks in the immediate future,” Smith said. 

We have robust data showing there has been sea level increases in NZ. From 1900 to 2000 the sea level in Auckland increased 16 cm, or 1.6 mm a year. While this rate has been increasing globally, in Auckland it does not yet appear to be accelerating. It will to some degree, but we don’t know to what degree. And hence rushing through LIM notations on properties when the data is not yet clear, is unwise.

The climate change “refugee” Labour wants to stay here

September 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reported:

Ioane Teitiota was sent back to the tiny Pacific island this afternoon after a last minute appeal to let him and his family stay in New Zealand on humanitarian grounds was denied.

However revelations have been made against Mr Teitiota by a former employer saying he sexually assaulted a female co-worker and violently assaulted other colleagues before being fired from a west Auckland market garden.

The truth about Kiribati

September 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Suzy McKinney writes at Public Address:

The case of the I-Kiribati man Ioane Teitiota being deported after failing to become the world’s first climate change refugee in the Supreme Court of New Zealand is unfortunate, but is not unfair and misrepresents the reality of climate change to Kiribati in a harmful way.

I’m a self-proclaimed climate activist – I protested at the UN climate negotiations in Peru last year and submitted to the Ministry for the Environment’s consultation process calling for ambitious action on climate change. I am also currently living in Kiribati, working at the hospital here as part of my medical training.

My climate change activist friends back in New Zealand think this man being deported is disgraceful. Although the long-term impacts of climate change upon Kiribati are certainly disgraceful, Teitiota’s deportation is not and to think so is to misunderstand the unique situation that these low-lying islands and their proud peoples face.

Further:

It would be unfair for me to speculate as to Ioane Teitiota’s reasons for originally leaving Kiribati, or how much of a role the impacts of climate change at home played in his decision to fight to stay in New Zealand. I can only observe the comments of those I-Kiribati people involved in climate advocacy here and quote to you the words of Pelenise Alofa, National Coordinator of Kiribati’s Climate Action Network – “no one has ever left Kiribati because of climate change”.

Does he even claim he left because of it? He is just using it as a way not to get deported as an overstayer.

Research carried out in Kiribati shows that I-Kiribati people want to continue to live in their country for as long as possible and desire adaptation projects such as sea walls that will allow them to do so, rather than to flee Kiribati in 2015. The failure of Teitiota’s claims make it harder for people working to protect Kiribati’s climate to secure assistance and funding for the adaptation projects the country really needs .

So he is harming his own country.

As an observer here in South Tarawa, Kiribati, I see anger at Teitiota for his actions and the words he has spoken about his country. I see resentment for him from civil society here for the way his court case has mischaracterized how I-Kiribati people want to respond to climate change.

This article should get as much media attention, as the overstayer’s claims did. And shame on Labour for backing his claims.

An overstayer not a refugee

September 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A last-ditch appeal against the deportation of a man who claimed to be the world’s first climate change refugee has failed.

Associate Immigration Minister Craig Foss has received a briefing on the case of Ioane Teitiota and his family, and has tonight declined to intervene.

That means he will be deported shortly to Kiribati, with his wife and young New Zealand-born children likely to join him.

Mr Teitiota had claimed to be the world’s first climate change refugee, but that was dismissed by the courts, and Labour instead asked Mr Foss to allow him to stay on humanitarian grounds.

Earlier today, Prime Minister John Key said there was no question that Mr Teitiota was an over-stayer, and not a refugee.

This is correct. Mr Teitiota is trying it on. Overstayers do this a lot. They have little to lose. I recall Danny Butler who claimed he would be killed if returned to Ireland.

On the issue of climate change, Mr Key dismissed the notion that New Zealand should consider looking at accepting people on the basis that their homeland was threatened by rising sea levels.

“I am certainly not ruling out that a future Prime Minister and a future Government wouldn’t take that compassionate view, and I suspect actually that they would. But it would be on genuine grounds that they actually can’t live in their country.”

Sea levels are rising. But at present by 3 mm a year. In the long term this will post massive problems for Kiribati, if it continues. But we’re talking maybe 50 to 100 years down the track, not during his lifetime.

Reverend Naisali said that sending the family to Kiribati was akin to putting someone on dialysis on a plane, despite knowing there was no medical help where they were going.

“There is no employment opportunities in Kiribati, there is population density in Kiribati, there are no education opportunities for the children.”

That may be so, but he is from Kiribati. If he did not overstay, he could apply for residency if he has skills NZ needs. But simply coming from a poorer country is not grounds for residency in NZ.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the case was the “canary in the mine”, and there would soon be “a flood of people from the Pacific Islands” because of climate change.

Will James define soon? Climate change is seeing temperatures increase and sea levels rise. And we do need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate this. But I dispute that there will soon be a flood of people. The IPCC most recent report is that if emissions continue to increase then by 2100, sea levels would have increased by 62 cms.  That will definitely impact many people, but 2100 is not “soon”.

That is not an argument to do nothing. Quite the opposite. But it is an argument that we do not need to claim there will be a flood of climate change refugees anytime soon.

 

The Greens climate plan

September 3rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Green Party have released their policy on how they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 40% below 1990 levels.

This Green Party discussion paper shows that we can reduce New Zealand’s net annual greenhouse gas emissions to no more than 40 Mt of CO2-equivalent by 2030, even if there was a five year transition period for the farming industry. This is an emissions reduction of at least 40 percent below the 1990 gross emissions level and would put us broadly on a straight-line path to being climate neutral (zero net emissions) by 2050.

Now in 2013, our greenhouse gas emissions were 81 Mt, so this is a 50% reduction in just 15 years. I’m not sure there is a country on Earth that has managed that. But let’s look at the details of how they say it can be done.

greencc

Firstly they seem to be comparing apples and oranges, which is very misleading. They are talking a net 40 Mt in 2030 compared to a gross 67 in 1990. The net in 1990 was 38,000 according to our official inventory.

So how do they say they will reduce 28 Mt. The break down is:

  • Agriculture 2.2
  • Industrial Processes 2.1
  • Other fossil fuel burning 3.7
  • Waste 3.6
  • Transport 7.7
  • Electricity 4.8
  • Forestry 4.0

Let’s look at each in turn:

  • Agriculture – 2.2 reduction out of 31.7 – 7% decrease
  • Industrial Processes – 2.1 reduction out of 5.1 – 41% decrease
  • Waste – 3.6 out of 5.1 – 71% decrease
  • Electricity – 4.8 out of 5.0 – 96% decrease
  • Transport – 7.7 out of 12.7 – 61% decrease
  • Forestry – 4.0 more on top of 26.7 – 15% increase

I don’t think we can or ever should be 100% renewable as that threatens security of supply. We’re 80% renewable and could see us getting to 95% or so.

The transport scenario is pie in the sky. It is based on 100% of new cars sold by 2030 being electric cars. I’m a fan of electric cars but no sensible Government would ever make a commitment that they will basically ban new non-electric cars within 15 years.

Also not very realistic is saying we’ll save 2.8 Mt a year from biofuels. for the transport sector. The last time biofuels were subsidised to promote them, it led to mass starvation as arable land was converted to biofuels.

The agricultural policy is based on 2,400 farms reducing their dairy herd by 75 cows each or a 15% reduction.

The forestry increase would require 50,000 to 100,000 hectares of land to have pine forest planted on them – every year. This would mean a reduction in farming of that many hectares every year. Wouldn’t want to be a farmer as the Government takes your land off you to plant pine trees on!

Credit to the Greens for having a reasonably detailed plan, and they have shown how we could have a more ambitious target than the current one. However while some aspects of their plan are practical, other aspects are ludicrous – such as the assumption there will be no new petrol cars within 15 years.

Huntly coal to close

August 6th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Genesis Energy announced its last two coal-burning electricity generators at Huntly Power Station will be permanently withdrawn from the market by December 2018, signalling the end of large scale coal-fired generation in New Zealand.

The decision is being hailed as another step towards having 90 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity supply generated by renewables by 2025.

A key thing to note is this is a commercial decision by Genesis, not a Government dictate. But it is very useful, as it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

At their peak, the coal units emitted around 5000 kilotonnes of CO2 per year – amounting to around 5 per cent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s significant.

“New Zealand’s share of renewable electricity generation is already the fourth largest in the world and the shift from coal will help us to achieve our ambitious goal of having 90 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity supply generated by renewables by 2025.”

MBIE data has renewables at 79.3% of all generation. If coal is excluded it goes to 83.5%. So making 90% will still be some way off.

Our current profile is:

  1. Hydro 56.1%
  2. Geothermal 16.7%
  3. Gas 15.5%
  4. Coal 5.1%
  5. Wind 5.1%
  6. Wood 0.9%
  7. Biogas 0.5%

Possibly of interest is the renewable share over time. It has been:

  • 1975 – 90.4%
  • 1984 – 80.4%
  • 1990 – 80.8%
  • 1999 – 70.6%
  • 2008 – 65.4%
  • 2014 – 79.9%

Green dilemma – a GE rice that reduces greenhouse gas emissions!

August 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

This will pose a dilemma for the Greens. Scientists have developed a genetically engineered rice crop that has significantly reduced methane (the most powerful greenhouse gas) emissions over normal rice.

So if the Greens truly believe their rhetoric that greenhouse gas emissions are the biggest threat to Earth today, surely this means they will drop their opposition to genetically engineered crops and welcome this GE rice?

Nature Magazine reports:

Atmospheric methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and is responsible for about 20% of the global warming effect since pre-industrial times1, 2. Rice paddies are the largest anthropogenic methane source and produce 7–17% of atmospheric methane2, 3. Warm waterlogged soil and exuded nutrients from rice roots provide ideal conditions for methanogenesis in paddies with annual methane emissions of 25–100-million tonnes3, 4. This scenario will be exacerbated by an expansion in rice cultivation needed to meet the escalating demand for food in the coming decades4.

Here we show that the addition of a single transcription factor gene, barleySUSIBA2 (refs 7, 8), conferred a shift of carbon flux to SUSIBA2 rice, favouring the allocation of photosynthates to aboveground biomass over allocation to roots. The altered allocation resulted in an increased biomass and starch content in the seeds and stems, and suppressed methanogenesis, possibly through a reduction in root exudates. Three-year field trials in China demonstrated that the cultivation of SUSIBA2 rice was associated with a significant reduction in methane emissions and a decrease in rhizospheric methanogen levels. SUSIBA2 rice offers a sustainable means of providing increased starch content for food production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation. 

This is a great breakthrough. It should be welcomed. Or will green activists attack the fields it is planted it, and destroy it as unnatural?

A mad Cambridge professor

July 28th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A Cambridge Professor has made the astonishing claim that three scientists investigating the melting of Arctic ice may have been assassinated within the space of a few months.

Professor Peter Wadhams said he feared being labelled a “looney” over his suspicion that the deaths of the scientists were more than just an ‘extraordinary’ coincidence.

But he insisted the trio could have been murdered and hinted that the oil industry or else sinister government forces might be implicated.

The three scientists he identified – Seymour Laxon and Katherine Giles, both climate change scientists at University College London, and Tim Boyd of the Scottish Association for marine Science – all died within the space of a few months in early 2013.

Professor laxon fell down a flight of stairs at a New year’s Eve party at a house in Essex while Dr Giles died when she was in collision with a lorry when cycling to work in London. Dr Boyd is thought to have been struck by lightning while walking in Scotland.

Shit those oil companies are good. Anyone can arrange a push down the stairs or a lorry to strike you, but it takes special genius to arrange a lightning strike.

Prof Wadhams said that in the weeks after Prof Laxon’s death he believed he was targeted by a lorry which tried to force him off the road. He reported the incident to the police.

Asked if he thought hitmen might have been behind the deaths, Prof Wadhams, who is Professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, told The Telegraph: “Yes. I do believe assassins possibly murdered them but I can see that I would be thought of as a looney for believing this.

A looney? No, not at all.

NBR on climate change

July 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Nevil Gibson at NBR writes:

The Paris conference on climate change at the end of this year is shaping up as a triumph for world diplomacy.

While expectations may not be high, the result could be surprisingly good.

For the first time we may have an accord with all the major emitters, not just a few. Any global agreement needs to include the top 10 emitters which are China, US, EU, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada and Iran. Those 10 economies represent 71% of greenhouse gases. If they can agree on a fair reduction regime, then I believe most of the world will follow.

The main reason for this is that realism and pragmatism will finally win over zealotry and ideology. For too long the climate change debate has been dominated by doomsday merchants – from scientists to environmentalists.

For a variety of reasons and motivations, they say the world is doomed from rising temperatures and want to blame western civilisation.

As recently as today, a leading New Zealand climate scientist says New Zealand’s carbon emissions target should be set according to environmental demands rather than what is practical.

At the extreme these advocates want to tax people out of most forms of transport, heating and power generation. They want the western world to retreat from its high living standards and condemn the rest of it to not rising above their current levels.

In some cases, that means abject poverty. Obviously this is a not a viable position for any country.

Exactly. Climate change is real, and greenhouse gases play a large part in the warming. However that doesn’t mean that we undo the industrial revolution and turn the clock back.

Global climate change caused by man-made greenhouse gases is not the biggest and only existential threat to the planet.

It must be put in context with other pressing problems such as life-threatening diseases, environmental degradation, poverty and much else.

Absolutely.

The main one will be an inclusive document to which all nations can subscribe, according to their ability.

But it won’t be like the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which phased out production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other substances that deplete the ozone layer.

This was a great success. CFCs were a discrete problem, had limited uses and were easily replaced. Climate pollutants – if that is the right word – are rather different.

Most are a waste product of nearly every aspect of modern life. They are also not limited to carbon; methane, soot and nitrous oxide all contribute to rising temperatures.

In New Zealand, most methane, for example, comes from livestock. Other than extinction, no single global tax or regulatory scheme will solve that.

This is a key difference. Yes greenhouse gases have a detrimental impact on the temperature, but they come from highly beneficial activities such as energy and agriculture.

The Green Party policy is to kill off 20% or so of our dairy herd. That isn’t a solution.

ODT on climate change target

July 10th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

The Government’s commitment to a higher but unambitious emissions reduction target will surprise few.

Similarly, the reactions of Labour and the Greens are expected. What is being witnessed are the policies of a pragmatic Government and standard opposition positioning. …

Mr Groser says this is ”respectable” and in line with what the United States, Canada and Japan are promising. Australia is yet come out with its figure.

The US target is 26% to 28% (by 2025) below 2005 levels.  Canada’s target is 30% by 2030.

Mr Groser does say the Government will adopt an appropriate mix of policies to ensure the target is met, but at this stage that seems to involve primarily a review of the emissions trading scheme. This was weakened by National and, as acknowledged, needs toughening.

Unexpectedly, the price of carbon collapsed and the scheme failed.

National is sceptical about ”green growth”.

It argues the best advice it has received is that lowering emissions will cost the economy, at least in the short and medium term.

The cost of even its limited commitment is put at $1270 a family a year, not a massive amount for some but significant nonetheless.

In its pragmatism, National knows it will not appeal to the green vote whatever it does, so there is little to gain electorally from doing much more than the minimum.

It knows, too, despite the relatively high level of climate change scepticism in this country, the majority of voters have some concerns and it must be seen to be doing something.

Most voters, however, will reject being hit significantly in the pocket.

From that point of view, National has its policy about right. Legitimate fears, however, must arise because the climate does not play politics.

The efforts of New Zealand and the rest of the world could well be too little too late.

The ETS is having little impact on emissions as the price of carbon has declined. However if there is a binding agreement in Paris, then the price may increase, and the ETS will start to impact again.

NZ’s 2030 climate change target

July 8th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Groser announced:

New Zealand will commit to a new, more ambitious climate change target,Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser announced today.

“This target is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” Mr Groser said. “This is a significant increase on our current target of five per cent below 1990 emission levels by 2020.”

Is it?

“New Zealand’s target is equivalent to a reduction of 11 per cent below our 1990 emission levels by 2030. Our target is expressed against 2005 emission levels similar to the approach of other significant players including the United States and Canada,” Mr Groser said.

So in fact it is saying a drop from -5% to -11% over an extra decade. That’s not particularly huge.

What does this mean in terms of actual numbers. Here is our actual (gross) emissions and targets in kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent

  • 1990 – 66,720
  • 2005 – 84,638
  • 2013 – 80,962
  • 2020 – 5% below 1990 – 63,384
  • 2030 – 30% below 2005 – 59,247
  • 2050 – 50% below 1990 – 33,360

So what is the reduction needed for each year between the dates above

  • 2013 – 2020 – 17,578/7 = 2,511 kt per year
  • 2020 – 2030 – 4,137/10 = 414 kt per year
  • 2030 – 2050 – 25,987/10 = 1299 kt per year

I don’t see any way we will meet the 2020 target. To compare let’s see what happened under the last three governments:

  • 1990 – 1999 – grew by 946 kt per year
  • 1999 – 2008 – grew by 732 kt per year
  • 2008 – 2013 – shrunk by 95 kt per year

Of course these are gross emissions. I think net emissions are more useful, but it seems targets are meant to be gross emissions.