Kyoto second commitment period

November 12th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has defended the Government’s decision not to sign on for the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol, saying the country is playing its part in combating climate change.

The climate change treaty’s first commitment period expires at the end of the year and New Zealand expects to slightly exceed its target.

The treaty aims to curb international greenhouse gas emissions through binding national commitments but some countries have questioned its effectiveness.

Oh Kyoto is almost totally ineffective. The first commitment period excluded the major emitters and the second period would cover at best 15% of total emissions.

I support an international agreement to reduce emissions, but any agreement without China, India and the United States is worthless.

Here;s what the impact of Kyoto on global temperatures would be:

The first scenario looked at what would happen if, after the protocol expires, the Annex B countries continued to abide by Kyoto’s limits but did not make any new commitments to further cut emissions for the rest of the century.

This “constant compliance” scenario would shave 0.11 to 0.21 degrees Celsius (0.20–0.38 degrees Fahrenheit) off global average temperatures by 2100. Stated another way, instead of heating up by 2.5°C (4.5°F), a midpoint in the range of projections of global warming, Earth would warm approximately 6% less.

So after 100 years the increase in global temperatures may be 0.2 degrees less. It’s ridiculous.

Again, any credible agreement needs the big emitters in there, The top 10 emitters are:

  1. China 16.4%
  2. US 15.7%
  3. Brazil 6.5%
  4. Indonesia 4.6%
  5. Russia 4.6%
  6. India 4.3%
  7. Japan 3.2%
  8. Germany 2.3%
  9. Canada 1.9%
  10. UK 1.6%

Now the only countries in that top 10 who are in Kyoto are Japan, Germany and the UK.  NZ by the way is at 0.2%.


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Green hysteria

November 9th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

The final reading of a bill which amended the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) drew impassioned speeches from MPs, in particular Green Party climate change spokesman Kennedy Graham.

Dr Graham levelled mock criminal charges at the Prime Minister and Minister for Climate Change.

“I charge the leaders of this Government with the moral crime of ecocide. I trust that in due course that they stand accountable before the children of this world, the children of John Key, the grandchildren of Tim Groser and mine.”

He went further: “The leaders of this government … are committing us to purgatory and thence to hell. Purgatory is the next decade, and hell the decade after.”

What insane hysteria. Purgatory and hell?

China’s daily growth in greenhouse gas emissions is greater than the total emissions put out by New Zealand.

I actually think agriculture should start to come into the ETS, but Kennedy Graham does his cause no help at all with such hysterical blather.

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Is geoengineering the answer to climate change?

November 1st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article at Foreign Policy:

These scientists are beginning to look for a Plan B. There are two distinct approaches under consideration — sucking carbon out of the atmosphere, or creating an artificial sun shield for the planet. The former, which involves reversing some of the very processes that are leading to the climate problem, is expensive.

A sun shield?

If the world can’t get its act together to limit carbon emissions, geoengineering may be the only option we have. Distill the climate problem down to the essentials, and it becomes obvious that global warming is fundamentally a market failure: All seven billion of us human beings are “free riders” on a planet that is heating up. We put billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, and largely aren’t required to pay for the privilege. There’s too little incentive to stop polluting. …

“Free riding” also plagues relations between countries. Some, like the European Union have a cap or tax on carbon pollution. Most are still waiting on the sidelines. Why should any single country cut its carbon emissions when it knows that its reductions will only be a drop in the bucket toward solving climate change — and other nations aren’t asking their citizens to pay their fair share? Blame it on short election cycles, partisanship, or fossil energy interests, the political will often doesn’t exist — whether in Washington or the latest global environment gathering in Rio de Janeiro.

Yep, unless China and India are part of any agreement, other countries won;t commit.

“Free riders” are only half the problem. “Free drivers” may be as important. The allure of geoengineering derives from the simple fact that – given what little we know about it at the moment – it appears to be a comparatively cheap way to combat climate change. And it doesn’t take a global agreement to act. It takes one actor – one country – in the driver’s seat.

If, for example, the very existence of an island, nation, city, or agricultural region is threatened by global warming, the question among its leaders will no longer be whether geoengineering is an option, but what the effects, positive and negative, might be and how it could be carried out. That’s also where the science stands today, and the economics points in the same direction.

This makes sense. Something one or more countries can do by themselves, without the need for universal support.

In fact, the price tag of these geoengineering strategies is likely to be negligible relative to the purported benefits: Columbia University’s Scott Barrett, among others, has calculated that it would cost pennies to offset a ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By comparison, it costs dollars per ton to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the first place.

And much cheaper.

What makes scientists believe geoengineering could work? It’s been tried before – by nature, not by humanity.

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, it forced the evacuation of 200,000 Filipinos and shot 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. The added sulfur counteracted the effect of 1,100 billion tons of carbon dioxide that had been accumulating in the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial revolution. In 1992 and 1993, it decreased global temperatures by a bit less than 1 degree Fahrenheit by reducing the amount of sunlight that hit the earth’s surface. That was about the same amount temperatures had risen at that point from carbon added to the atmosphere by human activity. In other words, Mount Pinatubo alone offset all temperature increases from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

So all we need is to have more volcanoes erupt! :-)

As the article makes clear, geoengineering has considerable risks and side-effects. But with the major emitting countries unwilling to cap carbon emissions, it may well be that one or more countries turn their attention to geoengineering.


Sceptics close NIWA lawsuit

September 8th, 2012 at 12:29 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A group of global warming sceptics has lost a bid to have temperatures collected by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), declared invalid.

A High Court ruling released today by Justice Geoffrey Venning said the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust had not succeeded in any of its challenges against Niwa.

Justice Venning also ruled the trust had to pay Niwa costs and if they could not agree on the amount, he would make a ruling later.

In July the trust, a branch of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, challenged national temperature records in the High Court in Auckland, saying the method used was unscientific.

Records from Niwa showed a national warming trend of almost 1 degree Celsius in the last century.

The figure, which was almost 50 per cent above the global average for the period, was unreliable, the trust says.

The judgement clearly states that NIWA applied “credible scientific methodology”. The court did not decide which methodology was superior, merely that the methodology used by NIWA was reasonable and tenable.

My view is that the mean temperature is increasing, and that human activity is primarily the cause. However The rate of future warming is unknown.

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Fracking saving the planet!

August 25th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Ronald Bailey at Reason blogs:

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions at 20-Year Low Thanks to Fracking 

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. …

Both government and industry experts said the biggest surprise is how quickly the electric industry turned away from coal. In 2005, coal was used to produce about half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. The Energy Information Agency said that fell to 34 percent in March, the lowest level since it began keeping records nearly 40 years ago.

It is fracking that has opened up the shale gas. The Greens should be promoting fracking, not trying to ban it.

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Watts temperature under fire -including by co-author

August 7th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged last week on a report by Antony Watts which found the increase in US surface temperature in the last 20 years was less than previously reported. It was all about appropriate adjustments to station data.

The Washington Post blogger Jason Samwnow blogs:

The blogosphere has quickly pointed out two problems with Watts’ estimates:

1) Independent satellite data – which Watts posts on his blog each month and has stood behind – indicate a warming over the U.S. closer to NOAA’s estimate. This point was raised by ClimateAudit blogger Steven McIntyre: “Over the continental US, the UAH satellite record shows a trend of 0.29 deg C/decade (TLT) from 1979-2008,” McIntyre said.

Interestingly, McIntyre is listed as a co-author of the Watts paper but begins a blog post expressing “puzzlement at Anthony’s [Watts’press release] announcement”and qualifies his involvement as “very last minute and limited”. And he admits to not having “parsed” parts of the Watts study.

2) Watts’ failure to make certain adjustments to the raw data, as NOAA has done, is a serious flaw knowledgeable bloggers say. Specifically, Watts did not apply a time of observation bias correction according to Howard Universitychemistry professor Josh Halpern, who blogs under the pseudonym Eli Rabett. McIntyre also addressed this problem: “There is a confounding interaction with TOBS [time of observation] that needs to be allowed for, as has been quickly and correctly pointed out.”

Also the listed co-author has blogged:

People have quite reasonably asked about my connection with the surface stations article, given my puzzlement at Anthony’s announcement last week. Anthony described my last-minute involvement here.

As readers are probably aware, I haven’t taken much issue with temperature data other than pressing the field to be more transparent. The satellite data seems quite convincing to me over the past 30 years and bounds the potential impact of contamination of surface stations, a point made in a CA post on Berkeley last fall here. Prior to the satellite period, station histories are “proxies” of varying quality. Over the continental US, the UAH satellite record shows a trend of 0.29 deg C/decade (TLT) from 1979-2008, significantly higher than their GLB land trend of 0.173 deg C/decade. Over land, amplification is negligible.

The satellite data is generally seen as accurate, and supports the records that show around 0.3 degree warming a decade. It is worth noting that even if you think Watts is right that it is lower at 0.15 – what is not disputed that temperatures are increasing. It is also very basic uncontested science that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will have a warming effect. What is contested is how large and fast that warming will be.


Climate Data

July 30th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Anthony Watts blogs:

A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward. The paper is the first to use the updated siting system which addresses USHCN siting issues and data adjustments.

The new improved assessment, for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data. This issue of station siting quality is expected to be an issue with respect to the monitoring of land surface temperature throughout the Global Historical Climate Network and in the BEST network.

This fits in with what my view is, that there is global warming, and human activity is causing it, but that the extent of the warming is debatable and not as large as originally projected.

The study by Watts and others has been a five year piece of work. I’ll be interested if there is a response to it, based on the science. Even though it still shows warming, the difference is very significant.

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Wellington sea level

July 13th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Parts of coastal Wellington could be drowned if doomsday climate change predictions from a new study pan out over the next 100 years.

Two reports issued yesterday by Greater Wellington regional council show Wellington’s sea level is the fastest rising in New Zealand – made worse by seismic rumblings causing the city to sink 1.7mm a year since 2000.

Worst-case scenarios coupling massive sea level rise with intense storm floods show low-lying coastal parts of the Eastbourne bays, Petone, Pauatahanui, as well as the river mouths at Otaki, Hutt, Whakataki (near Castlepoint), and Waikanae and the lower Wairarapa valley, could be forever swamped if sea levels rose 1.5m by 2115.

The scenario of 1.5m in 100 years is rather detached from reality. It would be sea level rise 10 times faster than what is actually happening. A 1.7mm rise a year is 17cm over 100 years if the rate stayed the same. Now sure it may increase – but it is not going to be 10 times as fast.

A reminder that the latest IPCC forecast is that on average over 100 years sea levels will rise between 19 and 59 cm. A 1.5m increase is three times greater than the “maximum” forecast by the last IPCC report.

On the plus side, the doomsday map shows that my apartment block will become a beachfront property, which would be great. So I’m all in favour.

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Fracking good for climate change

June 26th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The American interest blogs:

Despite there being no real effort by Congress to addressglobal warming and America’s longstanding reputation as an energy hog, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are falling.

The lackluster economy has something to do with it. But it doesn’t fully explain what’s happening. Consider that even factoring in a stronger economy, forecasters see greenhouse gas emissions continuing to fall.

It’s possible the country may meet its pledge to reduce emissions 17% by 2020.

So what is causing this?

The secret isn’t laws, green activism or regulations (although these do have roles to play). Innovation is the force that is enabling the cut in US carbon emissions. Specifically, the new ways of extracting natural gas that make have driven a natural gas boom in this country and dramatically cut the cost of the cleanest hydrocarbon energy source of them all. …

Ignore the greens and innovate, and you will cut carbon. Pay a lot of attention to them, spend a lot of money — and you will keep carbon emissions unchanged.

The story of course is more complicated than this, and there are real environmental problems that come with fracking. Nevertheless, the one force capable of enabling human beings to have the kind of freedom and abundance that they want while preserving the planetary environment on which we all depend is innovation. Regulations and laws have their place, but they can only do so much.

Right now, fracking is doing more to control carbon emissions than all the efforts of all the greens in the world. …

And by creating more well paid blue collar jobs both in gas and oil extraction and in the manufacturing industries that will grow to exploit the new cheap energy sources, fracking strengthens the American economy and the tax base, providing revenues for both federal and state governments.

Fracking is the left’s best friend.

Now the Greens always say climate change is the biggest challenge the planet faces – we risk extinction in fact. So I expect them to immediately stop their campaign to ban fracking, and endorse its use!

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How times change

April 27th, 2012 at 12:41 pm by David Farrar

A reader sent this scan to me. Incidentally this was published just two years before the National Academy of Sciences first talked about global warming. Doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, just that predicting something as complex as climate is very very difficult.

UPDATE: Have had pointed out this is near identical to this 2007 climate change cover. This may be a photoshop. However Time in 1974 did run a story called “Another Ice Age?”. So someone has altered a modern cover to fit the old story.

I did check it out on Snopes, which is what I do with a lot of material sent to me by e-mail, but Snopes did not have an article on the cover and it was well known Time did run such an article, so I had no reason to doubt it was an actual cover.

This one is genuine!


Lovelock says global warming slower than predicted

April 24th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

James Lovelock is a well known environmentalist, and has been a loud voice proclaiming that the impact of man made global warming would be massive. In 2006 he said:

billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable

He was referring to the year 2100 – just 88 years away. He said that 80% of the world’s population will have perished due to climate change, and by 2040 parts of the Sahara desert will have moved into middle Europe, and there will be almost no food grown in Europe.

In 2010 he said “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

He is quoted on the Green Party website 24 times, including blog comments.

MSNBC reports:

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared. …

“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” Lovelock said.

“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said.

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.

He pointed to Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” as other examples of “alarmist” forecasts of the future.

I’ve often said that the “alarmists” are significantly responsible for the huge levels of disbelief in greenhouse gases causing global warming. There is little dispute that increased greenhouse gases has a direct impact on the average temperature, but what is unknown is how other factors either multiply this impact, or reduce it.

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Alarmist bullshit

March 22nd, 2012 at 9:34 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sea levels will rise up to 22 metres even if the worst scenarios for global warming are avoided, researchers say.

An international team of scientists, which included a New Zealander, found that a 2C increase in global temperature would still cause the world’s oceans to rise between 12m and 22m.

Two degrees is the recommended limit set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A bigger increase could lead to the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet, some of the East Antarctic ice sheet and part of Greenland.

A 22m increase in sea level would dramatically transform New Zealand’s coastal boundaries, with low-lying areas like Auckland and Wellington’s harbours swamped by ocean currents.

But lead researcher Ken Miller said: “You don’t need to sell your beach real estate yet, because melting of these large ice sheets will take from centuries to a few thousand years.”

That last paragraph is key, and why this is just alarmist bullshit. Some people doubt temperatures are rising at all, But I do think there is a warming trend, of which greenhouse gas emissions are at least partially responsible. However even the IPCC say that the maximum rise in sea levels by 2100 is 59 cm. This is a 2007 projection. Since then some media have quoted extreme claims beyond that, but I prefer to put credence on the IPCC projections. The IPCC process is far from perfect, but they tend to produce reasonably sane figures.

The actual increase in sea levels is around 3 mm a year currently. This will pose challenges in the future, but the future will also bring more solutions. The hysterical nonsense about increases of 22 metres is forecasting perhaps in 5,000 years time. Anyone who thinks public policy today should be based on a forecast of what the climate might be in 5,000 years is nuts. Look at how the world has changed in just 100 years let alone hundreds or thousands. Hell in 1,000 years we may be living on Mars.

The Herald should be ashamed for saying that the projected increase could “dramatically transform” our coastal boundaries. A change over 1,000 years+ is not dramatic. It’s like saying the separation of Gondwana was dramatic


Global Warming Dirty Tricks

February 22nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

wattsup with that blogs:

Earlier this evening, Peter Gleick, a prominent figure in the global warming movement, confessed to stealing electronic documents from The Heartland Institute in an attempt to discredit and embarrass a group that disagrees with his views.

Gleick’s crime was a serious one. The documents he admits stealing contained personal information about Heartland staff members, donors, and allies, the release of which has violated their privacy and endangered their personal safety.

An additional document Gleick represented as coming from The Heartland Institute, a forged memo purporting to set out our strategies on global warming, has been extensively cited by newspapers and in news releases and articles posted on Web sites and blogs around the world. It has caused major and permanent damage to the reputations of The Heartland Institute and many of the scientists,  policy experts, and organizations we work with.

A mere apology is not enough to undo the damage.

In his statement, Gleick claims he committed this crime because he believed The Heartland Institute was preventing a “rational debate” from taking place over global warming. This is unbelievable. Heartland has repeatedly asked for real debate on this important topic. Gleick himself was specifically invited to attend a Heartland event to debate global warming just days before he stole the documents. He turned down the invitation.

Gleick also claims he did not write the forged memo, but only stole the documents to confirm the content of the memo he received from an anonymous source. This too is unbelievable. Many independent commentators already have concluded the memo was most likely written by Gleick.

What is it with the left in the US and forged memos.  You think they would have learnt from the forged documents about Bush during the Vietnam War. It is not hard to detect forgeries, and often to work out who the author is.

Both software and other language experts have said that the forged memo resembles strongly Gleick’s normal writing style. Add on motive and the fact he is the only person who claims to have been sent a copy of it, and you do not need to be Sherlock Holmes to work it out.


NZ temperatures in 2011

January 12th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NIWA have released:

The nation-wide average temperature for 2011 was 12.8°C, 0.3°C above the 1971–2000 annual average, using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.  2011 was the 17th warmest year since 1909, based on this 7-station series.

17th warmest. Some extremes though:

The highest recorded extreme temperature of the year (41.3°C) occurred at Timaru on 6 February (a new all-time high temperature record in the area).

Ouch. Also of interest is how each month compared to the norm for that month:

  • Jan +0.3
  • Feb +0.7
  • Mar +0.0
  • Apr -0.4
  • May +2.2
  • Jun +1.5
  • Jul +0.1
  • Aug -0.5
  • Sep -0.7
  • Oct +0.3
  • Nov -0.2
  • Dec +0.2

May was a scorcher.

The highest mean temp was 16.7 in Leigh and lowest was 7.6 at the Chateau, Mt Ruapehu.

Most rainfall was 9.49m at Cropp River and least was 0.39m at Clyde.

Nelson had the most sunshine with 2487 hours (6.8 hours a day) and Franz Josef the least at 1598 hours (4.4 hours a day).


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Leyland on global warming

January 6th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Bryan Leland writes in the Dom Post on global warming:

Although the world did warm by about 0.7C between 1975 and 1988, there has been no significant warming since then. All the major temperature records show that global warming has flattened off.

I think Bryan means 1998. In 1975 the average temperature was 0.17c below the norm. In 1988 it was 0.18c above the norm and in 1998 it was 0.55c above the norm – the highest year on record.

I wouldn’t quite say there has been no significant warming since then. 1998 was an exceptional high. A significant warming trend did continue until the early 2000s. However as one can see it has tapered off in recent years.

There is a divergence of views about the leveling off. Many factors affect the global temperature. I think it is premature to conclude it disproves global warming, but certainly the longer the “flat” period continues the more the prediction models will come under scrutiny.

Regarding sea levels, the highly accurate sea-level gauges installed around Australia and on the Pacific Islands (including Tuvalu) in the early 1990s showed that sea level rise is small – less than 3mm a year – and that, in recent years, it has levelled off. The 3mm a year is consistent with the sea-level rise that we have experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age. So the only strange thing that is happening is that we cannot explain why the sea level is no longer rising.

The increase is only around 3 mm a year, but this is up from 1.8 mm a year for the previous century. It is not dramatic end of the world Al Gore type hysteria rises, but it is an increase. The graph shows:

On the basis of that data, I wouldn’t say the sea level is no longer rising. It is. An increase of 3 mm a year is not the end of the world, but if it acclerates, then it does post significant challenges.

The climate models predict that an increase in carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming purely because they have been programmed to do just that. The science tells us that if we double carbon dioxide from the present level it might cause a warming of about 1C. The climate modellers escalate this 1-to-3C, with little supporting evidence, and then, quite predictably, the models show a much higher rate of warming. But if you talk to the modellers, they will tell you that the big unknown is the effect of clouds because they cannot model them with any accuracy. There is more and more evidence that an increase in temperature brings an increase in clouds and this has a cooling effect.

This is the area of most uncertainty, as I see it. As Bryan says there is no dispute about the direct impact of increased greenhouses gases being around 1 to 1.5 degrees (off memory). What is disputed is whether the indirect effects will magnify that warming, reduce it, or not affect it. Most climate scientists say it will magnify it, but this is based on models. I bow towards the majority view, but with the caution that if the data does not fit the models, then the models need to be re-evaluated.

One good thing about the decision to try and have a post-Kyoto agreement be completed by 2015, to start in 2020, is that several more years of data should help us understand how significant a problem the level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is. It definitely is a problem, but the magnitude of the problem will ultimately depend on the data of the next few years, and beyond.

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A step forward

December 23rd, 2011 at 8:18 am by David Farrar

Last week the Herald reported:

A marathon UN climate conference yesterday approved a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof.

If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

This is the first useful step forward in some time. Any agreement that does not include the major emitters has next to no environmental value. It is significant that China, US and India have all agreed in principle.

Actually gaining agreement on the details of post 2020 reductions will be incredibly challenging. As there is  an economic cost to reducing emissions, there will be resistance from vested interests.


World’s worst emitters?

December 11th, 2011 at 4:11 pm by David Farrar

Kennedy Graham blogs:

In Durban, the Kyoto Protocol is kept on life support.

Kyoto is, of course, the only binding climate instrument with specific emission targets. It compels the world’s worst emitters to reduce emissions. But it has always been inadequate in itself – a first step to greater things. And it terminates within 12 months.

Kyoto does not compel the world’s worst emitters to reduce emissions. It compels only 37 countries to reduce emissions. Now let us look at the top 10 emitters in 2005″

  1. China 16.4%
  2. US 15.8%
  3. EU 12.1%
  4. Brazil 6.5%
  5. Indonesia 4.6%
  6. Russia 4.6%
  7. India 4.3%
  8. Japan 3.1%
  9. Canada 1.8%
  10. Mexico 1.6%

Those countries bolded are not required under Kyoto to reduce or even hold emissions.

There is a simple way to test if someone talking climate change is seriously concerned about the environmental impact, or they are just a politician or pseudo-politician wanting to score points.

The test is do they mention China (and preferably India). Any agreement that exempts China is a disaster for the environment, based on climate change science. Only a moron would promote an agreement where China can continue to increase emissions at 10% per annum.  Because if China is not part of the agreement, then by 2020 their emissions will be greater than the rest of the world in 2005. So even if every other country went carbon neutral at a cost of trillions of dollars, it would be of not benefit to the planet as China’s increase in emissions will be greater than everyone else’s reductions.

Dr Graham in his entire blog post doesn’t mention China once. That is conclusive proof that his concern is the politics, not the environment.

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Carbon Emission Changes

November 12th, 2011 at 3:26 pm by David Farrar

The graph is from Whale. No source, so can’t vouch for 100% accuracy but the major emitters look right to me.

The key thing is the change in the last three years. What it shows is that any international agreement must include China, or it is a farce. There is absolutely no environmental or economic gain from the rest of the world flagellating itself, while China won’t commit to any cap.

This is not to say, we should do nothing at all. We need to be credible to our trading partners. But what we mustn’t do is sign up to another Kyoto where China (and India) have no caps at all.


National’s ETS changes

November 9th, 2011 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

National has released its policy on climate change and the environment. The policy has a long list of achievements, but I want to focus on the ETS changes:

The 2011 ETS Review Panel recommended moving to full obligation in three equal steps between I January 2013 and 1 January 2015. It is National’s intention to implement this recommendation.

This is nothing major, and seems sensible to phase in the full obligations.

National believes it is important to maintain land-use flexibility for pre-1990 forest land. We will introduce offsetting on 1 January 2013 regardless of the lack of international agreement.

This is very sensible. It basically says you can offset new forests against cutting down existing ones. Allows a landowner to use the land most suited to forestry for forestry and the land most suited to (say) dairy for dairy.

The agriculture sector is liable to surrender units for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from 1 January 2015.
National will review this in 2014. We will not impose a liability unless there are practical technologies to reduce emissions, and our trading partners have made further progress with their climate change policies to reduce emissions.

I actually disagree with National on this one. The ETS review panel chaired by David Caygill did a very good job I thought, and made the case that the industry has shown the ability to reduce emissions. Sure, there is no silver bullet, but I don’t think delaying the start date endlessly is a good idea. The industry moves into the ETS at a very slow rate, and a preferable strategy would have been to have it come in, and maybe then cap the level it moves to if technology has not found ways to reduce emissions.

Advocate for an international agreement that requires all major emitters to reduce their emission levels over time.

National sees no point in any future international agreement that does not include a commitment from major emitting countries to reduce their business-as-usual emissions levels. We’ve made our 2020 target conditional on this.

This is vital. If China is not part of any agreement to at a minimum hold, if not reduce, emissions then the efforts of the rest of the world will count for nothing.

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The ETS Review

September 15th, 2011 at 3:56 pm by David Farrar

The ETS Review Panel reported back today. It’s a fair read at 98 pages.

The panel was chaired by David Caygill, who was Labour Party Deputy Leader to Helen Clark. Another members was David Russell, the former head of the Consumer’s Institute. Their mandate was to look at the ETS, to look at what has been happening globally, and to recommend changes to it. And no before you ask, their mandate wasn’t to look at the science.

The ETS was passed into law by Labour in 2008 and it was amended by National in 2009. The major event since then was the collapse of the Copenhagen talks and the growing probability that there will be no binding post-2012 Kyoto type agreement.

The dates sectors have or will enter the ETS is currently:

  • Jan 2008 – forestry
  • Jul 2010 – liquid fossil fuels, stationary energy, industrial processes
  • Jan 2013 – waste, synthetic greenhouse gas sectors
  • Jan 2015 – agriculture

At present there is a 2:1 subsidy so that a business can buy two carbon credits for the price of one. This was a temporary measure to reduce the immediate impact on petrol prices and power prices. The panel recommends that this phase out by 2015. This would mean petrol would rise over four years by around 3c/litre and power would go up around 3% over the next four years (beyond any other price increases), Note that AFAIK Labour’s policy is to stop the subsidy immediately which would have those price increases occur all at once next year.

There is also a price cap carbon credits of $25. The price cap gives price certainty to businesses and consumers but if set too low doesn’t provide enough of an incentive to reduce emissions. They recommend the cap increase by $5/year. That does not mean the market price will be that high. I think the current price is around NZ$19.

I thought the panel might advise that agriculture not enter in as scheduled in 2015, however they say it should still enter. Their reports says:

For agriculture, the Panel has noted submitters’ concerns that the sector lacks abatement options. However, based on evidence it has heard from stakeholders, the Panel believes the options available to the sector are sufficient to enable surrender obligations to begin in 2015, as currently legislated. Under the current allocation regime, the obligation on agriculture’s biological emissions will essentially be intensity based (emissions per unit of product), and the sector has shown an ability to decrease emissions intensity year‐on‐year. The ETS will increase incentives for emissions‐intensity improvements.

However they do recommend two changes for the agricultural sector:

The Panel strongly believes the point of obligation for agriculture should be at the farmer level, rather than the processor level as currently legislated, as this will ensure those who are best able to reduce their emissions are motivated to do so. The Panel supports the work of the Agricultural ETS Advisory Committee as it explores the practicality of doing this.

Makes sense to have the costs and incentives apply to individual farms, but very hard to manage in a practical sense.

Given that agriculture’s entry into the ETS will mean it will not be able to benefit from the one-for‐two obligation as it phases out, the Panel recommends the sector benefits from a one‐for-two obligation for the first two years after it enters the ETS (i.e. 2015 and 2016). This surrender obligation should then be phased out over the subsequent three years, consistent with those sectors already in the ETS.

This will give the agriculture sector more time to adjust to a carbon price and to take up abatement options. The Panel notes that, combined with free allocation of NZUs, the agriculture sector would face an obligation equivalent to only 5 per cent of biological emissions for the first two years after entering the ETS.

So basically soften the impact for the first five years.

I predict Labour and the Greens will decry the report as watering down the ETS and how we will be seen as evil polluters if we adopt the review’s recommendations.

And likewise I am sure ACT will campaign against agriculture even entering the ETS. There is some potential for ACT to gain votes with Don Nicolson campaigning on this issue.

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First casualties of climate change

August 18th, 2011 at 3:36 pm by David Farrar

Gavin Atkins writes:

Tim Blair recently posted this list of things that the media have trumpeted as being the “first casualties of climate change”.

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to check the veracity of each story – but what I was not expecting is that every story up until 2010 (after which some of the claims are too recent to verify one way or another) has either been completely debunked, or has since had some serious doubts placed on it.

So the following examples have not been cherry picked – it’s a quick analysis of every claim made about “the first casualty of global warming” up until 2010.

Here are the stories that Tim gathered together, followed by the latest information about them:

The claim:

The golden toad was the first casualty of global warming

The reality:

“There is no evidence of a trend associated with global warming. Rather, the extinction of the Monteverde golden toad (Bufo periglenes) appears to have coincided with an exceptionally dry interval caused by the 1986–1987 El Niño event.”

The claim:

Tuvalu: Global Warming’s first casualty. Ten thousand people, Tuvalu’s entire population, are packing their bags as their homes among nine low level atolls are being swallowed by the rising sea.

The reality:

The last census shows that Tuvalu’s population continues to grow.

The claim:

Polar bears are set to become the first casualty of global warming.

The reality:

The total number of the world’s polar bear population is still thought to be between 20,000 and 25,000.

The claim:

The first casualty of global warming is India’s mangrove island on the Bay of Bengal, Lochachara ~ it is now gone.

The reality:

The loss of the island was almost certainly caused as part of the natural erosion of an island in a delta.

The claim:

The Maldives are the likely first casualty in any serious increase in global warming.

The reality:

The Maldives population continues to increase.

The claim:

Water could be the first casualty of global warming.

The reality:

Not in Australia it ain’t. Also, the argument that smaller glaciers means less water is pure illogical claptrap as explained eloquently by Jennifer Marohasy.

The claim:

Australia Could Become First Major Casualty Due To Global Warming.

The reality:

People in Sydney and Melbourne have wasted millions on desalination plants because of false predictions about water shortages.

The claim:

Losing winter: as climate change takes hold, North America’s coldest season is the first casualty.

The reality:

North America has experienced some of its biggest snow seasons on record.

The claim:

First Casualty of Global Warming? Rare breed of possum may be extinct.

The reality:

Live possums were discovered four months later.

The claim:

The Alaskan village of Newtok is the first casualty of climate change.

The reality:

The town of Newtok is still exactly where it always has been.

The claim:

UNEP had also recently declared that coral reefs, which support the majority of marine life, will be the first casualty of climate change.

The reality:

The reefs are doing fine.

The claim:

Brunt of climate change perceived in India; small Himalayan glaciers first casualty.

The reality:

UN climate chief admits mistake on Himalayan glaciers warning

The claim:

In India … agriculture is the first casualty of climate change.

The reality:

India produces record wheat and pulses crop.

This sums up for me the reason so many people disbelieve climate change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. The media, many politicians and even some crusading scientists have published so many scare stories that have not eventuated, people naturally turn to disbelief.

As I have said many times before, the basis science is very sound that the more greenhouse gas emission there are, the warmer it will be. There is less certainty over what the extent of any warming will be. Some say only a couple of degrees, while many say the indirect impacts through water vapour will magnify the direct effects.

But as I have said many times, the assorted hysteria about 10 metre sea level rises, blaming all unusual climate events on greenhouse gas emissions, and assorted doomsday predictions are what have turned so many people from concerned to sceptical.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil


No debate for Monckton

August 4th, 2011 at 8:41 am by David Farrar

Isaac Davison at NZ Herald reports:

Prominent climate sceptic Christopher Monckton has arrived in New Zealand for a series of public talks, but his hosts are struggling to find a platform for his views.

Scientists approached to challenge the hereditary peer say debating well-established facts about climate change is a backward step which is bound to mislead the public.

Belief in man-made global warming has plummeted in recent years for a number of reasons. One of them is the arrogance of the scientists who say things like debating the science is a backward step, and refuse to do so.

Green Party MP and climate change spokesman Kennedy Graham, who was invited to challenge the Englishman, said there was no longer a debate about greenhouse gases.

Yes there is.

I actually accept the science that the more greenhouse gas emissions you have, the warmer it will get. I also think a price on carbon is a sensible thing to do. But my God I despair of the likes of Dr Graham who declare there is no longer a debate, when a massive proportion of the population do not accept the linkages.

You win people over by debating. If Monckton uses cherry picked facts, then you point that out. Why should anyone listen to people unwilling to debate?



December 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Charles Chauvel at Red Alert blogged:

I’m in Cancun, Mexico, at the 16th UN Climate Change Conference. Like last year at the 15th Conference in Copenhagen, I am representing Labour as its climate spokesperson; I paid my own way to get here; I am part of the delegation from the International Trade Union Confederation (thanks to Helen Kelly and Sharan Burrow).

I wonder what would be the reaction if a National MP turned up at an international forum as part of a business lobby group?

I’m here to support efforts to get an ambitious, binding, global deal to limit the problems that we are all likely to face as a result of human-induced climate change, and to support a just transition to the different world we are all to shortly going to find ourselves living in.

There will be no binding deal at Cancun. Cancun will make progress in a number of areas but no one expects a binding deal.

So why am I here? Well, just because the media isn’t talking about it so much doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t just as serious as it was last year. My aunts’ home in Tahiti, 6m from the high tide line, is no less likely to be washed away by rising sea levels than it was last year.

This is th part which I think is ridicolous scare-mongering – I expect it from ill informed people, but not from the official Labour Spokesperson on climate change.

The IPCC 4th report had a number of scenarios. In the most optimistic the mean sea level rise by 2100 would be 18 cm and the most pessimistic would be 59 cm.

So the IPCC have said the worst case scenario is that by 2100 the sea level may have risen 10% of the 6 metres above high tide.

If that rate kept up, Charles’ auntie’s place will get swept away in the year 3000. Now regardless of sea level change, Tahiti is also sinking or subsiding at around 25 cm every 100 years. So in fact around 2700 or so it might get hairy.

Of course by then it will be 18 generations or so on from Charles and his aunt.

I’ve often said politicians who scare-monger like Charles are in fact very damaging to their own cause. Such ridicolous statements (which strongly implied that a six metre rise could happen in his aunt’s lifetime) just provide ammunition to sceptics.

[UPDATE: Several commenters have pointed out that a more likely meaning is that the house is 6 metres along the beach from the high tide mark. If that is the case, then it all depends on the angle of the beach. If the angle is more than 9 degrees, then it still isn’t until 2100 that you get problems.

The projected rate of sea level rise is not dramatic (it is undesirable though). The increase per decade last century has been 1.8 cm/decade. From 1993 it has been 3 cm/decade and the IPCC projects the worst case scenario is 6 cm/decade up until 2100.]

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Lomborg on Climate Change

November 19th, 2010 at 6:51 am by David Farrar

An interesting interview with Bjorn Lomborg at the Daily Beast. First his profile:

Bjorn Lomborg is one of the best-known (and most controversial) participants in the global debate on climate change. A professor at the Copenhagen Business School, he founded the Copenhagen Consensus Center, an organization that brings together many of the world’s leading economists to ponder the great environmental and material questions of our time—in particular, the question of whether we are getting our priorities wrong in focusing as obsessively (and expensively) as we do on manmade global warming, instead of on other problems such as clean drinking water, or malaria.

Lomborg is well known as the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. But note he is not sceptical on climate change itself – just the response to it.

Gore got our attention and pointed out that global warming is real, but he also scared the pants off people, and hysteria makes for pretty poor political judgment. So, this film acknowledges Gore’s fundamental point: Global warming is real, manmade and important. But it does two important things: It rolls back the fear by pointing out that global warming is not the end of the world, and it shows us lots of ways in which we can start tackling climate change smartly and efficiently.

The reason there is a backlash against whether climate change is even real is because of all those who exaggerated its impact and painted Armageddon as imminent.

That is a very good question. I think part of it is due to the nature of the debate: It is easier for the people who predict the worst-case outcomes to be heard, and similarly it is easier for the people who entirely reject those propositions to be printed in response. However, it is entirely crucial for our ability to tackle global warming that we enable ourselves to have a more nuanced debate, a place where we can find a middle, or third road, where we can recognize the reality of global warming while not having to subscribe to the poor, ineffective Kyoto-style policies.

The Armageddon extremists on one side of the debate have given rise to the outright denialists and sceptics on the other. And really the debate should be on what is the most effective response.

I hope that the film will make a connection with the vast majority of Americans who indeed are in the middle of this conversation, tentatively subscribing to global warming, but unwilling to commit vast resources to amazingly poor policies.

Allow me just to give you one example: The European Union’s “20-20” policy, which will reduce emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels in 2020, will cost $250 billion per year for the rest of the century. Yet after spending $20 trillion, it will only have reduced temperatures by a minuscule 0.1°F. This simply is not smart.

Mitigation can be very expensive. There can be costs to not mitigating also of course.

The overwhelming evidence points to the reality of anthropogenic global warming. Even very skeptical scientists such as Richard Lindzen at MIT and Patrick Michaels point out that more CO2 in the atmosphere means higher temperatures. This is really rather simple physics.

Again, the debate is over the extent of the indirect effects of greater CO2.

Fundamentally, we should be asking for governments to spend 0.2 percent of GDP on research and development into green energy. This is 50 times as much as we spend today, yet it is much less than what is typically being proposed to spend on inefficient Kyoto-style policies. Since it is so comparatively cheap, it is much more likely that we could get every nation on board (and developing countries would be paying proportionally less). But even if not everyone were on board, it would still make sense to move forward. In that sense, some countries could move ahead, fund the R&D and take us much closer to tackling global warming, without everyone participating.

NZ is spending a fair bit on R&D on reducing agricultural emissions, and in fact created a global alliance of other countries working towards this goal.

But 0.2% would be around $300 million a year. Sounds a lot. But it’s less than the subsidies in the ETS!

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British High Commission on European ETS

October 28th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged on Tuesday a comparison between the NZ ETS and the European ETS, concluding the NZ ETS is more “pure” as it includes all gases and all sectors.

The British High Commission has sent me this response, articulating the European view:

Same Game – Shared Targets

Many people note that New Zealand generates only a small proportion of global emissions and ask whether it matters if NZ acts or not. It very much does matter. If New Zealand – with its clean, green image – can’t make the move to low carbon, what hope for other countries? The important statistic in terms of global responsibility is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per person, that puts New Zealand near the top of the global league table.

Accurate figures vary depending on the source but the global average is around 7 tonnes of GHG per person per year. The UK and EU average is about 10 tonnes per year while New Zealand is around 19 tonnes GHG per person per year. To meet our global target of reducing emissions by 50%, everyone in the world needs to be at around 2 tonnes per capita by 2050. This shows the scale of the challenge facing New Zealand and all other countries.

The EU’s Game Plan

The ETS is only part of Europe’s response (more on this below). Commentators can only sensibly critique the European approach if the ETS is viewed in this context. More generally, no comment on European efforts should be made without acknowledging what Member States’ are already committed to. For example, by 2050 the UK is committed in law to having GHG emissions 80% less than those in 1990 (and so move from 10 to 2 tonnes per capita). In the nearer term the EU as a whole is committed to 20% (or possibly 30%) reductions by 2020.

It is misleading to make too much of a direct comparison between the EU and NZ ETSs. The crucial fact is that action to reduce an economy’s greenhouse gases requires a portfolio of policies. This is what we have in the EU. The key issue is to look at the best policy tool for reducing emissions in each sector. For example, the EU has looked at light vehicles (cars and vans) and recognised that they produce 12% of the EU’s emissions and so need to be tackled. So the EU passed legislation on the fuel efficiency of cars. It is now EU law that the fleet average for all cars registered in the EU is 130 grams per kilometre (g/km). This is being phased in over the next few years and there are hefty fines for companies that exceed the limit (up to 95 Euros per extra gramme of CO2 over the limit!). This is a sensible and effective approach to tackling transport emissions. So the fact that it is not in the EU ETS does not mean action is not being taken.

The same argument applies to housing, agriculture and waste. Each country also has a binding renewable energy target and their own range of policies (energy tax, feed-in tariffs etc) to ensure those targets are met. In addition the EU is contributing EUR 7.2 billion to climate finance over the next three years. Ultimately when comparing and contrasting the response to climate change of different economies the most important fact is the overall impact on GHG emissions. This shows that the EU is on the right track – 2009 emissions were around 17% below their 1990 level.

If forced to compare the NZ and EU ETS one key difference is that the EU ETS sets binding caps on emissions. So participants in the scheme will have their allocations gradually reduced to 21% below the 2005 level by 2020. There is currently no similar cap in the New Zealand scheme.

Climate change matters

Every country in the world will face stresses from climate change. Increased frequency and severity of floods, storms I and droughts will have a direct impact on New Zealand’s agriculture sector and infrastructure. The faster we all move to a low carbon economy – and there are a whole range of policies to get us there – the better.

Its great to get a response on what is a complicated and challenging issue.

Our per capita emissions are high, but that is partly because of the large number of cows we have, relative to humans. I have not calculated what it would excluding the cows, but suspect we would then be close to the UK average.

The UK response does impress upon me that doing nothing is not a viable option. Even Tony Abbott is not a proponent of doing nothing – he just proposes direct Government spending on climate change mitigation rather than an ETS.

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