Government all talk no walk no climate change

The Herald reports:

A new climate-change law next year will bind Governments to carbon targets and set it down a path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – though agriculture looks set for a free ride until at least mid-2019.

And Greenpeace has called on the Government to back up its talk by banning all new mining, oil drilling and fracking consents – which Government officials say would cost the country more than $15 billion in lost revenue.

Targets are meaningless without policies to achieve them. A net zero emissions target is as meaningless as a zero suicide target.

I don’t agree with Greenpeace on banning mining, but they are correct that the Government is not actually doing much to achieve its goals. The reality is that achieving zero net emissions will be incredibly costly and painful. It will involve massive trade offs.

Shaw said the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions were currently about 80,000 mega tonnes a year. It was possible to reduce that to zero through measures such as planting trees, moving towards 100 per cent renewable energy, and electrification of the Government’s vehicle fleet.

That is basically a lie. Also the net is 60,000 not 80,000. You’d hope the Minister would know the difference.

The Government has around 15,000 vehicles which is around 0.4% of the total fleet. Vehicles emit around 13 mT a year of emissions so this would reduce emissions by around 51 kT or around 0.05% of net emissions.

We are already 85% renewable energy. Even if one can make it 100% that would only reduce net emissions by 3 mT for public electricity or 2.5% of net emissions.

This leaves tree planting which the IPCC estimates could globally only sequester 2% of global emissions. Assume the same applies for NZ and basically the three measures Shaw talks about will reduce our net emissions by maybe 5%. That is why I call it an effective lie. The “easy” stuff with few trade offs will make almost no difference to our level of emissions. If the Government was serious they would be banning new petrol cars and mandating a reduction every year in the number of cows in NZ. Those policies of course would be deeply unpopular and spark a huge backlash so instead the Government pretends what it is doing will allow them to meet their goals – and they know it won’t.

But he would not rule out buying carbon credits from overseas to help reach the zero target.

“I can’t predict the future. Our attention and everything we are doing is designed around our domestic emissions profile, so we don’t have to [buy credits from overseas].”

Ardern added that New Zealand would no longer buy “dud” credits from overseas.

We’re not going to buy those nasty dud credits, we’re only going to buy the best quality credits!

Comments (124)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: