BBC/TVE Earth Report special: NZ

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, June 12th, 2008 - 15 comments
Categories: climate change, International, youtube - Tags: , ,

BBC and TVE screen an Earth Report special this week focussing on New Zealand’s objective to become carbon neutral:

New Zealand, host for World Environment Day 2008, plans to be the first to create a completely carbon neutral economy. Their target is 2020 and they have ambitious plans to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a big increase in renewable power generation and a switch to sustainable transport like electric cars.

And here are parts two and three.

(Hat-tip: LGD)

15 comments on “BBC/TVE Earth Report special: NZ”

  1. I saw that documentary last night on BBC World. Some stunning visuals (Nick Smith excepted) of New Zealand, but it portrayed NZ slightly too clean and green and often fell into cliche mode. Great tourism advert though. Now if only tourists could come here on a carbon zero basis!

  2. NX 2

    This piece by the BBC highlights the criticism leveled at Helen Clark that she’s motivated by the high profile her rhetoric on climate change attracts rather than the issue itself.

    With Helen Clark; rhetoric vs. record & record loses out every time.

  3. all_your_base 3

    uroskin: agreed, always interesting to see how others perceive us though, eh?

    NX: you seem to have fallen for the National Party line.

  4. NX 4

    “NX: you seem to have fallen for the National Party line.”

    I thought it was the Green party line.

    Either way are you going to tell me that the PM is some sort of champaign of the environment?

  5. Matthew Pilott 5


    I think the UN thought so, something about an award. And you recall the fast follower/leader debate for NZ’s place in the Grand Scheme of Things?

    Even today I read some tool from an oil business front group in the Dom Post banging on about the govt’s policy being destructive and economically ruinous.

    Funny, though, it’s going to ruin us and is economically destructive, yet she’s let the environment down when it siuts people to claim so.

    How does one reconcile these views?

    NX – do we need a stronger RMA, ETS and a more tight Kyoto committment perhaps?

  6. Ari 6

    I’d have to agree that while Labour under Helen has made some movement to a greener state of existence, we’re hardly headed for carbon-neutral by 2020, especially not if you’re Green enough to not count offset emission. Describing Helen’s rhetoric as ambitious might be correct, but the plan, especially the ETS, is not.

    Come to the greeeeen side Labour, before we have to resort to “I am your father!” jokes.

  7. NX 7

    The figures I’ve seen on Kiwiblog & elsewhere show that carbon emissions & deforestation have increased under the environmental champaign, sorry champion;). You can’t get much more basic than that.

    As for reconciling the views; everyone has different ideas.

    My ideas are far more radical than HC’s. I would prepare NZ for the hydrogen economy by building ultra modern nuclear power plants (carbon free). Like in Iceland & Germany, hydrogen fueling stations would need to be installed in major cities for public transport.

    Biofuels have proven to suck. Wind & solar won’t cut it for producing hydrogen which is a very power hungry process.

    As for agriculture, other than scientific research into reducing methane production in the animals gut, there isn’t really anything you can do. Unless you want to shoot cows.

  8. T-rex 8

    NX, switching to a hydrogen based energy infrastructure removes pretty much the only vaguely decent argument in favour of Nuclear power (baseload).

    And by ‘vaguely decent’ I mean ‘not actually any good at all but can seem reasonable at first glance’.

  9. Matthew Pilott 9

    Carbon emissions are directly tied to GDP every extra dollar takes its pound of carbon. Emissions increasing is not an indictment alone – perhaps we could have done better,but I can only see that achieved by internalising co2 emissions. Bring on the ETS!

    Deforestation is a problem – from what I understand replanting of forests wasn’t made attractive to government policy. I have limited understanding of the issue, but my feeling is that the govt got some part of the equation wrong – I don’t know the details though.

    Boifuels made from marginal/barren land could ease the transition to a hydrogen economy if handled correctly.

    We don’t need a nuclear power plant – the economies of scale are a disaster if nothing else (they are too big and costly, and we have no network streams or infrastructure for them maybe if we needed twenty I’d agree with you). We have abundant resources that we can take advantage of. Cook Strait Tidal Stream Power owns nuclear six way to Sunday over here – and it’s an exportable technology – we’d have to import nuclear expertise.

    In a few decades, using renewables (a-la Tidal Stream) to create hydrogen via electrolysis, which is sent to locally-based (decentralised) Fuel-Cell generation plants and to service stations for transport use would be ideal.

    I hope we can get there.

    I think Labour can help – I know National can’t.

    Edit – the “rex factor” strikes again!! heh

  10. lprent 10

    NX: “building ultra modern nuclear power plants”

    I’d question exactly where you will site them and exactly how you are going to disaster proof them.

    There is literally no place in NZ that is stable enough geologically to site the standard plants in reasonable safety. They’d have to be considerably enhanced. Similarly with the waste holding plants. Effectively we’d have to do Japan’s trick and export the waste.

    Leaving aside all of the ecological problems, I’d roughly estimate a 4 to 5-fold increase in costs to deal with these factors compared to siting in say East Coast US.

    I’d expect that it’d be cheaper to set up plants in Austrailia where there are geologically stable areas, manufacture fuel there and bring it here.

    However the biggest problem will be convince me and people like me (centrists) not to NIMBY or sabotage the plants while they’re being built.

  11. NX 11

    In a few decades, using renewables (a-la Tidal Stream) to create hydrogen via electrolysis, which is sent to locally-based (decentralised) Fuel-Cell generation plants and to service stations for transport use would be ideal.

    ^that sounds great. I take it by tidal stream you mean harnessing the waves to generate electricity. I like this idea because you don’t have to damn a river (since when was damming a river environmentally friendly). However is there actually a working power plant of this type anywhere in the world… it’s perhaps a bit science fiction.

    Iprent; the scenario is that Nissan are going to have an all electric car on the market in 2010. Petrol prices are going to rise. Just imagine the extra demand when people plug their cars into the power grid when they get home from work @ 6pm. We can barely cope now. Just imagine the huge advantage the NZ economy would have with an abundant supply of electricity when fossil fuels get too expensive.

    I’m not convinced how environmentally friendly electric cars are given the huge amount of batteries they have (batteries contain acids etc), but they’re going to become a reality.

    So the issues with nuclear:
    Earthquakes – the Japanese have managed to earthquake proof their plants.
    Disasters – the new plants use uranium chips rather than rods. They’re mile away from the old Russian design – just as long as the nuclear plant doesn’t use Windows Vista.
    Waste – put it in a bunker in the central NI (Swedish model) then forget about it.
    Site/location – Dunno… somewhere.

    However, one of the main problems with nuclear you’ve missed is uranium sustainability.

  12. Matthew Pilott 12

    NX, tidal stream is somewhat different. There’s a very reliable current of up to 3m-s that flows through parts fo the Cook Strait – essentially you put big turbines in underwater, tethered to the sea floor.


    have some info (also on traditional methods such as that proposed for the Kaipara Harbour).

    It is SF now to the extent that it’s only in testing and has not yet led to large-scale grid inputs.

    I very much like the sound of it though!

  13. lprent 13

    MP: Or at the entrance to some harbours – for instance the Kaipara (oh I see you know that) has a pretty intense tidal bore that runs very very fast (nearly been washed out at the north head a few times)

    NX: There is a very significant difference between the Japanese and NZ. It is population. If you look at the extra costs of the earthquake proofing in Japan it is pretty high. But they have more people to amortize the costs.

    Also Japan doesn’t have the kind of geological ablation that we have. They deforested a *long* time ago. We did it in the last couple of centuries. That means wasting hillside, massive floods, and a generally active landscape. All of those are dangerous to any building that must maintain containment. Add more costs.

    Anyway each of these costs makes other power sources more attractive.

    Central NI – what are you thinking!!!!
    Have a look at the descriptions of the last eruption out of Lake Taupo in 180AD. On average these kind of eruptions happen out of Taupo every 1000 years or so The whole of the central NI is called the Volcanic Plateau for a reason. It is a couple of kilometres of debris from previous eruptions. The eruptions are bad enough without adding short half-life waste downwind.

  14. T-rex 14

    I figure I’ll just come back in another month and argue the reasons-nuclear-is-a-lousy-solution again. Otherwise I’ll just give up.

  15. kisekiman 15

    A recent quote about Kevin Rudd which could equally apply to Helen Clark in this case after 9 years of inaction.

    “If you announce twice a week that you’re going to save the world and you manifestly lack the means to give the slightest effect to your pronouncements, the world soon loses interest. The chief casualty is your credibility.’

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