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Climate change is this Government’s nuclear free issue

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, May 1st, 2019 - 50 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, Environment, global warming, greens, jacinda ardern, james shaw, Jeremy Corbyn, labour, nz first, Politics - Tags:

Jacinda Ardern is right.  Climate change is this generation’s nuclear free moment.  And it is therefore this Government’s nuclear free issue.

After the mixed feelings caused by the response to the CGT proposal there is an imperative for the Government to make sure that its response is resolute.  Otherwise there will be the feeling that NZ First is wielding too much power.

Negotiations over the Zero Carbon Bill are under way and the result is close.  From Andrea Vance at Stuff:

The government is close to announcing a deal on its contentious climate change legislation, striking a deal over agricultural emissions.

Stuff understands Climate Change Minister James Shaw and NZ First have negotiated a “split gas” target, which would see methane treated differently from other long-lived gases, like carbon.

Farmers are worried about the legislation because agriculture accounts for about half our emissions, mostly methane from belching live stock.

It comes as Shaw took delivery on Tuesday of two reports – on agriculture and on transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 – from the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC).

But instead of immediately releasing them publicly, as expected, the reports will be held back until the Government decides how to respond. 

Shaw said: “We have delayed release of reports to give Government time to consider the reports so that when they are released for public consultation people will have a clear idea of the Government’s thinking around the recommendations.

“That’s likely to mean the release of the reports, together with the Government’s position, will happen in the next few weeks.”

I can live with different treatments of methane and CO2.  Methane is shorter living and we can plant enough trees, lots and lots of trees,  to address the effects and give us more time as we transition away.  And getting to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 could cost a considerable amount although the analysis I have read came from the New Zealand Initiative and should be treated with a grain of salt.

But the Government needs to be staunch about the overall goal.

To see how stark things are when advisers to the UK Conservative Government are recommending carbon neutrality by 2050 then you know that things are dire.

How about carbon neutrality by 2025 as demanded by Extinction Rebellion?  That is an utterly ambitious target but the science seems to be suggesting more and more strongly that this is what will be required of Western nations to avert catastrophic change.

We are in an emergency and maybe as a starting point our leaders should publicly spell this out.  This New Scientist article contains these comments from ER spokesperson Rupert Reed:

Telling the truth would help reach the 2025 goal, he says. Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the government “must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency.” Perry responded this week that “what counts is actions”.

Read says one facet of this demand is about language and conveying the scale of change required to tackle climate change. “It means declare a climate emergency. Tell the public this is an existential threat. This is not just about the environment, but about everything. That we will have to change an awful lot,” he says

Already elected bodies are responding.  The Welsh Government has declared a climate emergency.  As has Scotland.  And London.  And UK Labour intends to this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency.

Auckland Council was recently asked to do the same.  They promised to think about it.  The city’s climate action plan, which aims to achieve a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas generation by 2040 is not brave enough.

Getting back to the Government the choices are stark.  A tepid half hearted response shaped by New Zealand First reluctance to upset farmers will not be enough.  This is this Government’s defining issue.

Let’s do this.

Reprinted from gregpresland.com

50 comments on “Climate change is this Government’s nuclear free issue ”

  1. roy cartland 1

    A point on Methane: it's dangerously misguided to think of it as short-living. Over 20 years it is 104x as heat-trapping as C02. We've got less than 12. Yes it breaks down, but <i>into</i> C02 (and other stuff). Over 100 years it is 'only' equivalent to 28-32x as heat-trapping as C02.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane

    NZF is being disingenuous if not recklessly treacherous by letting methane off the hook.

    • Dennis Frank 1.1

      There's been a noticeable lack of politicians acknowledging the facts of climate science around methane. I anticipate the legislation will give them sufficient incentive to get real. Also, one naturally expects the govt's science advisor to play a prominent role in public debate. At the bare minimum, by informing the media of her advice re methane!

      Unfortunately, it appears that the PM has failed to advise her that climate change is the highest priority! What's more, she's fronting to the public without mentioning it! https://www.pmcsa.ac.nz/2019/04/18/a-quick-update/

      "The Chief Science Advisor Forum has played a behind the scenes role in various places, and has been reflecting on how it can play a more proactive role in providing an evidence base to support the response to future emergencies, led by Gill Jolly."

      Typical scientist, eh? Not a clue about how to become relevant to the real world. Needs instruction, big-time. Perhaps Ardern could suggest setting up a tape-loop in her office, replaying Ardern's speech continuously – the bit about this generation's nuclear moment. Get her staff to measure how many replays happen till the penny finally drops. You can imagine her response:

      "Ah, um, right. Looks like they think climate-change response is a high priority. That means climate science is the basis for me to advise the govt. Perhaps I ought to get my advisory forum to produce some advice on that. I'd better text Gill and suggest she get onto it."

  2. Stuart Munro. 2

    If the proposals rest on buying offshore credits they might as well can the whole thing. The integrity of such credits is very poor, and not readily verifiable by consumers. It's bad enough to further our balance of payments deficit without sponsoring fraud. The model is not sustainable.

    • roy cartland 2.1

      Yes. You have to do both. Everything possible, not one thing in place of another

      • Stuart Munro. 2.1.1

        Carbon transfers are a very marginal strategy even without the fraud – neo-liberal mechanisms won't solve neo-liberal problems. But with the fraud they're like the Gnats – no earthly use to man nor beast.

  3. One Two 3

    Best start understanding the negative envirinmental impacts of 5G infrastructure and networks which will aggregate and multiply on top of damage being caused by existing wireless networks on land and in earths orbit…

    Concerning about which products are being used to create energy, or dairly pollution.if not concerned about the energy and pollutions which technology is consuming and causing at rapacious pace…

    Would be missing a large component of the problems being faced…and the discussions which are not happening…but should be…

  4. Wayne 4

    Basically all good.

    But carbon neutrality by 2025 is completely unrealistic. You could never turn the economic ship fast enough. It would basically require the end of virtually all transport and all industry by about tomorrow.

    To get to carbon neutrality will need new transport systems and major changes to industry (cement, steel and oil). That will take decades. Carbon neutrality by 2050, or perhaps 2040 should be doable. It will take 20 years to replace the transport fleet.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Agreed but … what if the scientific analysis shows that we have to achieve this?

      Every time I read about feedback loops I get really worried.

      https://insideclimatenews.org/news/19022019/arctic-bogs-permafrost-thaw-methane-climate-change-feedback-loop

      • i wouldnt worry at all Mickey…..it aint going to change…maybe some tinkering around the edges perhaps but the big boys dont give a shit….either here or overseas….it will take some sort of climate catastrophe for something to happen….when the emphasis is on the almighty dollar instead of lives and the celestial ark earth something 'orrible will need to happen and probably instigated by ordinary joe/jane blogs…..

    • Andre 4.2

      At this point we're in a multi-way trade-off between how bad we're going to make climate change, how much we're willing to put in early effort to eliminate GHG emissions, and how much effort we're going to put in later to actively remove GHGs from the atmosphere.

      Personally I'm in favour of emphasising the early effort to eliminate emissions. Not least because all the infrastructure changes and other works needed to do that will be a massive boost to the economy. But also because it's a problem we have created, so we should be taking responsibility for dealing with it. Not kicking it down the road for others to deal with.

    • cleangreen 4.3

      Wayne in your shallowness you should have added "she'll be right"

    • Rosemary McDonald 4.4

      You could never turn the economic ship fast enough.

      Because its all about the economy, right? You can literally not see this issue any other way?

      It would basically require the end of virtually all transport and all industry by about tomorrow.

      Would it? I might regret asking…but prove it.

      • Wayne 4.4.1

        Rosemary,

        Road vehicles make up 37% of emission (2015, Stats NZ) and industry 19% (Stats NZ). Agriculture is the most of the rest.

        So just taking transport.

        There are 3.8 million motor vehicles in NZ (2015), with an average age of 10 years, basically half older and half newer. So around 180,000 new registrations per year, many being second hand imports.

        If all new registrations had to be electric, it would take nearly 20 years to fully replace the fleet. No-one, not even the Greens expect that all new registrations from say 2020 will be electric.

        Norway, one of the richest countries in the world, is apparently banning all new registrations of petrol cars from 2025. France is going for 2040 and the UK, 2050. In each of these countries, the national fleet is much younger than in NZ. So Norway may have a fully electric car fleet by 2035. But not trucks, they will take a decade longer, at least.

        A heroic NZ government could go for 2030 as the switch over date.

        There would have to have some serious policy for less well off families to switch. Maybe 50% of NZ families have imports that are are least 12 years old, with a typical purchase price of less than $15,000. In contrast an electric Hyundai Kona, a smallish SUV is priced at $74,000. I guess in the next few years the new price of these vehicles will get down to $50,000.

        So basically there would need to be a big subsidy for people to buy electric, maybe an interest free loan or a subsidised lease. I imagine $5,000 per year per car for 5 years. If such subsidies were available to half of all new and used cars (100,000 per year) covering low income families, the annual cost to government would be $500 million in year one and $2.5 billion in year five. A big number, but doable. It would still take 20 years to replace the entire fleet.

        Hence the reason, why I said carbon neutrality can't be achieved before 2040. But you are halfway there by 2030.

        People (like clean green) might say I am complacent. But the programme I have outlined would be seen as very ambitious for any likely NZ government.

        • Andre 4.4.1.1

          Here in NZ we really are slow adopters of EVs. Dunno how much of the is down to customers, how much is importers and dealers, how much is regulatory and how is is different cost structures to vehicles here compared to other markets.

          In many markets already, total cost of ownership for buying a new EV is often below total cost of ownership for a new dino-juice vehicle. Servicing costs are very low for an EV, no oil changes needed, brakes last waaay longer because of regen braking. Even in NZ, if you're looking at 10 year ownership for something like a Kona EV, total cost of ownership probably won't work out much higher than the petrol version.

          With the price of batteries dropping incredibly quickly, some analysts are predicting initial purchase price crossover as early as 2022. It's only the battery making EVs pricy, the rest of the drivetrain is vastly simpler and cheaper.

          So there's a good chance fleet turnover might happen a lot quicker once it starts. Even without a big shove and subsidies from the government. Once the purchase price gets close, the way EVs are just much nicer to drive will make the changeover happen really fast.

        • KJT 4.4.1.2

          Not impossible when you compare it with the costs of social welfare for oil companies, the fuel import bill and the ongoing costs of petrol cars.

          The engineering and manufacturing solutions are doable. It is the political will that is lacking. It is certainly going to take a lot more Government intervention, in "the market".

          The net saving in imported energy, bribes to oil companies, and complicated petrol cars, could pay for itself.

          From an engineering point of view we are both missing an opportunity, and looking in the wrong place for replacing car emissions.

          When something like 80% of our private vehicle fleet do less than 50km a day at less than 50k/hr, we do not need to replicate petrol cars. City cars are more akin to golf carts in their usage patterns. Manufacturing these, is well within the capabilities of our design and composites industries.

          Similar for urban area, short haul trucking.

          Long haul trucking is totally carbon inefficient, and needs to be replaced with rail or shipping.

          High input dairy farming takes too much out of the soil and the environment to be sustainable long term. Farmers need to be helped with the transition.

          I'm afraid your 30% Government share of the economy is never going to do it.

          Neither is relying on the private sector. Hell, most of our private sector cannot even start businesses. Relying on buying and asset stripping the businesses the State built up.

      • One Two 4.4.2

        Rosemary, it is the system which will fight to continue it's existence..

        Politicians are not in control of the system…human beings are literally part of (but no longer in control of) the automated systems which is not accountable for the environmemtal destruction created…

        Not if the value isn't there…

        Machines calculate value and assess risk… and is many industry’s, machines make the decisions…

        All with a single objective…to make money…

    • But carbon neutrality by 2025 is completely unrealistic. You could never turn the economic ship fast enough.

      Gee, if only we'd had a government ten years ago that started turning that economic ship back then, instead of assuming climate was a moral panic that people would get over eventually. We get the governments we deserve, I guess.

      • Stuart Munro. 4.5.1

        It's a great line for lousy governments, but the Romans did not deserve Caligula, nor the Italians Mussolini. We get the governments not that we deserve, but that we neglect to oust.

      • Poission 4.5.2

        Umm we did,but the policy was twaddle so HC jetted off to NY so she could get more air miles.

        https://www.sciencealert.com/new-zealand-carbon-neutral-by-2020

        • Psycho Milt 4.5.2.1

          We'll never know whether the policy was "twaddle" or not, because a year later that government was replaced by one that thought climate change was a moral panic and therefore didn't see any need for policy on the subject.

          • Andre 4.5.2.1.1

            IIRC, at the time I thought what they were actually going to do was weaksauce at best. Because of the need to get sign-off from a coalition partner that is apparently nobbling any serious action this time around too.

            • Psycho Milt 4.5.2.1.1.1

              Yeah, I can't picture them doing anything very radical back then either, especially with the same "turd in the punch bowl," to quote BM's memorable description of coalition government with NZ First. I just think it's cheeky of Wayne Mapp to protest that it will take a long time to get any traction on this, when the main reason we don't have any traction on it now is his government's nine years of environmental policy that consisted of promoting fossil fuel consumption, intensification of farming and running an ETS scam with fake carbon credits.

              • KJT

                Key being a slow follower, has done a lot to make sure all the costs of adaptation to AGW, fall on a future Government.

          • Poission 4.5.2.1.2

            Minister Parker says government agencies will take the lead by reducing their carbon footprint through energy efficient building design

            The problem was they were not earthquake resilient such as the Grande openings of the freyberg building or statistics house.

    • barry 4.6

      It is alright, we have 35 years if we start in 1990. But your lot didn't want to listen. They prevaricated, fudged and lied to get us to ignore the impending disaster, and disaster it will be.

      Yes, we can turn the ship around, but we missed our chance to do it gracefully. Now it is a hard turn which will have everybody on the titanic sea sick. But that is better than the alternative.

    • Infused 4.7

      You forgot that our impact is virtually nothing.

      • Pat 4.7.1

        bollocks…who is our largest trading partner?…where do our manufactured goods come from…we offshore the bulk of our emissions…as do most of the OECD

  5. esoteric pineapples 5

    “Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO) – The Government has quietly put up 2,188 km² of onshore Taranaki region for petroleum block offers. This area is over six times Egmont National Park and does include some conservation land. The Government has yet to acknowledge that these offers is contrary to the Zero carbon goal by 2050.”

    https://www.nzpam.govt.nz/about/news/block-offer-2018-opens/?fbclid=IwAR03hWUM2GVEMGrm1q6mzz4ttTBAbRcstmVUeFQW1_TInEWtniJw8CVnX4o

  6. bwaghorn 6

    I bit of anicdata im getting is it isnt the rough back blocks being bought up for planted as carbon sinks its the good country near good roads and handy to ports .

  7. cleangreen 7

    Government wake up time is up now so reduce trucks and use rail (electric Locomotives)

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/new-research-finds-ross-ice-shelf-melting-10-times-faster-than-overall-average

    TV ONE 30th April 2019

    New research finds Ross Ice Shelf melting 10 times faster than overall average CLIMATE CHANGE

    New research reveals the Ross Ice Shelf is melting 10 times faster than the overall average, which may cause New Zealand's sea level to rise much sooner and faster than originally predicted, NIWA says.

    NIWA's found it's been caused by solar heated waters beneath the north-western corner of the shelf. It's likely to result in higher surface ocean temperatures in the Ross Sea. NIWA scientist Dr Mike Williams told TVNZ1's Breakfast,

    "What we are seeing is a really important process that might impact upon the ice sheet and Antartica much faster than what we have traditionally thought… …so that might make sea level rise for New Zealand much faster and much sooner." Mr Williams said the report released is "quite significant".

    "It highlights a process that scientists have speculated about for about 20 years and it highlights that this process is happening, that we get warm water in summer coming in and melting the front of the Ross Ice Shelf.

    "We knew that warm summer seas were melting the ice, what surprised us is just how fast it is melting the ice."

    He said reducing carbon emissions across the globe is the only thing that can stop or slow the ice shelf from melting. “We need really strong leadership to take us to a place which has a lower carbon future.”

  8. tabletennis 8

    This is the 2nd time the government can't implement their pre-election promises because of legal hurdles. First on the extension of water bottling plant for export with Chinese ownership, now this.

    would inviting Greta Thunberg make any difference?
    -Brexit is pretty much the opposite of cathedral thinking. It is a process in which a formerly great country is tearing itself apart over the best way to belittle itself. No one knew what to say to Thunberg, or how to respond to her exhortations. Her microphone check was another rhetorical device. “Did you hear what I just said?” she asked, in the middle of her speech. The room bellowed, “Yes!” “Is my English O.K.?” The audience laughed. Thunberg’s face flickered, but she did not smile. “Because I’m beginning to wonder.” –
    https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-uncanny-power-of-greta-thunbergs-climate-change-rhetoric

    • Koff 8.1

      Greta is uncompromising on her objectives to get governments to do something about climate change. She won't be coming to NZ or Australia, even if invited, as she won't fly. Extinction Rebellion does have a NZ presence and they did organise some sort of action at the same time as the British organisation, although it wasn't widely reported, even here on the Standard. The only bright spot was that the CEO of ECan is an Extinction rebellion member and apparently ECan have announced a 'climate emergency,' again little reported.

  9. esoteric pineapples 9

    Looks like another sell up is coming up:

    The government is close to announcing a deal on its contentious climate change legislation, striking a deal over agricultural emissions.

    "Stuff understands Climate Change Minister James Shaw and NZ First have negotiated a "split gas" target, which would see methane treated differently from other long-lived gases, like carbon."

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/112353042/methane-emissions-deal-kick-starts-climate-change-legislation

  10. Pat 10

    "A tepid half hearted response shaped by New Zealand First reluctance to upset farmers will not be enough. This is this Government’s defining issue."

    NZ First are a convenient scapegoat are they not?….if the Zero Carbon Bill is as weak as water the responsibility will be shared…and NZ Firsts share will be minor

    • solkta 10.1

      and NZ Firsts share will be minor

      Why?

      • Pat 10.1.1

        Because they never campaigned on CC and their votes are not so dependent on meaningful climate action

        • solkta 10.1.1.1

          So what. They agreed in their agreement with Labour to support anything that was in Labour's agreement with the Greens. They had the opportunity to look at Green policy and flag anything they couldn't live with. Winston insisted on this idiotic way of negotiating a coalition rather than having everybody come to the one table. It looks like he is now being a reneging little prick.

  11. Craig H 11

    Free public transport in electric buses – expensive but would assist greatly.

  12. Pat 12

    Food for thought…the gov 1 billion tree planting programme will just about cover our aviation emissions for one year..if aviation dosnt grow….well really only half as half that number is preexisting planting…so the billion trees, as impressive as it sounds isnt even keeping up with one segment of our emissions and yet those trees have been credited to all manner of things, including offsetting methane…..no chance.

    Time to get real

  13. WeekendWarrior 13

    It would be great to see the government take a lead and announce that NZ will implement controls around population size. Once certain thresholds are met, immigration stops, next threshold – family numbers become restricted (with massive financial penalties for breaches). Any NZ or global initiatives which don't at some point address the number of humans on this planet, are conveniently ignoring the obvious.

  14. gsays 14

    2-5kw of solar panels on every domestic build. Part of compliance.

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