Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, April 14th, 2018 - 73 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, global warming, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, national, same old national, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
Climate change has been the issue of the week.
Watching the debate is interesting. No longer is it a contest between those who believe climate change is happening and those who think it is a figment of our imagination. The deniers have changed tack. Now it is nominally a debate between what action is best to address the problem. But the right make good use of the dog whistle to bring behind them those who are still sufficiently deranged and confused to think that it is not happening.
The right, having been shown to be completely and utterly wrong on the issue, have not had the decency of acknowledging their mistakes. That they are a a major impediment to humanity and have seriously damaged our ability to adapt to the change that is happening is not something they have ever admitted.
Instead they are fighting collateral fights suggestion that although we have been right about the issue all along we are not quite right about this particular aspect and this is why they should be listened to. And meanwhile the dog whistle is being blown hard.
The latest example is National’s treatment of the Government’s decision to stop further offshore oil drilling. Conceptually the decision is absolutely rational. If the problem is pumping CO2 into the air then we need to stop using fuel supplies that pump CO2 into the air. But the right is seeking to confuse the debate. Apparently burning natural gas is fine because we could be burning dirty coal instead.
And Judith Collins had leapt into the debate. From Radio Live:
National has promised to reverse the decision, saying it will not only “throw away” 10,000 jobs, but accelerate New Zealand’s growing rate of carbon emissions.
“This is the worst thing you can do in terms of carbon emissions,” Ms Collins told The AM Show.
“Natural gas is a very clean-burning fuel and currently fuels about 16 percent of our electricity supply, plus many homes and many businesses all around particularly the North Island.”
She said electricity generators would be forced to turn to dirty coal to meet energy demand.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, burning natural gas releases about 40 percent less carbon than coal and 25 percent less than gasoline. But drilling for it can release methane, which is around 30 times worse than carbon dioxide when it comes to warming the atmosphere.
At current usage rates New Zealand has enough natural gas to last 11 years, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. But this could change as new fields are discovered and the total held in known fields is recalculated.
If it begins to run out prices are expected to rise, slowing the rate of use and perhaps encouraging consumers and industry to switch to other sources of energy.
The claimed loss of jobs needs to be very carefully analysed. As Keith Ng has pointed out on twitter the actual number is 4,300. And it needs to be reemphasised that this stops the further offshore exploration of areas to drill. Current exploration permits stay in place. New fields can still be discovered and drilled.
And the market was already reacting. In 2014 15 exploration permits were granted, in 2015 there were nine, in 2016 one onshore permit only, and in 2017 one offshore permit only. The market was already adjusting to a future world where oil and gas was not going to feature.
Then Collins went full tin foil hat.
Ms Collins accused Labour of lying about its intentions ahead of last year’s General Election, suggesting Ms Ardern only made the announcement this week to impress other world leaders at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
“They have totally misled the New Zealand public, plus the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry’s consultation was the night before they made the announcement. That is their consultation. No consultation.”
This claim has as much credibility as the claim that global warming is not occurring.
From Labour’s 2017 election policy on climate change:
Climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world. If we do not urgently reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases, warming will disrupt the climates our agriculture and other industries depend upon, sea-level rise will affect our coastal cities, and ocean acidification will affect the marine food chain.
We have built our infrastructure, our society, and our farming practices around a certain set of climatic conditions. Abrupt change would carry with it huge costs.
The cost of doing nothing is far higher than the cost of mitigating climate change. In fact, many of the actions that reduce climate pollution also have other positive impacts and create jobs.
New Zealand must do its part, along with the rest of the world, in reducing climate pollution. It is not good enough to say we are too small to matter – most countries individually could claim the same. We must take our share in the effort however small, just as we did when dealing with CFCs, or opposing apartheid, or fighting fascism. Kiwis are not shirkers.
set a target of net zero for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with legally binding emissions reduction targets, and carbon budgets to keep New Zealand on track to this goal
establish an independent Climate Commission to recommend interim emissions reduction targets and provide advice on the ramifications of not achieving them …
show government leadership by requiring state-owned enterprises and other government organisations to actively pursue low-carbon options and technologies including all future purchases of all Government vehicle fleets to be electric vehicles unless there is an exceptional reason otherwise …
support a just transition for workers in industries that need to reduce emissions and the creation of jobs in sectors that are carbon-free or carbon sinks, such as forestry
I mean how much clearer can you get? And the oil industry being caught by surprise? Helen Clark floated the idea that New Zealand should be carbon neutral back in 2005. And how could the industry have listened to Megan Woods’ speech to their conference and not known what the Government was thinking?
The decision is welcome but not overly radical. There is still a lot of drilling that can occur and there needs to be a transition plan in place so that alternatives are available. But it is the right decision to make if we are going to make New Zealand carbon neutral. And hope by then that this will be sufficient to help ensure that climate change is not out of control.