The Commissioner for the Environment says New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions will be 26% above 1990 levels in 2020, compared to the Nats’ promise to cut them by 10-20% – leaving us with a $1b bill. Worse, the IEA shows that even if we and other countries meet our promised cuts its only half of what’s needed to avert disaster.
At Copenhagen last year, John Key committed to a target of reducing New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions by 10-20%. Of course, this hasn’t been followed by any policy to meet the promise (what does Key care about 2020? You know he’ll be long gone from NZ by then, kicking up his heels in Hawaii). In fact, all National has done is weaken the already pathetic steps that were in place to limit greenhouse emissions. They gutted the ETS and now there’s every signal that they’ll make it even more useless by not including agriculture in it.
Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says that, far from falling 10-20% in the next decade, emissions will rise 26% (would be interesting to know if she incorporated peak oil into those calculations). The difference between National’s promises and what they’re actually putting us on track to achieve will probably have to be paid for by us purchasing carbon credits from countries that have not only kept their promises but exceeded them. The bill could be $1 billion.
The International Energy Agency put out their annual World Energy Outlook the other week. It gives three scenarios:
‘new policies’ (the emission reduction promises countries have made, not actual policies),
and the ‘450 scenario’, which is what is necessary to keep carbon dioxide levels below 450 parts per million. This level that would, hopefully, keep warming below two degrees and avoid catastrophic ‘run-away’ warming.
The ‘new policies’ scenario is only half of what is needed to achieve the 450 goal. The IEA estimates that the weakness of the countries’ greenhouse reduction policies has already increased the cost of preventing climate disaster by a trillion dollars.
With governments that won’t even promise to do enough to avert run-away climate change, let alone put the necessary policies in place, I guess we’ll have to hope that peak oil (and peak coal) make it too expensive to burn so much fossil fuel. Some hope that is: that the global economy will be forced to shrink to an extent where its energy needs aren’t going to destroy the climate. The problem is that the oil industry is committed to even more dirty methods to replace falling conventional oil production, like Solid Energy’s crazy ‘lignite to liquids’ plan.
What we need is the vision and commitment to transfer our energy base away from fossil fuels – now – so that we can get the energy we need without destroying our future.