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Greenhouse emissions taskforce

Written By: - Date published: 7:20 am, May 22nd, 2016 - 115 comments
Categories: climate change, global warming - Tags: , , , , ,

This was predictable:

Greenhouse gases hit 25 year high

The latest assessment of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions shows they are at their highest level since 1990. The agriculture and energy sectors continue to be the highest contributors – making up 89 percent of New Zealand’s climate-damaging emissions.

The Greenhouse Gas Inventory is New Zealand’s official annual report of emissions.

The latest data showed emissions had increased 23 percent since 1990, and in 2014 the country emitted 81.1 million tonnes of climate-damaging gas.

Agricultural emissions had increased 15 percent since 1990, which the report said was primarily due to an almost 95 percent increase in the national dairy herd and a more than five-fold increase in the application of nitrogen-containing fertiliser. …

See also:

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas shame

The annual Environment Ministry report says gross emissions rose 1 per cent by the equivalent of 0.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, and gas removed through forestry dropped 2.5 per cent by 0.6 million tonnes, producing a total increase in net emissions of 1.4 million tonnes.

Gross emissions have now risen by 23 per cent, and net emissions by 54 per cent, since 1990. New Zealand’s gross emissions per person are now fifth highest out of the 41 countries which set reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and our net emissions are 14th highest. …

But the piece does contain a surprise:

Mrs Bennett said she planned to appoint “a high-level taskforce to provide advice and ways in which we can drive down our emissions”.

She has said previously that the taskforce would include business, farming and environmental groups, and that she was also open to a cross-party discussion about what the next steps should be. …

It would be easy to be cynical about this initiative. (Very, very easy.) But let’s not, because we need a way forward, and I for one will cling to any straw. Let’s engage constructively, and hope for and expect and demand real action. Hey Paula Bennett – why not start by making good on that cross party consensus. This is too big for politics. Why not put some Greens on your taskforce. I hear tell that they have a few ideas on reducing emissions.

115 comments on “Greenhouse emissions taskforce ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    The task force needs to focus on adaptation to severe climate change (3 deg C plus, including major sea level rise) and adaptation to inevitable and significant fossil fuel depletion.

    Both phenomena to set in real bad by 2030 to 2040.

  2. Gristle 2

    It would be good to have actions occurring to reduce GG emissions. We seem a long way from action occurring as Ms Bennets punting the issue to a high level committee adds talk time.

    By the way can anyone explain the rationale about carbon credits for forestry? I can understand standing trees being a carbon sink for the duration they are standing. So an established forest sequesters carbon whilst growing and then is neutral thereafter.

    A harvested forest seems to leak carbon in that too much of the timber ends up in short term uses like paper and packaging. Even long term uses such as timber buildings or furniture will only sequester carbon for the period of time the house exists.

    Do carbon credits become carbon debits if the forest is burnt down or harvested for use in a paper mill?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      It’s all about the carbon cycle: trees grow, die and release their carbon over relatively short timescales compared to fossil fuels.

      • Our native podocarps can live for many hundreds of years. When and if they fall, their carbon is sequestered in the soil by fungi as humus for many more years. We could use plenty of that action.

      • Pat 2.1.2

        trees grow, die and release their carbon over a relatively long period compared to burning fossil fuels

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1

          …and the carbon contained in coal oil & gas took hundreds of thousands of years to sequester. That’s why the greenhouse effect is associated with fossil fuels, and not wood burners.

          Burning a tree certainly releases its carbon faster than when it rots, and on a geologic timescale (which is the part of the carbon cycle we’re messing around with) both are the blink of an eye.

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1.1

            if we relied purely on forests for fuel they’d all be gone in 18 months.

            Just look at Europe and Britain in the 17th Century.

            We’d end up burning doors and fences for cooking and warmth. Just like in Leningrad.

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.2.1.2

            Burning a tree releases carbon to the air, rotting sequesters it in the soil.
            Home heating from locally grown wood in the form of coppiced fast-growing trees like sycamore is a very good option. Plant once, harvest a hundred times. Don’t feed combustion engines with biofuels made from plants/trees. Wood gasification is the best of a bevvy of bad options.

          • Pat 2.1.2.1.3

            “and the carbon contained in coal oil & gas took hundreds of thousands of years to sequester. That’s why the greenhouse effect is associated with fossil fuels, and not wood burners.”

            or millions even…and that is why it needs to be left there (in the main)…burning a tree does indeed release its carbon quickly (though relative to its cycle, magnitudes less than fossil fuels) however you said “die” not burn.

            https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/dead-forests-release-less-carbon-into-atmosphere-than-expected

            note how long a fallen tree or even a stump remains intact after death….sometimes hundreds of years…all the while replacement carbon sequesters rise around it (potentially)

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1.3.1

              So with any luck we managed a comprehensive answer to Gristle’s question 🙂

              • Pat

                now if only it were so easy to answer the main question

              • Gristle

                The question I am asking is how come people get paid for carbon credits associated with a forest growing but that carbon is then released back into the environment when it is harvested in a time frame of say zero to one hundred year? Why don’t they have to pay the credit back as the carbon is released from its “wooden” form?

                • Pat

                  http://www.laurieforestry.co.nz/Understanding-Liability

                  you pay them back when harvesting at current market rate

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The growth of forests is termed as forest sinks because the forest absorbs carbon dioxide. In New Zealand, forest owners who establish new permanent ‘non-harvest’ forest sinks will receive fully Kyoto compliant carbon credits – (Assigned Amount Units (AAUs)/Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from the New Zealand government.

                  Carbon Market Solutions.

                  My bold.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    But will that actually happen?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Doubt it. Too many National Party values around: the system can be manipulated too easily, as we have seen

                      I’ve always preferred the carbon tax option myself. It may well be a moot point by now.

            • Robert Guyton 2.1.2.1.3.2

              That’s right, Pat and let’s not overlook the roots! Masses and masses of them, underground, undisturbed.
              Carbon can be sequestered very, very quickly; dig a hole, chuck in some branches, replace the soil – presto! Sequesto! It’s wiser to let the critters of the soil do that work though. Fungi is King, but there are other agents involved, quadrillions of them. Digging up already sequestered carbon, otoh, was and still is, insane, imho.

      • How would it be if we planted every bare riverbank and roadside in New Zealand with annual, biennial and perennial plants (with a focus on edible plants where safe)?

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/80026925/hazelnuts-offer-nitrogen-option

        • Pat 2.2.1.1

          i am increasingly of the opinion that the best option for attempting to mitigate CC is a worldwide reforestation program on a massive scale (along with getting off fossil fuels), considering all the benefits that flow from forest cover….only downside I see is land available for food production for a population of 8 billion plus.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1.1.1

            It’s one component of a possible approach to a solution.

          • Robert Guyton 2.2.1.1.2

            That’s good, Pat. Mr Fukuoka called for a “Second Genesis” and that’s indeed what must occur. He meant more than forestry though, unless you were meaning forest gardens 🙂 Seriously though, there are 1001 opportunities for regenerating in forms that will soothe the disease that’s already widely established. Plants are our friends, despite the treatment we meted and mete out to them. 🙂

          • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1.3

            only downside I see is land available for food production for a population of 8 billion plus.

            Not really an issue if we do better farming at the locality and look to decreasing population (It’s estimated to happen about mid century). There’s stories of farmers in Africa and India going out of business because of ‘cheaper’ imports from the US and Europe with the inevitable result of poverty and hunger.

            • Robert Guyton 2.2.1.1.3.1

              If your forests were food-producing forests, there would be no loss of food production. Do you know how much food can be grown in a managed food forest? The potential for cultivated fungi alone is staggering to think about. Imaging if we already had an edible, arboreal mammal living in our New Zealand forests, one that’s trapped easily and provides a high-quality pelt to boot. Could we be a luckier nation??

              • Draco T Bastard

                Do you know how much food can be grown in a managed food forest?

                I read an article a few years ago that showed there was more food in a natural forest than there is in the same acreage of farm.

                Imaging if we already had an edible, arboreal mammal living in our New Zealand forests, one that’s trapped easily and provides a high-quality pelt to boot.

                The problem with that particular mammal is that it’s a serious disease carrier.

                That said, I suspect that over time we’ll get round to making a staple part of our diet the same way that fish is.

                • Have you checked the reality of TB incidence in possums, Draco?
                  Where there’s money (TB Free NZ) there’ll be spin.
                  If it’s true about the productivity of a natural forest, a consciously-designed and cleverly-managed one will produce a great deal more.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Have you checked the reality of TB incidence in possums, Draco?

                    Common brushtail possum in New Zealand

                    Possums are vectors of bovine tuberculosis, which is a major threat to the dairy, beef, and deer farming industries.[3] The disease is endemic in possums across about 38% of New Zealand (known as ‘vector risk areas’). In these areas, nearly 70% of new herd infections can be traced back to possums or ferrets.

                    If it’s true about the productivity of a natural forest, a consciously-designed and cleverly-managed one will produce a great deal more.

                    Think I’ll be sceptical about that remark – Nature’s been at it far longer than we have. That said, in a human designed/managed forest it’ll probably be easier to get to.

                    • I’d recheck, Draco, but from someone on the ground, if you can find them.
                      Nature has been “at it” for a long time in New Zealand, but still hasn’t developed an apple, pear, plum, lemon, fig, feijoa, hazelnut, walnut, grape, willow withy, bamboo stem, sugar cane (sorry, Nature, I don’t mean to criticise, only, you haven’t!)
                      A managed forest can have all these and much, much more, yum, yum.

      • Gristle 2.2.2

        So a forest only gets one dig at the carbon credit pot and that is at the time of initial planting and not subsequent planting season after a harvest cycle?

        • Pat 2.2.2.1

          if replanted i imagine its zero sum….repaid credits offset by new credits issued

  3. “I for one will cling to any straw” – the human mantra
    Thats what they said on the Titanic, alas they found that straw wasn’t buoyant enough )

  4. The One Straw Revolution

    Masanobu Fukuoka

  5. Zen Daldy 5

    The task force is no doubt to be filled with top tier scientists such as Mark Weldon, Julie Christie and Jenny Shipley ensuring NZ can select the best flag.. oops I mean best path forward.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      +1

      That would be what I’m expecting. They’ll be looking for how much profit can be made out of it rather than what needs to be done.

      • seeker 5.1.1

        Paula Rebstock has to be the leader of the task force. She is the go to person, especially for Bennett. She now has the title ‘dame’ to make her extra credible as an expert on every portfolio. There is nothing like a dame, an economical dame, and “South Pacific” did make ‘paradise’ look good back then.

        Sorry not at all happy with Bennett after the scary things she said on rnz’s Checkpoint interview see Daily Review 20.5.16 comment 5 from Anne for link and Jenny comment 9 on here. Hope you dpn’t mind Anne.and Jenny.

  6. weka 6

    Reforestation resources. I take the view that whatever else we do we should be reforesting as rapidly as possible (multiple, interlocking benefits). I haven’t followed up on the numbers in these links (so any considered critical evaluation appreciated).

    Bear in mind that sequestration in the tropics is different than in temperate or cold climates. But science is rethinking what forests can do.

    One of the most effective methods for capturing carbon from the atmosphere in the tropics of Latin America requires doing very little. In fact, researchers say, just protecting natural forest regrowth can help reduce climate change.

    Carbon uptake by secondary tropical forests is substantial.

    If left alone to regrow for 40 years, the young secondary forests (YSF) and middle-aged secondary forests (MSF) that existed in 2008 would capture the equivalent amount of carbon emissions generated in all of Latin America and the Caribbean between 1993 and 2014.

    http://phys.org/news/2016-05-carbon-capture-substantial-secondary-tropical.html

    One great thing about that is other countries can stop doing the behaviours that require destruction of rainforest elsewhere.

    The really critical thing is that we also have to reduce emissions. If intentional natural sequestration does have a useful effect then we cannot afford to waste that by planting trees and doing everything else BAU.

    A couple of other links re forests and sequestration or mitigation.

    http://m.phys.org/news/2013-03-fungi-responsible-carbon-sequestration-northern.html#

    http://phys.org/news/2016-04-old-growth-forests-buffer-temperatures.html

    • Yes to your support and promotion of forests, weka. In light of the degree of peril apparent, the fastest do-able solutions should be applied first – that’s why, despite being a man-of-the-trees, I’m pushing the farmland-first barrow. Farmers can farm carbon into their soils very, very quickly, starting immediately and with profound effect. Governments can and must pay farmers to ‘grow’ stable carbon-rich soils. There’s a lot of farm soil on the planet (still) and all of it will benefit from more humus/carbon. Food production increases as soils become enriched with humus. It holds and presents nutrients and water like nothing else. No need for irrigation projects either – win, win. At the base of all this, culture (cultivation) and the adjustment we have to make to ours. Then, the tool that will save humankind, seeds. Lots and lots of seeds.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        Farmers can farm carbon into their soils very, very quickly, starting immediately and with profound effect.
        There’s a lot of farm soil on the planet (still) and all of it will benefit from more humus/carbon. Food production increases as soils become enriched with humus.

        Sounds like doing so will benefit them directly as it would massively cut down on their need for artificial fertilisers if not cut them out completely. If so, then the government shouldn’t need to pay them.

        As this isn’t happening by ‘the market’ then perhaps what’s needed is for the government to regulate it to happen.

        • Robert Guyton 6.1.1.1

          If we want to fast track the most effective remedy for global warming, Governments around the world will have to do this. If we humans stave off extinction as a result of this action, who cares if farmers profit from our investment? Nose, cut off, face etc.
          Incentivise first (money talks, money can be plucked from the air, apparently), regulate as a desperate last resort – it’s not a game of chicken we are playing here. We can’t afford to lose.

          • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1

            I tend to the ‘both ways approach’ actually. Regulation that forces it to be done and a large government department doing research into the best ways to do it and giving help to farmers to achieve it rather then leaving them to their own devices.

            But I’d still be against direct payments to them. That just opens the whole thing up to being rorted.

            • Robert Guyton 6.1.1.1.1.1

              I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve not worked with farmers and changing farming practice, Draco. They would suggest, strongly, that you define the end goal (increased carbon in the soil) describe the measuring regime and the schedule of payments then let them get on with it. If there’s money to be made and other gains to be had, they’ll crank it out in volumes you could hardly conceive of.
              Or, you could regulate. Have you noticed much movement in the farming community toward saving humanity from global warming? You suggest we force them to save us from something that doesn’t exist 🙂

              • Draco T Bastard

                I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve not worked with farmers and changing farming practice, Draco.

                I’m looking at what’s happening now and see that what you suggest isn’t happening. This tells me that leaving it to the market won’t change anything.

                You suggest we force them to save us from something that doesn’t exist

                You’re saying that ghg emissions and global warming isn’t a problem?

                And all I’m saying is that farmers need to become sustainable and leaving it to the market won’t achieve that. If it was going to then the farmers would already be doing it.

                • I mustn’t have expressed myself clearly enough, my apologies.
                  “What I suggest” hasn’t been initiated yet, not here in New Zealand in any case – South Africa, otoh, is well down the track, I’m informed. Other significant countries also, are getting under way. When the idea of paying students to do homework was first mooted, I scoffed. I now believe that when the chips are down (they are) you do whatever you can afford to do to solve the issue and you use the best, fastest method. There may be better ways to instigate new behaviour in farmers. If so, let’s do that. A sizeable section of the farming community professes denial regarding AGW. Their ‘reps’ at governance (Fed Farmers) and Government (Nayfin et al.) exude disinterest and denial. What farmers today seem to respect, is profitability. If that’s not the best path to exploit in order to achieve what we need to achieve, so be it. I’d back whatever approach works best. The statement that farmers “aren’t already doing it” is misleading in this context. This is new information. There’s a process needed to inform and activate. My suggested pathway was the best I could present. I still reckon it’s the best way, by hey, only yesterday I was wrong about something.

                  • weka

                    I think it’s the pragmatic approach. What’s more likely? A govt subsidsing farmers to do the right thing, or one bringing in pretty strict regulations to force them?

                    As well as the profit driven kaupapa of Fed Farmers, there is the whole issue of how much debt farmland carries now. It’s very hard for those that want to change to change, let alone those that don’t. I don’t mind bribing them so long as there are clear conditions to limit the rort.

                    The biggest argument against paying them is that the people who design such a system are likely to be people who thought carbon credits were a good idea.

                    • Thanks, weka – good rationalising (but it’s not “bribing”, it’s paying and it’s not “them” – I have met the enemy and he is us 🙂 The “system” would have to be bona fide, but that’s a mere detail. This is the end game we are discussing here. A process this significant would have everybody’s undivided attention and would be pan-party.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Well, we can certainly tell Landcare to do it. Give them a decent R&D budget to do it with and we’d soon have good understanding and ways to progress.

                    That information is, of course, public and freely available on a decent website (i.e, not the usual crappy NZ website).

                    A while after, maybe a year or two, we then make it compulsory for all farms and that they all must be converted in 5 years. The experts in Landcare then become freely available to assist the farmers in conversion. There may even be an argument to provide physical plant free as well.

                    I see problems with simply paying the farmers:
                    1. It’s a system that will be rorted
                    2. Paying them could, and probably will, lead to the resources needed to do it being priced out of the market
                    3. Some greedy shmucks will do it in a cheep, non effective way, demand payment even after it’s been proven not to work (Actually, higher probability that they’ll work the same way as Charter Schools – payment first and not repay after they fail) and then just go back to doing things the old way
                    4. It’s a system that will be rorted

                    • Give them money or slap a regulation on them?

                      Sow a mixture of vigorous seeds or whack down that weed?

                      Strengthen your beneficial soil microbe population or spray that fungicide?

                      Give or take?

                      Assist or oppose?

                      Tricky…

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And I keep suggesting both. Regulation so that what’s needed is known and help to bring that about.

                      So, not your false dichotomy.

                    • It’s all in the language, Draco, and words reflect intention.
                      “Tell” and “compulsory” (compel) are not entice or encourage, but hey, we each express ourselves in different ways (when I say “entice” I’m thinking irresistible lure, such as the aroma of honey in Pooh’s nose and when I say “encourage” I’m seeing a similar irresistibility, perhaps akin to that the sight of a vault-full of greenbacks has on Scrooge McDuck) . I’ve been very impressed by your quick uptake of the idea, or at least your willingness to consider the possibilities. All ideas should be tested thoroughly.

      • Chuck 6.1.2

        Carbon back into soils makes sense. Nutrient rich, it will also lock up the carbon for thousands of years…has merit for carbon sequestration.

        The worlds soils have lost 50 -70% of their original carbon stock and therefore the soil is primed to absorb and benefit any volume of carbon.

        To give some scale, its estimated that there are 2,500 billion tonnes of carbon in the world’s soils, compared to 800 billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere and 560 billion tonnes in plant and animal life.

        Pyrolysis of wood waste to produce energy off-take, with the resulting bio-char from the process (carbon) farmed back into the soil. The trees pull CO2 from the atmosphere, bio-char is produced and farmed back into the soil locks the carbon away for a long long time.

    • Pat 6.2

      shame the neolibs are running Brazil then innit

  7. It would be easy to be cynical about this initiative. (Very, very easy.) But let’s not…

    No, let’s. The National Party’s approach to climate change has been consistent since it became the government in 2008: find ways to appear to be doing something about it, without actually doing anything. The ETS deliberately designed not to discourage carbon emissions, meeting our Kyoto obligations via scam carbon credits from Ukraine and Russia, it’s all about camouflaging a refusal to act. Now Paula Bennett says there’ll be a “high-level taskforce” – well, forgive me for not imagining National’s had a road-to-Damascus conversion, but I’m seeing yet another way of appearing to do something, to conceal the lack of doing anything.

  8. Richardrawshark 8

    Hmmm that headline made for an interesting image..

    Men dressed as cows sneaking up for a fart analysis and plug insertion.

    I don’t mean to point at the obvious and I do see the need for emission curbing.

    But it is also True that NZ produces what less than 1% of the worlds pollution.

    So.. my suggestions focus more on targeting countries like India, China, USA who if I am correct are doing little and producing pretty much the problem.

    I honestly think us lot running around is just making tree huggers think they are contributing to the saving of the planet where here we need to focus on other emissions and polutants.

    The pollutants that effect our nation, Cow poop nitrates and dirty waters.

    Focus on clean NZ, CO2 emission pollution is not a major problem compared to our rivers and wildlife.

    Plus i’ver heard Genter on the Nation saying carbon emmisions could be used for housing bla bla right there…nah.

    If you raise money on carbon emmisions it’s just revenue collecting. and BS.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      But it is also True that NZ produces what less than 1% of the worlds pollution.

      So.. my suggestions focus more on targeting countries like India, China, USA who if I am correct are doing little and producing pretty much the problem.

      So we shouldn’t do our part and just bludge on others doing the work?

      Focus on clean NZ, CO2 emission pollution is not a major problem compared to our rivers and wildlife.

      Our waterways are polluted because of a massive polluting industry that produces huge amounts of ghg emissions.

      Lots of excuses there to do nothing.

      • Richardrawshark 8.1.1

        Draco, read it again, the context of what I wrote did not say do nothing , any reduction in nitrates, intensified dairy, cleaning our waterways, etc will have an effect on the environment but on CO2 emissions, We do currently have a VERY green country full of forests which soak up Co2 how as a country are we polluting more than we are scrubbing in the first place.

        A coal fire electicity station may produce CO2 in that area, but in the grand scope of land mass i’m pretty sure we do our bit.

        Hence focusing on India etc, and applying pressure to them, whilst focusing here on efforts to improve effluent disposal and better ways of apply fert that doesn’t sink into the water table!

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1

          We do currently have a VERY green country full of forests which soak up Co2 how as a country are we polluting more than we are scrubbing in the first place.

          That sentence makes no sense. And, no, we do not have a very green country with lots of forests because most of the forests have been cut down.

          A coal fire electicity station may produce CO2 in that area, but in the grand scope of land mass i’m pretty sure we do our bit.

          We don’t hence the increasing ghg emissions.

          Again, you’re just coming up with excuses to do nothing.

          • Richardrawshark 8.1.1.1.1

            Fair enough if that’s what your opinion is of what I said, I felt it was a bit harsh but that’s your prerogative.

            Milford sounds a pretty big land area, and i live in Tokoroa you’ll have to excuse me, from my window I see the odd tree or 200, 000.

            • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Can you see any farm land from where you are?

              That all used to be thousand year old native forest. All gone.

              • History.
                In the present and future, we can replant. We’ll not restore what was there but the New Forests will be magnificent nonetheless.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Can you see any farm land from where you are?

                He lives in Tokoroa so about 100% of the land immediately around him is farmland.

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.1.2

              Milford sounds a pretty big land area, and i live in Tokoroa you’ll have to excuse me, from my window I see the odd tree or 200, 000.

              Milford is a just a tiny portion of NZ. Get onto Google Earth and zoom out a bit, just a few kilometres, and the damage that we’ve done to the environment stands out clearly.

              Although, part of the problem you have is that you don’t understand the damage that the huge monoculture of farming, both trees and food, has done to our land. I used to be the same. It’s part of the culture of how we were raised. We’re taught to see the clean lines of the farm fields and the stands of introduced trees as being good, as being Clean and Green when they’re anything but and we don’t even question our other practices such as the landfills for our waste, the massive amounts of roading, the inefficient manufacturing and poorly built housing that wastes huge amounts of heat.

              • greywarshark

                Draco T Bastard
                Robert G has said that farm land can sequester carbon if handled right. So that’s a bit of good news to take on as he seems to know much and thought much about the problem. The huge monoculture of farming, both trees and food AND the aim of holding onto C02 appear to be compatible.

                I’m pushing the farmland-first barrow. Farmers can farm carbon into their soils very, very quickly, starting immediately and with profound effect. Governments can and must pay farmers to ‘grow’ stable carbon-rich soils.

                There’s a lot of farm soil on the planet (still) and all of it will benefit from more humus/carbon. Food production increases as soils become enriched with humus. It holds and presents nutrients and water like nothing else. No need for irrigation projects either – win, win. At the base of all this, culture (cultivation) and the adjustment we have to make to ours. Then, the tool that will save humankind, seeds. Lots and lots of seeds.

                Greenhouse emissions taskforce

                Now how to get a working pilot going in every farming area not controlled by boneheads or fast finance corporates.

                • greywarshark
                  The specific environmental concerns you expressed earlier are valid and I support your call to address them poste haste as some of them are lethal to one degree or another. You didn’t mention neonics, but could have. Those insect-killing substances, along with those that kill fungi, molluscs, nematodes and so on, work directly against the success of what we have to do; create humus in the soil. They all destroy the mycellium and other microorganisms needed for the creation of humus with its carbon content. So yes, we’ve got to get busy. Fortunately, many people are already fully engaged in this process. Sharing information, as is happening here, is vital ground-preparation for the following stages, cultivation of minds, if you will, so I’m grateful for the many ideas I’ve read from others here as I sense increasing fecundity and growth.

  9. Jenny 9

    The Minister for Climate Change, Paula Bennett, also holds the portfolio for housing.

    As the Minister for Housing, Paula Bennett made a statement on Friday that there is no housing crisis.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/304378/no-housing-crisis-in-nz-paula-bennett

    This sort of judgement, against all the evidence for it, does not give me much confidence in Paula Bennett’s judgement of the climate crisis.

  10. Jenny 10

    She has said previously that the taskforce would include business, farming and environmental groups, and that she was also open to a cross-party discussion about what the next steps should be. …

    I wonder whether local representatives of 350.org, which is the world’s leading environmental group concerned with climate change, will be invited to have a delegate on this taskforce.

    I think that the inclusion of 350.org, (or their exclusion), would give us a clue to whether this is just another toothless Greenwashing exercise, or not.

  11. Lulu 11

    If any of you actually want to read the inventory report it is here:

    http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate-change/new-zealand-greenhouse-gas-inventory-1990-2014

    You will see: “The agriculture sector contributed 49 per cent of New Zealand’s gross emissions in 2014. This amounted to 39.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e)2. The energy sector was next, comprising 40 per cent of gross emissions or 32.2 Mt CO2-e.”

    In the energy sector half of those emissions come from the transport sector. The remainder includes electricity generation and we know that 80% of that is renewable. What is less known is that Fonterra is a huge user of coal for self electricity generation especially in the South Island where there is no access to natural gas.

    All this talk of reforestation is all very worthy but there is a whole lot more we can do to change our usage. Transportation seems to be a good place to focus.

    • Pat 11.1

      Reducing emission via coal/gas power generation and transport is of course necessary however that only reduces realtime emissions and does not reduce the CO2 already causing problems….focus needed on all areas.

  12. dv 12

    Didn’t Key say about 2 months ago that the science of the solution to cow methane production was only a couple of years away?

    I haven’t seen any thing more.
    Any one got an update on this?

  13. Heather Grimwood 13

    I sincerely hope that farmers will be expected to BURY their piles of discarded timber instead of the traditional burning so obvious from a plane. Surely contemporary farmers must have been educated about the reasons against burning and so why is it still allowed? Surely if not owning machinery to easily bury waste,, they have access to borrow it.
    I have grieved over this for decades.

  14. Bill 14

    Maybe the government could do worse than go look at the 2007 MSD report that was done for the Labour government. I could cut and paste screeds from the report under a series of WTF!? headings even though the report was drawn up on the back of a lot of assumptions that look rather rosy from this vantage point of ten years on.

    Anyway, no-one in government can say they didn’t know.

    Rather than Paula Bennet’s task force, find the bastards who were responsible for burying the 2007 report and put them in jail. And then update the 2007 report in line with the improved scientific knowledge and deteriorated situation of today – and fucking well get on with it.

    As an aside, I wonder how much of the impetus behind Bennet’s task force is being provided by a developing situation not too dissimilar to the one predicted in the 2007 report,

    On the other hand, there is a high risk of a policy configuration that assumes that New Zealand can take its time to respond. This is likely in our view to result in New Zealand being obliged in due course to adhere to a forced pace of decarbonisation set by the international community.

    The latter scenario is one in which New Zealand has to respond, but in a reactive way, in order to retain our “licence to operate” in the world community, i.e. to stay trading in a global context where emission reduction is seen as both necessary and urgent. It would also be a world in which first mover advantages, our clean green reputation, and economic opportunities to exploit new markets for more climate-friendly products or services are forgone. It is worth underlining how rapidly the international context is moving – and the associated risk that New Zealand may lag behind many other countries in terms of business and policy response.

  15. b waghorn 15

    Just wondering if our greener friends here are coming around to the idea of planting all the none farmed tussock and mountain country in some mountain conifer ? Hell just stop killing wilding pines and it’ll take care of its self.

    • Coming around to it, b waghorn?
      Ha!
      Have you read “The New Wild” yet?
      “How invasive plants will save nature”
      Probiotic greenies like me don’t advocate for the killing of trees 🙂

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      Just wondering if our greener friends here are coming around to the idea of planting all the none farmed tussock and mountain country in some mountain conifer ?

      Well, we could just plant the native forest that was there in the first place.

      Hell just stop killing wilding pines and it’ll take care of its self.

      That’ll help – they’ll find their place within the native forest.

      • b waghorn 15.2.1

        If that works good one ,but will natives go up into the high tussock or is the high tussock there because no native trees can survive there?

      • Macro 15.2.2

        Hell just stop killing wilding pines and it’ll take care of its self.

        That’ll help – they’ll find their place within the native forest.

        Nope!

        Douglas fir is still the only common introduced conife
        r species that is capable of invading canopy
        gaps in native forests (Ledgard 2006b). This is becaus
        e of its higher tolerance of shade (Ledgard
        15
        Wilding conifer status report FINAL 28 Dec 2011 Victoria Frou
        de Pacific Eco-Logic Ltd
        2006b; Davis et al. 2011). Douglas fir is able to spr
        ead into shrublands and regenerating native
        forests before canopies close (Ledgard 2002). It is
        able to establish in mature beech forest
        (especially mountain beech), particularly where the bee
        ch canopies are more open/have a lower
        cover and the understory is relatively sparse (Ledgard
        2006b; Davis et al. 2011). Where the canopy
        of mountain beech forest has thinned (because of old ag
        e or possibly an environmental stressor)
        that forest is more vulnerable to Douglas fir invasion
        . In that situation Douglas fir saplings can grow
        faster than beech (Thomas Paul, unpublished data). Once
        Douglas fir reaches the canopy it provides
        an ongoing seed source that could lead to eventual rep
        lacement of the mountain beech forest by
        Douglas fir in that location.
        Yeates & Sagar (1998) found that the conversion from nat
        ive tussock grassland to radiata forest led
        to a reduction in: soil pH, exchangeable calcium, magnes
        ium, potassium and iron. There were lower
        levels of microbial biomass for carbon, nitrogen and ph
        osphorus in the mineral soils under radiata
        pine, compared to tussocks reflecting lower soil org
        anic matter inputs to the mineral so

        http://www.wildingconifers.org.nz/files/Wilding_Conifer_Status_Report.pdf pp 14 -15

        • Robert Guyton 15.2.2.1

          Douglas fir are “wilding pines” along with the better known contorta and are spreading at pace where conditions invite. A new wild would involve each of these trees in a new and complex mix and don’t forget, broom and gorse are straining at the leash to be given their unfettered chance to populate their favourite degraded landscapes. Dynamic cycle of life or frozen picture in time? I’m for complex and ever-evolving landscapes. King Canute has a message for those who engage in the battle against incoming tides.

          • Bill 15.2.2.1.1

            For what it’s worth, I reckon ‘let it go’. There isn’t an ecology anywhere in Polynesia that is ‘natural’ – all were altered quite radically by the introduction of new species during initial human settlement. Most have found a balance – a new equilibrium.

            I don’t know if NZ is unique it trying to preserve a permanent state of imbalance. All I know is that in the past when I’ve suggested just letting nature take it’s course, voices got raised in heated protest…. Fine in the winter. 🙂

            • Robert Guyton 15.2.2.1.1.1

              What you say there is worth a great deal, Bill. You’re our avant guard.

              • weka

                No reason we can’t do both. Protect and restore native ecosystems where that’s appropriate, let wilding pines go hard where it’s not. I think we should diversify the wilding species though, and I suspect that utilising gorse and broom would help enormously.

            • weka 15.2.2.1.1.2

              Even if we don’t afford native ecosystems value in their own right, there are good ecological reasons that serve humans for maintaining the biodiversity that is specific to NZ. If we allow it all to become mixed, we will lose species.

              For what it’s worth, I reckon ‘let it go’. There isn’t an ecology anywhere in Polynesia that is ‘natural’ – all were altered quite radically by the introduction of new species during initial human settlement. Most have found a balance – a new equilibrium.

              Try applying that argument to humans and see how it goes 😉

              Altered by humans doesn’t negate natural. Humans have been an integral part of ecosystems for hundreds of thousands of years.

              • Humans were an integral part of ecosystems, but then we weren’t.
                What happened?
                Clue: this is good but that is bad.

                “What are you doing, father?”
                “Just clearing away these weeds, son. Nothing to worry about”.

                • weka

                  But isn’t seeing ourselves as separate from nature what got us into this mess in the first place?

                  • weka – by, “seeing”, do you mean, “believing”?
                    Furthermore … the problem is, we’re not in a mess – oh that we were! Cryptic, I know, but where messy is chaotic, complex and panoramic, we human’s have deserted that mess for…desert… a simplified, simplistic, straight-edged, no frills, desert. If we’d stuck with messy nature, we’d be a different creature altogether. We’d be, I believe, truly human.

                    • weka

                      I was responding to this,

                      “Humans were an integral part of ecosystems, but then we weren’t.”

                      So sure, believing. Isn’t believing we aren’t part of nature what got us into climate change, the industrial revolution, capitalism, agriculture, coming down out of the trees in the first place?

              • Bill

                Which was why I used inverted commas around the word natural. It’s a comments section. Pretty sure if I was writing in some other medium I’d have thought about it more and maybe mulled over the word ‘pristine’ and then eventually decided on an appropriate word about four O’Clock tomorrow morning.

                And, erm…. If I understand you right, I think I do apply that argument to people… no illegitimate authority…ie, no ‘right’ to unilateral actions where the affected haven’t had full input into decisions etc? Not that I think we should talk to the trees before planting or chopping, but the same principle kind of applies…degrees of mindfulness and what not.

                • weka

                  Yet you don’t support the rights of native ecosystems to have their integrity?

                  Here’s what I meant about apply to human societies,

                  For what it’s worth, I reckon ‘let it go’. There isn’t a culture anywhere in Polynesia that is ‘natural’ – all were altered quite radically by the introduction of new cultures during initial European colonisation. Most have found a balance – a new equilibrium.

                  It’s assimilationist.

                  • Bill

                    I think the integrity of NZ ecosystems (many of them) was lost a long, long time ago. At some point, introduced species become just as valid a part of any given native ecosystem as any other. How so? Because they are an integral part of the equilibrium and all (or certainly most) constituent parts of any so-called native ecosystem came from somewhere else at some time. I’m being clunky here….but essentially nature is dynamic and is always reinventing and reconfiguring itself. There are always potential facets of an ecosystem arriving from elsewhere…some perish, some flourish, some run riot for a while.

                    People introduced a lot of new and sometimes, apparently unfortunate elements to NZ eco-systems. That genie is out of the bottle and won’t be getting put back. Trying to put it back in all of its various guises could well cause far more disruption and damage than letting things be.

                    If the newly arrived bits to an eco-system get assimilated, then what’s the problem? And why would I apply that to a human context where the unique features are cultural and historical rather than physical and natural? I mean, I could and sometimes do think that all cultures and their histories are hugely problematic and divisive and that humanity’d be better off being a-cultural, but that’s a wholly different debate.

                    • weka

                      The newly arrived bits don’t get assimilated they take over. Hence the reference to colonisation. Let wilding pines into high country tussock and you don’t have high country tussock any more, you have a pine forest. You then lose all the allied life that exists in the high country tussock.

                      “And why would I apply that to a human context where the unique features are cultural and historical rather than physical and natural?”

                      Yep, and we have different values around that. For me there isn’t that much difference, humans are part of nature. I’m looking from a systems point of view, not a separation point of view. I don’t draw the same kind of distinctions between cultural, historical, physical and natural.

                      “There are always potential facets of an ecosystem arriving from elsewhere…some perish, some flourish, some run riot for a while.”

                      I think the problem is that we lose the whole ecosystem. Yes a new one gets created, but we’re not talking about the loss of individual species (although that’s still a real loss). This brings up the issue of what an ecosystem is.

                      And then we have the conversation about Nature Rights.

                      btw, if we say that all introduced things are a natural part of nature, we can include carbon emissions and nuclear waste in that. An extreme example, but it’s useful to look at where the line is.

                    • Bill

                      btw, if we say that all introduced things are a natural part of nature…

                      Was I being a bit loose with my language again? Replace the word ‘organisms’ or something more appropriate wherever I might have said ‘things’.

                      What happens if wild pines grow all through the current high country tussock? It it really and absolutely definitely the case, all other things being equal, that those areas will be nothing but wild pine forest….and for the next 1000 years or whatever? That could be the case. It might not be the case.

                      And if we’re going to get all ‘chainsaw’ on wild pines, what if some hundreds of years ago a pine seed from one of the 10 or so wild pine species had found its way to NZ in the plumage of a migratory bird or via some other such, highly unlikely, but possible route? And we were able to show that had happened? Would they still be for the chop?

                      We’re not ever going to agree on this. My preference is to leave well alone, partly because there are often unintended or unseen consequences to meddling. The damage has been done precisely because we did meddle. Now, I’d say, (alongside learning a lesson in humility) to let it rest and let it be… Something will come of it.

                    • weka

                      Ecosystems are made of more than living things though. If we can bring in new organisms, why not new minerals, or new chemicals, or new gases?

                      What happens if wild pines grow all through the current high country tussock? It it really and absolutely definitely the case, all other things being equal, that those areas will be nothing but wild pine forest….and for the next 1000 years or whatever? That could be the case. It might not be the case.

                      Probably would be. Pine is a climax species (once you get a forest of it nothing else will take over. I doubt that you would get native trees re-establishing themselves as climax forest), and not a very friendly one, so pretty much the only thing that will would change that would be fire and then you would just get pines growing back because they adapted to that. I’m not really sure what your point is though. Even if the pine forests evolve into something else (or they don’t), the tussock ecosystem is still lost at the start. I’m not talking about the loss of tussock plants or even species, I’m talking about all the things that makes up that system. That’s the important bit. There is nothing wrong with pines per se in NZ (hence my comment elsewhere that we can have different kinds of ecosystems including native ones).

                      It would be like saying oh let’s pull down Oamaru and replace it with a mini Auckland. Nothing wrong with a mini Auckland, but the loss of Oamaru would be real (and unecessary).

                      There are always potential facets of an ecosystem arriving from elsewhere…some perish, some flourish, some run riot for a while.

                      Depends on what you see as nature. NZ is a good example because life evolved here in such isolation, so that bringing in new species en masse in short periods of time has been hugely damaging. We’re not talking about the odd species. That’s different than birds arriving and dropping seed from Tasmania or wherever. The potential for new life arriving in NZ is pretty limited outside of humans bringing it because of our isolation. And it’s that isolation that has enabled some pretty unique life forms to develop.

                      Does it matter if they disappear? Does it matter if Oamaru disappears? Māori? Humans?

                      We’re all entitled to our own views on this of course, but I do think having an understanding of why ecosystems are important, and what makes them important should inform what we think.

                    • weka

                      Another way to think of this is that the more biodiversity there is the more stable systems are. It’s true we’ve meddled and done damage, but that doesn’t mean we are completely ignorant or useless. Preserving the native ecosystems we have left might be one of the most important things we do in terms of CC long term.

                      (would also be interesting to compare pine forests to say beech and see which sequesters more carbon).

                    • Bill

                      If we can bring in new…

                      I didn’t suggest that we ought to bring in new anything though. That’s where the problems arose…because we did just that.

                  • We came down out of the trees, “because we believed we weren’t part of nature”?

                    No.

  16. We’ve become The Poisoners in our efforts to keep it kiwi.

    • Ecosystems are up for grabs now, I reckon. This is why we need experienced gardeners in governance 🙂
      There is huge ecological upheaval going on now and much more predicted for the future. Now, it’s our job to manage the whole show. We demanded to be given the role, now we’ve got it. Let’s get some powerful pro-biotic programmes up and running before the antis realize what’s happening.

    • Bill, I reckon we have to meddle, but there’s meddlin’ and there’s meddlin’ and if I was setting the meddlin’ rules (I’m not) I’d rule out the ‘cides straight out. Not that they’re bad, just that they’re far, far to easy to mis and over apply. “Stewardship” has a nice ring to it. We gotta learn how to do that stuff. Not that it’s hard, only you have to talk different.

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