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Greens show the way forward

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, August 6th, 2009 - 42 comments
Categories: climate change, greens - Tags:

The Greens have presented a sensible and feasible plan to reduce our greenhouse emissions to 40% less than 1990 levels by 2020. Contrary to Nick Smith’s scaremongering, it won’t break the bank. In fact, at current carbon credit prices, they will save us money.

  • phase out fossil fuel plants and set higher energy efficency standards. Both costed as saving the country money. Emissions 5.25 mega-tonnes lower.
  • replace coal with waste wood for industrial fuels. 1.9Mt
  • higher fuel efficiency standards, more public transport. 4.7Mt
  • Agriculture: lower stock density (which will be more profitable for farmers), breed low-emission cows (some produce 30% less), using existing nitrous oxide minimisation techniques more widely. 2.7Mt
  • Plant more forest on marginal sheep land. 10.75 Mt
  • Pest control on DoC land to increase forest density. 10.9Mt
  • Assist third world countries with reducing their emissions (counts to us under Kyoto). 11.8Mt

So there you have it, with a little dedication and the right policy settings, we can emit 48Mt less carbon by 2020, taking us to 40% below 1990 levels. It doesn’t take miracle technology, it just takes government leadership.

You have to admire the Greens for putting together this level of research while the Government just throws up its hands and says nothing can be done.

OK. I know I shouldn’t bite but I can’t let Farrar’s rubbish criticism of the Greens’ plan stand.

First, he insists on talking in gross emissions, ignoring carbon sinks – it’s like measuring your financial position by only counting your debts.

Second, he’s getting all worked up that the Greens want to ‘shoot to cows’. Apart from the fact that we kill cows all the time, it’s not what the Greens are proposing. To reduce stock levels, which is both profitable and good for the environment, we just need to breed fewer animals.

Finally, this: “Then my eyes hit the next part: along with genetically improving herds toward less emission-prone cows. Can anyone spell hypocrisy?” Genetically improving herds means breeding the stock for desired traits. That’s not genetic modification – changing DNA, often by inserting genes from other species. He doesn’t understand that but he has the pomposity to lecture us on climate change? What a dork.

Unfortunately, it’s probably all moot. Doing our part to save the world from a disaster of our own making is too hard for this government.

42 comments on “Greens show the way forward ”

  1. Chris 1

    Good on them. Just goes to show mitigation doesnt need to be excessively costly. This also coincides with the IPCC’s 2007 report showing that expected GDP growth with mitigation meets GDP targets marginally slower than growth without mitigation.

    Enough scaremongering, more long term thinking

  2. Farrar’s ignorance of the difference between gross and net emissions is either utter stupidity or because he realises how screwed his argument is otherwise. And his general response that “the difference won’t matter in another few years because we’re planting less trees” is utterly stupid too.

    For a start, a carbon price will result in a LOT more trees being planted. The reason we haven’t seen much forestry planted lately is because of the uncertainty around the emissions trading scheme. Once that’s sorted out then planting trees will be incentivised and we will see a lot more being planted.

    Secondly, there is a damn good argument that when a tree is chopped down its carbon shouldn’t be counted as released, particularly if the timber goes into building houses and stuff like that (which it usually does). Therefore, the rules are likely to change in the future on that matter, which means that even the trees we do cut down wouldn’t be counted as released CO2.

    These issues make a massive difference. As one can see from the Green Party plan, most of the savings are made through increasing the amount of CO2 “sucked up” by planting trees – rather than reducing gross emissions. That is because, in New Zealand’s case, it is easier and cheaper for us to reduce our net emissions this way. In other countries things might be different – but that’s the beauty of an ETS like system: you work out the way that is best and cheapest for you to reduce net emissions.

    Farrar’s (and Nick Smith’s) misleading comments on this issue are so plainly wrong that they almost seem criminal.

  3. gingercrush 3

    The problem with the Green’s reports is that it contains no pricing. It talks a lot about reductions, higher efficency standards and assumptions on carbon prices and dairy prices but nothing about the costs. The Greens plan certainly sounds good. But its naive to believe there are no costs when doing something about global change.

    And since the Greens have just 7-8% support and National has far greater support. Neither the Greens nor Greenpeace should assume New Zealanders want what they’re saying. Labour of course can’t talk.Their record is terrible.

    • Chris 3.1

      I dont think theres a single fool who thinks mitigation with respect to climate change would have ‘no costs’

      I do think there are a number of fools who think there are ‘no costs’ in the future associated with doing nothing about climate change

      • mickysavage 3.1.1

        Good comment. If the conclusion to be reached is that we cannot afford to do nothing, and I believe that this is the right conclusion, then we have to accept there is a cost and work out how to pay it.

        Good to see the Greens talking about policy and making proposals. The other parties (including mine) should take note.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      I have to agree, these two points in particular:

      “# higher fuel efficiency standards, more public transport. 4.7Mt
      # Agriculture: lower stock density (which will be more profitable for farmers), breed low-emission cows (some produce 30% less), using existing nitrous oxide minimisation techniques more widely. 2.7Mt’

      Higher fuel efficiency standards means cars and other forms of transport that don’t meet the criteria simply have to be replaced. Who pays for that? How is someone working on the minimum wage with a 15-year old clapped out second hand car supposed to afford to replace their car with something more efficient?

      Meat doesn’t just magically become “more profitable for farmers’ someone has to pay for it. This means meat prices in the supermarket rises, so people can eat less meat. The meat industry, as well as nutritionists, like to go on about how good red meat is, especially for growing children. If meat costs more, people will be able to buy less of it.

  4. GC, from the Green Party media release on the issue:

    Dr Smith has repeatedly quoted a $14.5 billion figure from an NZIER-Infometrics report, saying it was the cost of a 40 percent emissions target. However, the report states clearly that it is not about domestic emissions targets and “should not be interpreted as such’.

    “The NZIER estimates that a 40 percent reduction would cost New Zealand $1.2 billion, so where does Nick Smith find the other $13 billion?’ asked Ms Fitzsimons.

    “The Minister also claimed in the House that his departments have done extensive analysis of New Zealand’s options going forward, but where is it?

    “New Zealand is about to make a very important decision and deserves an informed and constructive debate rather than distortions and scare-mongering.’

    The Green Party’s research was conservative and based on the best available estimates, finding that New Zealand could save three-quarters (or 36 million tonnes) of the carbon emissions it would need to account for under a 40 percent target.

    The country would then have to purchase less than 12 Mt (million tonnes) of credits to reach 40 percent at an estimated cost of $294 million at the same $25/tonne price the NZIER used.

    “The Minister has misunderstood or misinterpreted the NZIER report. Even if New Zealand purchased the entire 48 million tonnes needed for a 40 percent target at a whopping $200/tonne, we would not reach his $14.5 billion figure,’ Ms Fitzsimons said.


    • gingercrush 4.1

      Yes I know National isn’t being truthful about the NZIER report. But I’m thinking costs on individuals etc.And I’m not that comfortable with some belief to have 40% target is going to cost 1.2 billion dollars either.

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        “And since the Greens have just 7-8% support and National has far greater support. Neither the Greens nor Greenpeace should assume New Zealanders want what they’re saying. Labour of course can’t talk.Their record is terrible.”

        That kind of makes sense in a way, but when you include the fact that National is lying about the research it looks a little strange.

        Re Labour, I agree that they should have done a lot more. They lost their nerve at about the same time an idiot drove a tractor up the steps of parliament with a Fart Tax sticker on it. Quality talk that.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    [deleted – wrong place]

  6. burt 6

    I think they missed; Stop selling tons of coal to China. Or is it not important for the environment when it is a; An export earner and b; not something we can tax NZ people for?

  7. infused 7

    What’s the point when China and India are going to build 880 coal powered plants in the next 3yrs?

    This is fucken stupid.

    Have a listen: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/streaming/listenlivewindow/ wellingotn

    Most sensible speaker on the subject I’ve heard.

  8. burt 8


    Please, this is climate change and being pragmatic is a one way street.

  9. Infused and Burt

    What do we tell our grandchildren? That we did nothing because overseas other people were also doing nothing?

  10. infused 10

    Nothing to what? New Zealands Carbon output is ~1%. Lets rooted the whole of New Zealand for such a minimal change when no other countries are.

  11. burt 12


    I know, we tell them that it is good to have lots of $2 shops selling crap imported from that big wealthy country (China) while we can’t afford to switch on our heaters at night because of emission taxes… yes yes yes, lets show them how to control our population while they get wealthy laughing at us.

    • Pat 12.1

      We tell our grandchildren how we once were world leaders in agriculutural exports, and how we used to eat meat and drink milk every day.

      But our cows kept farting so we had to keep “de-stocking”. And we can tell them fondly about that coal-fired consumer mecca called China.

      • BLiP 12.1.1

        Classic denialist tactic.

        • Pat

          Actually, I’m not a climate change denier. But I am an emmissions trading scheme skeptic. Have a really long hard think, and you might understand the difference.

          • Chris

            An emissions trading scheme does two things; creates a market for emissions (Which is a positive thing because it utilises market forces) but also achieves the least-cost solution to abating emissions. A carbon-tax creates a market but doesnt necessarily achieve the least-cost solution to abatment.

            To summarise: an ETS is the most cost-effective method of reducing emissions.

            That isnt greeny wishywash speak, that is economics.

            • Pat

              Then explain the economics of reducing NZ dairy cow numbers by 20%, when worldwide demand for dairy produce is likely to continue to increase.

              Explain the economics of replacing cows with pine trees, when we are not even allowed to burn wood to keep us warm.

              Explain the economics of replacing petrol-everything with electric-everything, when we don’t have anyway of producing said electricity, and we are not allowed nuclear power.

              The Greens carbon emission target fails every economic argument, but most of all it fails common sense.

            • Chris

              That is Deflection if I’ve ever seen it.

  12. Tom Semmens 13

    The thing about David Farrar is that he is a climate change denier. However, his puppet masters have realised they’ve lost that battle in the court of public opinion, so they’ve fallen back to their second position – that of denying anything can be done about climate change. Of course, in terms of action it is the same thing as outright denial, but it’ll buy his handlers in big business a few more years to rip off the planet before they go to the next position, which will be to blame the government for its lack of vision and forward planning coupled with a demand for corporate welfare to save them from the consequences of having done nothing.

    From the point of view of business, this is win-win, because they make money every step of the way.

  13. jagilby 14

    “The Greens have presented a sensible and feasible plan”

    “phase out fossil fuel plants and set higher energy efficency standards. Both costed as saving the country money. Emissions 5.25 mega-tonnes lower.”

    I’m sorry but I can’t let this fly.

    “Sensible”??? “Feasible”???

    The Green’s proposed replacing the 1,448MW Huntly power station with geothermal, wind generation and small-scale hydro plant.

    Let’s face the facts:
    1. Huntly is a baseload generation plant.
    2. There is ONLY 365MW of potential geothermal generation in New Zealand that can be used to replace Huntly baseload generation.
    3. Wind is INTERMITTENT generation… it is not suitable for replacing BASELOAD generation. It’s not hard, it’s is a very fundamental concept to get your head around. Please send a memo to the Greens not to keep arguing this, it makes them look very ignorant indeed. END OF STORY.
    4. So that means you have to find 1083MW of “small-scale” hydro generation by 2020 (assuming you exploit all of NZ’s geothermal resource by 2020). Assuming each small-scale hydro dam is approx 25MW that is 44 “small-scale” hydro schemes. i.e. Yes, flooding at least 44 valleys. Can the Green’s promise not to stand in the way of any small scale hydro consenting in order to achieve this goal??? Can the Greens identify 44 suitable sites???

    Encouraging a transport “mode shift” to public transport (I assume electrified is the plan) will only increase electrcity demand…. Were are we going to get more BASELOAD generation from???

    If the Greens could please address the issues on planet Earth it would be much appreciated.

    • jagilby 14.1

      Get Keisha on the phone please, I need answers!

    • Gareth 14.2

      There is ONLY 365MW of potential geothermal generation in New Zealand that can be used to replace Huntly baseload generation.

      Really? There’s 375MW already under construction and due on line over the next few years. Total potential is over 3,000MW [source].

      That should save a few valleys…

      • jarbury 14.2.1

        Geothermal is a fantastic power source because it can worked basically the same way as a coal power plant – ie. power when you want it. It is through geothermal that we can replace Huntly.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.3

      jagilby’s illogic:

      1,448MW – 365MW – 0MW (Dismiss any wind generation) = 1083MW

      • jagilby 14.3.1


        Check this out:
        Page 98 of the PDF.

        “365MW of additional geothermal capacity could be developed at high confidence and 435MW with high or medium confidence by 2015”.
        So although there may very well be 3000MW of total resource but only a small portion of this can be feasibly developed at this point in time (I could have been clearer about that and we can argue semantics all day but at the end of the day if its not feasible then it won’t fly).

        I have no idea where you got 375MW from. Te Mihi will be NZ’s largest geothermal plant and that is currently on hold. Te Mihi’s 220MW is not all new generation either, it replaces Wairakei. http://www.contactenergy.co.nz/web/ourprojects/temihi?vert=pr

        To address the ideological brick wall, yes Draco, as “illogical” as it sounds, you can’t include any wind generation as a replacement of baseload due to its intermittent nature. You need baseload generation to reliably generate 100% of the time that it’s needed. If we followed the Greens’ “logic” (I assume that’s what you take it as) our major cities would face blackouts on a weekly basis. That is really sound “logic” isn’t it?

        Electricity generation 101 Draco: You run wind only when its available (not all of the time) in order to preserve the baseload capacity that you may want to use in the future i.e. water in the dam, gas in the ground.

        • Gareth

          I’ve read that MED report – I even checked it before posting. That’s the near term potential, and as I showed, it’s being exploited and most will be on line within three years. If this government had a sensible energy policy, we would be working overtime to exploit the full potential of the resource.

          Wind is intermittent, but wind farms distributed all round the country experience different wind flows and that tends to smooth things out. Also developments such as flow batteries/compressed air storage allow greater dispatchability. Not to mention using the existing hydro as “batteries” for the system…

          So – no blackouts necessary.

  14. roger nome 15

    “Shoot the cows”

    heh – i wonder how many cow deaths that porker’s eating habbits have resulted in over the course of his adult life. What a nob.

  15. Rob A 16

    “lower stock density (which will be more profitable for farmers)”
    I spent almost 15 years dairy farming finsihing up as an operations manager overlooking 6 farms milking almost 10000 cows and this more profit for farmers tag is one of the biggest loads of crap I’ve ever seen. Although it may be better in the short term at the moment the way commodity prices are long term its a sure loss.
    Do you really think all the farmers that have stocked up over the years are stupid?

    “breed low-emission cows (some produce 30% less)”
    This is interesting, since the idea is coming from the greens I assume genetic engineering isn’t involved. But it will take alot of time, effort and money identifying the stock with the desirable traits and breeding up a national herd from them.

    “using existing nitrous oxide minimisation techniques more widely”
    The products on the market today are one of the biggest jokes greenwise ever. They do what they say, reduce N waste but the offset is that the N saved grows more grass, so farmers will increase thier stocking rate to eat it.

    “replace coal with waste wood for industrial fuels”
    A few question come into my head for this point. It sounds good but does waste wood burn hot enough? How much of it is there? and how easy is it to get where its needed? Almost all the automatic boilers I’ve seen (which is a few) are set up for coal and coal only. It would cost millions each converting them to wood.

  16. Rimu 17

    Excellent work, The Standard. Clearly you read the report and understood it 🙂

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