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Key obstructs Copenhagen talks

Written By: - Date published: 11:46 am, December 11th, 2009 - 41 comments
Categories: climate change, john key - Tags:

Thanks to our dear Prime Minister John Key, New Zealand is being branded an international ‘fossil’ on climate change. Stuff.co.nz reports

Prime Minister John Key’s comments on climate change have come to the world’s attention, earning New Zealand a “fossil of the day” award at the Copenhagen climate change negotiations.

The awards are a hall of shame for countries seen to be obstructing progress in the talks. The recipients are decided by a daily vote by the 450 members of the Climate Action Network.

New Zealand’s third place dishonour on Thursday, behind Poland and Germany, was awarded for Key’s comments in Parliament this week that he would not increase the country’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

John Key really is doing his best as Minister of Tourism to kill off the 100% Pure NZ brand. And what’s replacing it? Well, now NZ is on its way to being branded as an obstructer of the biggest environmental issue of time. It’s heart wrenching watching our country’s integrity go down the drain like that.

Remember that barely 3 years ago our Prime Minister thought Kyoto was a hoax and was ‘suspicious’ of climate change. It’s not surprising Key’s giving NZ a bad rep.

41 comments on “Key obstructs Copenhagen talks ”

  1. fizzleplug 1

    If a statement made in Parliament is obstructing the talks in Copenhagen, I think that says more about the talks in Copenhagen than it does about John Key.

  2. Pat 2

    From the same Press reporter:


    Two international reports have backed New Zealand’s proposals for tackling greenhouse gas emissions, saying the country’s targets are more ambitious than most.

    Analysis by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said New Zealand’s offer of an emission cut between 10 and 20 per cent, on 1990 levels, by 2020 was at the “ambitious end”.

    The offer was comparable with Japan (25 per cent) and only beaten by Norway (30 to 40 per cent).

    A European Commission comparison showed that on a worldwide aggregate of a 30 per cent emissions reduction New Zealand should be offering 15 per cent, which is within the stated range.

    “It reinforces what New Zealand has been saying,” climate change ambassador Adrian Macey said.

    “The key thing is independent modeling and analysis using especially European-based models, seem to consistently show New Zealand is at the upper-middle at least.”

    Ironically, the country was awarded a “fossil of the day” award at the Copenhagen talks on Thursday because of comments made earlier this week by Prime Minister John Key.

  3. TightyRighty 3

    I notice the pompous git who awarded the prize said she spoke “for all new zealanders”. tone it down a bit.

    • gitmo 3.1

      Was she wearing a moustache ?

      • TightyRighty 3.1.1

        I couldn’t make it out clearly in the photograph. while the journo pointed out her costume and the prize, no mention was made of the elephant in the room

      • BLiP 3.1.2

        Retard: Susan Boyle or gitmo?

        [lprent: are you really wanting to start a flame? You know what I feel about those. *sigh* ]

  4. tc 4

    NACT are banking on this whole process falling down with no binding agreements so they can burn all that coal and say ‘if they can we can’.

    Leading the way on change and enhancing our 100 % Pure image to boost our vital tourism industry requires vision, guts and intelligence……you’ll never get that with this government.

    Brownlee has steathily removed alot of the sustainability initiatives whilst others like Tolley/Smith sythe their way through matters.

    Same old same old…..next govt will have the usual raft of shortsighted greedy actions to fix up just like after the eras of Muldoon/ Shipley etc.

    Like Oz under Howard……JK’s an embarrassment and there’s no plan/vision and alot of nat’s I speak to are starting to admit that which says it all really.

  5. Bill 5

    NZ is as ‘clean and green’ as a green arsed pixie with the runs.

    And everybody knows it.

    Additionally, while the image might have been good for tourism, the problem was always going to be that tourism encourages the arrival of tourists.

    Meanwhile, I do not know of a single person holding their breath for a worthwhile outcome from Copenhagen. We want a change? We change.

  6. outofbed 6

    I think that NZ position of expecting other countries to pick up NZ slack in regards to emissions is obstructing as is any other country doing the same thing.

    However Copenhagen has no chance of success
    For the world to accept that Global warming is a problem would be an admission that the whole market/freetrade/capitalist thing has failed ,hence all the rightwing nutters screaming.
    In a heartbeat trillions are found to shore up the banking industry,
    Invade Iraq? trillions
    Help 3rd word countries mitigate the effect of GW? I think we know the answer

  7. Jcw 7

    What a joke. NZ is aiming for a 10-20% reduction in carbon emissions relative to 1990 by 2020. Canada has promised a 3% 1990 –> 2020 reduction. The US a 1.3% reduction 1990–>2020. And NZ gets shamed?

  8. outofbed 8

    National MP Nick Smith will host this Public Meeting in Nelson to discuss the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Nick Smith is our Minister for Climate Change and is leading the negotiations for Aotearoa
    7.30pm, Friday 11th December 2009
    Nelson Electorate Office

    544 Waimea Road
    Corner or Waimea and Quarantine Roads,
    Annesbrook, Nelson

    May I encourage people to turn up to “see him off”

  9. tc 9

    Noble sentiments from ‘outofbed’ but the more folk protest the more it galvanises the likes of Smith to carry on.

    In the NACT world ‘protest = affirmation you’re on track’, as the arrogance doesn’t allow them to think they might just not have it right as well as they do what their backers tell them to……or no comfy jobs after you leave the beehive.

    When will Smith be targetted as the liar he is .

  10. outofbed 10

    When will Smith be targeted as the liar he is .
    Well it appears never. In both his public and private life he has been shown wanting in the truth stakes. Beats me how he gets away with it

  11. lukas 11

    NZ Sucks Campaign by The Standard, The “green” Party and the Left of NZ.

    • felix 11.1

      Saying “The govt sucks” isn’t the same as saying “NZ sucks”.

      Saying “Nick Smith sucks” isn’t the same as saying “NZ sucks”.

      Saying “Wah, Australia’s so much more awesome than NZ and we need to be more like them in every way” like National spent the last few years doing (and continue to do actually), now that’s a “NZ sucks” campaign Lukey.

      • lukas 11.1.1

        felix, remind me who accused the Nats of running a NZ sucks campaign last year for pointing out failures in government policy?

  12. gomango 12

    So explain to me again why the NZ targets are being condemned so heartily?

    According to what other countries are doing we don’t seem so inadequate. And given the track record of Australia, Canada, US, China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, the EU (note the recent case won bey member states which say the EU has no right to police emissions by member states).

    The table in this link suggests we are actually ahead of the pack (guiven Russia and Europe are/will be cheating, and Australia is going nowhere):


    Compared to 2005 emissions we are the best of this bunch, and close to best of bunch based on the very distorted (because of Europe/Eastern Europe/Russia/China) 1990 benchmark.

    • lprent 12.1

      Your problem with the value on that site (and that of Nick Smith aka Serial Numeric Liar) is that it assumes that the forests created since 1990 are never cut down. Since most of them were pine or other fast growth woods, this is patently incorrect.

      If you change the working assumption to having forests cut down every 20-30 years, then the result looks a whole lot different and puts us amongst the worst polluters per head in the world.

      How has this escaped your attention in the debates over the last couple of years? Please explain?

  13. outofbed 13

    So explain to me again why the NZ targets are being condemned so heartily?
    Because if we get above 450 parts per million we are Fucked

  14. tsmithfield 14

    Iprent “If you change the working assumption to having forests cut down every 20-30 years, then the result looks a whole lot different and puts us amongst the worst polluters per head in the world.”

    Forests are not just summarily cut down every 20-30 years. What usually happens is that there is a continual process of harvesting and replanting. New saplings have much more carbon-holding potential than mature trees, so I don’t see the problem from a C02 perspective. Furthermore, harvested trees tend to be used in industries such as housing and furniture where the carbon is locked up indefinitely. So, a forest management plan that involves harvesting and replanting would seem to be better so far as C02 is concerned, not worse.

    • Bill 14.1

      “Trick three: the fake forests or what the process opaquely dubs “LULUCF”. Forests soak up warming gases and store them away from the atmosphere so, perfectly sensibly, countries get credit under the new system for preserving them. It is an essential measure to stop global warming. But the Canadian, Swedish and Finnish logging companies have successfully pressured their governments into inserting an absurd clause into the rules. The new rules say you can, in the name of “sustainable forest management”, cut down almost all the trees without losing credits. It’s Kafkaesque: a felled forest doesn’t increase your official emissions… even though it increases your actual emissions.”


    • outofbed 14.2

      for complete rebuttal

    • Bill 14.3

      Oh and if you’d read through oobs link above you’d have come across the argument that when a tree is converted to wood products that only 15% of the original amount of CO2 remains stored ( and even that, not for very long before it’s released) after logging and mill residue plus transport emissions are taken into account.

      guess I should write faster. Yeah. Nice link.

    • lprent 14.4

      Most of the carbon in wood is released within a couple of years.

      a. most of it is harvested to put into paper (how much of your used paper do you have stored?), not buildings or furniture. Probably in excess of 80% of the trees in NZ is used for pulp and paper.

      b. the waste factor on trees is very high. Typically non-pulp operations use at best 40% of the wood harvested. This is due to
      1. discarded branches
      2. bark and edge wood.
      3. sawdust during milling.
      4. breakages and spoilage during transport
      5. offcuts during usage.

      c. buildings and furniture don’t last indefinitely. My family has old wood from centuries ago as antiques. They are a fraction of the wood that was harvested and turned into furniture at the time. The rest has been burnt or decayed – most within a few decades. Similarly try and count the surviving wooden buildings that are over say 60 years old. They aren’t permanent in a process that will take centuries to undo.

      Please take time to think before making such a obviously daft assertion. I’d be surprised if more than 5% of the harvested wood is actually still in existence a year after harvesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was less than 1%. This is all pretty obvious even to a student.

      So what has happened is that fast growth forests sequester carbon from the air over 20-30 years, and almost immediately release most of that carbon as CO2 or CH4 a short period after harvesting.

      Unless they are a forest put in to grow for century, you can treat them as essentially being zero sum in climate change gas equations on a process that will last centuries.

  15. Tim Ellis 15

    So apparently New Zealand, the first country in the world to have an all gases, all emissions ETS, and opting for a much more aggressive target below 1990 levels than almost every other country in the world, and yet according to some we’re still “dragging the chain”.

    It seems the Left hasn’t yet accepted that we have a new government that was elected on the platform of keeping up with the rest of the world on climate change, rather than sacrificing our economy just so that we can have the moral pleasure that we’re doing more than everybody else.

  16. prism 16

    Bill – What carbon emissions would a modern mud house, (often thick straw bales will be used) involve cf to wood house? What can we use then if we ‘re not supposed to use wood?

    Also bright new idea to stop mud houses overseas crumbling under earthquake stress by putting layers of rubber from tyres round such houses can’t be stopped if found practical, because of emissions concerns. We are going to have to balance things out.

    • Bill 16.1

      Who said ‘Don’t use wood’?

      Wasn’t me. But I’d imagine less waste and burn off from straw harvesting than from wood harvesting. Then I guess it’s down to how well the house is constructed as to how long whatever CO2 there is remains locked up.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think there is too much problem when we manufacture long lasting products. Eg. houses that stand for hundreds of years instead of the current 30 year or whatever lifespan.

      My gripe would be with the 90% plus of manufactured product that finds its way to the landfill within 6 months of being manufactured. My gripe would be with the 17 and 18 x more waste from manufacturing processes in relation to domestic waste; with inbuilt obsolescence; with stupid ‘kinder surprise’ production etc

  17. Um, I don’t think technically anybody voted for this new government, Tim. It was formed post election, based on the votes the various parties received and the consequent number of MP’s gained.

    I think what you mean is that National were elected on a policy of ‘keeping up with the world, etc.’ And, if so, you’d be wrong anyway. I doubt if they got a single vote on the basis of their platform on climate change, whatever it was at the time. It wasn’t a prime reason to vote National; anti-Aunty Helen was really the basis of their mandate.

    A strong personal position on climate change was absolutely a reason to vote for Act or the Greens, depending on your POV, but hardly figured in John Boy’s result, in my opinion.

    • Tim Ellis 17.1

      On that basis TVOR you wouldn’t be able to object to National selling SOEs or slashing social services based on their election promises, since you’re happy for National to break its promises.

  18. Not sure what you mean, Tim.

    No, I’m not happy if National break their promises, but I have got used to it down the years. Mind you, i’m not entirely sure National promised anything this time aroiund, they were vaguer than usual about what they intended to do about anything. Except tax cuts, they were pretty definate about tax cuts. Whatever happened to that promise, Tim?

    • Tim Ellis 18.1

      I suggest you read National’s ETS policy released three months before the last election TVOR. All of its commitments in this area have been carried through. The policy makes it quite clear that National did not propose to be a global leader in climate change at the expense of economic progress. http://national.org.nz/files/2008/ets.pdf

      • The Voice of Reason 18.1.1

        Cheers, Tim.

        I don’t think I’ll bother reading the PDF when you’ve summarised it so succinctly. Profit before planet. Excellent work, National. That’s the kind of moral leadership the world has come to expect from plucky little New Zealand.

  19. gomango 19

    and the forests also being replanted every 20-30 years? or not? And is that a problem peculiar only to NZ? What is our target then on a like for like basis with these other countries after you adjust for your unmeasurable forestry effect? I still dont see how our efforts will be worse than the US, Canada, Australia, China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe by any meaningful measure.

    The real issue is the lack of enforcability around emissions.

    For the record, I think ETS is a crock and it won’t deliver what the vested interests are promising. For a start, follow the money. Who profits?

    I would far rather see a carbon tax, but even then there would be problems with other countries taxing with one hand and re-subsidising with the other.

    Here are some of the problems with ETS:

    – there is no workable mechanism to ensure that corrupt countries (ie Russia) don’t cheat. The oligarchs will magically create carbon credits for sale to the west out of mid-air. We have the right to go into Russia and measure emissions directly, calculate forestry clearance rates etc?

    – why was 1990 baseline chosen? It certainly helps certain players.

    – If the EU can not even police itself, what hope is there? The EU cannot police emissions over the next 3 years – individual countries have the right to declare their net emission levels. Thats ok you say because after that the EU does have the right to police emission levels. But any net credits will be carried forward and added to the new EU mandated levels. So for probably 5 years or so, europe will effectively be a non-participant in the ETS, in fact I’ve just read a piece of research (from the DB Emissions Research group) suggesting EU emissions from the entire EU will grow over the next 5 years by around 10%. With their heavy reliance on coal and anaemic growth, who trusts the likes of Estonia, Poland etc to “do the right thing”.

    – Explain this in economics 101 terms: EU emissions in 2008 2.1MT, available credits 2.0MT, deficit 0.95MT. What did the price of carbon do? Down 70%. Does that sound like a market where no one is cheating?

    – In 2009 with a 5% increase in EU emissions, the carbon price is down 33% ytd.

    – why are problematic heavy industries in two of the richest EU countries (France and Germany) exempt from emissions caps? In case you arent aware of this rort, Germany has exempted a whole range of heavy industries from the requirement to purchase credits between 2013 and 2020 lest they move production offshore to countries that are either outside or don’t enforce ETS. Plus they will likely subsidise those companies in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well under the less onerous Phase 2 scheme! At least the Germans tell the truth about what they are doing whereas the French do the same thing but deny it. Nice one – thats in the spirit of ” we are all custodians of mother earth.”

    – Offset calculations. Do you have any idea how fuzzy this process is? Even the squeaky clean Norwegians cant get it right. DNV anyone?

    – and who profits from an ETS? I find it very ironic that many of the commentators (here and globally) decry the irresponsibility, deviousness and greed of the capitalist finance system. Well hello? Who do you think profits mostly from an ETS? Global financial intermediaries…….. in words of one syllable – banks, hedge funds, brokers. But now they are the good guys right because they are facilitating the ETS?

    As the ETS scheme grows we will be introducing another volatility risk into global markets, that will impact mostly on those unable to manage it – consumers and the poor. A tax is far simpler, can be planned for by business and dis-intermediates the whole industry which has been created around carbon trading.

    • lprent 19.1

      I would far rather see a carbon tax, but even then there would be problems with other countries taxing with one hand and re-subsidising with the other.

      Ditto. Simpler and much clearer about lobbying effects

      why was 1990 baseline chosen? It certainly helps certain players.

      Because work on the Kyoto protocol was started in the mid-90’s and completed in the late 90’s. They picked 1990 as the reference year because there was reasonably good data (for the time)

      The idea behind the cap’n’trade was to facilitate pricing based on a scarce commodity. However the governments have been doing an inflation effect by increasing the effective number of credits

  20. gomango 20

    No the real reason 1990 was used, at least for the european ETS is far more prosaic. Bear in mind they had good data fopr many subsequent years. Germany was very happy – post-unification but before the inefficient filthy ossi industires were shut down. Voila – instant pain free improvement.

    And slightly more morally defensible, the west figured it would allow the wider eastern european countries a much easier entry into the eu system – those countries would not have any difficulty in meeting eu mandated targets as much of their 1990 heavy polluting industry had fallen over long before the late 90s when most eu entry agreements were made. Again, voila – instant pain free “progress”

    Between 1990 and 1995 emissions from the former eastern bloc fell by close to 30% whereas everyone else in the world was at best stable.

  21. Jim McDonald 21

    The present National Government with Key as PM to fulfil New Zealand’s vote for change – taking clowning around to a fresh, higher, new ambitious level.

    That’s not so funny when positive environmental/tourist perceptions about NZ’s are being eroded 🙁

    Not good being a laughing stock!

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