NZ and the emissions scams

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, December 18th, 2015 - 11 comments
Categories: accountability, climate change, global warming, spin - Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday in The Herald:

NZ achieved emissions reduction targets: Paula Bennett

New Zealand has achieved its first round of emissions reduction targets and is on track to meet its 2020 target, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says.

In the first commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand had to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Mrs Bennett said the target was reached through a combination of emissions reductions, the capture of carbon through forestry, and international trading.

The ministry said New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions had increased by more than 42 per cent since 1990, but these had been offset by carbon sequestration and the purchase of carbon credits.

New Zealand’s dependence on buying carbon credits has been criticised by some climate scientists, who described them as “hot air” credits which do nothing to reduce atmosphere-warming emissions. …

The Herald piece briefly identifies the problems with the claim that we meet our targets. I/S at No Right Turn went much further with two excellent posts, which are reprinted (with permission and full acknowledgement of his work) below.

Climate change: A policy based on fraud

The government released a pile of climate change reports today on its Kyoto Protocol CP1 and CP2 (to which we are not a party) obligations. And they expose the naked fraud which lies at the heart of our climate change policy.

First up, Kyoto. Under the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand had accepted a target of limiting its net average emissions over the to 2008 – 2012 period to gross 1990 levels. Which in practice meant a target of 309.5 million tons over five years. So how did we do? Our emissions kept increasing, and in fact increased by around 20%, but thanks to the net-gross scam, we were able to use forest reductions to cover that. So, we met our CP1 target, fairly, within the (broadly accepted) Kyoto rules. And according to those rules, the surplus can be “banked” against targets for later commitment periods.

But then the real scam begins. Because according to our CP1 “true-up” report, we paid for a huge chunk of our emissions with international units. Most of this is ERU’s under Kyoto’s Joint Implementation mechanism, and a staggering 86.3 million tons of that came from the Ukraine – where huge amounts of credits were issued fraudulently and as part of an international criminal scam. But we’re also using 16 million tons of Kyoto Certified Emissions Reductions issued under the Clean Development Mechanism. These are also hugely problematic – around 50% of CERs were issued for destruction of refrigerant gases – gases which had been produced solely so they could be destroyed for credit. Which is why such “credits” are no longer accepted, and cannot be used in Kyoto’s second commitment period.

But Kyoto CP1 Assigned Amount Units can. And by paying for our CP1 obligation with these dubious and possibly fraudulent credits, New Zealand has assured that it has a huge surplus of AAU. 123.75 million tons worth, or about two years worth of emissions. And predictably, we’re using this banked credit to “pay” to “meet” our self-imposed CP2 target:
New Zealand’s projected gross emissions and units acquired over 2013 to 2020 period* (as of 14 December 2015)

Or, to put it simply: we bought fraudulent credit in CP1, we laundered it into AAU, and we’re effectively using it to pay to meet our CP2 reductions. And then we’ll no doubt try and carry over that surplus (plus any other fraud we can launder) to pretend to meet the (self-imposed, not legally binding) 11% by 2030 target we offered at Paris. And meanwhile, our emissions will just keep on rising.

And this is why other countries no longer support international carbon trading: because its an outright scam. And the fact that New Zealand’s climate change policy is based on it speaks volumes about both our honesty and our commitment to real change.

Climate change: How bad is NZ’s climate fraud?

Earlier today I highlighted the New Zealand government’s climate change policy of paying its Kyoto bill with dodgy (and now banned) “emissions reduction” units while banking AAU (which will then be used to pay for future targets). So how dodgy are the units we’re using? We’re literally claiming emissions reductions for burning coal.

As noted earlier, the credits we’re turning over include 86.3 million tons of “reductions” from the Ukraine – which is noted for being particularly dodgy. The raw data is here [XLS], and project details are in the Ukranian JI Registry. I’ve extracted this data for the top 20 projects NZ has purchased emissions “reductions” from here. Those projects account for 61.4 million tons of emissions – or roughly a year’s worth. And eleven of them claim reductions for “spontaneous ignition of coal waste piles”.

What does that mean? The Stockholm Environment Institute working paper referred to in that Guardian article has the details. It means:

extract[ing] coal from coal waste piles, leaving bare rock which does not ignite, and combust[ing] the extracted coal, mostly in power plants. Emission reductions are claimed for the avoidance of waste pile fires, while emissions from combustion of the extracted coal are not counted because it is assumed to substitute coal which would be otherwise obtained from coal mines. For the amount of coal that would otherwise be obtained from coal mines, projects also claim emissions reductions for avoiding upstream emissions from coal mining, including methane emissions associated with deep coal mining and CO2 emissions from electricity consumption by coal mines

The Institute’s conclusion: “we rate additionality of this project type as not plausible and overcrediting likely to be significant”.

New Zealand is claiming at least 31.2 million tons of “reductions” form this bullshit – half a year’s emissions.

But it gets worse. The Stockholm Institute identifies four types of projects as having “questionable or low environmental integrity”: spontaneous ignition of coal waste piles, energy efficiency in industry and power production and distribution, and natural gas transportation and distribution. Eighteen of the twenty largest Ukranian projects New Zealand purchased “reductions” from (totalling 51.3 million tons) fall into these categories. One is a “no-tillage” agriculture project, which the Institute notes are deliberately misclassified in Ukraine to allow the credits to be fraudulently sold onto the EU market. And the final one, for “Implementation of Energy-Saving Light Sources in the Public, Corporate аnd Private Sectors of Ukraine”, appears to have issued twice as many credits as its expected reductions. Basicly, we’re paying our bill with bullshit and fraud.

Note that the government probably didn’t buy these credits itself – they were likely turned over by participants in the ETS to pay for their emissions. But the government has chosen to use them to cover our Kyoto emissions, in order to be able to bank its AAU and claim it as a reduction later. And given that it has now banned these types of credit, it did so in full knowledge of how dubious they are. The effect this will have on our international reputation is left as an exercise for the reader.

11 comments on “NZ and the emissions scams”

  1. Bill 1

    Can we (humanity) just cut to the chase and acknowledge that carbon credits have absolutely no effect whatsoever on lowering global CO2 emissions and that they may well actually increase emissions?

    These are two good pieces by NRT, but the detailing of the ‘scam’ (and I dare say every government is playing the same bloody stupid game) is irrelevant in the context that any and all carbon trading schemes are self deluding scams anyway.

    • b waghorn 1.1

      100% agree the credits are useless , while this government will do nothing the next lot in need to focus any carbon tax raised on spending on real change in nz , we can’t change the world but we can at least solve our emissions and hope others do their part.
      BTW that article shows why bennett got the job , she’s the best bullshit artist they have.

    • Pat 1.2

      no we can’t….because that would require real meaningful change and we must have business as usual.

    • Steve Withers 1.3

      I agree…but the neo-liberals insisted on the “market” that would price carbon to send “signals” to reduce emissions.

      Then we spent 25 years refusing to implement the model that had been insisted on as the only way to do it.

      When some jurisdiction gave up on market forces and simply imposed a tax, the people who wanted to block anything being done moved heaven and earth to get rid of any government that imposed a carbon tax…and they have been mainly successful in that.

      So we’re left with a market solution that governments can cheat on – or simply refuse to participate in…..though we still have “target” of 1.5C of warming that we have all agree to….but there are no consequences for failure (other than the climate making life hell for the people who don’t have the resources or the power to protect themselves).

      This is gross corruption…and the National Party in New Zealand is leading the way. They are Bangladesh in Molesworth St.

      But to be fair to them….they think climate change is all nonsense anyway. They’ll pay lip service to look good, but they see themselves as doing nothing wrong because they just don’t know what the science is….and don’t care.

      Willful ignorance is often just as evil as malevolent purpose.

  2. savenz 2

    Outrageous that our government is apparently ADDING to climate change by not reducing emissions and by adding credits that are encouraging the use of carbon by destruction of refrigerant gases – gases which had been produced solely so they could be destroyed for credit.

    A lovely example of neoliberalism in action. Polluters profiting by adding to carbon to the atmosphere so they can claim profit for stopping it.

    From Greenpeace that shows we are a staggering 96% above 1990 levels by 2030….

    “Less than a week after signing the Paris climate agreement, a new report shows that the National Government’s current policies will see New Zealand’s emissions increase 96% above 1990 levels by 2030!
    This report actually shows that contrary to what we’ve been told, and what was promised in Paris, the Government’s very own projections show we will blow our emissions out of the water in the years to come.
    Here’s the full report:

  3. RedLogix 3

    These elitist Tory scum never saw a rule they couldn’t scam.

  4. Macro 4

    But! But! But reducing Carbon emissions in NZ would mean we as country would actually have to do something! Don’t you people realize that that would make us unpopular.
    Akshully the sheeple like their summer holidays and a nice bit of warm weather… so what if a few beach houses get washed away from time to time …. I’ve got another in Hawaii.

  5. The Chairman 5

    Evidently, opting for the Emissions Trading Scheme opposed to a carbon tax has largely enabled this fraudulent behaviour and the ability to keep polluting.

    Unfortunately, the Emissions Trading Scheme is Labour’s preferred option, introduced by Labour in 2008. Putting them at odds with the Greens, who prefer a tax.

  6. savenz 6

    NZ has so much forestry surely we should be profiting from carbon credits, can’t work out why a country like NZ is actually having to buy credits in? Industry and government be super dirty and polluting or clueless!!

  7. savenz 7

    Oh Look, polluters don’t even need to pay tax in OZ…

    “More than one-third of the largest public companies and multinational entities paid no tax in Australia in the most recent financial year on record, according to the first transparency report published by the Australian Taxation Office.

    Tax transparency: search the full list of 1,539 companies
    Read more
    Qantas Airways was the company with the highest total income that paid no tax, followed by a subsidiary of mining group Glencore (GHP 104 160 689 Pty Ltd), ExxonMobil Australia and Lend Lease. These companies reported a taxable income of zero, despite having incomes in billions of dollars during 2013-14.

    The ATO data release covers Australian public companies and foreign entities, public and private, with total annual incomes of $100m or more. This was the category of businesses the Coalition did not seek to shield in the recent political dispute over tax transparency for Australian private companies.

    Of the 1,539 individual entities listed in the ATO report, 579 (or 37.6%) paid no tax, and 920 (62.4%) paid some tax in 2013-14.”

  8. Tracey 8

    How can this be when the market solves all????.

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