- Date published:
9:07 am, September 6th, 2016 - 20 comments
Categories: climate change, Politics, sustainability, transport - Tags: balance of trade, civicanalysis, economics, electricity, smart grid
Damon over at civicanalysis wrote an interesting post over the weekend “How New Zealand can help save the world” (and then pointed my attention to it 🙂 ). It looks at what we can do to structurally alleviate climate change.
Now I have some issues with his analysis, but the core of his argument is related to the all too frequent whine of the lazy and the deniers amongst us.
One strikingly defeatist mentality I come across frequently is the idea that New Zealand, a small island chained to the fence by agriculture exports which is responsible for over half of our emissions, will not change the inevitability of climate change due to the sheer amount of pollution being released by other countries and large companies.
When you consider that we produce less than half a percent of global emissions there seems a certain logical futility to it.
However, New Zealand is fully capable of achieving 100% renewable energy and being a leader in climate policy. Even better, we can provide the means for more progressive and equitable polices that, contrary to popular opinion, won’t decimate farmers or productivity. Best of all – we don’t have to be a guinea pig. We have plenty of international models to develop from.
And he then proceeds to point out some and misses other that I am sure readers here will be happy to point out 🙂
Now as someone who spent a few years being trained in earth sciences and keenly aware of geological timescales, I strongly suspect that doing these measures now may help Damon’s grandkids. However most of them are worth doing in their own right for purely economic reasons.
Electricity for instance. We’re going to need a much better system for distributing electricity over the next decades. From the improvements in batteries and systems, it is pretty clear than an all-electric transport is not only possible to build, but that is also going to be economic to operate. Sure petrol prices will have to rise. However that is going to happen as soon as the Saudis and others finish their ongoing market share and strategic war. In the meantime, when I replace my 18 year old car, it will be with electric transport.
It is also clear that new large capacity generation simply isn’t required in NZ – we have more than enough of that for times when wind and sun are low.
What we need to do is to improve and smarten our grid. And we need as a community to regulate distributors so that new cheap local and small generating capacity can be added to the grid and distributed without the self-interested interference by incumbents trying to leverage their over-valued assets.
Removing the need to import so much fuel will do wonders for our trade imbalances.
But as a strategic plan, this is obviously something that is well beyond the ability of the private market to even contemplate. It is something that is best done by the state. Of course we currently have a government that appears incapable to understand even such simple strategic economic developments like the city rail loop – so we’ll have to get rid of the lazy arseholes in cabinet first.