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Punching below our weight

Written By: - Date published: 5:43 am, August 18th, 2009 - 37 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

I’m proud to be a Kiwi, and I’ve always enjoyed celebrating the successes of our tiny country. It’s not often that I feel ashamed of our role in the world. But our National Government’s position on greenhouse gas emissions is a disgrace. It’s not just that our emissions reduction target is too low, it’s that we know it’s too low, and we’re expecting others to carry the can for us:

Auckland 12 August 2009 – Greenpeace has welcomed the New Zealand Government’s admission that developed countries as a whole must cut emissions by close to 40% by 2020. “Finally the Government is endorsing the international science on which Sign On is based; John Key needs to put his target where his mouth is,” said Greenpeace Political Adviser Geoff Keey from Bonn.

Overnight, New Zealand told delegates from 190 countries in Bonn that the Government’s emissions reduction target of 10-20% below 1990 levels is dependent on developed countries as a whole cutting their emissions to 30-40% below 1990 levels.

“My jaw hit the floor,” said Geoff Keey, who was in the meeting at the time. “New Zealand has effectively told the rest of the developed world that if they work really hard to reduce their emissions by up to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, we’ll do half of that.

Since when did New Zealand do half it’s share? Since when did reporters call on us to walk away from our obligations like this?:

Labour says the government isn’t being ambitious enough. How much more does Labour think the public is willing to pay to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations, given we represent just 0.2% of the world’s emissions?

If they are New Zealand’s obligations who the hell else should meet them? Other countries are now asking us: “Will New Zealand name the countries it expects to do its share of the effort in its place?”. Fair question don’t you think?
— r0b

37 comments on “Punching below our weight ”

  1. Razorlight 1

    Although 10-20% is a fairly light target it will be a hell of an improvement on what we have achieved as a nation over the past 10 years.

    So we should keep the pressure on them but it is a good start from the government.

    • BLiP 1.1

      How does our target compare with the Minister of Tourism’s plan to make “100% Pure” the nation’s “Master Brand”? We’ve got the state’s television broadcaster telling us the brand is a tenuous claim already. And now we’ve got officials standing on the international stage telling over 100 countries that we might do something if they do more than us.

      Far from a good start, mate, its actually top-to-bottom, inside-out, back-to-front bollocks.

      Thanks National Inc – I’m lovin’ it.

    • “it is a good start from the government”

      Surely you gest.

      The next line will be “but under the last Labour Government emissions spiralled out of control”.

      They did increase due to increased personal wealth, more driving, more dairy farming and increased industrial demand meaning that Huntly was burning most of the time.

      Long term some good stuff was happening. Banning the construction of thermal power stations was important as was Auckland rail and the plethora of wind turbines that are springing up as we speak.

      These things all have a lead in time of 5 to 10 years.

      So the long term planning and policy decisions by this government are …

      • lukas 1.2.1

        “surely you gest”- well it is going to be a bit of an adventure getting to these climate change targets…

      • George D 1.2.2

        “They did increase due to increased personal wealth, more driving, more dairy farming and increased industrial demand meaning that Huntly was burning most of the time.”

        Labour was shit, until about 2008. They were in bed with that little weasel Peter Dunne, and the populist Winston Peters.

        They scrapped the carbon tax in 2003. And then did nothing for 5 years. They refused to stop the massive dairy conversions. They refused to implement mandatory fuel efficiency standards. They spent more on road building than any Government in NZ history. They oversaw the conversion of Huntly to coal. They didn’t put a thermal ban in until right at the end – in fact more fossil fuel stations were built under Labour than all previous Governments combined. The Labour Government had a strong aversion to direct measures.

        EECA was good. They did that before 2008.

        They did about turns on most of these issues, and really were on a road to some kind of sustainability. They really were quite decent by the end of their term. Only problem is that it was about 6 years too late, due to being mostly vetoed by their coalition partners, and thus little of it was entrenched by the time National got into power.

  2. delusionalbob 2

    It’s a very good start,mate, didn’t see Helen & Co jumping in to make any changes besides jetting to conferences and talk fests.

    LOL: Nice McTalk*, mate.

    *I’m lovin’ it – like a quarter pounder with cheez, yeah right

  3. delusionalbob 3

    No, is that you Mum?

  4. delusionalbob 4

    skew ‘whiff’

    • So Bored 4.1

      Fabulous answer Bob, Helen and her crew did nothing so we can all sit here with Jonkey and do nothing again. Great, go ahead, sit and wait to die. Fiddle whilst Rome burns. Great option.

      • Razorlight 4.1.1

        I completley agree. The last governments results were disgraceful. That is absolutley no reason for this government to be as useless.

        We need to ensure they stick to their very low targets and put prssure on them to increase them

  5. lprent 5

    The real question is if they will do anything at all. Af present nact appear to have nothing on place, and commitments not to throw the costs on the major pollutors. That means that the whole burden gets thrown back onto taxpayers

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    I prefer setting a target that is economically sustainable and which we can achieve, and is in line with other internaitonal commitments, rather than spending millions of dollars telling the public that we’re going to be carbon neutral without putting into effect any action.

    One is responsible action, and the other is spin and rhetoric. Labour indulged in the latter.

    r0b, you are an apologist for the last labour government. The elephant in the room is your failure to mention that labour’s rhetoric on climate change didn’t match the reality of New Zealand’s performance while they were in government.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.1

      Yep, they sucked. They chickened out because some yahoo drove a tractor up the steps of parliament, as a symbol of, umm, something profound no doubt.

      Yur right though, it was shameful of labour to back down in the fcae of a bunch of populist horse shit and vinegar from the National Party and FedFarm.

      • r0b 6.1.1

        Ahh yes – Bill English says “The Mad Cow Shouldn’t Have Signed”.

        No question Labour didn’t achieve as much as it should on many issues, climate change being one of the biggies.

        Its not an excuse, but I’d like to think Labour might have achieved more if they were dealing with an opposition that was capable of considering the interests of the country and the planet instead of wallowing in crap talk-back populism like “mad cow” and “iwi/kiwi”.

        • Tim Ellis

          By that measure, r0b, then I’m afraid your political faith must be taking a battering at the moment, r0b. If the strength of the political opposition is the measure of what government should or shouldn’t be able to do in your favour, then it must be a very sad time to be a Labour supporter.

          Let me get this straight. Whatever Labour didn’t do wasn’t Labour’s fault, because the opposition National were so evil, but, ummm, sorry I’m trying but I don’t follow.

          If you’re as loyal a labour person as you try to be on here, you will ask your party to start demanding it take responsibility for what it did and didn’t do, rather than blaming everybody else.

          • r0b

            Let me get this straight. Whatever Labour didn’t do wasn’t Labour’s fault, because the opposition National were so evil

            You’ll never get anything straight Tim, because apparently you can’t read.

    • Is environmental devastation economically affordable?

    • Is environmental devastation economically sustainable?

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    How much more does Labour think the public is willing to pay to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations, given we represent just 0.2% of the world’s emissions?

    Meeting our obligations isn’t about willingness but about doing so because it’s right. Responsibility – Something the political right always seems to think they have a monopoly on and then they come out with shit like this proving that they’re the least responsible amongst us.

    0.2% of emissions. 4.2m divided by 6.8b = 0.0006. So, we’re emitting 333 times what we should be for our population according to Guyon .

  8. Galeandra 8

    “Let me get this straight. Whatever Labour didn’t do wasn’t Labour’s fault, because the opposition National were so evil, but, ummm, sorry I’m trying but I don’t follow.”

    Oh, Tim, but you do follow…all the way to hell and back.
    Nasssty spin did in a tiny little contribution from the polluters towards more research( at a time when they were just coining it)…and, of course, the scurrility of constant attacks on “Nanny-ism” ensured that a weakening government could not risk any braver adventures.

    The travesty of governance we have at moment may satisfy you, but it certainly isn’t good enough for me.

    • Tim Ellis 8.1

      Galeandra, in this post r0b slams National for actually doing something without the rhetoric, while he blatantly ignores that Labour did nothing but spent a lot of money telling the public what they would do.

      I know which of the two I prefer.

      • r0b 8.1.1

        in this post r0b slams National for actually doing something without the rhetoric

        Pesky little facts again Tim. In point of fact National have done nothing concrete or significant yet (except carry on with a version of the Green / Labour home insulation plan, and announce targets that are too low and that they acknowledge are too low by asking the rest of the world to do more).

        I sincerely hope that National DO do something, and do it well, but so far they have done more in the way of damage than good — in opposition they pulled every kind of cheap crap populist trick they could to delay action.

        Labour did nothing

        Pesky little facts again Tim (sorry – I know how much you hate them). Labour didn’t do nearly enough, but they did much more than nothing. They put in place an Emissions Trading Scheme which would have reduced emissions and made money for local forestry businesses. ACT want to scrap it, National are dithering – ignoring advice from Treasury and creating damaging uncertainty for business.

        Labour put in place plans for 90% renewable energy generation by 2025 and halving emissions by 2040, and made investments in recycling, carbon neutral public service, warmer homes, solar heating and energy saving. They made more progess on some of these plans than others, had there been another term of government much could have been achieved.

        So again, Labour didn’t do enough, but your claim that they did nothing is just another of your endless lies Tim.

        • Tim Ellis

          Pesky little facts back at you, r0b. Labour would have, should have, but didn’t do anything expect spend a lot of money telling us what they would do, while climate emissions rose throughout their nine years in government.

          Labour still haven’t come out and said what their target would be. You seem quite happy with New Zealand setting a lower target than our trading partners, which would do little to protect the environment but much to destroy our economy.

          • George D

            Tim’s absolutely right.

            Labour scrapped the Carbon Tax in 2003, against the advice they’d been given, in search of the perfect solution, one which would keep happy every sector of business and every part of the electorate.

            Not until 2008 did they come back with the ETS, and some direct interventions in the market but by then it was too late. They also failed to use the previous 9 years to build a public mandate for a sustainable NZ, leaving any interventions ripe for demolition.

          • NickS


            You do realise that the market costs for tons of carbon are rather cheap, meaning that for the majority of business, off-setting their emissions via carbon credits is relatively easy. While for farmers, the recommendation’s I’ve seen briefly involve using slow release fertilizers to reduce nitrogen emissions, allowing steep hills to regenerate into native bush or forestry, along with buying carbon credits. The only businesses that will likely have trouble are the heavy carbon emitters, like the Tewai smelter, the coal fuelled power plants in the North Island and factories that make use of coal-powered boilers, for whom carbon-capturing technology is still it’s infancy, so will need to buy carbon-credits. Which will have knock on economic effects, due to costs being passed on, but I fail to see how these will destroy the global economy, let alone NZ’s. And if you’re going on the Hon. Nick Smith’s lies about the economic costs, one can only chuckle and feel pity.

            Anyhow, it’s fairly clear from the models that we need to take action, otherwise the global economic system is going to be significantly negatively due to disruption to the food and water supplies, and loss of trade infrastructure in both developed and developing nations. The former whom, are going to be worst hit. Which means, if we don’t action now, there will be far worse economic costs than that of mitigating climate change via reducing our CO2 emissions now and in the near future.

            Though, this hinges on whether or not you accept climate change and the associated modelling of future increases in temperature, changes in precipitation and sea level rises. And all these entail for impacts on humanity across the world.

          • r0b

            Pesky little facts back at you, r0b.

            No Tim, you’re just repeating your lies.

            Labour would have, should have, but didn’t do anything

            Let’s take just one thing shall we – the ETS. The ETS was passed in to law on 10 September 2008. It was hugely significant. To some it represented real opportunities. To some it represented real costs. It was world leading legislation.

            So carry on Tim, a blog is a place where you can repeat your lies as often as you wish, but I’ll occasionally take the time to point them out.

            • George D

              Let’s take just one thing shall we the ETS. The ETS was passed in to law on 10 September 2008.

              And that Government was sworn into power on 5th December 1999.

              It was a pretty useless ETS actually R0b, set to increase our emissions for the next ten years. The Greens only supported it because they judged it better than the alternative (nothing and hoping to be in a position to negotiate better at a later date), and they got their $1billion insulation scheme.

              Saying that they didn’t do anything is an exaggeration. They only look like they did a lot because the current Government is so bad.

            • George D

              It was world leading legislation.

              Actually, it was about ten years behind the world leaders. But go on, don’t let that stop the rhetoric.

              The Daily Mail article refers to the December 2007 thermal ban, which wasn’t part of the ETS. It was a direct intervention, the type of act which was needed, and should have been done, while Labour dithered on a totalising scheme. It was the most praiseworthy thing Labour ever did on climate. I applauded it then, and I applaud it now.

              I guess I’m just rather peeved that I had to be out in the early 2000s on Tauranga Harbour at 5am to stop a ship loaded with coal imports and risk getting arrested, have to protest dozens of times about coal, deforestation, Happy Valley, more and more and more cows, huge road building, truck increases, more and more fossil fuel power stations, all of which resulted in huge increases in emissions, and then years later have Helen Clark’s fan club tell me that her government was “world leading” and sustainable.

            • r0b

              I understand that you’re cranky George D, and rightly so. Labour did too little too late, I quite agree. But don’t be too cranky:

              Actually, it was about ten years behind the world leaders. But go on, don’t let that stop the rhetoric.

              Actually it was the first all sectors all gasses ETS in the world and rightly called world leading for that reason (I gave three example links in the phrase “It was world leading legislation“).

  9. George D 9

    Over a decade after the first ETS… and it avoided some of the worst mistakes of the EU’s ETS. There are some advantages to being late to the party, of course.

    But even then it left out HFCs and air and marine transport, both of which are major emissions sources, so it can’t properly be called all sectors. And as I’ve said before, it had very serious problems and wasn’t predicted to reduce net emissions until close to 2020.

    Give this Government hell. But don’t run round pretending Labour has much of a legacy. Because its legacy is the largest increase in greenhouse emissions under any New Zealand Government in history, at a time when the science was clear and the mechanisms for avoiding those increases were very well understood.

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