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The great greenhouse gas research funding switcherooni

Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, December 2nd, 2015 - 19 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, farming, global warming, john key, national, same old national, science, slippery, spin, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Two months ago National cut the funding for Agresearch’s work on greenhouse gas production in the Agricultural centre.  At the time Radio New Zealand reported:

AgResearch staff are being forced to abandon burgeoning careers and years of important work is being cast aside, a scientist says.

The Crown research institute has confirmed it will cut the jobs of of 33 scientists and 50 technicians during the next year, as part of a restructuring to cope with a $5 million cut in funding.

Their research in greenhouse gases, animal and forage sciences and on-farm tech support is being scaled back, while 27 new roles are being introduced in food security, Maori agri-business, high value foods and innovative food products.

The net loss of 57 jobs suggests that the $5 million figure is a yearly one.  This is confirmed in this post by Emeritus Professor Dick Wilkins, a previous employee at Ruakura.  His proposal, that AgResearch should be transformed from a corporate structure to a publicly funded science led organisation, is compelling especially when you think of the scientific advancements the state science sector has achieved.

Fast forward to yesterday and John Key announces on the international stage new spending of $20 million over four years on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural centre. Coincidentally this is the sum of $5 million a year, exactly the amount cut from Agresearch’s budget.

The money is available to fund research in livestock greenhouse gas emission mitigation.  Two months ago it was gone, now it is back, although contestable and available for the shiniest short term proposal.

And this great switcherooni is offered as justification for National not including agriculture in the ETS.  From Jo Moir at Stuff:

New Zealand has specific challenges given half of our emissions are from agriculture, which is why Key has announced $20m towards research specifically in that area.

For this reason the Government didn’t include agriculture in a review of how to best meet a reduced greenhouse gas emissions target after 2020.

It is hard to reconcile this statement with the discussion document’s statement that agriculture is out of scope because the Government does not want to consider extending the ETS to agriculture unless there are economically viable and practical technologies available to reduce emissions, and New Zealand’s  trading partners are making more progress on tackling their emissions in general.  Either existing policy is the reason agriculture was not included in the ETS review or this announcement is.  It cannot be both.

19 comments on “The great greenhouse gas research funding switcherooni ”

  1. vto 1

    it’s called jiggery pokery

  2. tracey 2

    This has been his (Key) ploy thorughout the seven years…

    Cut, cut, cut. When people cry out, give back some but not all of the cuts to make it seem generous and addressing something even though you never get close to pre-cut rates.

    The subsidy is in reverese. Increase, increase, increase then go on the world stage and offer to cut by 20% HERO!!!!

    Key is hoping the scientists (who he sometimes agrees with and sometimes does not based on his years a sa currency trade I expect), will make a magic bullet. Even better one that can be marketed and sold for billions.

  3. BLiP 3

    . . . Two months ago it was gone, now it is back, although contestable and available for the shiniest short term proposal . . .

    From the Dictionary of National Ltd™ Newspeak:

    CONTESTABLE – preparatory fiscal classification prior to transfer of public funds to a private sector “partner” which may, or may not, be based in New Zealand and which may, or may not, be required to account for the funds and which may, or may not, solely benefit from any future profit derived should such research prove financially viable and which may, or may not, make data derived during said research available to anyone regardless of anything.

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Yep that is basically it.

      Contestable is fine if you are out deciding on which restaurant to eat at. Funding science which can require extended periods of research into a variety of things, not so much.

    • greywarshark 3.2

      You use words like keys, to open up doors to rooms full of golden truths. Poetic eh!
      There is just one Key missing though, so you don’t have the full set.

      And the key is to one door tightly sealed which contains National’s integrity and plans for New Zealanders well-being. Like the riddle of Schrodinger’s Cat, we won’t know if there is anything alive there till we open it. Has the still, fetid atmosphere of the secret room killed off the fragile plant of National’s evolution tenuously holding onto life? Will the rush of cold air into the chamber trigger collapse and death? Until we obtain the true key we will never be able to carry through the experiment so desired by so many scientists and citizens in NZ.

  4. Jenny Kirk 4

    So – do all those scientists and technicians now get their jobs back ? or not …..

    ShonKey’s govt is a farce – well, it would be a farce, if it wasn’t so serious for those who lose their jobs, the research gets lost, and the loss to NZ valuable data and intellectual input. All in an effort to say the country has a glowing economy – which its obvious to most of the rest of us, is not. I despair.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Yep it is no way to run an institution that is meant to be investigating science. One day you have a job, the next day you don’t then you do …

    • tracey 4.2

      Not the ones that left, but maybe some who will work by Joyces new code of practuce which gags them.

  5. Kiwiri 5

    Clarification: “Ruakaka” ?

    [Right you are, now corrected – MS]

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    My recommendation to NZ scientists – leave for a country which values the work you do and which will reward you with a decent, stable living.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Or, make a huge amount of noise about ow the government is destroying science and science careers in NZ and then vote for a political party that will enshrine science funding in law so that it can’t be changed at the will of the governing block.

  7. RedBaronCV 7

    But the flag at $26m is much much more important than this isn’t it. What a screw up of priorities.

  8. Macro 8

    As NRT rightly points out in his post on this craven and shonky switcherooni research is all well and good – but it is not actually compelling anyone – particularly farmers – to take any action whatsoever! Remember – National have consistently EXEMPTED farmers from GHG emissions so even IF some research results in ways and means to reduce farming emissions – FARMERS ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAKE ANY ACTION AT ALL (sorry Lprent for shouting but that point needs to be well understood in the context of this discussion).

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    National taketh away and then giveth. Net result is fucked over careers and research just so National can claim that they’re doing something when they’re actually making things worse.

  10. savenz 10

    Probably got a crony ready, to take the funding.

  11. Corokia 11

    So we can’t reduce agricultural emissions from animals by having fewer cows then?

    The dairy herd has increased 27% since 2006.


    FFS,are there any dairy farmers in the country who will even be paying any tax this season? What exactly is the benefit to this country of this industry?

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