- Date published:
12:03 pm, June 2nd, 2014 - 129 comments
Categories: climate change, ETS, global warming, greens, russel norman - Tags: carbon tax
Far away from the media circus that surrounds the Internet Mana Party coalition the Greens have made a useful contribution to the debate on what should be New Zealand’s response to climate change. The proposals are:
A goal of net carbon neutrality by 2050.
The establishment of an independent Climate Commission to provide expert and independent advice to the government on carbon prices, carbon budgets, and complementary measures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The phasing out of the failed Emissions Trading Scheme and an initial price on carbon of $25 per tonne on CO2 equivalent emissions for all sectors except agriculture. Dairy emissions will pay $12.50 per tonne. Forestry will be credited at $12.50 per tonne.
The recycling of all revenue raised from a carbon charge back to families and businesses through a $2000 income tax-free band and a one percent company tax cut.
A suite of complementary measures to support the rapid transition to a carbon neutral economy.
The proposed carbon tax is not a new idea. It was Labour’s preferred policy response to climate change in 2005 and the ETS was only agreed to after New Zealand First blocked implementation of a carbon tax after the election. In Australia it was the Labor Party’s selected means of dealing with CO2 emissions.
The difference between a carbon tax and an ETS is, very simplistically, that a carbon tax requires a centrally designated price to be set for the emission of a greenhouse gas whereas an ETS sets an acceptable level of output of GHGs and then lets a created market decide what that price should be. The theory is that an ETS is able to respond rapidly to supply and demand pressures and reward activities that absorb greenhouse gasses. One of the major problems is with the quality of certification and the handling of large numbers of credits which the former Soviet Union nations amassed following the demise of their heavy industry.
The policy is brave and will be attacked on the basis that there will be a cost to ordinary New Zealanders. And no doubt the relatively minute nature of New Zealand’s emissions will be raised as justification for us to do nothing.
But as Russel Norman said (h/t Parsupial)
We cannot expect other bigger countries to reduce emissions if we are not doing so ourselves. Especially when many of those countries are poorer than us. On the other hand, by demonstrating that a transition to a clean economy is both possible and rewarding, we can help spur global action. We are a can-do country. We are not the kind of people who expect others to do the heavy lifting while we sit back. So why sit back on climate change?
National’s initial response has been typical. Stephen Joyce jumped onto twitter and claimed that as New Zealand’s carbon intensity has been dropping during National’s reign all is fine. But Keith Ng has elegantly deconstructed Joyce’s claims in a number of tweets which showed how inane Joyce’s claims are.
It is noticeable that Joyce has ignored the predicted doubling of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead he has focussed much more narrowly on carbon intensity which essentially is a different measure.
The tweets contain a treasure trove of information which establish conclusively that Joyce does not know what he was talking about.
The first matter that Ng raised was that energy emissions (not agriculture) have decreased since 2008. The information is contained in the MFE’s publication New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2011 and Net Position – Snapshot April 2013. The report notes that there are are a number of reasons for the decrease in energy emissions since 2008. These include:
So unless Joyce agrees that National is responsible for the commissioning of the Huntly gas turbine (initiated under Labour in 2007), the Christchurch earthquake, the GFC and the Pike River disaster then National deserves no credit for reductions.
Ng also pointed out that GHG intensity has been declining since the early 1990s, is a feature of the growth of the service sector, had little to do with the ETS and it is irrelevant. The amount of GHG being produced is the problem, not the intensity compared to industrial output.
And the contention ignores methane production. I presume that Joyce will dispute that cow farts are causing climate change.
The proposed reduction in tax rates as compensation for anticipated price increases is interesting. I suspect that everyone except for heavy polluters, farmers and climate change deniers will give the whole package some consideration.
Some are criticising Labour for not having a response to the policy. I personally think some careful consideration is required before any formal comment is offered.
Having said this it is good to get away from personalities and back to policy discussions. This is where the left excels and the right is weak.
Well I think this will be very easy to achieve as energy depletion and Mother Nature will probably IMO make it happen, irrespective of any governments policy.
I expect access to liquid fuels from crude oil to become significantly restricted by ~2030 (e.g. general rationing unless for approved special uses), NG to follow suit around 2040 (although Russia and Iran probably have gas to last until 2060). Peak global coal will have occurred by then, too.
The book Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer is a wake up call.
A terrifying glimpse of the none-too-distant future, when climate change will force the world’s powers into a desperate struggle for advantage and even survival.
Massive population shifts.
Rising sea levels.
Plummeting agricultural yields.
Michael Ruppert’s film Collapse’ is also sobering.
I find it sad that Michael Ruppert took his own life recently. He had a lot more to contribute.
I think that the globalised class of power elite are well into their planning and positioning for this, hence their building of a massive security and surveillance state, normalising the use of militarised police and para-military tactics on home soil against ordinary citizens, and in the US legalising the mass indefinite detention of entire classes of people should they be deemed a threat to “national security” (a.k.a. a threat to the security of the power elite).
and you don’t think that we are being set up as a bolthole for them..?
..i mean..where better..?
Apocalypse, Man: Michael C. Ruppert on World’s End
Abby Martin’s Personal Tribute to Investigative Journalist Michael C. Ruppert
i cant figure out what part of greens policy is different to labours or nz first all very much on the same wave legnth
Winston first said he does not support the Greens policy
Oh, it’s you.
I think that the Greens have re-started the discussions on this issue and policy – put it back on the agenda. Hopefully it’ll gain momentum as the months progress.
Yes, it is an uphill task to convince the public. Lots of education, publicity and effort will be needed to achieve that. I had a family/friends brunch gathering this morning with 8 adults +children. At one time, when the conversation veered to politics, I asked if any of them were thinking of giving their vote to the Internet party. Three of the adults who have been voting Greens in the earlier few elections indicated that they were excited by the Internet party. Two of those said they ‘may’ give their vote to them. One was certain. I found that interesting. The next few polls will show how the wind is blowing for all parties.
Push polling? So you didn’t ask how many were thinking of voting Green, or Labour? Or even just ask who they are thinking of voting for?
No, it wasn’t a ‘polling’ and definitely not a ‘push’ one. I was just curious to see what my own circle of family/friends thought of the new party. Don’t read too much into it.
“Yes, it is an uphill task to convince the public. Lots of education, publicity and effort will be needed to achieve that.”
I think we are nearly at the top of the hill. That Norman can make a statement such as “climate change is the most important issue of our time and possible of all time” suggests there has been a big shift in NZ in recent years. Even a few years ago the GP couldn’t have said such a thing (even though they knew it was true). More people are ready now, and many people want to do the right thing and want the govt to provide them with the means to do it. I’m not saying all of NZ is on board, but we are much further on than we were.
The question isn’t who will vote for the IP or the GP. It’s whether the IP supports the GP policy. The potential for cooperation here is huge.
The policy announcements by the greens over the last few weeks, imo, is shoring up those already pledging to vote green.
There is room for the greens and imp. I wonder, historically, where do undecideds go to on election night, swordfish?
Well, hopefully the IMP will attract more of the politically disengaged with their anti-establishment stance.
I also think it’s very important for the Greens to maintain a strong parliamentary presence for the longer term future. They have some very well worked and well considered policies and practices, and a clear sense of left wing values.
Beyond the (very important) desire for regime change, and opening politics up to younger people, I’m not sure there’s a consistent set of left wing values/policies incorporated in the IP position.
If they vote at all, they will tend to go for National or Labour. Many people say they will vote Green, but will finally defer to a “safer” option when at the polling booth, usually Labour.
The Greens are no longer the protest vote party as they are respectable now; NZF still plays that role however thanks to Winston’s incessant battering of the establishment (which he is a long term part of, of course), so IMP might get those last minute protest/anti-establishment votes.
“There is room for the greens and imp”
I think you mean gimp.
Yes, and that is a good thing.
Similar experience this morning. Mana is gaining some traction amongst those on benefits wanting work, and the low paid struggling to meet rent.
Just to reiterate the comment I made yesterday about this policy on another thread:
For those who are worried that a Carbon tax will not reduced emissions – it will.
For those who fear that it will lead to economic ruination – it won’t.
For those that say it will stop “growth” in it’s tracks (as if it that is a big deal) – it won’t.
For those who think that NZ will become uncompetitive because of it – think again.
For those who want to know the truth about how such a tax and dividend scheme really works and just how an economy is doing that introduced a very similar one in the past –
To quote from the last paragraph of the above link”
“BC can boast of the crown jewel of North American climate policy. “BC now has the lowest fuel use in Canada, the lowest tax rates in Canada, and a pretty healthy economy,” says the University of Ottawa’s Stewart Elgie. “It works.” “
“revenue neutral” taxes designed to encourage certain kinds of behaviours while keeping money in local communities is quite a neat tool.
However, I’m pretty cautious with regards to assessing the Canada/B.C. situation. The wealthy in B.C. have experienced the economic benefits from a multi-year housing bubble, and I can see no easy and realistic way a median working household with 3 children can reduce their car use by 17% unless one of the parents loses their job and doesn’t have to go to work any more. Further more, Canada’s economy as a whole is receiving a massive and ongoing boost from extremely dirty tar sands extraction.
Sales of refined Petroleum products in BC have declined by 15% since 2008 – the year the Carbon Tax was introduced – whereas the sales of refined petroleum products for the rest of Canada have remained static.
“The tax has actually become quite popular. “Polls have shown anywhere from 55 to 65 percent support for the tax,” says Stewart Elgie, director of the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment. “And it would be hard to find any tax that the majority of people say they like, but the majority of people say they like this tax.”
The fact is that it works. People begin to look at alternatives to simply hopping in a car to go someplace. This leads to an increasing demand for better Public Transport which can be financed by reducing expenditure on road making and carbon tax. Businesses begin to look seriously at how they too can be less reliant on carbon. Locally produced goods may be initially more expensive but become more attractive when when the cost of transportation of cheaper goods from a distance is taken into account. As you are well aware – the cost of oil is now in free flight following peak. This only intensifies the attention of people onto the issue. By beginning now we can be at the head of the pack in terms of adaptation.
Car pooling. Walking. Bicycles. Public transport.
I don’t know what greater Vancouver and rural BC is like in terms of public transport and walkability etc. but although I recognise it is theoretically possible I still can’t see it. The only thing which brings those kinds of reductions that dramatically is an economic recession and people ceasing doing as much.
BTW Zero Hedge is suggesting that petrol (gasoline) use in the USA may have fallen by a far larger number (due to recession, not a carbon tax), possibly somewhere between a catastrophic 2/3 and 3/4 over 15 years:
BC had a very detailed action plan which went along with their Carbon Tax
Quite an impressive document:
Since that document was released BC has had a gas fracking boom and is now planning to build a dozen LNG facilities to export millions of tonnes of LNG to Asia.
Yes there is fierce debate going on at this very point in time – so I don’t think you can contribute their economic performance over the past 8 years to that which is occurring now!
The gas issue is something that will need to be carefully considered. Asia has its needs for energy just as every one else. Gas is less “dirty” from carbon emissions than Coal but still no where ideal. Does Canada export gas to energy hungry Asia or does Asia import coal from elsewhere? Personally I would hope that they don’t.
As well as individual actions (bike, walk, ride share etc), there are community and societal restructuring. Relocalisation is a big part of it. If you have a place to by food that is within walking/biking distance, then that changes a lot. Even more so if you can walk/bike to work, church, movies, library etc. These are not difficult to do in terms of infrastructure, it’s more about mentality at this stage.
All for relocalisation, but its something which takes 5-10 years to get happening so I don’t think its responsible for the quick drop in fuel use in BC.
Yeah sorry, I was meaning what could be done.
It’s not a quick drop CV have a look at the link I gave and the graph. There was a drop that occurred across the country in 2008 which was obviously the result of the GFC, but that was not sustained in the rest of Canada – only in BC and their use of petroleum has continued to decline whereas the rest of Canada has returned to the previous levels.
if look at the u s right now there whole infer structure is car centric whole community’s are stranded by rising fuel costs stuck in suburbs as energy poverty bites . as a labour party member I agree with the greens we need to re think the way we live where we work and the way our economy is run because the so called norm is no longer an option
gee..!…thanks winston peters..!
(question for peters from media..:
..’will you block/stop a carbon-tax..again..?’..)
What exactly does ‘carbon neutrality’ mean? I suspect that strange, necessarily bullshit and rather elastic calculations will be rolled out and used to justify ongoing CO2 emissions on the basis that ‘carbon sinks’ are soaking up what is being produced.
Curious as to how people reckon all this stacks up against the need to have hit zero carbon emissions from energy back in 2010 if we were to have avoided 2 degrees average surface warming while giving Annex 2 countries a fair ‘crack at the whip’ in laying in infrastructure? We are now about a year away from blowing away a 50/50 chance of avoiding 2 degrees warming due to our growing emissions and are on track for 4 degrees + average surface temperature increase. That equates to the end of any recognisable civilisation
Anyway. At least there might be the beginnings of a necessary conversation off the back of this policy announcement. That would be good.
sadly bill, most humans dont want to believe in anything catastrophic, until the rain has fallen for weeks, or the asteroid hits, or the earthquake… And the panic passes
Carbon neutrality means that we emit no more carbon than we sequester. But as you rightly point out its way too late to stop 2 degrees of warming, and 4 is looking more and more likely.
And we have no large scale sequestration technology. And we don’t know how to calculate agricultural emissions. And we can’t calculate natural sequestration rates/amounts. And even our energy emissions are fudged (international shipping/international flights).
Soooo…’carbon neutrality’ means absolutely nothing at all in the real world. Although, as I suggested in my original comment, that’s just perfect for bandying bullshit calculations around to ‘show’ that our fossil based emissions can continue. It also allows for no heed to be paid to the fact that warming rides on the back of cumulative emissions rather than emission rates.
“Carbon neutrality” is good for another couple of rounds of academic papers however, and is nice lingo for politicians, central bankers and corporates playing us along in their big game of ‘pretend and extend’.
They’re called trees.
We’re working on it and already have a ballpark figure.
Yes we can.
It means no net increase in atmospheric carbon.
Trees, and perennial crops and farming practices that increase soil (of a certain kind that will hold and cycle the carbon). They are all only useful if we also reduce emissions.
sheesh draco. So trees are a technology? ffs! And there was me thinking that trees along with everything Weka mentioned were more suited to being under natural sequestration rates
Meanwhile, no net increase in atmospheric carbon leaves us fucked. We have to decrease the amount of atmospheric carbon if possible…through adding fuck all extra to what’s there and hoping to fuck it gets naturally sequestrated quick enough….before we get ‘cooked’. (Unless you know of some sequestration technology (ie, not trees etc) that can be operated on a large scale)
That would require being carbon negative and, yes, it’s probably what we need to do.
“And there was me thinking that trees along with everything Weka mentioned were more suited to being under natural sequestration rates”
Sorry to quibble, but I would call it maybe not technology but at least human generated rather than natural. Sure we can leave nature to grow its own trees, but that will take time that we don’t have (and we need to be doing stuff in addition to what nature is doing anyway). What I was referring to is intentional sequestration from human activity eg farming (either perennial cropping or food and other forestry). When we apply sustainability technology we can speed up sequestration.
Obviously there are overlaps too.
They aren’t a very stable carbon sink. Coal on the other hand is a great carbon sink. Holds the carbon in for 100,000 years without blinking. Trees and their remnants won’t usually last that long. Apart from things like forest fires every few decades, there’s no economic case in the present system to set aside additional land for growing new trees on and to not touch it indefinitely. And AFAIK net tree coverage globally consistently shrinks year after year after year.
“there’s no economic case in the present system to set aside additional land for growing new trees on and to not touch it indefinitely”
Food forestry and sustainable forestry for building?
There is plenty of spare land in NZ (assuming it doesn’t all get converted to dairy farms).
I’d be interested in what you interpret as being spare land.
NZ land use is well documented and I don’t see much “spare land” lying around unless we are willing to go in and change the nature and characteristics of a lot of reserves and conservation land.
Everything we don’t need to provide food for ourselves.
In other words, we need to turn a lot of farms back into forest.
I do agree about growing trees and especially creating food forests. I’ve just got back from the Heaphy Track and the number of trees knocked down was amazing – looked like pick up sticks in places – sure overall a small percentage but it would have to be considered as more extreme weather events occur – more big wind events, more rain/slips and so on.
“I’d be interested in what you interpret as being spare land.
NZ land use is well documented and I don’t see much “spare land” lying around unless we are willing to go in and change the nature and characteristics of a lot of reserves and conservation land.”
There is a lot of DOC land that could be reforested to natives. Then there is land owned by councils and central govt that is not ‘in use’ eg lots of land held by LINZ (road reserve alone would be significant), town reserves that are just grass currently etc.
Then there is land in the high country, and places like Central Otago, where farming is pretty marginal and would be better transitioned to a sustainable model that included either forestry or perennial cropping (polyculture). Plus land still to be allocated in tenure reivews or leasehold farms. I think there is a lot of land in places that simply isn’t in any kind of ‘use’ at all, but is prevented from reforesting because of council policies on broom and gorse. This is true in Central, so I assume it’s true in other places with similar climates or land histories eg Marlborough.
I’m thinking of other places where the climate isn’t so harsh where people are buying rural land and either letting it regenerate or regnerating intentionally to forest. Might not be happening so much now that land prices are crazy.
…there’s no economic case in the present system to set aside additional land for growing new trees on and to not touch it
Coppicing. We can keep the trees alive and harvest them repeatedly without hurting the trees. Lots of natives are very suitable for this purpose. Win/win. Another traditional technique that is making comeback.
nice one js.
And what do you generally use this nice carbon sink coppiced wood for? Oh yeah, firewood.
It’s not mandatory though. We can use timber for whatever we want.
btw, firewood, when properly managed via good forestry and processing of firewood, and efficient burners, is one of the few carbon neutral energy sources on the planet.
Coppiced wood is usually much smaller in diameter so the range of building uses it is suitable for is very limited.
Yes indeed. But that characteristic also makes it useless as a carbon sink to offset fossil fuel use.
Turning the wood into charcoal before using it as fuel can be a bit more efficient, but not by that much.
We can build buildings from coppiced bamboo. We can also build buildings from coppiced trees (roundwood framing). Many things other than buildings that are durable can be made from coppiced wood.
And js didn’t suggest that all forestry be coppicing.
All those things are theoretically possible but we would have to train up a new generation of builders architects designers to build with bamboo and also with round wood framing.
Not saying it can’t be done but NZ has no expertise out there to do this, and we can barely organise to build standard housing as it is.
as opposed to the weedy end of pinus radiata currently used in nz buildings…
CV, as a former builder, and having designed a few houses as well, I can assure you that we do have the expertise.
Professor Euan Mason (Canterbury School of Forestry) has estimated that if a third of the planet’s area that has been deforested was reforested then our atmosphere could return to a CO2 concentration of 280 ppm.
Makes you wonder, more forests and trees, cooler climate …
See that sounds very reasonable and do-able. Reassuringly so.
Right up to the point that you have to tell the good folks of the Waikato that you’re now going to take 1/3 of their land off them because you want to plant trees there instead.
I’m assuming Tainui will want to have a few words with the Government around these mandatory plans as well.
What, as opposed to telling the good folks of NZ that you’re not going to take 1/3 of their land off them to create a diary sewer, er, I mean farms?
What mandatory plans?
People who sold their land for dairy conversions got handsomely compensated for it in cold hard cash. Lots of it. And in those transactions there was a willing buyer and a willing seller.
Of course, the NZ Government has nationalised land before en masse, hundreds of thousands of hectares of it at the stroke of a pen.
Shall we go down that route again?
Ok, so when you said the good folks of the Waikato, you actually meant a select few farm owners.
I haven’t read Mason’s article yet, but there are other ways of achieving change than land confiscation. Although land confiscation seems entirely on the cards when the shit hits the fan. For which we already have the Public Works Act.
No, I meant 1/3 of the land of the Waikato (and every other NZ district), and at a guess in the Waikato that might affect roughly 2000 farmers/farming families.
And by the way, why do you think townies would be exempt from losing 1/3 of their sections to tree planting?
Yes. It would have to be a “compulsory sale and purchase” of land i.e. with compensation.
Did Mason suggest land confiscation?
I think you will find that most normal urban sections already have a quarter to a half of the section in gardens and or trees.
Of course as they intensify building, this will reduce.
Greater intensification of cities would allow for greater use of parks and thus more trees in the cities. Getting rid of the sprawl is win/win.
“Soooo…’carbon neutrality’ means absolutely nothing at all in the real world.”
It depends. If you are intent on BAU, making money, increasing profit, growing the economy, then yes, you can manipulate carbon neutrality to do that.
If on the otherhand, you want to subvert that without scaring the horses, you can use a concept like carbon neutrality to transition society to firstly not emitting more than is being sequestered, and then move towards carbon negative. Sneaky Greens 😉 because if they came out and said what really needed to be done, they’d get bugger all votes. This is as much about changing people’s perceptions as it is about physics in the ‘real’ world.
Haven’t looked at the detail of their policy yet though.
Yeah, you might be right. Just that I’m more inclined to take the fcking horses out back and shoot them these days.
So long as you bury them deep and plant trees on ’em.
Isn’t that the shocker paradox we all live under – “because if they came out and said what really needed to be done, they’d get bugger all votes.” Is anything really better than nothing with this topic? Society imo will transition and society won’t like it a bit, society will fight and thrash around and oppose and pretend and then nature will force the big transition and society will begin to change – but of course by then it will really only be window dressing. JMG says it well (paraphasing) – collapse now and avoid the rush, collapse now while you still have some semblance of control, some options.
I’m feeling more… optismistic would be stretching, but let’s say less pessimistic recently. Things look like they are changing to me eg that the GP can talk opening about AGW being the most important thing and do so in an election year as part of a major policy release. It’s normal now.
Am with you avoiding the rush, and still think that everythign and anything we can do now will make the collapse easier to manage.
You do not and can not manage 150-200km/h winds that have downed your infrastructure, closed your roads and flattened your crops.
You do not and can not manage prolonged drought and heat wiping livestock, pasture and crops while shutting down your infrastructures (electricity supply, water supply)
You do not and can not manage x m of rain that washes away your crops, washes out your infrastructure, floods your home, collapses hillsides…
All you can do or hope to do is to survive. And that’s as much dumb luck as preparedness given the climatic vagaries involved.
Well it’s all relative isn’t. The conditions you describe are unlikely to arrive all at once or overnight. So to what extent do we adapt? Humans have lived in some pretty extreme situations, precisely because they worked within their environment (ie they managed).
To give an example,
“You do not and can not manage prolonged drought and heat wiping livestock, pasture and crops while shutting down your infrastructures (electricity supply, water supply)”
True if we do not very much between now and then. But if instead we practice and increase drought resistant food growing techniques that aren’t dependend on power and water supply infrastructure, then we will ‘manage’ better than if everything falls over while are are still dependent on it.
Of course, we could prepare for x kind of weather and find we get y instead, or we could prepare for x and get x. That’s where luck will come into it. But it still pays to prepare for being able to manage, where x is liveable with prepared for adaptation but not with sudden collapse of power supply.
Edit: and, the things we should do to prepare are also the things that will mitigate and possibly sequester.
Psychological and emotional preparations are amongst the most important to make.
Defending against massive climate extremes and weather events is difficult of course. But knowing your neighbours, not depending on the supermarket for all your food and not depending on petrol to get you around, already puts you at a massive advantage in an age of resource and energy depletion.
“Psychological and emotional preparations are amongst the most important to make.”
I wonder if this is even possible but anything is definitely better than nothing here and you never know it might not happen relatively quickly.
Well, nothing I wrote hasn’t been experienced already. Climate change will involve more extremes than those I mentioned. And we haven’t ‘adapted’ to any of the, for now, infrequent storms, droughts and what have you. And neither has the biological environment we are a part of and dependent upon.
Anyway. Basic physical infrastructure was built for the conditions we became used to in the now passing holocene. That won’t be getting adapted…(time, expense, engineering know-how)
And insofar as we are biological entities that fit (survival of the fittest) into an evolutionary niche that’s part of a larger biological reality and state that’s not going to be accommodated by a 2 degrees or 4 degrees+ world….
I thought we were talking about best case scenarios not worst, or at least allowing that we don’t know yet. Or at least, I am suggesting that there is in fact a point to preparing (see below about food growing). If on the other hand you want to argue it’s too late and we are all fucked then just go ahead and quote Macpherson 😉
“And we haven’t ‘adapted’ to any of the, for now, infrequent storms, droughts and what have you.”
Actually some people have adapted for things like drought, and I can tell you catagorically that farmers and other food growers in sustainability subcultures are definitely working on adapting to changing climate. The mainstream hasn’t, but that doesn’t mean no-one has.
btw, if we look at drought (and I know this is taking things out of the full context), and we look at average tempartures for NZ and add 2C, then we are still within the range of temperatues that humans can grow food in. Humans can grow food in extreme climates. What we can’t do is sustain oil-based, mono-cropped, Monsanto-sponsored agriculture, but then I’m not arguing for that. I’m saying we can increase our resiliency skills and that that better prepares us for managing in the contexts you are talking about if they aren’t at the extreme end.
Five minute slide show of the permaculture classic Greening the Desert. Getting food trees established and bearing food within the first year in one of the harshest climates on the planet. They have the least rainfall per head of population in the world. Plus the land in the area has been overgrazed and salinated. If people can grow food there, they will be able to grow food in NZ during prolonged drought.
“And neither has the biological environment we are a part of and dependent upon.”
The biological environment is adapting all the time, it doesn’t have a choice. I think what you mean is that it won’t adapt fast enough to prevent extinctions if humans don’t change, but that’s a given for worst case. It’s not really relevant to what is being discussed here.
Yeah okay. Drought resistant plants can be grown. But one of the main things that’s going to increase is wind…y’know, the type that rips up trees and flattens crops?
And sure, I’m being negative and we could argue hopelessly backwards and forwards on unknowns and likelihoods and what not.
But I do want to say this. Adding 2degreesC to average NZ temps has got absolutely nothing to do with imagining a world that’s 2degreesC warmer due to climate change. The 2degreesC is average surface temp. And land is always much warmer than water.
I known some of my farmer relatives are using drought resistant grass (in NZ). It was noticeable seeing the fields that have such gras in recent droughts – they remained green while others were brown.
It’s an adaptation, but to try to keep going with BAU. Greater adaptations are needed.
maf has a whole paper recommending grasses for drought prone areas.
Grow crops that are resilient to wind, and you grow them in places where the wind is mitigated. We already do this.
“But I do want to say this. Adding 2degreesC to average NZ temps has got absolutely nothing to do with imagining a world that’s 2degreesC warmer due to climate change. The 2degreesC is average surface temp. And land is always much warmer than water.”
So with a 2C rise globally, what will happen in NZ?
“Drought resistant plants can be grown.”
Just need to pick up on this. It’s not simply about growing drought resistant plants. It’s about a completely different way of managing land and water. Plant species selection is part of that, but it’s not enough on its own. Sustainable land management brings in a whole swathe of interlocking techniques and systems that builds in resiliency. Obviously there is an upper limit for wind speed, frequency of flooding, lack of water etc, but that’s still the point – that we are better off preparing, and the preparation is exactly what we should be doing to mitigate AGW.
Karol, it’s true that better species selection is happening (and let’s note that organic farmers in NZ were doing this 3 decades and more ago), but MAF and the mainstream sciences are still geared towards export production not local food growing, and are therefore not sustainable. When we switch to growing food locally all sorts of things change, including that we don’t have to rely on large scale open paddocks that are prone to drought. We can build food growing systems geared around the local environment, geography and climate, and they are much more robust.
Here’s a look at a mixed perennial/annual polyculture system for feeding livestock in Western Australia,
Temperatures in excess of what you’d get from a uniform planetary 2C+ rise in surface temperature. Not as much above 2C+ as larger land masses though. And along with that ‘stuck’ weather patterns (to do with jet stream amplitude changing)…so longer, hotter droughts and heatwaves and much more rain falling over shorter periods than now and then much more energy seeking balance in the overall weather system (ie, much bigger winds).
Throw all that at infrastructure and many roads will not be re-opened as we currently expect after slips nor electric/water supplies reconnected as we currently expect, nor roof repairs carried out as per current expectations.
Beyond that, who knows?
“Temperatures in excess of what you’d get from a uniform planetary 2C+ rise in surface temperature. Not as much above 2C+ as larger land masses though. And along with that ‘stuck’ weather patterns (to do with jet stream amplitude changing)…so longer, hotter droughts and heatwaves and much more rain falling over shorter periods than now and then much more energy seeking balance in the overall weather system (ie, much bigger winds).”
Just to stick with food growing, the only thing that strikes me as being really problematic there is the big winds. You have an event that takes out trees and it’s a long haul to restore that. We don’t lose forests with the big winds we already have, but I would guess that planting more in sheltered places would be smart (and soon).
‘Drought’ is a relative thing. Much of the drought in NZ is caused by land management, or by trying to grow certain things in the wrong climate/geography. We can look at places like Texas, where fully grown trees are already dying, but again, this is to do with what they are doing with the land there, and the water table, and stocking rates etc. In various droughts in the past 30 years, there have always been farmers in NZ that have been ok, because they were farming differently. If the whole area had been farming differently, there wouldn’t have been a ‘drought’.
Increased rainfall is problematic in some places but not others. But often the problems are again caused by humans. If you chop down all the trees and flatten the land then the water will run over that very quickly and take topsoil with it. It will wash away any land not stabilised and gouge out tracks causing more erosion. On the other hand, if you plant out riparian zones with multi-species, and put breaks in the smaller water courses, then the water slows down and seeps into the land, which is exactly where you want it (esp if the rain events are infrequent).
None of this is rocket science. I’m less worried about how ability to prepare and manage than I am about whether we will actually do it.
I’d say the horse has bolted. If one was cynical, Kyoto was really was the last chance. We have no idea what the change will be, but a change is a coming. And it will restore us to pre-industrial population levels quickly is my guess. And a type of thuggery will win out.
If you really wanted to reduce emissions you would identify some activities that are unnecessary and produce a lot of emissions and make them unlawful.
If you then wanted to reduce them further you would identify another set of useless activities and eliminate them.
The sort of activities I am talking about include the production and operations of pollution producing luxury items (like jet skis, over- powered motor vehicles and privately owned helicopters and airplanes). We could stop producing unnecessary packaging, cut back on military operations, cease intensive livestock farming and stop mining coal. Many other harmful and/or essentially useless activities could readily be identified and stopped without reducing our standard of living in the least.
Of course there would be some resistance to this approach but I suspect it would not be as strong as it is to carbon tax as most people would hardly notice it. It would also be transparent and easy to understand. Anybody can relate to the idea that we need to stop doing things that are harmful to them but taxation is always more difficult to get your head around, particularly when everybody knows the rich manage to find a way of getting around any type of tax. I suspect in the case of a carbon tax they would simply pass on costs making both necessary and luxury goods more expensive. This would mean a carbon tax would essentially be a very regressive tax. Trying to make up for it by giving tax back in other areas does not really work as we have seen with GST.
Carbon taxes fail to discriminate between useful and useless activities, let the rich off the hook, and like all taxes are unreliable in terms of results and prone to producing unforeseen consequences.
Supply of potable water is critical; supply of 18 year old scotch whisky is not.
Hard to enforce around the world.
How about stopping people from breathing,belching and farting?…and will it all make a difference?
What is better is to go for renewable energy methods.
Not sure why you are trying to draw parallels between burning up hundreds of millions of tonnes of fossil fuels making and shipping around useless trinkets, and the very necessary activities of people breathing and farting.
If we do that we can cushion the blow, but even a rapid shift in renewable energy generation still means the end of the high speed high luxury globalised economy and a transition to a generally slower and harder world.
“Hard to enforce around the world.”
We (as in NZ) don’t have to enforce anything. We have to walk the talk, and then lobby the parts of the world where that will have the most effect. Am pretty sure that if enough countries lead the way, others will follow. Either way, we will eventually be forced into change by nature, and the closer we get to that the more visible that will be and the easier to convince people to change. Best we prepare now though.
I certainly agree with that, but we should not go over board with crazy, impractical. silly, stupid ideas and schemes….(at least not too fast!)
What sort of crazy things do you mean Clem?
Only revolutions in the neoliberal direction are permitted, apparently.
As someone here advocated banning jet skis, private helicopters, industries, 18 year old scotch whiskey etc. You need to get voters’ SUPPORT and get elected. Wishful ideas don’t help you get there. Without getting elected, all extreme impractical ideas are just that, ideas.
Yep. Which is why there will be no political solution available to avoid major climate change nor for avoiding civilisation disrupting energy depletion.
As John Michael Greer suggests, we are in the closing vice jaws of a predicament for which our national level institutions and leadership will not be able to resolve and you have outlined just some of the reasons why.
Face it, NZers can’t even agree on joint sacrifices to pull 300,000 Kiwi kids out of poverty and that’s something right here right now; trying to painfully deal with something which is decades down the track – no way.
The political and corporate classes will just continue their game of pretend and extend.
so breathing belching and farting are the same as drinking scotch in your world?
My world is your world.
So you want to stop people drinking 18 year old scotch? What about the 15 year old scotch?
is that the best you can do? A hint of nimbism there clem
No, not nimbyism as whiskey is not my preferred drink.
My point was in the name of environment or in saving the world, the Greens or their loose cannon extremist crazies should not put forward nutter types of silly proposals. My question was legitimate: If the 18 year old whiskey were to be banned, then why not a 15 year old? How do you decide what vintage is ok and what isn’t? This is the sort of stuff that makes people, including me cautious and weary.
I’ve been saying something similar for quite a while now. But…if we leave it to the authorities, then one fine day in the not too distant, people are going to awake to a world where (for example) any access to commercial international passenger air travel has been withdrawn. Meanwhile, the ‘one percenters’ will fly and boat in their private luxury to their hearts’ content (as will politicians because, hey, them’s is important people doing important things!)
Far better than making some things unlawful, would be for people to withdraw their participation in useless and detrimental market activity. A UBI would help on that front, or such a move could help bring about a UBI.
edit. and in light of CV’s comment, I’d just like to put it on record that my hand would be up for participating in a workers’ collective involved in the critical production of good malt whisky
lol yeah…its one way to productively and pleasantly pass the time in a post industrialising world…also its a very highly barterable/tradeable commodity. Handy.
Yep. Hence their insistence on loading up young people with debt, to ensure compliance with the economic needs of the status quo.
“Meanwhile, the ‘one percenters’ will fly and boat in their private luxury to their hearts’ content (as will politicians because, hey, them’s is important people doing important things!)”
I’m not so sure. If society is still reasonably intact at that point, I think that there will be huge negatives associated with carbon use to the extent that those people will be treated like pariahs. Interesting to consider how countries will ration carbon at that point.
You’re aware that those
fckersjolly ‘one percenters’ (it could be as high as ~5% I guess) are responsible for a huge proportion of CO2 emissions ie, anything between 30 and 60% of the total? I mean, to be fair, airline pilots and such like, plus politicians and globe trotting academics are a part of that small elite when we’re looking at AGW as opposed to just finance.
And most of the one percent already are fucking pariahs. Very powerful and influential pariahs though, who have politicians and governments in their back pockets. Now, why are they going to change the programme again? You never, ever see them as it is, and only a few of their names are familiar to most people (Koch Brothers, that Aussie woman Rhienhart? etc)
Ah, ok. I thought you were talking about people like KDC, Peter Jackson, the PM.
I still don’t think that the 1% you are talking about are pariahs.
I agree with you about not leaving it to the authorities. My own personal approach is to look at what can be done, which is why although I keep an eye on international issues (like how much power the Koch family have), I don’t engage much because it engenders powerlessness. If I look at what can be done here in NZ, there is much that can be done, and all of it will be dependent on asserting and maintaining sovereignty.
I don’t yet see the path between where we are now, and mass population withdrawing participation in the economy. I can see some of it theoretically (eg when we get shortages), but not yet in the real world. I like the idea though.
As the effects of AGW become more and more visible the 1% will become (through their own devices and basically to continue their financial accumulation as long as possible) heroes to the (western) masses. And those that know the truth will be too busy surviving and trying to set themselves up to effectively challenge the self-declared hero status of the 1%.
Here’s the irony: after all the raping and pillaging of the people and the world’s resources, the 7 figure sum of fiat currency you manage to stash away in electronic ones and zeroes in that faraway tax haven bank account – chances are you will never get that back. And if you do, in a situation of economic and currency collapse, you might still be able to buy a handbag, a coffee and a sandwich with it.
Yes well they didn’t accumulate that 7 figure sum (too low imo) by being nice – they manipulated, used and abused to get it and they’re not going to stop just because the world is collapsing. The minions will want to keep their very small slice of the pie for as long as possible so there will be plenty of people wanting to help – there will be a waiting list.
Bear in mind that the 1%’ers (in NZ they earn $200K+ p.a.) are mostly just well paid professional hacks and lackeys of the actual oligarchic power-elite. The 1%’ers are the CxO’s, the law firm partners etc.
The oligarchic power elite, they are the 1% of the 1%. 0.01%’ers in other words. Doesn’t quite roll of the tongue though.
Until the boat crew, flight crew, mansion staff and private security guards decide that it might be quite nice to have free use of the marvellous facilities and decide to mount a bit of a reverse “corporate takeover” of the assets.
See how precarious the position of the 0.01% is?
See why they are so insistent on installing a trillion dollar security and surveillance state, ASAP?
You really need to look at the land records in the south island CV. And look at the people who were not born here who own land. I think you will see some interesting names – look high country, central and mid look for american names.
You would identify some activities that are unnecessary and produce a lot of emissions and make them unlawful
Or you would focus on activities that provided society benefit and did not pollute. For instance, education enriches lives, owning mass produced junk does not. We need to make sure that market pressure supports individual enrichment and ignores consumerism.
World ‘on the verge of next mass extinction’
“We are on the verge of the sixth extinction,” lead author, biologist Stuart Pimm, said. “Whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions.”
the challenge for the greens is to show us how to do more for less. not an easy trick and prepare us for contingencys and vicisitudes that await.
Maybe the trick is simply to do less. If you do less you immediately consume less of the world’s resources and release less GHGs.
It is noticeable that Joyce has ignored the predicted doubling of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead he has focussed much more narrowly on carbon intensity which essentially is a different measure.
Carbon intensity is a good metric as it combines physics with economics(rosenfelds law).It is widely used for comparative analysis (unfcc ) where there is a wide disparity in both emissions and sink data.
Sure, it’s a nice measure and you can do lots of clever things with it. But to get back to a 2 deg C warming scenario we now need economic activity with huge negative carbon intensity. Which doesn’t exist.
To me, measuring carbon intensity is like measuring how much water the titanic is taking on per passenger. Whether its a tad higher or a tad lower hardly matters. The ship is still going down, and there still aren’t enough lifeboats.
But the only relevant metric is how much greenhouse gas we are producing. The rest is irrelevant and frankly a distraction.
Totally agree! Joyce is using carbon intensity because with consistent technological improvements – which has nothing to do with National – we are using fossil fuels more efficiently, and it looks good. It’s just propaganda from him and well he knows it.
Because you can do more with less doesn’t mean that people will do the same or less – they invariably want to do much more. So the efficiencies gained are squandered.
i.e. Jevon’s Paradox
How could we be so wrong!
I see Bradbury is spinning and stirring claiming being positive about Greens while spinning that this climate policy is a strategic move to court the blue green vote – and that ignores all the other Greens polices, especially the youth health one announced by Turei at the weekend.
Actually as a Green voter I thought his contribution rather positive …and the Greens are not immune from criticism…just as no one is…they have made some dumb strategic moves in the past…eg dumping on Winston from a great height 3 days before a crucial General Election inwhich the Helen Clark govt lost because her coalition partner NZF failed by a couple of hundred votes to get in
My apologies to the Greens – why the Carbon Tax is a genius move
By Martyn Bradbury , June 2, 2014
“I have to eat some humble organic locally produced pie here. I have always been fairly mean to the Greens in the past over some of their strategic manoeuvres. I have meanly said that they have all the tactical ability of slow growing moss…”
“This policy wont make an iota of difference,” said Ennui cynically! “We will definitely burn what we can until it is all gone, its just a matter of how fast.”
IEA urges Global leaders to take action on reducing Carbon Emissions and increasing Investment on Renewables and efficiency savings.
“Global investment in fossil-fuel energy continues to outpace new spending on renewable sources, leaving the world on track for temperature increases of at least 3.6 degrees, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.”
“Last year, more than $1.1 trillion (A$1.19 trillion) was poured into the extraction, transport and burning of fossil fuels, producing much of the greenhouse gas emissions largely blamed for global warming.
By contrast, $US250 billion was invested in clean energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, down from the 2011 peak of $US300 billion, the Paris-based IEA said in its inaugural World Energy Investment Outlook study. Energy efficiency efforts attracted another $US130 billion.
To keep global warming to within 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels – the internationally agreed target – annual investment in low-carbon energy supply would need to rise to almost $US900 billion and spending on energy efficiency needs to exceed $US1 trillion, said the IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol.
“Dependable policy signals will be essential to ensure that these (renewable energy) investments offer a sufficiently attractive risk-adjusted return,” Dr Birol told Fairfax Media.
Policymakers have “the most important role to play” in driving such investments, he said: “They need to provide clear and credible signals that lower risks and inspire confidence if we are to switch investment to low-carbon sources and energy efficiency at the necessary scale and speed to meet the world’s climate change target.”
Groser’s response today to the proposed Carbon Tax on RNZ was as usual smarmy and weasel worded and acknowledged and denied the science all in one go! The man must go!
So why do the Union of Taxpayers (who neither belong to a union or pay tax) like it then? Obviously something isn’t quite right here.