The zero carbon bill

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, June 25th, 2018 - 88 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, Environment, farming, food, global warming, greens, science, sustainability - Tags:

There are three general views about climate change.

The first, advocated by such intellectual giants as Donald Trump and Cameron Slater is that we have nothing to worry about and recent climate disruptions are totally normal, or a consequence of moonbeams or sun spots, or something else.  But there is no need to stop the party.  Everything will be fine.  It is just a UN created conspiracy to take away our rights under the pretence that there is something wrong.

The second is that we are already stuffed.  The release of methane from the Siberian tundra will mean that no matter what we do there will be accelerating climate change and either we work out how to get on a spaceship to Mars or we get ready to repel the hordes that will inevitably descend on our little piece of paradise.

The third view is that we still have a chance.  But dang we need to stop mucking around and do something.

Me?  I am a believer in option 3.  I really hope and intend that my kids have a world to live in.  But we need to get a move on.

Which leads to the submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill which is a proposal to set a carbon budget for New Zealand that over time will have to reach zero.

It is something that the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment suggested.  The recommendation is that we set up a process where there would be mandated greenhouse gas emission levels and a goal of becoming carbon neutral.

What was of interest is that the PCE had an ambivalent view about methane, which accounts for half of our total greenhouse gas emissions.  Current PCE Simon Upton recently said this:

But that leaves methane and nitrous oxide emissions, which account for 43% and 11% of gross emissions respectively. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas (around 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) and one that accumulates in the atmosphere (having a residence time of around 114 years). Because it accumulates, reducing the flow of emissions will not be good enough. To halt its contribution to warming, either emissions have to be eliminated or negative emissions technologies have to be deployed to negate its impact. Nitrous oxide is not just a problem as a warming agent. It is also destructive of the ozone layer, which is where it is ultimately broken down. Given that nitrous oxide makes up a significant and increasing part of New Zealand’s emissions, New Zealand will have to consider how it deals with this gas.

By contrast, methane, while a still more potent warming agent than carbon dioxide, has a shorter residence time in the atmosphere before breaking down into carbon dioxide and water. If the source of the methane is agricultural, there is no net injection of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Given its shorter lifetime, emitting methane will not have the same irreversible inter-generational warming consequences that carbon dioxide or the release of nitrous oxide have.

The different characteristics of methane do not mean that its warming impact can be ignored. For one, the additional warming caused by methane emissions in the short term can lead to further warming in the longer term from positive climate feedbacks. In addition, it is the combined impact of all greenhouse gases, including methane, that contributes to the dangerous and currently increasing amount of warming that is occurring.

Upton’s proposal was that we establish an acceptable level of Methane emission, rather than decide on having no emission at all.

His view has been reflected in the discussion document for the Zero Emissions Bill released by the Ministry for the Environment.  The discussion document offers three scenarios:

  • Net zero carbon dioxide by 2050: this target would reduce net carbon dioxide emissions in New Zealand to zero by 2050 (but not other gases like methane or nitrous oxide).
  • Net zero long-lived gases and stabilised short-lived gases by 2050: this target would reduce emissions of long-lived gases (including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) in New Zealand to net zero by 2050, while stabilising emissions of short-lived gases (including methane).
  • Net zero emissions by 2050: this target would reduce net emissions across all greenhouse gases to zero by 2050.

The proposal has unsurprisingly been met with approval by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand but with concern by Forest and Bird.  Radio New Zealand had this recent article:

Targets to reduce greenhouse gases must include the methane generated by agriculture, Forest and Bird says.

The government has committed to cutting New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, in line with global targets to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Though methane from farm animals makes up 43 percent of the damaging gases farmers argue it’s short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, and it’s sustainable at current levels.

But Forest and Bird’s climate advocate Adelia Hallett said methane was 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“So it’s there in the atmosphere for that shortish time but it’s doing a lot of damage while it’s there. Why that worries us is that we have very little time left to keep the world at a temperature which is 1.5 degrees which will be reasonable survivable and comfortable for humans and for nature.”

Adelia Hallet said world governments had about eight years left to act, if they wanted to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The Greens have set up a page on how to make a submission.  Although puzzlingly it is password protected.

There is a lot at stake.  If Methane is exempted it will not be a zero carbon bill but the equivalent of a 50% carbon bill.  As a western nation with resources we need to get to zero.

And if agriculture is exempted we will create a perverse market reaction where agriculture will not be paying its way for damaging the environment but everyone else will.

If you wish to make submissions then they close on July 19.  Submissions can be made here.

88 comments on “The zero carbon bill ”

  1. Bill 1

    So okay, NZ has a green house gas mix that’s at variance with the global norm because of the agricultural sector.

    But if you want rid of methane, then the first step is to bring fuel related carbon emissions to zero. Doing that, makes the current model of intensive agriculture impossible, and that being the case, methane levels drop.

    Similarly with nitrous oxide. If those fertilizers can’t be spread with the aid of fossil, then those fertilizers don’t get produced. And nitrous oxide levels drop.

    Promoting the reduction of those gasses above the reduction of CO2 belies an intent to keep on burning fossil. And burning fossil is something we need to stop entirely unless baking is the goal.

    Zero from energy and net negative from land, and in the very near future, is the only game in town if we want to aim at stopping global warming and possibly seeing a slow reversal set in.

    • Wayne 1.1

      Is it even reasonable to completely get rid of methane? As Bill notes it makes New Zealand agriculture in its current form impossible. And there lies the path to national poverty.

      New Zealand, because of a number of factors (climate, rainfall, etc) is always going to an export oriented agricultural country. Agriculture In NZ is among the most efficient in the world, and we effectively feed over 50 million people. Actually a lot more since our exports only make up a portion of the total diet of the consumers. So NZ choosing to become a much smaller producer will only shift production to less efficient places.

      Possibly a way to bridge the difference between left and right will be expanded forestry. The reason I say “left and right” is because policy of this nature has to have a broad consensus if it is going to last. So compromise is necessary. The left starting off by saying they want to destroy New Zealand’s existing agriculture won’t do that.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        No Wayne, I wrote that bringing CO2 emissions from sources of energy to zero would make NZ’s current highly intensive agricultural model impossible, and that that would lead to a reduction in methane.

        edit. You write of compromise. What compromise to you envisage physics might come to Wayne? You reckon physics will alter some basic laws to accommodate your favoured type of economic activity?

        • Wayne 1.1.1.1

          Bill,

          I don’t think it is practical to have agriculture with zero methane emissions. Which is the reason why I suggested the planting programme, which Shane Jones has in fact started.

          I am also pretty sure that agriculture in NZ is going to look mach as it is today in 2050. We have been a dairy country for 120 years, and I don’t see this changing much in the next 30 years.

          The government basically can’t make farming decision for farmers, certainly not in a democracy. Heavy handed and over regulatory governments tend to be voted out.

          What government can do is undertake research on reducing methane emissions (cow genetics, types of animal feed) and incentivise things such as more forests.

          What I don’t know is how much additional forest land is needed for offsetting the emissions of the current dairy herd. But presumably someone knows.

          • Wayne 1.1.1.1.1

            In fact according to Jan Wright, former Commissioner of the Environment, 1 million hectares of extra pine forest would offset the emissions of New Zealand’s dairy cows.

            Not actually that hard to achieve.

            • Robert Guyton 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Wow, Wayne, that is exciting; we could have our cake, and eat it too! Good news, and as you say, “Not actually that hard to achieve”!
              So, plant 1 million hectares with pine trees (inspirational!) and carry on dairying as before! Elegant! Simple! We could continue to lead the world with our land use practices, yay! and feed 50 million people, because that’s what the solving the problem of global climate change needs; well fed people!
              Leading from the top! Made my day!

              • Gosman

                And your solution is what exactly?

                • Robert Guyton

                  Solution to…exactly? Climate change? Agriculture? Wayne’s ideologies?

                  • Gosman

                    To the problem YOU criticised Wayne for daring to provide a solution you obviously have a problem with. It is easy to criticise but much harder to provide alternatives..

                    • Robert Guyton

                      The problem being the methane produced by farming and Wayne’s solution being, “there is no problem with methane”- is that what you mean, Gosman?
                      My solution to methane production from farming is…change land use practices sufficiently until the amount of methane produced is insignificant. BAU isn’t a solution, even with some extra pines.

                  • Wayne

                    Robert Guyton

                    Given that you don’t dispute Jan Wright’s view that an extra 1 million hectares of pine forest will offset the methane emissions, it seems your objection is basically ideological.

                    That you don’t actually want New Zealand’s current farming system, because of what it is. Even though it is a large part of New Zealand’s current prosperity. And feeds 50 million people, though you seem to see that as a bad thing.

                    I get the issue of waterways, but with better management and wider stream margins these are fixable.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Are you literally incapable of forming an argument without misrepresenting the opposing position? Are you really that useless?

                      All the evidence you’ve left at The Standard says “yes”. Pathetic. What a loser.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Wayne Mapp

                      I respect Jan Wright’s opinion, but you’ve used it in a blunt manner here. Those as-yet-unplanted 1 million hectares of pine trees, Wayne; how long will it be before they “off-set the methane emissions”, do you think: 10 years? 20 years? Over that time, how much methane have you calculated will be produced by the ruminant herds in New Zealand? What effect will that have, over that period, on the atmosphere? Can we afford to delay action for that long? Jan has no doubt done her calculations, but she wasn’t including that factor, was she.
                      The current farming system is one that is contributing significantly to climate change, along with general environmental degradation and, in my view, is not fit for purpose as it exists now. It does indeed, contribute considerably to the economy but that’s an excuse that comes from your own ideological position, Wayne. “Making plenty of money along the way” won’t comfort those further down the track, dealing with the climatic results of that “economic activity”.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      OAB – please don’t frighten Wayne off. I’m keen to talk with him.

                    • the other pat

                      feeds 50 million people…..with what?……milk powder and cheese?…..how about we grow real food instead of killing the environment with intensive dairying…..that will cut down on methane.

          • Bill 1.1.1.1.2

            Yes Wayne. I’m aware of your thoughts on methane. I’m also aware you’ve attributed an argument to me that I simply didn’t make.

            It’s ‘nice’ that you suppose the climate in 2050 will be as conducive to intensive agricultural practices in NZ as it is today and that, presumably on that basis, industrial agriculture can carry on operating as it does at present.

            Just for you, I’ll reiterate the point I made – the one you seem so keen to run from.

            Reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture is as simple as acting according to the best scientific knowledge we have around AGW, and bringing energy related emissions of CO2 to zero, roughly in the space of the next 20 years.

            Is there something you don’t understand, or want to contest, about that?

            • Wayne 1.1.1.1.2.1

              Robert Guyton

              That is a fair point. Pine forest tends to have its greatest carbon sequestration effect in years 15 to 25 when the greatest volume of wood is laid down.

              As for the broader effects of modern farming. From what I can see if dairy farmers increase planting on stream margins (which need to be wider than 1 meter) and nutrient management is done at best practice, then the current system is sustainable. There is an argument to house cows for some of the time so that pastures are not badly damaged in winter. Denmark and Holland seem to manage this pretty well.

              Much of the worst damage done by farming was done early last century when way too much bush was cleared on unstable bush country. Some of it has reverted, but quite a lot more needs to be returned to forestry. Maybe Shane’s tree planting plans will bring about this outcome.

              As for OAB, I tend to just ignore the insults which seem to be his usual form of “argument”.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Misrepresentation isn’t insulting at all. Butter wouldn’t melt eh Wayne. Drop your dishonest provocations and earn some respect for a change.

              • Robert Guyton

                Wayne, you’ll be aware that Jan Wright, whom you cite, also said that “best practice” will not be enough to prevent environmental harm from farming. Your “wider than 1 metre” example is rather wan; so vague as to be trite really. Could you boost your claim a bit by expanding upon what you actually mean: 1.5m, 2m, 10m, 50m? On which rivers? Streams, ephemeral? seasonal? high country? estuary edges? sloped or flat? clay soils or gravels? It’s a bit more complicated than “wider than 1 metre” isn’t it?
                Housing cows has merit, though we’ll lose our “grass-fed” marketing advantage. I wonder if you’ve really thought this through (and come up with a sound view?)
                Much of the “unstable bush country” you describe has been swept into the sea or at least the lowlands (think recent events, Bay of Plenty, forest slash which make your “a lot more needs to be returned to forestry” idea a little suspect also). Sorry to be so picky, Wayne, it’s just that I’d like to hear some well thought-through comments from someone who occupied a position of influence, as you did.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        New Zealand, because of a number of factors (climate, rainfall, etc) is always going to an export oriented agricultural country.

        What a load of bollocks. We have the resources to develop our economy. We can feed ourselves, build the buildings that we require and do the R&D.

        We do not have to depend upon being an exporting agricultural economy. And doing so makes our economy uneconomic. We must be sustainable.

        Agriculture In NZ is among the most efficient in the world, and we effectively feed over 50 million people.

        And we shouldn’t be even trying to feed 50 million people as the declining state of our waterways shows. The real economy simply cannot handle it which means that doing so is uneconomic.

        So NZ choosing to become a much smaller producer will only shift production to less efficient places.

        No, it will shift NZ into producing more efficiently as it will allow us to diversify our economy.

        The left starting off by saying they want to destroy New Zealand’s existing agriculture won’t do that.

        The RWNJs telling us that we need to burn everything to the ground to protect agriculture won’t either.

        And then there’s physical reality. You know, the stuff that’s telling us that we continue as we are. National, in their delusion, are ignoring that because it doesn’t fit their ideology.

        Simple fact of the matter is that we need to change – not come up with excuses not to.

        • Bill 1.1.2.1

          Simple fact of the matter is that we need to change – not come up with excuses not to.

          Assuming that the change you are calling for is the necessary change, you need to be telling that to the Green Party/ NZ Labour and their appointed ministers, not ex-ministers of the party in opposition..

          • Gosman 1.1.2.1.1

            Agreed and for some reason they aren’t receptive to such a message at the moment.

      • Stuart Munro 1.1.3

        I wondered if you’ve really considered, Wayne, whether National poverty is your area of expertise – your backward and misguided policies have created so much of it.

  2. William 2

    “Although puzzlingly it is password protected.”
    I took a stab and entered ‘green’ as a password, which got me to the info. I can’t test again but I’m wondering if no password needs to be entered.

    Regarding the possible methane exemption, given it eventually breaks down to CO2 & water (with the resulting life of hundreds of years for CO2) surely it needs to be accounted for at least as equivalent to CO2.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Might have been accidental. The password requirement has now been removed.

  3. Pat 3

    “Global methane concentrations had risen from 722 parts per billion (ppb) in pre-industrial times to 1800 ppb by 2011, an increase by a factor of 2.5 and the highest value in at least 800,000 years.[6]”

    the break down of sources (although uncertain) makes for interesting reading…ruminants estimated to account for approx 20%

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane

    would suggest it cannot be ignored however its control will be less simple than carbon (fossil fuel sourced)….as to agriculture in NZ, there will need to be substantial changes to the model irrespective of how methane is dealt with.

  4. Ad 4

    Will be a real political success if National vote for this and hence make the new law enduring.

    But that would need the help of Theresa May to Bridges to show how their similar law works. I dont think Shaw is beyond facilitating that.

    But we are late, late followers. The climate accelerates away from the power of law.

    The rest of saving us, as citizen-consumers, is up to us.

  5. Andre 5

    A lot of the nitrous oxide emission is from the excessive application of fertilizer (and animal excreta). Which also fucks up our waterways.

    https://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/nitrous-oxide-emissions

    This fertilizer mainly comes from synthesis via the Haber-Bosch process, which uses large amounts of natural gas.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haber_process

    Looks to me like a lot of the improvement in our emissions profile caused by eliminating fossil fuel use will be indirect effects caused by increased price/decreased availability of nitrogen fertilizer. Which will then result in de-intensification of agriculture and more judicious use of fertilizer.

    I really doubt that eliminating fossil fuels will do much to decrease the use of agricultural machinery, that can easily change to electric.

    • Pat 5.1

      “I really doubt that eliminating fossil fuels will do much to decrease the use of agricultural machinery, that can easily change to electric.”

      There is no viable option as far as heavy equipment goes in the foreseeable and even if it was available theres the issue of capital outlay for a heavily indebted sector that the banks are wary of already and would take considerable time (decades) for significant uptake….the reality is that costs will rise and practices will have to change…up to and including land use change and destocking.

      Bill is correct that placing a sinking lid on carbon emissions with directly impact farming practice (and values) and Waynes 30 year crystal ball is a $2 shop job

      • Andre 5.1.1

        You googled “electric tractor” lately? Or the idea of installing PV arrays above agricultural land that remains in use, now going by the catchy phrase of “agri photovoltaics”?

        • Pat 5.1.1.1

          “The reality, commented one of the executives, is that there really isn’t any technology on the horizon that can compete with the energy density of diesel fuel. Their view was that those alternate-energy vehicles were unlikely to progress beyond the concept stage, particularly the electric-drive machines.”

          “But the hard reality is — as those brand executives pointed out — the practical application of that machine is still pretty limited. (These executives weren’t from AGCO, and their brand had shown its own electrified tractor earlier, but it wasn’t on display at this show.)”

          https://www.country-guide.ca/2018/02/14/are-electric-drive-tractors-ready-to-move-past-the-concept-stage/52584/

          and solar panels arnt going to drill your paddocks or take your milk to the dryer

          • Andre 5.1.1.1.1

            Sure it’s going to be hard for batteries with an energy density of 0.9 MJ/kg and a recharge time of hours to displace diesel that can deliver around 12 MJ/kg of useful mechanical energy and a refuel time of minutes.

            As long is diesel is readily available and affordable.

            Take away that readily available and affordable bit for fossil fuels, and all of a sudden there’s a lot more incentive to go with an alternative. And for most farmers the alternative of electrifying is going to look a lot more attractive than the alternative of de-mechanising.

            • Pat 5.1.1.1.1.1

              More attractive yes but not a replacement,,,and an expensive and not yet available attractiveness at that.

              That still leaves a requirement for system change (which we have had in the past 30 years already)….and dosnt address the financing and/or essentially stranded assets.

              Bill remains correct, tackle CO2 emissions and agriculture is forced to change…theres no white knight riding EVs to the rescue.

        • Bill 5.1.1.2

          According to World Bank data, there is something like 24 000 000 tractors in the world today. You reckon they will be converted to electric in the space of the next 20 years? (That’s over 1 million conversions per year regardless of the financial situation of any particular farmer)

          That’s just tractors. How many were converted this year?

          And all of the combine harvesters and whatever other vehicular farm machinery would have to be converted too, alongside whatever milking sheds, sorting sheds, abatoirs and other assorted plant there is or may be associated with farming.

          Let’s say we make a bash at it.

          How much extra capacity would have to be added to national grids to accommodate the extra demand (remembering that everything in society that’s currently running on fossil would be converted), and what and how much infrastructure would be needed in places where electricity isn’t readily available?

          We’ve got some 7 000 to 10 000 days assuming no more increase in emissions from the present…

  6. Andy 6

    Realistically speaking, we need to start thinking about winding up NZ Inc and returning it back to its natural state. i.e no people

    • Robert Guyton 6.1

      What’s natural about a landscape devoid of humans?

      • Andy 6.1.1

        New Zealand had no humans in it around 800 years ago.

        • Robert Guyton 6.1.1.1

          Perhaps… But do you think it’s natural for humans to travel from island to island? If so, wasn’t it natural for humans to end up here? The natural state of un un-inhabited island therefore, is … waiting to be inhabited. Some things are inevitable…and natural.

          • Andy 6.1.1.1.2

            It’s natural for humans to die, which is what we need to expedite

            Besides, the Zero Carbon Bill is going to be so horrendously expensive that it won’t be worth living.

            • Robert Guyton 6.1.1.1.2.1

              “It’s natural for humans to die, which is what we need to expedite”
              Getting a bit freaky there, Andy.
              Your second sentence is too silly to respond to, other than in this way.

              • Andy

                I have seen one analysis of the Bill and it is going to be the most expensive bill ever.

                Even the government agree that it will hit the poorest hardest.

                So, like I say, life is no longer worth living for many in NZ

                Thankfully, the End of Life Bill might be our saviour

                • Robert Guyton

                  Cheery chap, ain’t ya!

                  • Andy

                    We’ve been getting messages of doom with no hope for decades now. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill myself and my family

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Illegality.

                    • the other pat

                      because unless say one has a horrible terminal disease…. that life is worth fighting for…..”rage rage against the dying of the light….” its the only one you get and depending on your “beliefs” the ONLY one you will get……and if you think its so shit that its not worth having… go and help someone else who needs it…you will maybe receive some thanks and gratitude and light up them dark spaces,

                    • Andy

                      The Other Pat – I appreciate your remarks. For the record I have no intention of taking my or anyone else’s life. I was being a little theatrical in pointing out the daily doom and gloom we get on climate issues

                      I don’t mean to take suicide lightly and I apologise if my posturing seemed this way

            • Gabby 6.1.1.1.2.2

              Speak for yourself andy.

  7. Robert Guyton 7

    Surely Simon Upton’s (ex National Party MP) claim that methane is of minor consequence because it’s in the atmosphere for a shorter time than C02 is a nonsense? While it is there, and constantly being replaced by new methane from the ongoing industry, it’s seriously adding to the warming, which, in turn, creates other flow-on effects that worsen the situation significantly.

    • Pat 7.1

      am inclined to agree but suspect that due to its origins (multiple) it is placed in the ‘too hard basket’…and for that I have some sympathy.

      • In Vino 7.1.1

        Is that an argument?
        As I understand it, Methane while in the atmosphere has a more potent warming factor than C02. So it is utterly stupid to say it is less damaging than C02 because it lasts only 8 – 12 years, and then license oneself to go on producing Methane. Especially as part of that Methane goes on to produce long-lasting CO2.
        Methane is doubly harmful, not less harmful.
        If Mother Nature from Siberia, the oceans, etc, is already producing dangerous amounts of Methane, we should give prior urgency to producing NO Methane at all.
        But we care only about our economy and not upsetting farmers…
        It seems to me that we will fry then die as a species unless we face some really cruel facts.

        • Pat 7.1.1.1

          “….we should give prior urgency to producing NO Methane at all.”

          and how do you propose we do that?

          • Robert Guyton 7.1.1.1.1

            Ruminant animals produce a great deal of methane. Just saying’!
            Capture it?
            Redirect it?
            Utilize it before it enters the atmosphere?
            Prevent its creation?
            Compensate for it?
            You know how they flare off excess gas from the wells…
            Imagine it, farm-scale!

            • Pat 7.1.1.1.1.1

              As noted above ruminants produce around 20%…do we slaughter all ruminants? or even a substantial proportion? and should we do so can we replace the protein in a timely manner?

              Rice production is a source….thats problematic

              We could (and do ) capture some from landfill, but the burning of that produces…CO2

              and another major source is the gas industry…which is being used to transition from coal

              You see the reason for my sympathy for the argument?

              • Robert Guyton

                Pat, it may be difficult, but if it’s necessary, we’ll have to do it, yes?
                (Btw – we slaughter ruminants regularly. Don’t be fooled by the fearmongery that shrieks, “they want to slaughter the national herd!” Mycoplasma bovis is testing that fear right now.)

                • Pat

                  I have no illusions about the annual slaughter….the statement also mentioned replacement protein.

                  We’ll have to do it? Probably….that dosnt mean it will happen.

                  • In Vino

                    Pat – I have just read an article on Newsroom (the main feature tonight) which states that methane has 120 times the warming effect of the equivalent amount of C02. Forget wooftery questions: face the fact that it has to be done.
                    For heaven’s sake – allowing methane to last for 12 years at 120 times the effect of the same amount of C02 (and then much of it turns into C02 anyway) while replacing that methane all the time (pretending it is ‘sustainable’) is just sheer stupidity.
                    Methane output must be eliminated, not excused away for the sake of the dairy industry.

            • Andy 7.1.1.1.1.2

              Ruminant methane is produced as a natural part of the carbon cycle.
              CO2 and water forms grass via photosynthesis. Cows eat grass. Some of it is converted to methane. After about 10 years in the atmosphere, methane reacts with the OH radical to break down to water and CO2 again, thus completing the cycle

              For a given herd size, there is no long term net increase in CH4.

              Even climate scientists recognise this and are beginning to suggest methane is treated differently to CO2 that is formed from the burning of fossil fuels

              • Robert Guyton

                “After about 10 years in the atmosphere”
                What effect is methane having while it’s in the atmosphere, Andy?
                That’s the rub.
                It may indeed ” break down to water and CO2 again” but CO2 continues to behave as a temperature raiser; water I can live with, but unless there’s the plant life to soak up the C02, the it too will contribute to the problem. Are we, globally, adding plants to the equation, or, as with the palm oil plantations (thanks for your support, Fonterra, continuing to denude the planet, as we have done relentlessly, since the early days of agriculture?

                • Andy

                  Given that the methane came from CO2 in the atmosphere via plants, it seems reasonable that it will re-enter the plants via the same mechanism, unless there is a dramatic change in the ecosystem in 10 years

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Methane will “re-enter the plants”, Andy?
                    But what will it do in the meantime? To the atmosphere? The climate?
                    Andy?
                    Maybe cause droughts. In NZ. Pasture will die. Dead grass absorbs precious little “methane”.

              • Pat

                It may be correct to treat methane differently to CO2 (or alter the CO2e formula) however the fact remains that atmospheric methane has more than doubled since pre industrial times and no one disputes its warming characteristics…that would suggest to me that the logical thing to do is reduce methane output (or flows if you prefer) by half……the question is how?

            • the other pat 7.1.1.1.1.3

              i see it now…..a bic lighter taped to every cow tail,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • Poission 7.2

      Its the current thinking,the methodology already implemented under the guise (and success ) of the montreal protocol.

      https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/news/2018_news_Climate_Pollutants_GWP

      • Pat 7.2.1

        My recollection of that original paper was that the timeframe used to calculate methane emission impact was problematic not the fact of contribution…as outlined in the following.

        “One of the most significant consequences of using a GWP 100 year time horizon for all GHGs regardless of their lifetime and warming potential is in sequestration. Here it leads to a serious underestimation, by a factor of approximately 3, for the volumes of CO2 sequestration which would be required to counter the warming effects of a given volume of methane. On the other hand, the benefits of rapid direct reductions of methane are also thought to be substantially obscured by this choice of warming time horizon for methane.[13]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane

        This telling statement reflects that our activities are causing the increase…

        “In all of the 420,000 year time-period before the industrial era, the atmospheric methane concentration has been less than half the current level,[15] including the period since the Last Glacial Maximum.[16]”

        • Robert Guyton 7.2.1.1

          Well found, Pat and yes, that’s what I’m talking about.

        • Poission 7.2.1.2

          The quote from wiki ie reference is from an astroturf publisher

          follow the reference.

    • Duncan 7.3

      I agree totally, and the whole argument that farmers are relying on is that stock numbers have not changed much since 1991, so therefore the methane is stable as it is broken down and recycled and therefore has no impact on warming.
      But of course, the methane already in the atmosphere due to those livestock produces warming every year.

  8. Duncan 8

    This whole argument about methane has been carefully crafted to ensure NZ agriculture is exempt from any tax on methane.
    The argument is, the level of methane is stable as it is short lived and is converted to CO2, absorb by pasture and then eaten and expelled as methane. So as long as the number of cows doesn’t increase, there is no impact on global warming as the amount of methane doesn’t change.
    This is nonsense, as the amount of methane caused by our dairy herd of 6m is far above natural levels of fauna, and so there is a permanent cloud of methane which results in heating every year which is cumulatively stored in our oceans and so the impact on climate change is real and needs to be included in any strategy.

    • Robert Guyton 8.1

      That’s how I see it, Duncan. Why would Simon Upton be pushing this story, do you think?

    • Andy 8.2

      The amount of methane in the atmosphere is measured in parts per billion. It is so tiny to be insignificant.

      The concept of GWP is somewhat flawed too

  9. adam 9

    You can always rely on corporate liberals to bring very stupid ideas to the table. Which is what this is I’m afraid, STUPID.

    Either deal with the problem, or at the very least be honest with people that your corporate masters want more MONEY!

    This is getting to be a very sick JOKE.

    • Timeforacupoftea 9.1

      lol
      Methane is not minor !
      However, if we don’t count methane, then we can allow parents that breed obese children to continue in that manner !

  10. In Vino 10

    Roughly accurate, from what I gather, cupoftea.

  11. Gosman 11

    One of the most effective means of tackling GHG emmissions is to reduce the number of domestic animals including pets. It is all very well calling for less farm animals but who is up for reducing (if not eliminating) cats and dogs? Pet owners could be forced to pay a GHG tax as part of their registration fee to disuade them from owning too many.

  12. SaveNZ 12

    What I’d like to know is why Auckland Transport is the third highest priced service for public transport in the world and is so crap. How the F can we get people out of cars, when we have the highest priced, most grossly management and consultant heavy transport agencies, but fail to pay reasonable wages to those who do the grunt work aka trains and bus drivers. They also have the most pathetic service available.

    The other day, Wayne was defending how crap Water services were and believed they done a good job because they cleaned up near where he lived aka Ngataringa Road, Devonport while it is my belief that Jacinda’s baby will probably never be able to swim in the local oceans and rivers the way the pollution is going, because those in charge of it are asleep and the wheel and grossly impractical and out of touch.

    So lets have a look, if Jacinda’s baby lived in Ngataringa Road, Devonport, would they be able to travel to work on public transport and how much would it cost, let alone the carbon used. Since Wellington is a long way away, how about to the Airport, a hot topic that AT seems to believe will solve many of Auckland’s transport and population problems, I’m not sure how judging by their current offerings which I don’t think are going to improve with the new link cost wise or service wise.

    So first it takes over 6 hours with AT to get the airport if you need to arrive before 8am to catch a flight as you have to start the night before. But if you can arrive to work much later in the morning then…

    they can do it in 1 hour and 48 minutes and it will cost you $21.30 one way or $42.60 return plus the $10 hop. Yep that journey to work costs you a cool $52.60 for one day of travel or $223 for the week.

    Imagine that if you are on the living wage and around 1/3 of your income goes on public transport as well as nearly 4 hours of your day. So that’s nearly a 12 hour work day door to door and a 40 minute walk return.

    The AT journey also relies on you walking 40 minutes of it.

    Here it is, from AT. They handily also have an uber link as even the computer can see it does not seem likely someone would want to do that journey from a very popular area of Auckland, but how is that solving congestion!!!!!

    They do not mention ferries maybe that is quicker and cheaper, who knows!

    Ngataringa Road, Devonport to Auckland Airport, Auckland Airport
    Departs at 6:36 am
    1hr 48min
    802X SKY HOP $21.30
    HOP $21.30 | $7.94 (child) | $20.45 (tertiary) Cash $23.50 | $9.00 (child)

    Ngataringa Road, Devonport
    994 metres, 15 min
    Walk to 187 to 192 Bayswater Ave, 192 Bayswater Ave
    UBER
    fare
    Taxi
    fare
    6:51 am
    802X
    Bayswater To Mayoral Dr Express
    Ritchies Transport
    Departs from 187 to 192 Bayswater Ave, 192 Bayswater Ave
    Stop 3546
    7:19 am
    Arrives at Wellesley St and Albert, Wellesley St West near Albert St
    Stop 7091
    Wellesley St and Albert, Wellesley St West near Albert St
    undefined metres, 1 min
    Walk to Wellesley St and Albert, 21 Wellesley St
    7:25 am
    SKY
    Downtown To Airport Via Mt Eden Rd
    SkyBus
    Departs from Wellesley St and Albert, 21 Wellesley St
    Stop 7001
    8:20 am
    Arrives at International Airport Arrive, Stop D International Terminal
    Stop 2010
    International Airport Arrive, Stop D International Terminal
    277 metres, 4 min
    Walk to Auckland Airport, Auckland Airport

    We have A LOT of problems to solve if we want to get our carbon down, and I’m not sure those in charge have a handle of the practical reality as most of the decisions they make seem to be increasingly Carbon and increasing the cost of living, while giving themselves generous salaries and be completely out of touch, rather than solving problems.

    This is not a political issue, clearly something needs to be done, and we have had years of these COO’s and transport agencies doing a bad job, they are not working, just driving down quality and driving up prices!

  13. Poission 13

    Alsup opinion released.

    In sum, this order accepts the science behind global warming. So do both sides. The dangers raised in the complaints are very real. But those dangers are worldwide. Their causes are worldwide. The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case. While it remains true that our federal courts have authority to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming, courts must also respect and defer to the other co-equal branches of government when the problem at hand clearly deserves a solution best addressed by those branches. The Court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches.

    For the reasons stated, defendants’ motion to dismiss is GRANTED

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/25qh41lqttyuyva/Alsup%20Opinion.pdf?dl=0

  14. the other pat 14

    whatever your position on this in the end there will be NONE ZERO ZILCH agriculture if people do not get their chit together…..

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