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What other countries are doing about climate change

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, September 29th, 2015 - 27 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, Environment, ETS, global warming, International, john key, Minister for International Embarrassment, national, same old national, science, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, us politics - Tags: ,

Earth climate change

Greenpeace, 350 Aotearoa and the Coal Action Network have all called on the Government to stop Tim Groser from travelling to the Paris Climate change talks.  And I agree with them.  Not only is the Government’s proposal so inept and so short of what is required that it is embarrassing but the chances of New Zealand meeting even this most pitiful of targets without buying cheap carbon credits is very small.  And actions like making redundant scientists who are working on decreasing the output of greenhouse gasses because the Government is underfunding the Crown Research is so short sighted it should be a criminal offence.

So what is the rest of the world doing about climate change?  My brief perusal suggests a hell of a lot.

Firstly as part of a deal reached with the United States over greenhouse gas emissions China has set a goal that its greenhouse gas output peaks in 2030.  For years the American Republicans have demanded that China puts in place meaningful cuts ignoring the history of who has contributed the most to the problem.  With China now standing up and promising to make meaningful cuts the Republicans can no longer claim that America should do nothing because China is also doing nothing.

And it appears that China is serious, not only because its leadership realises the threat global warming poses to the world’s environment but also because its mega cities are becoming unliveable because of pollution.

China is proposing a nation wide cap in trade scheme operational from 2017.  Already some of its cities have their own localised schemes operating.

From Brad Plumber at Vox:

Here in Washington, DC, you’ll often hear conservatives argue that there’s little point in the United States acting on global warming, because China is the world’s largest polluter and will never do anything to rein in its carbon emissions.

But that line’s looking increasingly silly. On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that his country would enact a national cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions, starting in 2017. The program will eventually cover a number of key industries, including electricity, iron and steel, chemicals, building materials, and paper-making.

This is, potentially, a major step toward addressing climate change. It also shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Since 2011, China has been experimenting with smaller cap-and-trade programs in seven major cities, including Shenzen, Beijing, and Shanghai. Despite a series of early missteps, these pilot programs have been showing promise, and China-watchers had been expecting they’d be scaled up.

Nor is it shocking that China is getting serious about emissions. After decades of rapid industrial growth fueled by coal, China has begun investing heavily in clean energy and moving to curtail air pollution. Last November, as part of a joint climate agreement with the United States, the Chinese government pledged that the nation’s CO2 emissions would slow their relentless growth and peak sometime around 2030.

You have to admire the efficiency of the Chinese system that allows it to close coal power stations pretty well at the stroke of a pen.  And per head of population China’s emissions are comparable to the European Union’s, some western nations like the USA, Saudi Arabia, Australia and New Zealand should take note of this.

The good old US of A is also changing its ways.  Barack Obama has been forced to address climate change not by trying to get the House of Representatives and the Senate to agree but by using his regulatory powers.  He has used the Environmental Protection Agency to make rules nominally to improve air quality but which will also have the beneficial result of decreasing CO2 emissions.  The rules will also incentivise the creation of renewable energy generators.

In his own words:

We can choose to believe that superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.

The net effect effect is that the US is promising to cut its emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

Other countries such as Norway, Sweden and Costa Rica have pledged to become carbon neutral.  Sweden has pledged to spend US$546 million in its 2016 budget alone in pursuit of this goal.  Costa Rica’s goal of achieving this by 2021 is somewhat more tenuous as it depends on receiving financial support  Norway’s pledge is somewhat more conservative, carbon neutrality not being promised until 2050 but compared to New Zealand’s pledge to halve 1990 output by 2050 Norway’s pledge is positively herculean.

It is not so long ago that Helen Clark talked about New Zealand becoming carbon neutral.  Now we are well and truly laggards and along with Australia and Canada an embarrassment to the international community.  Greenpeace’s suggestion that Tim Groser should not even bother going to the Paris summit is well expressed.

No doubt the Robert Attacks of the world will disagree but some have taken the view that the current pledges for the Paris conference may be sufficient to give the world another decade of breathing space in its quest to prevent temperature increases exceeding 2 degrees.

Global-GHG-Scoreboard

And in related news Shell has announced it is abandoning drilling in Arctic waters.  But at the same time there is deep concern that Greenland’s melting icecap may potentially disrupt the Atlantic sea current with potentially devastating effects for the surrounding area.  From inhabitat.com is this possible answer:

The cold spot in the Atlantic is likely a symptom of a problem climate scientists have been fearing for years. Record cold temps in this condensed area of the ocean suggests that the circulation of water currents in the Atlantic is slowing. Warm and cold water should be mixing to normalize water temperatures, but the currents are functioning the way they need to. They rely on differences in temperature and salinity, which basically means that cold salty water in the North Atlantic sinks (it’s really dense) and warmer southern waters move northward to take its place. When a large influx of cold, fresh water is introduced to the picture, the system goes haywire and the water circulation patterns are weakened because the sinking doesn’t occur. And where is the fresh water coming from? The melting glaciers, of course. If the trend continues, it could mean rising sea levels along the East Coast and a change in temperature for Europe and North America.

NOAA-Land-and-Ocean-Temperature-Percentiles-2015

It appears that throughout the world there are countries and communities doing their utmost to protecting our environment from this most potentially destructive of threats.  This Government’s feeble promises are an embarrassment to all kiwis.

 

27 comments on “What other countries are doing about climate change ”

  1. tinfoilhat 1

    When was the last time you were in China or the USA Mickey ?

    If China and the USA are being praised for peaking their respective emissions in/around 2030 I wouldn’t want to be walking the streets of their largest cities without an oxygen mask.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Air quality is one of the drivers of their plans. A cynic would say that CO2 reduction is a welcome byproduct of their activity.

      • aerobubble 1.1.1

        Capitalism at its heart, cold dead heart, is essentially driven by selling what was once was free back too us for a price. Since most of us seek stability its therefore essential for capitalism to maintain instability, as out of chaos comes new opportunity. Human climate change is not only inevitable but only the capitalist faithful see it as a opportunity. The give and take at the climate talks capitalism at work carving up new opportunities. Its no surprise our rightwing socialist leader is having a bar of it. The greens embrace capitalism, its the only gig in town but they also know that capitalism is a human centric activity that asteroids, or even climate physics, will not overcome. We’re all capitalists, and we should not be clueless that we collectively will continue to seek to destabilize to keep growth going. Its just inevitable that calamity of some kind will harvest humanity, just like any other plague species.

  2. Bill 2

    I was initially puzzled by that graph and the link from it that claims 3.5 – 4% yearly reductions will keep us fairly close to 2 degrees C. So I looked for mention of carbon capture and storage, but found none. That’s not to say they aren’t factored in and just not mentioned.

    Here’s the thing though. It looks as though they are suggesting near enough zero emissions from all sources by 2100 (~ 5 G tons) . That’s utterly impossible! There’s a ‘floor’ of emissions from land use that cannot ever be gotten below. We don’t know what that lower limit is (it’s basically natural) but that doesn’t appear to have been taken into account.

    Again then, if we’re being realistic and put the high priests of economics back in their box, then we dispense with the ‘economically viable’ 5% reductions and get back to reality and the 10%+ per annum reductions from energy ( zero by 50 from energy) on the basis that there is always a natural level of emissions from oceans and land and….just living, that we cannot ever do anything about.

    That report is suggesting peeps should cook in fashionable rose tinted glasses…

    edit: I’ll have to take some of that back. The ‘good news’ in the graph is that we hit 3.5% C by 2100 with a 5% yearly reduction from all sources.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Its net emissions so if we plant enough trees and curtail the burning of carbon and there arn’t too many of us it is possible.

      It will take a lot of trees though …

      http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/questions/question/1000382/

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        And some big plagues.

      • Bill 2.1.2

        From your link – There are probably better technologies to “suck up” CO2 from the atmosphere, but, nonetheless, some of us can plant trees while waiting for these technologies to mature

        There are? Better technologies!!!!! I mean, I can’t recall the last time I saw a carbon capture facility under construction or read about the necessary network of such facilities being constructed.

        Still. It must be going to be okay. These rose tinted glasses say so…

        oh.

        UK Government commissioned report on likely effects of the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario. It focuses a lot on food, water and likely population displacements. (Published in Oct ’11)…. http://kevinanderson.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Impact-high-levels-climate-change-2060-for-migration2.pdf

        By 2060, RCP 8.5 would result in a best estimate change in global temperature of 2.17°C over 2010 global temperature (3.25°C over preindustrial temperatures), with a 90% confidence interval of 1.52–3.02 (2.6–4.1 over preindustrial).

        Needs to find my glasses….

        • mickysavage 2.1.2.1

          Herculean assumptions. But if we are not trending along the right graph line now we are stuffed big technological discovery or not.

      • Robert Atack 2.1.3

        Micky
        In the past 5 years we have supposedly put the total amount of planetary growth since Christ through our exhaust pipes, There isn’t enough room to plant enough trees to make any difference what so ever, the carbon footprint of the tree planters alone would negate many years of tree growth, and we don’t have that long.
        Also no mention of CH4 ? We are facing an average of .7 ppm CH4 over 10,000 years, crunched into the next few years. The atmosphere has taken a little while to catch up to this abrupt change – 400 ppm CO2, but so has the methane, the temperature is catching up with the CO2, and the ice is fast catching up with the temperature, at some stage in this little race methane is going to burp itself into our lives.
        Then it will be “Look Panda”

        Oh and China laid as much concrete from 2010 to 2013 as the USA did from 1900 to 2000

        IPCC, Paris, 350.org ….. its all bollocks.

      • aerobubble 2.1.4

        Stop mowing the lawn and start growing bamboo, eat it, capture carbon even build homes out of it

  3. maui 3

    it will help that China just put 100,000 coal workers out of work due to the economy. The main driver of our CO2 emissions is economic conditions, political interference is not nearly as reliable in my view.

    • The scary thing is once the economy goes tits up … to the point of closing coal fired power stations etc, the particulates will fall out of the sky and it will be “Good morning Vietnam” ) as the earths temp leaps another .5 c ish?

  4. Detrie 4

    Follows on from the debate of taking long term responsibility for the planet, not just short term corporate or balance sheet goals. Isn’t that part of the role of government who are [ideally] above self-interest? There for the long term society goals?

    Seems the drought in Syria triggered by climate change resulted in the migrations. Even for those profit-driven people with no soul, would money spent on addressing climate change years back have been more ‘cost effective’ than addressing the nightmare we now have before us? Yet a cynic would suggest that the bill for this is inevitably picked up by governments and honest taxpayers and not the [low taxed] Corporates that caused it.
    http://time.com/4024210/climate-change-migrants/

  5. wyndham 5

    Never mind ! Key has just become greener than green and an environmental leader on the world stage by declaring the Kermadecs a marine reserve (Park). This should easily offset any criticism of our abysmal CO2 emission record.
    The man’s duplicity and cunning knows no bounds !

    • Alethios 5.1

      Ah well. He wouldn’t have done anything at all if could have gotten away with it. Good win for the Greens and all the lobbying environmental groups who were involved. Got to keep up the pressure on this government and the next as well.

  6. savenz 6

    +100 – great article.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    You have to admire the efficiency of the Chinese system that allows it to close coal power stations pretty well at the stroke of a pen.

    It seems that China, unlike the West, understands reality. They understand that a factory/power plant can be shut down at the stroke of a pen when it should be whereas the West think that they need to make a profit out of it until it falls down by itself creating massive dis-economies.

  8. Heather Tanguay 8

    I agree that sacking the Ag Research scientists could be seen as a criminal offence

    I visited Ag Research when I was in PN on a number of times, the work being done there was world breaking science.

    This shocking move by the National government has once more, made me ashamed of this government and the utter shallowness of their commitment to our environment

    • mickysavage 8.1

      Yep the dollars saved were pretty small and the intelligence being scattered to the four winds was considerable. So was it stupidity or belligerence or both?

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      The only commitment that National has to the environment is to destroy it so that a few people can have more money for a short term.

  9. Andy 9

    I hope New Zealand always has the good sense to do nothing about Anthropogenic Climate Change. This is for two reasons:

    1) If you believe (as I do) that Anthropogenic Climate Change is a Hoax, then the sensible thing to do about it is NOTHING. Ignore it and it will go away. It is based on junk science and hysteria — nothing more. And it is supported by the “Appeal to Authority Logical Fallacy” because it cannot be supported any other way. It cannot have been subjected to very much intellectual rigor — that much is self-evident.

    2) On the other hand, if you believe Anthropogenic Climate Change is Real, then doing NOTHING is still the best approach for New Zealand to take. Literally nothing NZ can do would be of sufficient scale to make a blind bit of difference to the overall risk model. Moreover, every dollar we divert toward Climate Change is a dollar we cannot instead spend on clear, pressing and real hazards — such as biosecurity. For example, one suspected case of Bovine Foot-and-Mouth Disease could ruin our economy for 7+ years — literally overnight. Sure, FMD isn’t as sexy as Climate Change, but its effects are real, measurable, and entirely likely.

    Every dollar spent chasing this Questing Beast is a dollar wasted. Let the large economies like America, the ChiComs, and India worry about this. We do not need to, and shouldn’t.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      1. If you’re an idiot and don’t believe the science then the best thing to do is act as if it is real because a) the precautionary principle, b) cause massive economic growth as resources are pushed into extreme development and c) we get a better, cleaner world to live in.
      2. If you’re not an idiot and realise that the scientists are right then the best thing to do, no matter where you live, is listed in number 1.

      But you’ve proved that you’re a delusional moron who thinks destroying the world for a few dollars is all fine and dandy.

    • maui 9.2

      OK, let’s just say Bovine TB was wreaking havoc on the earth, harming society and the environment in numerous ways. New Zealand had one of the highest rates of TB in this scenario, but obviously it was just a small player on the global scale, so the moral imperative is to do nothing right? It’s everyone else’s problem to get their house in order, not ours.

    • mickysavage 9.3

      Funny how right wingers become freeloaders under the right conditions.

    • Murray Simmonds 9.4

      “1) If you believe (as I do) that Anthropogenic Climate Change is a Hoax, then the sensible thing to do about it is NOTHING. ”

      Well you’ve got to commend Andy’s bravery. It takes a courageous person to openly admit on a public website like this that he’s a complete idiot!

      • Murray Simmonds 9.4.1

        Hey Andy:

        The situation is even worse than you think. It is not only the facts of global warming that are not true. It is also the case that earth, air, fire and water do not exist. They are all part of a Machiavellian plan dreamed up by evil scientists to lull us into the false belief that there’s a real world out there!

        /sarc

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