- 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: paris talks, tim groser
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.
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.
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.