Sunday, June 19, 2005

Kyoto

ACT come National cheerleader (funny how the wind changes) Aaron Bhatnagar has taken a swing at a few Labour bloggers, including yours truly, for not jumping on to our computers in a flash to talk about the fact that that New Zealand may need to purchase aroud $500 million in carbon credits over 2008-12 because we will not meet our commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

I consider myself suitably remonstrated for thinking that things like work, family, and on the ground election campaigning are more important!

Anyway, this is an issue worth commenting on. It's simple really. If you accept the reality that carbon emissions are resulting in serious climate change (as all of the serious players and nearly every single national government do), then you have two choices:

1) Do nothing and leave future generations to clean up the mess.
2) Work collectively to begin addressing the problem now.

New Zealand, along with around 150 other countries has chosen to take action. We would be absolutely crazy not to as with an agriculturally-based economy such as ours, we have an enormous amount to lose. Remember the drought suffered in many parts of New Zealand during the late 1990s that wiped billions of dollars off our economic output? Well recently published research suggests that climate change could lead to such events occurring 2-4 times more frequently. Make no mistake, our standard of living is at serious risk if the problem of climate change is not addressed.

Importantly, the nature of the problem requires an international effort. It isn't a case of each individual state being able to take measures and then say "I'm OK Jack". This is a global problem that can only be tackled on a global scale. That's what Kyoto is about. It's not a perfect mechanism, but what it does is pull together around 150 countries and actually requires them to modify their behaviour by reducing the carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Even in countries that haven't ratified like the US and Australia, the Kyoto consensus is having an effect. In Oz, while the conservative federal government has refused to ratify, most of the state Labor governments are moving to restrict carbon emissions to Kyoto levels, while in the US, California Governor Arnold Schwarzanegger has just announced carbon emission targets for his state that go beyond the reductions envisioned by Kyoto.

Kyoto works in quite a simple way. Countries commit to reducing carbon emissions, and if they don't, they either have to show that they are doing enough "good things" (like planting forests) to make up for this, or they have to pay for their pollution by buying carbon credits. Because it looks like we may be over our targets for 2008-12, we are in the position that we either need to quickly reduce emissions, or we will have to buy carbon credits.

It is essentially a market approach - we pay for the mess we create. Do the right-wing opponents of Kyoto who so freely propose user pays for every thing else seriously think that we should not have to pay for the economic and social damage of climate change?

One thing's for sure - someone will pay. If we don't use mechanisms like Kyoto to address the issue now, it will be our children and our granchildren who suffer. I believe it is our duty to take responsibility.

Further interesting commentary on frogblog

14 comments:

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

Funny how it takes 3 years for some people to find out that I have changed party affilliation.

Funny also how you have completely ignored the fact that Labour have disastrously misrepresented the consequences of the Kyoto protocol to NZ citizens - neglecting the scale of the costs to NZers to pay for carbon credits as if they are the only environmental indicator that matters. Labour clearly said that NZ would be better off financially for the Kyoto Protocol - that is clearly a lie.

It is a supreme irony that we are paying Russia for carbon dioxide emissions when Russia has such a poor record on radioactive waste and recycling.

spooks said...

So how might it be paid for?

Anonymous said...

It gets paid by relating economic investment to environmental sustainability. That's the idea.

Too Right said...

First up - there is a lot of junk science supporting the notion of global warming - The eruptions of Pinatubo, Krakatoa (and probably Taupo) alone put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than humankind's total GH gas emissions. Second the undeveloped world couldn't give a rat's about this while they despair at the developed world ever providing the development and investment capital that really matters - electricity, potable water, sanitation, transport, infrastructure and employment.These are the difference between abject poverty, misery, early death and the chance to make something for themselves and their families.

Too Right said...

The jury is well out on the concensus rate and absolute level of mean surface temperature for the world. See global warming They indicate a rise in temperature of 0.9C by 2078 on current trends.

"The warmest April, April 1998, was 0.75 C warmer than normal as a result of the massive El Nino of that year,"..."Over the entire 317 months (26 years and 5 months) since the satellite record began, April 2005 was the 15th warmest month."

April 2005 also saw a slight "bump" in the long-term global temperature
trend, with the decadal trend nudging up from 0.085 C to 0.09 C of warming per decade over the past 26 years (and five months). During that time the climate has warmed a total of about 0.23 C, or approximately 0.43 degrees Fahrenheit.

If that trend continued for a complete century, Earth's climate would warm by about 0.9 C (about 1.62 degrees F) by November 16, 2078.

Too Right said...

It is funny how the wind changes - and how so quick. Don't give up your day job Michael - I think your mob are on the run.

Too Right said...

Read today's Press Editorial [support for withdrawing from Kyoto] laying the blame firmly at the feet of the Government - or, more accurately, Pete Hodgson, the Energy Minister. It was his responsibility to get the calculations right. Not only did he fail to do so but he advocated our participation in the convention, largely, on the carbon credits coming our way."

michael wood said...

A couple of quick points:

The contention that climate change is "junk science" is without real basis. The only people dealing in "junk science" are people like Bush's former environmental advisor and oil industry bigshot who recently had to quit for falsely altering scientific evidence about global warming in official reports.

Even Bush now concedes that climate change is a reality!

More on the lack of evidence behind the claims of climate change deniers at: http://publicaddress.net/default,2247.sm#post2247

Too Right said...

Few disagree that the Carbon that has been sequestered for a long time is being released through human action. To stop this is why the rest of the developed world is quietly reconsidering nuclear power. There is no consensus on the effect of that change in carbon sequestration. The earth has had warm cycles before and mankind survived. In my teens (30 odd years ago) the big climate worry was another ice age.
I think you will find the sceptics are more than a couple of Bushies and an oil magnate. Parenthetically, if I believe the Greens the oil will run out soon so problem halted?

Toa Greening said...

It gets much worse, has anyone read the below media report on NZ carbon tax estimates to 2027?

"The revelation of the officials' mistakes comes a week after a report by consultancy firm Castalia was released. It argued that the Government should provide for an estimated future liability of $9b to $14b under the Kyoto Protocol."

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3316228a7693,00.html

At 14 billion from 2008 to 2027 that works out to be 700 million per year for 20 years.

michael wood said...

The right are all very good at pointing out problems with our Kyoto committments as you see them, but pretty thin on what you think the answers to this serious global issue are.

spooks said...

Still waiting to know how this might be paid for. Who will pay the dollars, this year, next year? General revenue, tax on petrol, tax on electricity?

Toa Greening said...

Instead of potentially sending 700 million dollars per year (from 2008 to 2027) to Kyoto. How about spending a lesser and more affordable amount to plant new forests, setup waste enviro incinerator/power plants, research better pollution control technologies, recycle more waste products, offer tax cuts to businesses which lessen their pollution. Basically become the World leader in pollution reduction policies and technologies. At the moment the Kyoto protocol makes NZ look like a big scale polluter. Which consequently damages our clean green image.

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