Greenpeace lays out the election issue

It was guiltily good to read Bunny McDiarmid’s Greenpeace analysis of the Emissions Trading Scheme because it seems she and her colleagues have been struggling with exactly the same issues that the Green Party faced when deciding whether to vote for the legislation or not. 

With the bill now law there’s a big risk that New Zealanders will now think the job’s been done. That would be a mistake.

I expect to see the Labour Party try to claim that it is sustainable and has dealt with climate change during the campaign.  All the Emissions trading scheme does though is put in place a framework to start to deal with climate change,  it does not actually deal with it.  The Greens have developed a credible plan to face climate change but sadly we’re alone. Especially when it comes to setting targets and addressing the causes of climate change:

Greenpeace wants all political parties to set an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020 and develop policies to achieve it. This target is within the range of 25-40 per cent agreed to by developed countries – including New Zealand – at the Bali negotiations last year. To reach this target, New Zealand must deal with agriculture’s burgeoning emissions. Agriculture is the elephant in the room, except it’s a cow.

The agriculture sector must face up to the downsides of intensification and shift to low input, less intensive, smarter farming. New Zealand is ideally positioned to lead the world with low emission pastoral farming, but instead we’re seeing corporatisation and intensification. Greenhouse gas emissions from the use of nitrogen fertiliser alone now exceed all road transport emissions. This is having a huge impact, not only through rapidly rising emissions but also through increased water pollution and the erosion of the clean green brand…

National proposes an emission reduction target of 50 per cent by 2050. This is way off the mark. By 2050 we need to have our emissions down by 80 per cent. Nonetheless, we’d love to see how National plans to achieve this target, in light of its proposals for more roads, more coal and more gas. Meanwhile, Labour has declined to set any target whatsoever.

The way to identify whether a party is serious about facing up to global warming is simple: ask if it intends to do something tangible about reducing emissions in agriculture, transport and energy. If it favours more cows, more coal or more cars it also favours ignoring “a problem we can ignore”.

At no other time in history will humanity’s fate be so determined by decisions made today. It is this generation of leaders who will be held accountable, because the stakes are so high.

8 Comments Posted

  1. Regarding the “nitrogen fertiliser exceeds all road transport emissions” issue, using the figures in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory the numbers don’t seem to work. On my reading the figures are:

    N2O emissions from agricultural soils (direct + indirect): 5,124 Gg CO2-e.
    Road transport: 12,795.7 Gg CO2-e.

  2. Kaukapakapa: Thanks. I went through the Grenhouse Gas Inventory recently while researching a newspaper article I was writing. I didn’t find a figure like Bunny McDiarmid’s, although I must say that wasn’t specifically what I was looking for. I’ll take another look.

  3. Odie, the Ministry for the Environment publishes a Greenhouse Gas Inventory so the info you’re after might be in there
    Also, the Ministry of Economic Development publishes out a similar inventory but it’s emissions from the energy sector only

    Kevyn, we used the wooden skeleton from a broken market umbrella as the climbing frame for beans. Worked really well.

  4. Like Eredwen I was fortunate to grow up in a large family in an age when you didn’t get into trouble with the council for having chickens in Te Atatu South, fortunately our section backed onto the Whau River.

    Fortunately where I live now backs onto a market garden with an expressway designation over it so the neighbours rooster hasn’t drawn attention from the noise police.

    My Grandad helped build our house for a friend of his and some of my aunties baby sat their children so it’s kind of been in the family for generations. We have half a dozen very mature beech trees as well as some juvenile natives that I planted – Kauri, Rimu, Southern Rata, a couple of Totara and a picket fence of 2m tall cabbage trees that self-sowed in the gravel driveway a few years after I moved in.

    My Scottish ancestry means I insulated our ceilings properly a dozen years ago and installed CFL’s in almost every light socket then too.

    I’ve just finished building a raised vege garden, about 7X15 (metres) using recycled weatherboards, watered using a leaker hose made from compressed shredded tyre rubber, kept weed free with recycled plastic from the Grassmere salt works. Seeds are germinating under a row of mini greenhouses made from recycled timber and clear plastic, sitting on an old fashioned hot bed (pony manure). With a bit of luck I’ll be able to trade the surplus for a load of gravel for the driveway.

    Now I’m relocating the big old rotary clothesline to a better location where it isn’t shaded by the Apricot & Cherry trees and gets better airflow. The ends of the five arms have been mounted on posts from an old windbreak to allow the remaing windbreak cloth to be put on top as a rain umbrella, since we rarely get Auckland quality rain it only needs to be drizzle proof to make the clothesline 50% more usable. It’s a mighty big rotary clothesline, big enough to function as a pentagonal pergola with two-seater benches on three sides, with cherry tomatoes, sweet peas and sunflowers growing on wire netting, all surrounded by juvenile Manuka, Coprosma and Hebe that will hopefully provide an attractive windbreak in years to come. Oh, and the center pole is strapped to a very solid very old grapevine trunk so we might get to see the grapes before the birds eat them this year.

    I’m just trying my hand at making some tiled side-tables, using plywood lids from chemical drums, with a pedestal made from branches trimmed from a macrocarpa, with a 12volt garden light as the centrepiece (5w halogen converted to 0.5w LED).

    None of this is cost-effective unless you keep it up for a few years. But it is rewarding in the DIY tradition, and vege gardens do get easier every year as you add compost and manure. This year I’ve been adding companion plants to control the bugs and attract the bees and ladybirds, and to add some colour and aroma – marigolds, foxgloves, wallflowers, lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme.

    Oh, and an experimental patch of chamomile lawn. See if it lives up to it’s reputation and makes the lawn mower redundant 8)

  5. Frog quotes Bunny McDiarmid as saying “Greenhouse gas emissions from the use of nitrogen fertiliser alone now exceed all road transport emissions.”

    I’d be grateful to anyone who can point me to a source backing this up.

  6. They have actually committed to reductions in many sectors already, eg From :

    On the mitigation side, we have an Energy Strategy to get us to 90 percent renewable electricity by 2025. We aim to be carbon neutral in both the transport and energy sectors by 2040.

    Of course this shows up National’s “fiscally neutral” plan for the scam it is… perhaps it’s not as fast as the Greens would dream for, but the targets are there, “pragmatic” (not something I think should apply to climate change, but nonetheless…), and could quite conceivably lapse in their lifetime.

  7. Well … I have adjusted my lifestyle to a marked degree.

    The exercise is, and has been, an interesting one because, mostly, it has involved returning to practices that I remember from my childhood (before AotearoaNZ achieved the current “standard of living” that we have come to expect). It is a real case of “Back to the Future”!

    The changes made have been easier because I live in the same (1920’s) house that my “depression generation” parents bought in 1945. The “0.2674 Ha” garden is now mature native forest (“brownie points” for that!) and planter boxes will soon be growing vegetables.
    I still have a considerable way to go, but the effort is worth it.

    In fact, I am surprised at how easy it can be … with the one notable exception:

    Alpine skiing, my lifelong passion, even by today’s profligate standards must be recognized as “energy intensive”. The maintenance of a Commercial Ski Area and the travelling involved are BIG items …

    Because I don’t want to sacrifice this one important activity, the rest of the time I compensate:
    I catch the bus, or bike or walk or share a ride … and so far “I no longer fly”, nor travel alone by car to see friends and relatives. Phone calls and email can sometimes take the place of visits.

    The (0.27Ha) garden is now mature native forest (brownie points for that!) and planter boxes will soon be growing vegetables.

    Obviously some of us will find changes difficult to make, but if we all make an effort …

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