ETS is sure to spur growth – but what kind?

Now here’s a great idea for economic development.

First dig up Southland. Probably farmland at this stage, but could be conservation land once the Minister’s review of Schedule 4 is finished.

Extract lignite, the lowest quality coal, very wet and of low calorific value. Add copious water pollution, coal seam methane and land disturbance from open cast mining.

Then a chemical process will react the lignite with nitrogen from the air and make ammonia, then urea. Lots of greenhouse gas from the carbon in the lignite, but hey, we can capture that and store it underground for hundreds of years, where it will do no harm. That way we won’t have to pay for any carbon emissions. How do we know it will stay there? Well, we think it will for a little while, and even if it doesn’t, how are you going to prove it? Quite a complicated process, trying to monitor carbon dioxide seeping out from the ground. Probably no-one will want to pay to do that.

But I’m getting distracted. There’s a huge market for urea in NZ as a nitrogen fertiliser on farms and currently the plant at Kapuni that makes it from natural gas can’t make enough so we are importing. A good kiwi business, Solid Energy – really wants savings on our import bill.

It’s urea that makes it possible to run five cows per hectare rather than two, and increases milk production.

It’s also urea that causes cow urine to emit higher levels of nitrous oxide and the higher stocking rate also increases it. Along with climate changing emissions it greatly increases the runoff from farms to waterways, increasing nitrate levels and faecal bacteria in the rivers we want to swim in or drink from.

But it’s also urea that makes farming profitable, right?

Wrong. I’ve visited a number of dairy farms in the Waikato recently who have given up using urea and dropped their stocking rate. The extra milk they could produce isn’t worth enough to pay for the urea, for the bought in feed to enable them to run those high stocking rates, and to pay for grazing their young stock off the farm to make more room for milking cows. If they are also able to claim the organic premium, they are laughing all the way to the bank. They also tell me their stock are much healthier, their vet bills halved or better, their soil micro-organisms more abundant. Here’s my Straight Furrow article.

This dog of a project has only emerged because of the Government’s proposed changes to the ETS. These changes mean that there is no cap on the emissions for Solid Energy making the urea, or for farmers piling on more nitrogen.

New Zealand’s emissions will rise substantially, but you, dear taxpayers, will foot the bill.

Muldoon would be proud of this new Think Big, which will no doubt be as profitable as the last lot, if anyone is old enough to still remember them.

The Green Party is analysing the full impacts of this proposal and we expect to be able to give you some numbers when we’ve finished. But as usual, at the moment we have more work on than we can handle.

20 thoughts on “ETS is sure to spur growth – but what kind?

  1. Yeah this is not good. I have seen how some farmers use these magic little granules and it’s a shocker. Half of the stuff washes off in the first shower of rain and down into streams anyway.
    I can’t really see how the use of urea on a massive scale is sustainable, and from what I understand it acidifies the soil? which requires more lime, which mines more carbon from the soil.
    My dislike for intensive dairying continues to grow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  2. Jeanette is entirely correct here. The lignite proposals for Mataura in Southland are … I’m left wordless!
    Shunda’s right here, regarding urea. For Feds and Solid to be using urea production as a rationale for the proposed ‘industrial complex’ is beyond arrogant, it’s criminal! Southland’s not a region known for it’s volcanic activity, but there’re rumblings, deep down and ominous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  3. Greenfly – Try the reserved words. The German is particularly soul-satisfying. I think Dutch works well too.

    This policy has been revised to the extent that it now fills a much needed void.

    Or it simply needs to be voided.

    We’re toast.

    BJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  4. Ahh Jeanette, why aren’t nearly all the Greenz like you.
    Green.
    It’s always so refreshing when you post, it’s like you care about the environment above other issues. What a radical concept!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  5. The proposed lignite project is horrific. Yet another dairycentric, profit-driven, short-sighted initiative which the taxpayers and the environment will pay for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  6. But most Greens are like Jeanette in that, like her, they support the majority of Green policy because they understand how it links together. What I wish is that other green oriented people could see this too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  7. hence the crap polling?
    If you think other Green spokespeople are received like J then you are completely deluded.
    I haven’t met/got to know any of them so I’m not talking about the person, I’m talking about the persona.
    I suspect Green insiders never step back from to person to observe the persona.
    Try it sometime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  8. No, I was just addressing your implication that Jeanette favours the environment above other issues, which is simply wrong. If you experience her persona that way fine, but don’t delude youeself into thinking its true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  9. Maybe because while it is a Green Party they have different people speak on different issues.

    When they had only a few MP’s (within the Alliance – its other MP’s would speak on other issues) they would focus on the environment. Now they are a stand alone party, and also have more MP’s, they speak on more issues and are allocated areas to focus on. Obviously the MP around the longest has continued to speak on evironment issues on behalf of the party.

    Naturally the Green Party has reflected its Alliance origins in the emphasis of its non environment policy, given the make-up of the core party (from Values to Alliance).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  10. hence the crap polling.
    But, Valis, politics is the art of delusion! Or am I too cynical?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  11. Emissions Trading is a dangerous distraction from what where we need to be going with Climate Change. Rather than leaving it to the market – we need to leave carbon in the ground!
    Come to Climate Camp in December and let the polluters and profiteers of Climate Change and their false solutions to it know how you feel about their selling our childrens future on the Carbon Market.

    Our Climate is not their Business!!!
    http://www.climatecamp.org.nz

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  12. The camp sounds great. I hope it is very successful.

    I’ve asked several times recently:

    While we all share your concerns, I would like to know what we can do as an effective alternative, given that the world seems unable to accept even a strong trading system where real reductions might be made while still allowing for the market ticket clipping that would occur.

    Not that I’m unhappy with people taking direct protest action and it will no doubt help, but I do wonder if this question will be addressed specifically by the group. Perhaps you could post the answers here after the camp.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  13. I’m not really clear on the concept of shutting off comment on the things that aren’t directly in one’s portfolio though. It almost makes sense to put people into the areas that are NOT their particular passion, as they are prone to overemphasize the ones that are???

    BJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  14. “ETS is sure to spur growth”

    Let’s be charitable and assume Jeanette is high on goofballs, but can anyone imagine what on earth she might be thinking with such blatant nonsense?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  15. RE: alternatives to emissions trading and Climate Camp:
    Yea definately – thats what will be discussed at Climate Camp of course…

    And to the question of alternatives to Emissions Trading…

    [taken from the climate camp aotearoa website]
    “This is a bit of a false question: it presumes that carbon trading has some sort of merit that justifies it being included in the selection of possible options available. Its like asking, what’s the alternative to implementing an ineffective, unjust system to deal with climate change that rewards the biggest polluters and that has very harmful consequences for communities in the Global South? The most obvious and rational alternative is to simply not do it. There are a wide variety of ways to reduce emissions that are appropriate for different individuals, communities, companies and countries. Any of many ways forward should be evaluated (along with important factors like equity and social justice) on the criteria of whether or not it allows us to move away from extracting and consuming large amounts of fossil fuels. Carbon trading does exactly the opposite of this.”

    and heres a good PDF chapter of Larry Lohmann’s book; Carbon Trading
    Chapter: ‘Ways Forward’
    http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/summary.shtml?x=544238

    Hope you can make it to Climate Camp where we can actually start to take a good honest look at where things are at – and where WE can take them :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  16. RE: alternatives to emissions trading and Climate Camp:
    Yea definately – thats what will be discussed at Climate Camp of course…

    Sorry if I haven’t been clear, but I mean specifically alternatives ways to put a price on carbon. It is essential that business is clearly able to identify lowering carbon emissions as being vital to the way they do business. Does this mean you support a carbon tax, or has another way been identified?

    And to the question of alternatives to Emissions Trading…

    [taken from the climate camp aotearoa website]
    “This is a bit of a false question: it presumes that carbon trading has some sort of merit that justifies it being included in the selection of possible options available. Its like asking, what’s the alternative to implementing an ineffective, unjust system to deal with climate change that rewards the biggest polluters and that has very harmful consequences for communities in the Global South?

    A strict system of trading under a cap, and even better a sinking cap, would have benefits, even while it still has drawbacks. It would provide a real incentive to business to lower emissions, and has the advantage over a carbon tax that money for green development would be supplied to the South. Also note that a carbon tax can be much more easily manipulated by governments than a trading system can. They can just set the price as they wish at will.

    The most obvious and rational alternative is to simply not do it.

    Which can’t of course be the end of the story, as an effective replacement means to put a price on carbon is still needed.

    There are a wide variety of ways to reduce emissions that are appropriate for different individuals, communities, companies and countries. Any of many ways forward should be evaluated (along with important factors like equity and social justice) on the criteria of whether or not it allows us to move away from extracting and consuming large amounts of fossil fuels.

    The Greens have advocated strongly for other complementary measures as well – no arguments from us there. A price on carbon alone is not enough.

    Carbon trading does exactly the opposite of this.”

    I think that’s true for what is being set up in much of the world, certainly true in NZ under the new proposal, which is why we oppose it.

    Hope you can make it to Climate Camp where we can actually start to take a good honest look at where things are at – and where WE can take them :)

    I won’t be able to make it. As I said, I do hope the camp is successful. To me, an honest look has to include coming up with practical solutions that you have a hope of implementing, including pricing carbon. Otherwise, nothing will get done for years, which the world cannot afford. Good luck to you and I still hope to hear back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  17. So with more urea in the ground the cows will be farting volumes more nitrous oxide. Is that right?

    By the way isn’t nitrous oxide commonly known as laughing gas?

    Nah it’s a sick joke lets leave the lignite alone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  18. It’s sick alright Drakula, but it’s no joke.

    What are we gonna do about it then?

    Are letters to the editor enough to stop Solid National in their tracks?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>