The Government’s recent releases on climate change

Some commenters have pointed out that frogblog has been quiet on the Government’s recent climate change-related releases – so with another due out this morning let’s recap.

[I should point out first that frogblog isn’t the only place to go for Green responses to Government announcements and other current events: those who are interested in getting a green perspective on the issues of the day should also check the Latest Press Releases section of the main Green site regularly to see what the MPs are saying.]

After happily criticising the National Party’s newfound interest in Climate Change issues, the Government realises that if it is to have any credibility at all something more concrete is needed on their part. Thus the discussion documents that were released in last week – on how energy, energy efficiency, and soon land use and forest management policies can contribute to NZ’s efforts in the first Kyoto Commitment Period from 2008 to 2012.

Jeanette, as Government Spokesperson for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (a position in which she also oversees the Solar Water Heating programme launched recently) fronted the launch of the draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy on Thursday. Like the other documents, it’s only a draft, but it poses meaningful measures to improve energy efficiency which have so far been lacking from this Government, and which almost certainly wouldn’t have made it in without Jeanette’s involvement. The action plans are on pages 11 – 15 of the document and include developing legislation in 2007 and implementing a biofuels sales obligation progressively from 2008 to 2012, changing the Building Code to require more energy efficiency for new buildings and retrofits by 2009, establishing a Home Energy Rating Scheme (HERS) by 2007, reducing standby power consumption in all new appliances to less than 1 watt by 2012, and many others. Feedback and submissions are now being sought on the draft strategy.

The other release, earlier last week, was the Government’s broader draft National Energy Strategy. While Jeanette’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation strategy fits within the broader ambit of the NES, there is plenty to criticise about it. Fundamentally, it sets its sights far too low:

“There is a stronger commitment by Government at the level of goals and principles. I have to say that is a lot better than what we’ve had before, but there’s no route for getting there,” [Ms Fitzsimons] told NZPA.

“There aren’t very many concrete actions and those that are there are like `well we could do this’ rather than `we want to do this, do you agree’.”

In my froggy opinion, this is the main difference between the two documents – the action plans laid out in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation strategy are by and large very concrete measures for which feedback is being sought, which could be hammered out and implemented fairly easily as they are already well-formed. The broader Energy Strategy is far less concrete and consequently not nearly as meaningful.

A third document is due out very shortly on land use and forests.

51 Comments Posted

  1. Gerrit :
    “Experience in the paint industry is that customers will pay about 10% more for a “green? product but that is the commercial limit.”

    Probably right. Above that, it becomes a niche product. The size of the niche depends on consumer consciousness. Redid the house about 10 years ago, with organic paint for the interior (German brand) : I remember it cost about 30% more than the chemical alternatives : we didn’t hesitate for a second. It’s actually a long term investment, it lasts longer than a TV, perhaps as long as a decent fridge. It’s just plain consumer ignorance if they choose purely on price, after all people are prepared to pay 30% more for a better TV.

  2. Kiwinuke

    Thanks for that, but with respect that is not the point I was trying to make.

    While the govt does publish those figures it has little effect in the market place, there needs to be a change in the law that will allow the manufactures to state “this vehicle should return you X liters per 100K” without fear of being dragged through the courts by some smart arse lawyer whose client only managed X.5 litres per 100k.

    I am not advocating a drop in consumer rights or protections just a change in the law that comes under the heading…common bloody sense

  3. Hi Big Bruv,

    The government already publishes independently tested fuel efficiency information for new and near new vehicles (vehicles up to 7 years old currently, I think the limit is) on their Fuelsaver website:

    http://www.fuelsaver.govt.nz/

    This website was (I understand) established and is managed by EECA though there is talk that management will transfer next year to Dept of Land Transport and that the testing will be done in “closer to real world driving conditions”.

    In addition, one of the proposals in the new National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy is to require all new cars sold to be labelled with (independently tested) fuel efficiency information – much the same as a lot of whiteware is now labelled with an energy efficiency star rating.

    This would be an excellent move, as it gives people the information that the market has been failing to give them, involves no coercion of consumers and allows people to make choices that can save them money by buying vehicles with lower fuel consumption.

    The Green Party has been lobbying for this sort of change for years and it has been frustratingly slow in coming. It has been common for years in many European countries and is even common in many American states (notably California of course, go Arnie).

    The only downside to this policy that I can see is that it doesn’t fit very neatly with Mouldwarp’s view of Green ambitions:

    “The authoritarian Green party proposes to extend still further the state’s power to dictate to me how I should live?

    And we still wait to see the justification for his rabidly extreme view.

  4. kiore1

    I was in Tokyo recently, and the Japanese & American people I was with didn’t know much about New Zealand. They did know that it apparently has cheap golf courses. They wondered if we ate sushi…

    There’s a whole world outside the activist sphere. Rather a large one…

  5. Gerrit

    Thanks for that and please accept my best wishes to you and your family for the festive season, the same goes for all here at frogblog.

    While we are on about the automotive industry I would like the Green party to consider this over the break.

    If we as a nation are serious about having people drive economical vehicles and vehicles with low emissions then there needs to be an immediate change in our consumer law.

    At the moment the car companies (the smart ones anyway) will not publish fuel economy stats simply because they leave themselves wide open to claims of false advertising, any dealer who says “Mr & Mrs Jones, this vehicle will do 10L per 100km and it does not faces the very real chance that they will have to give the purchaser a full refund if the owner can prove it does not meet the claimed economy figure.

    As we all know fuel economy figures vary widely, it depends on a lot of things and very few drivers will achieve the same economy figures even in the same vehicle.

    The downside of this is that thousands of customers purchase new or near new vehicles with no idea what the real fuel economy figure should be or what the emission levels are for that vehicle.

    A simple law change is all that is needed, the Car manufactures should be able to publish figures (fuel economy and emission levels) that are independently tested (indeed I would make it compulsory)

    Then at least the purchasing public can make a conscience decision about what they want from their motor vehicle.

  6. eredwen,

    Thanks.

    You, BJ, Van, BB and all the others have a nice Christmas and a happy holiday.

    Long may we continue to discuss (and at times disagree vehemently).

    As I have said before, dialog is better than guns.

    Just to quickly go back to the automotive industry. Notice how the car companies in the US and Australia are seeking government protection because they havent followed the consumers (market) demand for cheaper to run cars like the Japanese ones. Personally run a 2.2 Toyota Camry which energy wise costs me $1 per 10k’s. Plus will run for 300,000 k (if you change cambelts and have a regular service). Much better than any yank or oz big six or eight and in the same comfort.

  7. PeterExitsLeft says

    People do not look to us. They just don’t. I have travelled widely, over many years, and lived in the UK, and New Zealand barely registers, except as a holiday destination. Most people couldn’t point it out on a map, let alone know we’re “leading? a “movement?.

    Actually in Japan, apart from All Blacks and sheep, New Zealand is known (and admired) for its anti-nuclear stance. So people in the rest of the world do know about us, and will take notice if we unilaterally take action on climate change.

  8. It’s all rhetoric. “Up to each one of us”. “Everyone makes a difference”.

    The reality is that the average American or European knows about as much about New Zealand policy as the average New Zealander knows about Belarus. We’re not on the radar, nor should we be. We’re small.

    If the Greens want to pretend to “lead” this thing, fine by me, so long as we don’t spend any more money on it than is absolutely necessary, and/or we don’t risk our economy unnecessarily.

    The reality is that we’re responsible for insignificant emissions and don’t even feature in the Top 20.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2-emissions.html

    The idea that the world looks to us for leadership is complete fantasy.

  9. BJ,

    Probably why the stainless coming out of China is of very poor quality. Not enough nickel. Rust very quickly especially those cheap sink insets used in cheap kitchen benchtops.

  10. Thanks Gerrit… Interesting about the SS. Especially as the world is running out of Nickel. (If you happen to see any Nickel coins whilst passing through the USA, snap ’em up – face value is 5 cents but there’s 7 cents worth of nickel in them).

    respectfully
    BJ

  11. BJ,

    Cost differrentail between synthetic and natural resins is about 25%. (a ballpark figure mind you!)

    Experience in the paint industry is that customers will pay about 10% more for a “green” product but that is the commercial limit.

    For an industrial applicator to use water borne paints it is not just the extra cost of material but also a new plant as well. All application tools (sprayguns, pressure pots, airless pumps, etc have to be stainless steel, they need to build drying rooms (cant dry waterborne coating naturally if humidity is over 50% and or temperature is less then 15C). The technology of waterborne coatings is such that it is impossible to get good “flow” and thus the finish is poor (not possible to get a glossy finish or an even subdued gloss finish). Hence the car industry will use waterborne primers, basecoats but solvent based topcoats.

    Indutrial painting technology for the future is powder or UV cured using 100% solid’s resins. Trouble with these is the $2M plus paint line set up costs.

    OK for say Fisher and Paykel but a bit exhorbitant for the average manufacturer. For some reason manufacturers cant get their heads around networking together and building cooperative paint lines. Intercompany cooperation is something capitalism does not lent itself to very well.

  12. or of course….consult it..consult it..consult it..

    “..green policy isn’t to waste money..”

    (got any concrete examples of that ..?..bj..?.

    you aren’t just getting a bit ‘rhetoricy’ on us are you..?..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  13. PeterExitsLeft

    You don’t see it.

    In the USA however, it is as obvious as a 2×4 to the side of the head. If NZ abandons Kyoto, the political advertising and political campaigns will make it a huge impediment to getting anything done there. If NZ manages to push past its preference for endless delay, committee reports and studies (except when Rugby is involved) and do something that is half-effective and not absurdly expensive, it will be seized on as well.

    The point is that you won’t see much of it here, nor will you see it all the time. You’d have to hit the states during the campaign to understand how important teensy little NZ actually can be in the perception of the average yank.

    The flip side of that is that whatever we do needs to make effective use of our vaunted ingenuity. Not like a blank check with a Rugby stadium printed on it. Green policy isn’t to “waste” money.

    Use it up
    Wear it out
    Make it do
    or do without

    respectfully
    BJ

  14. Gerrit

    I almost lost your posting as it was buried under the a mound of blather from the others.

    Truth, I rather casually brushed off Capitalism even though it is the only tool in the box that actually has a hope of moving things. The problem of course, is one we’ve mostly agreed on and I think you and I both would agree on. Capitalism works well when the facts are known. It works well when the true costs of an activity can be measured and priced in. The point I was TRYING to make was that Capitalism can’t price in future costs, or costs of things widely regarded as free, without help.

    I think having worked with NASA (and having read Heinlein) helps with this, because the absurdity of the phrase “free as air” is far more obvious when it has to be carried up out of the gravity well and is so easily lost.

    As for consumer demand, that is a far more difficult thing to manage. If consumers are faced with a choice of spending twice as much for something that is not twice as good in the long term, they will often have little choice. We have the morality we can afford, and I can’t blame people for taking the market as they find it. The point that some things cost more if “green” methods are chosen doesn’t mean ALL things will, and doesn’t count the cost to the future… but individual consumption is in the here and now. That was a good lesson about paint… can you put a ballpark number on the price differential? Increased use of the synthetic stuff might lead to production changes and some economies of scale, but I’d be surprised if that amounted to much.

    The Hybrid would not have happened but for an initiative of the Clinton administration, and the envy/perception of the boss of Toyota. Clinton funded and forced the research into 80 MPG automobiles, back in the early nineties, and the results were available to the US automakers who were allowed to participate. Toyota was shut out, but the fact that all the solutions proposed were hybrids was not a secret. The big 3 roundfiled the research. Toyota built hybrids. Fuel costs in Japan (owing largely to government imposed taxes and import fees) are high enough to make the decision much easier. The situation hasn’t changed too much except that GM and Ford look like they are going to zero and Toyota is succeeding.

    So consumer demand is shaped by government policy? To a degree it certainly must be… and government policy is, to a degree shaped by consumer demand.

    My point was that costs of things that are not typically owned or priced, have to be adjusted through a societal intervention. I prefer elected governments as the intermediary to accomplish the task, but the key point is only and solely, that SOMEHOW the commons must be priced, or the tragedy follows as night follows day…. and market capitalism has no means of pricing the commons without help.

    respectfully
    BJ

  15. PeterExitsLeft says:

    ‘People do not look to us. They just don’t. I have travelled widely, over many years, and lived in the UK, and New Zealand barely registers, except as a holiday destination. Most people couldn’t point it out on a map, let alone know we’re “leading? a “movement?.’

    Can’t speak for the planet, but in the UK, most of the people I know would very quickly associate New Zealand with Butter, Lamb, Rainbow Warrior, Nuclear Free and Women’s Suffrage. I may have missed some, and some people would go to All Blacks, Bungee Jumping and Edmund Hillary too, but I’m not in sports circles, and of course we can add Lord of the Rings now 🙁

    The association of these things is positive, and those people look up to New Zealand for those reasons. If we went carbon neutral, it absolutely would register, and positively.

    Agree with eredwen, it takes each and every one of us.

  16. Mouldwarp

    As usual, you’ve laid waste to space, time, logic, history, the recorded words and the patience of the members of this board.

    Sigh.

    The records of undemocratic governments that were basically despotic dictatorial leaders starving, or sending his armies in to slaughter, their own citizens, is irrelevant.

    You have such an abhorrence of the state that you cannot perceive any solution as valid, if it requires government to act. You’ve gone so far over the edge that you’re looking at the underside of a flat earth world you have constructed for yourself. It only has two sides, and you can’t see the other one at all.

    Reality isn’t like that, it’s fuzzy and messy in 128 bit colour (and a solid b!tch to compute), not made out of black and white binary choices.

    You accuse us of being statists, because we have a use for government. We also have a place for businesses and individual rights. It is simply not exalted over our collective rights as a society. YOU are trusting people in business, or individually, to “do the right thing” in some magical world where everyone takes personal responsibility for their actions and can be held accountable for them through the intervention of I-don’t-know-what. I don’t trust ANYONE. Appropriate Decision Making is not “handing power to Josef Stalin”…. and it is hard work to make it happen…

    You know nothing, clearly, about what drives us and you have proven repeatedly, that you are unwilling to learn, but eager to stereotype.

    BJ

  17. hey mouldwarp, while the perceived wisdom in the media may be that the Green Party is authoritarian in nature, e.g. “bloody greens they just want to ban/tax everything that’s bad for you”, I think you’ll find that in reality we are anti-authoritarian, after all 1/4 of the green charter calls for “appropriate decision making” (and that is generally seen to be in favour of local rather than central decision making), and of course famously a major reason why we left the Alliance was because we couldn’t stand Jim’s authoritarianism.

    Also previously on frogblog we have discussed the political compass and from the comments thread it would seem that all the green respondents have scores that are very very far to the anti-authoritarian, i.e. libertarian/anarchist side of the compass.
    http://blog.greens.org.nz/index.php/2005/10/18/in-the-centre-of-the-compass/

  18. PeterExitsLeft says:

    “I don’t know about man-made climate change, but I do know this – if it is true, then we make no difference. We’re too small. The US, China and Europe make the difference.”

    Every small group of a few million people could make the same argument, with predictably dire results. However it is a flawed argument.

    The difference that humans have made in the World has been caused by the sum total of the behaviour of each individual human being. Therefore to try to rectify the situation, it is the responsibility of each individual human being, regardless of where we each live.

    We all live on the same Planet and we each depend on that Planet.

    “Individual responsibility” is called for here!
    (Those of the Right should be delighted!)

  19. >>Basically what you are saying is, we’re all gonna die so lets enjoy ourselves while it lasts.

    I didn’t say that. Although, in the long run, it is true. We are a blink in the universal eye.

    I don’t know about man-made climate change, but I do know this – if it is true, then we make no difference. We’re too small. The US, China and Europe make the difference.

    People do not look to us. They just don’t. I have travelled widely, over many years, and lived in the UK, and New Zealand barely registers, except as a holiday destination. Most people couldn’t point it out on a map, let alone know we’re “leading” a “movement”.

    The problem is we are dependent on trade and travel. We need to do just enough greeny marketing to preserve those. Much beyong that, and we risk throwing billions away on a feel-good trip.

    Waste of money. There are better things to spend it on.

  20. Wow, Mouldwarp way to go – nobody needs to teach you what hyperbole means do they?

    It seems to me you’ve traveled rather a long way on BJ’s fairly loose statement that we can’t count on business or capialism to help us out. If only we could fuel our cars from whatever source you were using we could all get around without any carbon emissions.

    “Since you are calling for more government powers and control” MW

    “Like all statists you think things will be fine if only we have the right people running a state which doesn’t let individual property rights hinder its “progressive? agenda” MW

    I can’t quite see how you get to those strong statements from BJ’s original line. Curious.

    And this is about as surprising:

    “The authoritarian Green party proposes to extend still further the state’s power to dictate to me how I should live”

    And what extension of state power is that?

    To my knowledge all current Green Party policies in this area only require the reasonable exercise of existing powers of government to tax and spend – not any extension at all.

    Sounds like a little scaremongering to me.

    Just maybe?

  21. bjchip,

    – “we cannot count on business or “Capitalism? to help us out”

    Do you know anything of the environmental record of Communist regimes?

    For example, http://www.tibet.com/WhitePaper/white9.html says “With the colonisation of Tibet by Communist China, Tibet’s traditional environment protection system has given way to an “ecocide” of appalling proportions.”

    And the record of the Eastern European regimes also was nothing short of appalling.

    Since you are calling for more government powers and control it is these states – which seized all the extra powers you demand – which are nearer the model of what you desire.
    Perhaps you should consider that before playing to the gallery with jibes about the evils of the freedom inherent in Capitalism?

    Like all statists you think things will be fine if only we have the right people running a state which doesn’t let individual property rights hinder its “progressive” agenda: Whether it’s the environment, poverty or whatever, you think if only the state would seize *more* powers to implement the schemes *you* favour, we will end up with a better society.

    Unfortunately, when a state takes that much power over individuals it also acquires the power to do a great many other things that you might be less keen on; and what are the chances that the people running your authoritarian state are always going to be ones who share your views?

    This is why it is necessary to keep state powers to an absolute minimum; not because it couldn’t do some good, but because it can (indeed, will) do a great deal of evil.

    Much as you might hate the freedoms that permit Capitalism and which prevent the state from imposing your benevolent plans on everyone, you will find that those states which do have such powers are almost invariably evil (and, typically, indifferent, at best, to the environment).

    The authoritarian Green party proposes to extend still further the state’s power to dictate to me how I should live. Like such demands throughout history it is all done “for the good of society.” People should be very worried that there is not the slightest pause to consider whether the state actually has the *right* to do any of this; it is a given that we are all serfs to be controlled and commanded.

    I am an environmentalist. I am also someone who rejects green authoritarianism.

    There’s not many of us around.

  22. Russell.

    I know this is slightly off topic but do you have an e-mail address where I could send you something?

  23. BJ,

    Have to take slight issue with you,

    “Since we cannot count on business or “Capitalism? to help us out”

    Not always true as they respond to market forces, most particular consumer demands. Remember they need return on investment and if the market moves they will meet it. So if consumers demand it, capitalism will provide (business is one side of the capitalist circle, the consumer the other)

    One of the ironies is that “green” product have been available in the paint industry (from which I recently retired to start something else) for a long, long time.

    Customers, both the trade and the retail have not bought into these (except house paints) for one factor. The extra cost. Waterborne products are based on synthetic resins. These are more costly to manufacture then the say coconut oil based (but solvent reduced) natural alternatives. There are many natural oils available for the paint industry but all require solvents to make them into a paint.

    While you can make some of these into waterborne (there are no water based) paints they all need a strong coalescence solvent (that ammonia smell up the nostrils when you use acrylic paints).

    A classic example of business meeting the consumers needs is the hybrid car. Capitalism at work. If business had their way they would not tool up for hybrid cars, it is the consumer (market) that is driving that change.

  24. Well said bj!

    Except that we can (and do) enjoy ourselves as we ajust the way in which we (individually and collectively) live on this Planet.

    I really enjoy mixing with likeminded purposeful people … and the Greens that I know radiate health and physical fitness, eat marvellous food, have great conversations, are practical, friendly, kind, considerate, generous …

    What a loss!

  25. PeterExitsLeft Mouldwarp

    New Zealand has to lead because if we do not it will be that much longer before any movement happens in the rest of the world. The people who run this sorry ball of misery, that is the people who own more than half of it, will not permit themselves to notice warming until the Bull and the Bear of Wall Street are sleeping with the fishes. We lead because people elsewhere DO look to us in that role. What does the Green party in the US get to say…. they’re shut out of Congress.

    Since we cannot count on business or “Capitalism” to help us out there is exactly one way that an organized group of people can influence the outcome to avoid what CP Snow feared. This is OUR government, not someone elses.

    Basically what you are saying is, we’re all gonna die so lets enjoy ourselves while it lasts.

    That’s not how I provide for my children’s future. I doubt if it is the way you plan your personal lives. It is simply what your philosophy results in when it is mis-applied at a global scale.

    Somebody has to start somewhere. We happen to be here.

    BJ

  26. >>our image is largely 100% Greenwash

    Nah. Most people don’t know or care about statistics. They see blue skies, nice beaches, pretty pictures of mountains. It’s enough.

    >>that’s exactly what we have been doing surely

    Just the right approach. Anything we do is, statistically speaking, meaningless, feel-good posturing.

    Only a problem if we stupidly throw millions of dollars away on it….

  27. Peter,

    “We should be paying lip service about clean and green (marketing, essentially) and only compromise our delicate economy once (if)everyone else has jumped in.”

    What do you mean “should be?”, that’s exactly what we have been doing surely? One of the risks is that with a “delicate economy” so dependent on exports and tourism that when the rest of the world catches on that our image is largely 100% Greenwash (which they are showing signs of waking up to) we will be in a challenging spot.

    Never mind, there’s always Australia. Or would that be out of the frying pan and into the Fire.

  28. Love your posts, Mouldwarp.

    I’m wondering why New Zealand is “taking the lead” in this? Surely, our total emission levels are near meaningless next to the US, Europe, China, on a global scale? Those countries don’t “look to New Zealand”. New Zealand is lucky to appear on their radars at all, and why should we? We’re not important.

    We should be paying lip service about clean and green (marketing, essentially) and only compromise our delicate economy once (if)everyone else has jumped in.

    Kyoto is a waste of time.

  29. Mouldwarp,

    I agree that a carbon tax would be a far simpler and less interventionist policy, that’s why the Green Party was so dissappointed when the Govt dropped the ball in their post election dealmaking with Winston and Peter.

    I also agree that centralised and beauracratic solutions are far less likely to be effective than market-based and distributed ones. But the latter are hard to achieve given some of the market barriers to DG systems.

    The only good reason for the state to intervene at all is if there’s a public good or market failure argument that suggests it should. In the case of climate change there are both.

    The 20% figure was my best recollection of the estimated impact as presented in the Stern Report (don’t have it to hand sorry) – I presume you’re arguing with his analysis and conclusions? I’d be interested to see the justification for that.

    Yes, I suppose it does seem curious to see a Green supporter using the possibility of a 20% reduction of GDP from unfettered climate change as a warning and call for action when the Green party has an aversion to unsustainable economic growth. The key is in the sustainability bit – can’t recall I’ve ever heard the Green Party call for a reduction in economic activity to reduce our impact on the planet and it’s resources – but some may well want to pick that up as a policy proposal. Thanks for the suggestion.

  30. A “New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy”? Saints preserve us. Let me guess, the solution is more state interference and more central planning? Bingo. I guess the title “Great Leap Forward” was already taken.

    If you want people to use less of something (and assuming it’s any of your business in the first place) then simply impose a tax on its use: People will naturally respond without the need for still more bureaucratic state agencies, schemes, codes and strategies.

    What could be simpler or more efficient?

    Only self-important politicians with their love of intrusive legislation and state interference could possibly prefer the alternative – yet more red-tape and dead-weight compliance costs. Why make things simple when you can employ thousands more unionised state parasites (reliable voters all) to tick more boxes, shuffle more paperwork and go around telling people what to do?

    Why does the state on the one hand spend more than $1m of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to buy and operate newzealand.com – a site which attempts to persuade millions of people to fly half-way round the world here just for a holiday – and on the other propose to force people to increase still further their housing costs and impose a myriad other costly interferences, on the grounds that there is a compelling need to cut energy usage? The two policies are entirely contradictory.

    The reason, as ever, is that the state is inherently and necessarily incompetent in everything it does. At all times it will do whatever is politically expedient.

    Before even considering forcing its energy reduction strategies on anyone the state should first put a stop to all encouragement of tourism, shut down Tourism New Zealand and close the newzealand.com website.
    Of course that is not going to happen: What MP is going to risk not being returned to the state gravy train at the next election by campaigning for an end to the tourism industry?

    An interesting finding this week: insufferable Guardian readers and others who spout so piously about the environment are the *least* likely to have made the slightest effort to ameliorate the situation:-

    http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1972380,00.html

    – “Paradoxically, older people who are least concerned with climate change are also far more likely to have taken concrete action to save energy, including buying energy efficient light bulbs, insulating their homes and lowering their thermostats.”

    So greenery is largely about moral posturing and feeling good about yourself. No surprise there.

    kiwinuke,

    Since greens are forever complaining about a claimed fixation with economic growth, it strikes me as odd that you try and use the threat of a supposed 20% loss of future GDP (an entirely fanciful figure btw) as an argument to limit CO2 emissions. Doubtless, if a report said that global warming would *increase* future GDP by 20% you would be here using *that* as an argument to limit emissions.

  31. UK Kiwi

    “To cut the carbon emissions necessary would plunge the economy into a dark ages that would cost far, far more than $500m.”

    Wasn’t quite the response I was hoping for to my request. “if you’re really concerned about the potential for negative impacts in any of these policies why don’t you go to source, read the documents and then put some considered critiques on the blog, that could start a really interesting discussion.”

    Reducing carbon emissions is not synonymous with reducing economic activity – that’s the whole idea behind adopting clean technology and energy efficiency as well as some sensible price-signaled demand management.

    Your response comes across as just another unsubstantiated opinion. What about some detail. Which policies are going to plunge us into the dark ages?

    Even just a response to my response to you would be a start:

    “there are a number of reports coming out of the business sectors of various western countries that are arguing there are significant gains to be made from early adoption of market based and distributed responses to climate change. Those in early will potentially have a significant technological lead on the latecomers.”

    No place for economic gains from being a market leader then?

    And Phil, hi mate, never said I wasn’t jaundiced too – especially about the state of affairs on our planet – I’m just not jaundiced about the Green Party’s efforts to get something done about it.

  32. Stuey, OPM is an acronym for “Other Peoples Money”.

    Uhmmm UK_kiwi… isn’t gambling with OPM the whole idea of corporate investment in general? 😀

  33. phil the people on this blog who have supported the green initiatives that you dissed as incrementalist, are, I’m sure, completely aware that we are in deep doodoo, and, I’m sure, they support measures that go much further than what the greens have managed to persuade Labour to implement.

    But we think that some changes are better than none and those changes should be supported.

  34. jeez kiwinuke..

    a worthy observation./reminder..

    but weren’t you calling me jaundiced just a mo’ ago..?

    and then..there you are presenting the strongest argument against the incrementalist mores i rail against…!

    whoar..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  35. A well respected British scientist, C P Snow, wrote a concise analysis on what were, at the time, perceived to be the 5 major threats facing humanity. These included population explosion, nuclear annihilation, global famine, and waht was then called “the Greenhouse Effect” (I can’t remember the fifth).

    His analysis concluded that only the Greenhouse effect was an insurmountable problem – as the rest, in his view, were manageable with the understanding and technology avaialble at that time.

    The reason he was convinced that the Greenhouse effect was the one likely to seriously threaten the survivability of humanity was simply the inherent lags involved. He identified a number of these lags. The first, and most critical was the lagged effect of human induced emissions of Greenhouse gases on the climate; the second lag was the recognition lag (i.e. the time taken for scientists to realise that this effect was taking place and realise how serious it was); the third lag was the political acceptance lag (the time taken for the politicians/public to accept the scientific evidence and find agreement to do anything about it).

    he was extremely pessimistic about the nature of our political system and its ability to adequately meet this challenge and was of the view that by the time politicians got over their denial and disagreement about what was facing them it would already be too late because the inertia in the system would mean that it was too late to turn the ship around.

    And in this world where the Precautionary Principle is overuled by petty penny pinchers I suspect he might be right.

    He wrote that analysis in 1964. His predictions as to our reactions have been on the money so far.

  36. Make no mistake, I support these moves in principle, but can someone tell me what the deal is with Kyoto-Compliant forest planting and local planting? I’m reading that tropical forest reduces warming and the CO2 load, but not temperate planting. How will planting in NZ help (other than by ensuring more damaging uses are not applied to the land)

  37. I wonder what lies will be told about this come election time, the electorates new found enthusiasm for the global warming theory might well evaporate when the truth is out about what these ridiculous measure are going to cost NZ and how it will adversely affect our standing of living.

  38. “If the Govt did pull finger and get serious about spending that prospective $500 million Kyoto bill locally to reduce carbon emissions”

    Unlikely. NZ was in recession in 1990 and has had a huge growth in GDP and population since then. To cut the carbon emissions necessary would plunge the economy into a dark ages that would cost far, far more than $500m.

    When the signatories to Kyoto withdraw, we should too. It is a failed agreement, at least based on the current co2 emissions profile of the oecd.

    As for ethical investments, they can avoid exposure to enrons and so forth, but they are not explicity low-carbon. Many alternative energy companies are scams, and judging the worth of a concept based on the sharemarket is rarely a good idea- the current boom in shares worldwide is largely due to historically low interest rates anyway- it’s cheaper to gamble with OPM these days.

  39. UK Kiwi,

    I don’t quite understand your position. If the Govt did pull finger and get serious about spending that prospective $500 million Kyoto bill locally to reduce carbon emissions then there would be no prospective Kyoto bill.

    It is not the Kyoto framework that is at fault here, it only penalises those who don’t take action to hit their agreed targets. If NZ were to act decisively as you suggest we wouldn’t be facing the prospect of buying carbon credits off any other country (dodgy or otherwise).

    The fault lies squarely with the Govt’s lack of political will on this issue – if they had acted decisively there would be every chance that we could have hit the target and be facing no penalties. It looks like they’ve left it too late with their run.

    As for the Prisoner’s Dilemma argument – there are a number of reports coming out of the business sectors of various western countries that are arguing there are significant gains to be made from early adoption of market based and distributed responses to climate change. Those in early will potentially have a significant technological lead on the latecomers.

    Ethical investment funds have been the fastest growing investment sector in the US, UK and Europe for most of the past fifteen years. Of late most of this growth and much of the above-market returns on these funds have been generated by investments in the “Industries of the Future” sector of those sharemarkets. These include renewable energy tech stocks along with other climate change related technology shares.

    Even though the US and Australia may have been doing little at a national (or Federal) level quite a bit of action is nonetheless taking place on the ground in significant parts of the corporate sector and in quite a large number of state governments. The recent Provident Group report on NZ’s response to climate change suggests we are seriously at risk of losing out reputationally (with a consequent impact on our export and tourism markets) if we continue to lag on this issue.

  40. “plenty of other countries are taking Kyoto seriously, to say that no other countries but NZ are taking it seriously is daft.”

    I beg to differ. The USA, China and Australia are explicitly not doing anything, and judged on actions rather than rhetoric, few other countries are doing anything either.

    “if new house efficiency standards in the building code really will add $5000 to the price of a new house then I would have to ask so what?”

    Exactly. I should have been clearer- it was comedy because the added cost was so low! It is extremely cheap to add energy efficiency to new houses, and should be legislated ASAP.

    “The Stern Report clearly argues that the real cost to our economy will come if we and others don’t take the climate disruption threat seriously and act accordingly.”

    The Stern report is the classic Prisoner’s dilemma- the best outcome would be if everyone cuts carbon emissions. However, anyone who doesnt will avoid the severe economic hardship that will hit the early adopters.

    My problem is with the Kyoto framework- Instead of giving away $500m of NZ taxpayer dollars to Russia, why not spend it locally to reduce carbon emissions?

  41. Hi UK Kiwi,

    The Stern Report clearly argues that the real cost to our economy will come if we and others don’t take the climate disruption threat seriously and act accordingly. That reports estimate of a 20% reduction in world GDP is massively higher than any likely negative impacts from these proposed measures.

    But if you’re really concerned about the potential for negative impacts in any of these policies why don’t you go to source, read the documents and then put some considered critiques on the blog, that could start a really interesting discussion.

    Of course, it’s a lot easier to just get the scattergun out and fire of a few cliche salvo’s.

  42. plenty of other countries are taking Kyoto seriously, to say that no other countries but NZ are taking it seriously is daft.

    if new house efficiency standards in the building code really will add $5000 to the price of a new house then I would have to ask so what? The energy efficiency improvements to that house would pay for themselves many times over over the lifetime of the house. The huge increases in land prices and rates over the last 10 years have added much much more to the cost of home ownership than energy efficiency ever will.

    its hardly going to destroy the NZ economy if it costs people a little more to buy/build a new house, in fact you could argue that it will improve the economy with new business opportunities.

  43. BTW I like the house efficiency thing- twas comedy when the developers union said it would add just $5000 to the cost of a new home!

  44. So how much is this going to damage our economy? How much is the taxpayer going to have to fork out to whinging farmers, clever lawyers and devious carbon futures traders; not to mention the oh-so-democratic Russian government who will be creaming it under kyoto…

    Would these vast sums be better invested in projects which might actually make a real difference to NZers lives and possibly carbon emissions- like more hydro & wind power, improved rail, improved agricultural practices, better housing, and so on. You know, those pesky people who elected you and you are supposed to represent!

    Last year’s figure of $500,000,000 extracted from taxpayers to be given away would pay for a few stadiums. Of course, now more snouts are in the trough it is probably more like $1B of taxpayers money that will be wasted in this utterly futile accord that no other country is taking seriously.

  45. Hi Mike,

    I expect it was the proposed deforestation levy that was causing the most concern. I heard it reported that this was going to be set at a pretty punitive level so this is bound to generate some serious debate about whether the sticks are too big and the carrots too puny.

    But there do seem to be some good ideas in the package courtesy of Green efforts it would seem:

    “Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says last year the Greens’ environment policy proposed a levy on nitrogen fertiliser, a source of both water pollution and greenhouse gases, with the revenue recycled into assistance for farmers to improve their environmental performance.

    Now this idea forms one of the measures in the Government’s consultation document.”

    and

    “The Government is also looking at carbon offset schemes for increases in emissions from livestock, as the Greens suggested last March in our climate change document Turn Down the Heat.

    In response to your last comment about the absence of an emissions trading scheme I found Jeanette’s comment interesting:

    “While eventually a full carbon trading system is desirable, at this stage it would be far too complex to impose on farmers. We should choose the simplest fastest acting measures in order to get something going now. These are likely to be simple charges for pollution and grants for absorbing carbon.

    We have delayed far too long tackling these issues. It is barely more than a year till Kyoto takes effect and we are liable for our emissions. Yet this is still just a consultation paper and the final policy will be some months away. We need to get on with it,?

  46. … the agriculture and forestry discussion release this morning was subject to some agro on National Radio this morning (audio stream).

    For the most part I agree with the forestry industry objection based on inflexibility of land use (although I’m going by what the chap on nat.rad. said rather than having read the document).

    This sits well with a NZBCSD press release stating that “[a]n emissions trading regime for forestry, for example, would allow forest and land owners to decide the best-value location for forest sinks and for forests which will be harvested”.
    It seems that emissions trading is not being considered – rather more strict land use controls are.

    Mike

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