Climate Defence Tour Update

Jeanette and solar fern racing

The Climate Defence Tour has been working hard, travelling up the South Island, so far visiting Christchurch, Blenheim and Motueka – spreading the Greens climate change message and encouraging local action. Jeanette has been speaking at public meetings and facilitating workshops and during the day each city has seen a stall in town, where we are encouraging people to sign the Climate Change Contract. We have had hundreds of great chats with people about the climate change issues in their community and the best way we can work together to prepare. From algae-fuel, to carbon neutral wine it is clear that there will never be only one answer to the problem.

The first public meeting in Christchurch saw 70 people attend Jeanette’s presentation. A helpful workshop was held the next day, with 15 eager residents gathering to share practical information on what to do in the community to highlight the issue, and explore initiatives to combat climate change. Water issues and the upcoming local body elections figured highly. While in Christchurch we visited the Solarfern Racing Team, who are building a solar-powered car to travel 3000 kms through the heart of Australia in the World Solar Challenge – pictured. Still in building stage, the car will eventually travel about 600 kms a day on nothing but the energy from the sun and the enthusiasm of a small group of dedicated New Zealand engineers and volunteers.

A great group of people braved the cold to attend the public meeting in Blenheim, and 19 participated in the workshop the following day, with encouraging networks being established to combat climate change in the Marlborough region. Another highlight for the touring team was a visit to the Grove Mill Winery, who has ‘carbon zero’ certification for their wines. The company is a role model to those businesses that must face the growing awareness of food miles. Grove Mill set up an energy efficiency inventory, to assess the best areas to conserve resources, and then offset the inevitable carbon emissions As a result, their UK retailers Sainsbury’s have doubled the amount of products they import from Grove Mill. ‘It just makes good business sense’ says Rob White, Grove Mills’ CEO.

14 Comments Posted

  1. Kevyn

    This government? It is only better than National might have been.

    As for the tenants demanding efficiencies and paying extra, one has to question why THEY have to front the money. They’re the ones who are unable to buy a house. They get zero tax relief and in fact are quite likely paying (collectively) for the nearly “free” house that the landlord is able to buy courtesy of the LAQC and the tax and benefits distortions hitting the middle class. If you don’t believe me, talk to an accountant.

    As for the state houses, I have no idea if even houses that have received recent renovations that would’ve made some of those things easier have had it done but given my low opinion of the current government I am sure that even that little has eluded their feeble grasping for low-hanging fruit.

    Truthfully the housing market in NZ is so wretchedly distorted and disordered that drawing any conclusions from it is probably an error.

    respectfully BJ

  2. Insulation only satisfies the self-interest of the occupier. Until tennants begin demanding it and/or paying a premium for it landlords have no incentive to provide it. Standard market failure really.
    I presume state houses have all been insulated, double glazed, clean heated and fitted with solar water heaters. Or is the government no better than the free0market?

  3. Kevyn,
    Good idea!

    In fact it is well underway in Christchurch.

    There are various subsidies (and even freebees) depending on income and need (eg for the elderly). I saw one pensioner’s delight when she got insulation in ceiling and underfloor, and a state-of-the-art pellet fire installed free of charge.

    Apparently many of the worst offenders who don’t upgrade are landlords.

  4. # Kevyn Says:
    April 22nd, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    > Most of the pollution [in Christchurch] comes from keeping the home fires burning and not from cars or industry. Perhaps Ecan needs to start using emotive language like “carbon criminals? and “open-fire and logburner addiction? to effect an attitude change amongst the smog victims

    Maybe, but a significant number of the people in Christchurch who are still using this form of heating can’t afford the cost of changing. What you need to do is:
    (1) ban these forms of heating, and
    (2) provide financial assistance to people who can’t afford to change their form of heating, to make it possible for them to change and comply with the ban.
    Then you can enforce the ban.

  5. Alistair,

    Log fires are only carbon-nuetral if the firewood is sustainably harvested. How much of the firewood currently being burned is coming from clearance of wind-breaks etc for dairy conversions? Now I’m genuinely curious where the firewood companies actually get their wood from.

    The induced traffic effect has certainly been known for a long time. It was the basis of Sir Julias Vogel’s Immigration & Public Works Act :- Build the roads and railways and the people will come.

    My original point about motorways was that congestion occurs in a more environmetally friendly way on motorways than on conventional roads because motorways allow engines to operate at fairly constant RPMs (this is one of the main techniques used in Hybrid cars). Normally this motorway advantage is lost because of the higher speed limits than on normal urban roads. During peak periods the speed difference disappers and drivers on motorways are forced to slow down and save fuel, whereas drivers on normal roads are forced to stop and start more often which wastes more fuel. In fact, on normal roads mid-block speeds may not decrease at all so the entire reduction in average speeds comes from extra waiting time at intersections, which is one reason why hybrids are at their best in this type of congestion.

    I suppose my main point is if we don’t let ourselves take an holistic or systems approach to problems we are short-changing ourselves, and there is always the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  6. Kev says : Most of the pollution comes from keeping the home fires burning and not from cars or industry.

    There are two distinct, overlapping issues here :
    1) Climate change due to human-induced greenhouse gases
    2) Air pollution and associated health issues.

    Cars are relevant to both. Mitigating traffic jams is therefore an excellent objective. Many ways of doing this : providing good public transport is good because it addresses both issues. Building more motorways might conceivably address health issues (though that is by no means obvious), but will increase greenhouse gases by encouraging more car traffic. This is a well-proven effect, as is the fact that traffic will pretty soon saturate the new roads etc. until we’re at a standstill again…

    Inefficient log fires in an urban environment are relevant to air pollution, and should probably be banned, but not very relevant to climate change (carbon-neutral in themselves : didn’t you know that, Kevyn?), a slight positive if they displace gas or oil-fired heating, or oil or gas generated electricity).

  7. It’s rather ironic that he Greens launched the Climate Defence Tour in New Zealand’s most congested and polluted city.

    Most of the pollution comes from keeping the home fires burning and not from cars or industry. Perhaps Ecan needs to start using emotive language like “carbon criminals” and “open-fire and logburner addiction” to effect an attitude change amongst the smog victims, ie. everybody else who live in Christchurch and who have switched to clean heat.

    The fact that Christchurch has worse congestion than Auckland (Travel-time Survey 2006, Transit NZ) despite the major arterials carrying less traffic per lane-kilometre highlights the role that traffic disruption plays in creating traffic congestion. Grade separation of critical intersections would ease the problem in a way that would reduce emissions more than it would reduce travel times. Motorway congestion is a good way of reducing emmissions because it reduces average speeds with only minimal increase in variation from the mean. On ordinary arterials the reduction in average speeds is largely the result of the increased amount of time spent stationary and increased numbers of stop/start cycles per vehicle.

    We should be taking the successful aspects of motorways and using them where they can produce immediate significant reductions in emmissions without the induced traffic effects that would be expected from building complete motorways or expressways. Most importantly replacing rounadouts with flyovers (with cycle lanes) eliminates the most inconvenient and dangerous part of most cycle commutes.

  8. Toad: I don’t know, I think if it was a natural phenomenon that was risking damaging our environment severely, I’d want to interfere there, too. The reason we need to deal with global warming is because it’s a growth problem, not a linear one. We can’t just put on the brakes when it gets bad, we have to slow down in advance.

    If it turns out cooling would be as disasterous a problem, and they’d be no long-term consequences to it, then yes, I’d advocate burning some fossil fuels to deal with it.

  9. But most of all, the question is indeed moot. This means that there is common purpose between those who believe that we should act to restore the balance we disturbed, and those who believe that we should engineer the climate to stop it becoming less favourable to people. There is no cooling period on the horizon, not in the next few centuries or the next couple of millenia. The solar forcing cycles are sufficiently well understood to be quite sure of that.

    But one wonders why the Hayek extremists want to let the world go to hell without trying to counteract human-induced climate change. I guess their answer to that is : if hell is where the market is taking us, then that’s where we should be, because the market is always right.

  10. Because we are not omniscient and omnipotent. We are just as much a part of the planet’s ecosystems as any other species. All living things are interdependent, and changes we make to planetary ecosystems for short-term gain for humanity are very likely to be to the medium or long term detriment of other species and, ultimately, ourselves.

  11. “If it is a natural cycle we leave it alone and adapt to it. If it is anthropogenic, we change our behaviour so we are no longer generating the forcing factor.”


    Why the different response?

  12. There are things we could do to cool the atmosphere – dropping a few hundred big nukes in Iraq, Iran and North Korea would be one of them, but no-one apart from the wackiest of neo-cons would advocate that.

    If it is a natural cycle we leave it alone and adapt to it.

    If it is anthropogenic, we change our behaviour so we are no longer generating the forcing factor.

  13. A question recently posed at

    “Suppose we discovered that the earth was cooling rather than warming due to a natural cycle. Would you encourage people to drive more and use more carbon-based energy as a way of warming the earth?”

    This is not a moot question. In a few years the Earth may well enter a very significant cooling period; if it hasn’t done so already.

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