Economics and ecology of electric vehicles questioned

Electric vehicles are becoming more available and more popular, but there are questions about how much sense they really make as far as emissions and convenience go.

The range of EVs (fully battery powered vehicles) is improving, but recharging still takes substantially longer than refueling a fossil fueled vehicle, which is an issue if you want to travel further than the range of a battery powered vehicle.

There is also a major issue of where all the electricity will come from to charge the batteries.

On top of that, a study claims that even the supposed emissions advantage is questionable.

Stuff:  When will we finally admit that electric vehicles aren’t the solution?

Replacing fossil fuel cars with electric vehicles seems to be a logical, correct, and even necessary solution to our climate problem. But the issue is far more complex than our intuition tells us.

The banning  of further production of internal combustion engines by 2050, 2040 or as soon as 2030 is talked about, even though it could take us into dangerous uncharted territory we know almost nothing about.

A few months back, German physic professor Christoph Buchal, with his colleagues from the IFO think tank in Munich, published a study – subsequently widely challenged – in which they found that electric vehicles in Germany produced 11 to 28 per cent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than  “dirty” diesel cars.

More than diesel powered vehicles? Not surprisingly that was controversial.

“Considering Germany’s current energy mix and the amount of energy used in battery production, the CO2 emissions of battery-electric vehicles are, in the best case, slightly higher than those of a diesel engine, and are otherwise much higher,” says the think tank’s release.

Even Volkswagen, the German car maker, joined the discussion. Despite VW’s response being clearly “pro-electric”, it admitted that in current German conditions its new electric Golf emits more CO2 than the one with an internal combustion engine.

It depends a lot on how the electricity needs to be generated.

And it’s not just emissions that are a problem. Batteries need materials that need to be mined. Ecologists (like the New Zealand Green Party) tend to oppose mining.

Earlier this year, scientists from the University of Technology in Sydney published a study, in which they concluded that the rising production of electric batteries will increase the need for certain metals such as lithium, manganese or cobalt. The research “shows that as demand for these minerals skyrockets, the already significant environmental and human impacts of hardrock mining are likely to rise steeply as well”.

For example, the cobalt is found predominantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and mining in this African country is detrimental to the whole region. Amnesty International warned about the increasing demand for these metals, but its researchers have also noticed the exploitation of child labour and violation of human rights during mining.

So there are a number of benefits and problems.

We also know that electric cars aren’t very popular among blue-collar workers. Indeed, cars with alternative propulsion are – as various statistics show – a matter of predominantly richer social groups; poor people cannot afford them despite government incentives. As a result, they subsidise the rich to buy their new, shiny Tesla.

“In effect, the wealthy owners of electric vehicles will enjoy the benefits of their clean, silent cars, while passing on many of the costs of keeping their vehicles on the road to everyone else, especially the poor,” pointed out Jonathan Lesser of the Manhattan Institute in an article for Politico.

Poorer people not only are less likely to be able too afford an EV, they are more likely to use older less efficient, more polluting petrol or diesel powered vehicles.

At least if this unprecedented change could be justified by the fight against environmental pollution, for the future of our planet, people would be willing to accept the radical transition to electric vehicles regardless of their ideology.

But we cannot even say with certainty what consequences such a 100 per cent transformation would have on our society and the environment itself; we don’t know where we will take the extra electric energy, how to solve the metal problem and what it could do to  our economy.

However, because climate change makes us all so nervous, citizens demand some kind of action, and as politicians don’t know exactly which kind, they chose the most populist one that could cost our society and the environment much more than we are willing to admit.

Maybe our Government has effectively admitted something.

Newsroom:  Govt quietly abandons electric vehicle target

There are 15,473 vehicles in the government fleet and only 78 are electric. When the coalition Government came into power in late 2017, the agreement between Labour and New Zealand First stipulated that the entire fleet would be emissions-free by mid-2025, “where practicable”.

Making the government fleet fully emissions-free would have been a daunting task, even with the “where practicable” caveat. The Government’s progress so far has been abysmal.

Out of around 15,000 vehicles, less than half of a percent of the Government’s fleet is electric. This has been the case for at least the past nine months, according to data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Electric vehicles have trickled into the fleet at a snail’s pace. In the third quarter of the 2018/2019 financial year, there were 71 electric vehicles. The next quarter, that number rose to 73 and has now reached 78.

In the most recent quarter, in addition to adding five electric vehicles, the Government added a net of 514 non-electric vehicles.

That sounds like Kiwibuild scale underperformance.

Although it was repeated as recently as June, that goal has been quietly revised to a commitment that, after mid-2025, all new vehicles entering the fleet will be emissions-free.

And that sounds a bit like an Animal Farm style revision of the wording.


I have been looking at getting a new vehicle at some stage. Currently I’m tending towards a hybrid that uses a petrol powered engine to power low capacity batteries. I think these are a good balance now that they cost little different to petrol only vehicles. They are more efficient than petrol only cars, using about two thirds the fuel, so i think they make economic sense and they don’t have the range and recharging disadvantages of electric only vehicles.

But I am currently waiting and seeing how things evolve.

Planned climate extremist disruptions risk alienating wider support

Growing significant support for taking more urgent and more meaningful and effective action to minimise and mitigate predicted possible effects of climate change may be jeopardised by extremists who claim extinction and who seem to be using climate change as a reason to drastically change the world economic and political systems.

Following a widely popular series of countrywide protests last week, more extreme action is threatened for Wellington on Monday, with more extreme goals. I think that this risks alienating popular support.

The future of the human race could be in jeopardy due to pollution, over-consumption and climate change, but using that threat to force what would effectively be a revolution – ironically one goal is to undemocratically impose a different sort of (unproven) democracy – could be a bigger risk.

The cure could be worse than the ailment.

Stuff: Wellington will be first city targeted for ‘disruption’ in worldwide climate change protest

Monday morning commuters could face delays, with climate change activists set to “disrupt Wellington” with protest action in the central city from 7am.

Police, Wellington City Council and NZTA are gearing up in anticipation of the protest, which is part of what has been called a “global rebellion”, with Wellington the first of more than 60 cities worldwide targeted for climate activist disruption.

The protest is organised by the Extinction Rebellion, a group formed in October last year in the UK, with branches all over the world, including New Zealand.

The action is coinciding with a “Rebel Camp” running in Paekākāriki from Saturday to Wednesday, which will include training in “non-violent direct action”.

Extinction Rebellion Wellington spokesperson Dr Sea Rotmann said the New Zealand branch would disrupt Wellington traffic with a street party and expected arrests.

The news report includes odd looking staged photos of Dr Rotman who seems to be trying to depict themselves as something extraordinary:

Dr Sea Rotmann, Wellington spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, says "it is time to draw the line and to take whatever non-violent action is necessary".

Weird, and I’m not sure that will attract a lot of support.

The Extinction Rebellion website said it aimed to “support and encourage a citizens’ uprising in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

That would involve “low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some”.

“When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution.

“This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.”

So they intend using a revolution to create “a genuine democracy”. That doesn’t sound very democratic.

Suddenly and drastically changing the economic system would be at more risk of maximising harm and adversely affecting wellbeing.

This all seems like an idealistic experiment that if forced on us could cause more disruption and harm than climate change.

What does Extinction Rebellion want?

Extinction Rebellion has three demands of Government:

1. “Tell the truth” and declare a climate and ecological emergency

2. Act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2025

3. “Go beyond politics” and set up a “Citizen’s Assembly” on climate and ecological justice

I wonder if they are aware that a “Citizen’s Assembly” should be inclusive of and represent all citizens, and not just a minority of extremists.

Drastically changing all of the world’s governments immediately seems to be a totally unrealistic aim.

Extreme action and extreme demands are much easier to dismiss as extremist nutters.

And more immediately, disrupting Wellington traffic on Monday is likely to alienate a lot of people rather than attracting popular support.

I think that we should be doing significantly more to address possible affects of climate change, and reduce waste, and reduce pollution, but I think that Extinction Rebellion could be counter-productive to getting support to do this.

Their website home page says:

JOIN THE REBELLION

Enter your details to join Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa. Stay up to date with our latest direct action events, news and volunteering opportunities.

To create the change the world so desperately requires we need everyone’s support, we’re in this together.

You’ll be joining part of a larger global movement dedicated to preserving life on earth.

ISSUES

We are unprepared for the danger the future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.

Historical evidence shows that we need the involvement of 3.5% of the population to succeed – in Aotearoa New Zealand this is 170,000 people.

We are the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion International. We are everyday New Zealanders just like you. We are supported by journalist Naomi Klein, academic and renowned dissident Noam Chomsky, and around 100 other prominent international progressives calling on “concerned global citizens to rise up” and join us.

OUR VISION

A world where we build thriving connections within our society and environment, bringing hope and enabling us to decide the direction of our lives and futures. An inclusive world, where we work consciously to ensure fair processes of collective decision-making, where creativity is prioritised, and where our diversity of gifts are recognised, celebrated and flourish.

OUR MISSION

To spark and sustain a spirit of creative rebellion, which will enable much needed changes in our political, economic and social landscape. We endeavour to mobilise and train organisers to skilfully open up space, so that communities can develop the tools they need to address Aotearoa New Zealand’s deeply rooted problems. We work to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable and connected.

OUR PURPOSE

Support and encourage a citizens uprising in the Aoteaora New Zealand involving low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some (with others willing to support those that take actions). When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution. This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well being and minimise harm.

 

General strike 4 climate in Aotearoa

A strike or protest against inaction over climate change is planned around the country today.

The Spinoff:  General strike for climate: everything you need to know

What and when?

The School Strike 4 Climate movement has invited people of all ages to a nationwide strike today. More than 40 rallies and marches are planned around the country and upwards of 90 businesses, including The Spinoff, have committed to downing tools and joining the movement.

In Auckland, protestors will gather at noon at Aotea Square.

Hamilton protestors are meeting at Civic Square at 1pm.

In Tauranga, it’s a 12pm start at the south end of The Strand.

Wellington protestors are meeting at 11am at Civic Square ahead of a march on parliament.

In Christchurch, protestors will gather at 1pm in Cathedral Square.

Dunedin’s strike kicks off at 12pm outside the Dental School ahead of  a march to the Octagon.

Events are also planned in Whangārei, Lower Hutt, Dunsandel, Porirua, Greymouth, Golden Bay, Thames, Whanganui, Foxton, Nelson, Kāpiti, Hawke’s Bay, Alexandra, New Plymouth, Timaru, Whakatāne, Gisborne, Great Barrier Island, Palmerston North, Invercargill, Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Marlborough, Taupō, Motueka, Karamea, Coromandel, Opunake, Rotorua, Opononi and Wānaka. In Oamaru, Forest and Bird and the Waitaki Girls’ High School Environment Club will be planting trees after school at Cape Wanbrow.

School Strike 4 Climate NZ’s Sophie Handford said opening the strike to workers and employers strengthened the movement and diversified their base.

Newsroom – Uni scientists: Why we’re marching for climate action

Professor Quentin Atkinson from the School of Psychology studies the evolution of language and human cultures. He has contributed to a book on how New Zealanders can tackle climate change and is founder of climate action group Claxon

What troubles me most about the climate crisis is the profligate insanity of the whole thing. The stakes could not be higher. Livelihoods lost. Lives lost. Species gone forever. Real threats to our planet’s life support systems. Positive feedback loops like dieback of the Amazon rainforest or methane released from thawing permafrost causing truly scary runaway climate change. And these warnings are coming not from some lunatic or charlatan, but from hundreds of scientists, the best minds in the world, paid to question every assumption and temper every conclusion. Indeed, climate change is hitting sooner and harder than they initially predicted.

Dr Brendon Dunphy from the School of Biological Sciences studies the metabolic strategies animals employ to adapt to environmental change and potential effects of climate change on seabirds, fish and invertebrates

It’s a struggle to capture the complexity of what I feel as I fluctuate daily between outright despondency to a more pragmatic “Right, let’s get on with solving it”. However, it is one unimpressive number that really captures me…3mm. A small number, but 3mm is the annual sea level rise attributed to climate change we are currently seeing.

It’s a slow march. From talking with people, I get a sense that the thinking is one day we simply won’t wake up, that we will have undergone a cataclysm that sterilizes the planet of life. But it won’t be like that. It will occur slowly, but surely, in increments of 3mm per year. The struggle I have as a parent is trying to alleviate the anxiety my children have for their future. However, I remain positive that we will respond…there’s no other choice.

Professor Shaun Hendy from the Department of Physics is a physicist and science commentator whose book #NoFly: Walking the Talk on Climate Change will be published next month. He is director of the centre for research excellence, Te Pūnaha Matatini

The discovery that fossil fuel emissions are heating the planet is one of science’s greatest achievements. The scientific detective work that led to this discovery was a collective effort, built on the inquiry and insight of many minds, over many decades. For the first time in human history perhaps, we are not only able to see centuries into our future, we also know how our actions will shape that future. Despite this we have struggled mightily to decide how to use this knowledge. While we must each take responsibility for reducing our own carbon footprints as best we are able, it is only by acting together that we will avoid dangerous climate change.

Professor Niki Harre from the School of Psychology studies the human drive to participate in the common good. Her books The Infinite Game: How to Live Well Together and Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet, were published in 2018

For well over a decade I’ve been aware the climate change threat is my problem. Along with other citizens of industrialised nations, I live within social systems damaging to the ecology of our planet and it is up to us to change those systems. I am marching to show I will accept whatever is required for an effective response. This includes more limited, expensive travel options; government-backed insurance for people with homes vulnerable to sea level rise; creating employment for those whose income-stream is not viable in a climate friendly society. I am not asking others to bear the cost of these changes,

I am also prepared for a significant rise in my taxes to support transition that protects the wellbeing of all. I am not afraid of reduced access to material goods and consumer experiences. I am afraid of a world where people are pitted against one another in a scramble to survive in a harsh environment. I want to live in a world that brings out the best in us – pulling together and focusing on what really matters.

Professor Richard Easther is Head of the Department of Physics and a leading theoretical cosmologist who is a regular commentator on science issues and science research

Our nervous systems respond quickly to clear and present danger — the clench in the gut if we see a child at risk of harm and our instant response. As a physicist and astronomer I know why carbon dioxide traps heat, and why we can’t blame the sun for increasing temperatures: I can follow the math and appreciate the complexity of the data. But it is still more head than heart.

For most adults, climate adaptation is like saving for retirement — present desires often take priority. But if the detached perspective of adulthood is “mature”, the flipside is that kids do a better job of appreciating the urgency climate change deserves. The students I interact with are smart, articulate, thoughtful, committed and passionate – and my strongest emotional response is admiration for the commitment and composure of the kids participating in the climate strikes.

And that’s why I’ll be marching.

RNZ:  Climate change report underlines sea level rise threat

The latest international climate report sends a stark message about the fundamental importance of the world’s oceans, a New Zealand scientist says.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report revealed the clearest information to date on the future of the planet’s oceans and frozen regions, and the price civilisation will pay if there is not urgent action.

“Changes that have been under way in these systems imperil the health and wellbeing on life on this earth. It’s a pretty stark message for us to listen to and to act on,” Massey University professor Bruce Glavovic said.

Prof Glavovic, one of more than 100 authors from 36 countries who worked on the report, said sea level rise was an immediate and real issue, not a problem for future generations to worry about.

“Importantly it’s not going to stop. Even if we stop greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow sea levels will continue to rise for centuries.”

Global sea levels are rising at 3.6mm a year, more than twice as fast than during the 20th century, the report said.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions were greatly reduced and global warming is limited to well below 2C, sea level rise could still reach 30-60cm by 2100. That would increase to 60-110cm if greenhouse gas emissions continue to strongly increase.

Prof Glavovic said if any country should be concerned it was New Zealand, with 90 percent of the population living within about 10km of the seashore.

“The struggle for sustainability is essentially going to be won or lost in the boardrooms in the communities in the government offices in the cities and towns of our coastlines.”

Newsroom – IPCC: Ocean’s future depends on emissions

The ocean has protected us from experiencing even worse effects from global warming, but changes to fisheries, coasts and cyclones are beginning to bite. What happens next depends on us, says the latest IPCC special report.

The state of the ocean will enter “unprecedented territory” this century, and it will take an unprecedented social transformation to stop things getting worse from there, according to the latest IPCC special report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere is out, drawing on more than 6,000 studies, reviewed and synthesised by a panel of 104 scientists from 36 countries.

The fate of the Antarctic ice sheet and the Southern Ocean – two areas of intense research and monitoring by New Zealanders – feature heavily in the report’s gloomier findings, regarding ocean heating around Antarctica and the potential for surprise runaway ice melt.

The report’s key messages are that we’ve already locked in significant changes to ocean levels, cyclones, fish stocks, glaciers and beaches, but we can avoid more extreme changes by acting fast. That would require “unprecedented” social change, though.

It’s hard to ignore the the overwhelming numbers of scientists and growing number of people warning and demanding more action climate change.

Naysayers will keep naysaying, but they are now losing the PR battle. The tides of science and opinion are rising against them.

The question is not whether we have climate change, it is how bad the effects could be.

The question is not whether we should we do anything about it, but how much we should do and how quickly.

And what we do will generally benefit us and our planet regardless of the extent of climate change and how much we manage to minimise the effects.

One way or another this will affect all of us.

 

Tsunami of coverage of Climate Change Now

It is not a matter of whether measures will be taken to try to combat climate change, it is how much will be done, and how quickly. Momentum is building in New Zealand, with a burst of media activity this week.

ODT

…the Otago Daily Times has joined an international news media initiative in the run-up to the UN Climate Action Summit.

More than 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people are co-operating under the banner Covering Climate Now.

During the week leading into the summit, we have agreed to share resources and focus coverage in a way that does justice to the defining story of our time.

Also:

RNZ

Newsroom

The Spinoff

Stuff

Stuff has a section devoted to Climate Change News

NZ Herald

Climate emergency declarations not matched by council actions

There has been a recent fad for councils around the country to declare climate emergencies, but these declarations are at risk of being seen as ‘me too’ posturing without any significant change – in fact there are indications that some councils are walking a different walk, and expect others to actually do something about climate change and it’s effects.

Stuff:  Councils declare climate emergencies, but will it result in any real change?

Councils around the the country are declaring climate change emergencies, but questions are being raised over whether the move will create any tangible change.

Scientists and activists believe the declarations will be meaningless unless they’re backed up by solid action, offsetting criticism the measures were purely tokenistic.

Hutt City Council became the latest in an ever-growing list of local government agencies in declaring a climate crisis on Thursday, joining Wellington City, Hawke’s Bay, Kāpiti and Porirua councils.

Wellington city councillors opposed to the emergency declaration claimed the measure was “preachy” “nonsense” and an example of “green-washing”.

While Victoria University Wellington climate scientist James Renwick believed the move “put a stake in the ground” and underscored the seriousness of the issue – he said definitive action was needed.

Local Government NZ president Dave Cull said councils were at the “front line” of combating climate change, but there was “no national framework” for how local bodies should tackle the issue.

Really? beyond the talk and the declarations, is much actually being done?

Some things are being tried, but they could be counter productive. Cull is mayor of Dunedin, where there has been a program of installing cycle lanes around the flat parts of the city, but there are scant numbers of cyclists to be seen on most of these, and traffic congestion has worsened – which increases use of fossil fuels.

“Declaring a climate emergency acts as a catalyst for urgent action. It’s a way for councils to increase focus on this issue, and call for greater national support on climate change adaptation.”

Cull’s own council has just declared an emergency: DCC votes to declare climate emergency

At a full council meeting which began at 1pm, councillors voted 9-5 to declare the emergency and accelerate efforts to become a carbon neutral city.

The council had aimed to reach a net zero carbon target by 2050, but would bring that forward to 2030, councillors decided.

Most councillors spoke strongly in support of declaring the emergency, while only Crs Lee Vandervis, Mike Lord and Andrew Whiley argued against it.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said the council had been hearing from “countless” people and organisations for years, calling for action.

Progress had been too slow “and meanwhile the clock is ticking”.

“This needs to be at the front and center of all of our decision-making. A business-as-usual approach is not just inadequate, it’s effectively intergenerational theft.”

Mayor Dave Cull also backed the move, saying the city needed to keep pace with the changing scientific consensus to avoid “a point of no return”.

“The cost to council is not whether we do. The cost to council will be if we don’t do anything.”

That sounds like standard Green rhetoric.

The debate prior to the vote was stacked with pro-emergency spokespeople.

There were applause and cheers as Jennifer Shulzitski, of Extinction Rebellion, urged councillors to act now.

But the applause grew louder still as four young pupils from North East Valley school boiled the issue down to blunt terms.

But this declaration clashes with Dunedin City Council flying high with third highest travel expenditure in country

The Dunedin City Council has racked up the third highest spend on travel expenditure among all New Zealand councils.

It spent $347,885 on air travel in 2017-18 – $214,067 on domestic travel and $133,818 on international.

That puts Dunedin third behind much the much larger councils of Auckland (which spent $1,221,571) and Wellington ($591,310).

A council spokesman told Stuff there were several reasons contributing to the air travel expenditure, including the council’s size and geographical location.

“Many important meetings, conferences, training courses are held in Auckland or Wellington, and are therefore not easily accessible by other modes of transport.”

The spokesman said while the council did not currently offset travel emissions, “we do have a range of strategies and initiatives in place aimed at reducing carbon emissions across the city”.

The council’s declaration of a climate emergency and bringing forward its goal to be a net carbon zero city by 2030 would also “make us look even harder at where we can reduce our travel costs and/or offset travel emissions”.

Something more substantial than ‘looking ‘even harder’ is required to match their climate emergency rhetoric.

Also last week QLDC declares climate emergency

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has voted to declare a climate emergency after a presentation by Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes.

Good on Extinction Rebellion for getting into the act here as they did in Dunedin, but again this is one-sided public consultation.

Members of the public were packed into the council meeting this afternoon where the motion was passed 7-4 as part of the council’s consideration of its Draft Climate Action Plan.

Extinction Rebellion said in a statement last week it was “asking the council to use its role as a community leader to clearly communicate the reality of what we are facing and what needs to happen to our local community.”

Queenstown growth relies on tourism which relies to a major extent on air travel, so QLDC is not likely to make major moves against the use of fossil fuels.

The QLDC also narrowly voted 6-5 to receive Queenstown Airport Corporation’s controversial Statement of Intent (SOI), while inserting a clause requiring ongoing discussions over possible expansion.

So QLDC has voted in support of a possible airport extension whole voting for action on climate change.

It is election year for mayors and councillors, so a ramp up in climate rhetoric is to be expected.

Significant action is less likely, and talk of the costs of actions is likely to be avoided at all costs. Rate rises is a contentious enough issue as it is.


Someone else talking the talk was Robert Guyton in this podcast – Maureen Howard’s Eco Living in Action – 27-06-2019 – Declare a State of Climate Emergency – Robert Guyton, Councillor, Environment Southland

Robert is one who does more than talk the talk.

What’s the point on declaring a climate emergency?

Auckland City Council have jumped on the climate emergency declaration bandwagon “with encouragement from young activists”.

Stuff:  Auckland Council declares climate change emergency

Auckland Council has joined other cities in declaring a climate change emergency.

Mayor Phil Goff said he didn’t want to leave future generations the “rotten legacy” of climate heating.

“We have an obligation to act, and it would be irresponsible and reckless, not to act,” Goff told a council meeting on Tuesday.

While the declaration is largely symbolic, it signals the start of a more urgent and focussed approach by councillors to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The council separately agreed to seek public views on an “action framework” that could lead to costed initiatives in next year’s budget.

A symbolic declaration that ‘signals the start of a more’ and will seek public views that could lead to something next year sounds nothing like how a council should act in a real emergency.

The only action Goff and Auckland councillors seem to be intent on is pandering to votes in anticipation of the elections later this year.

emergency
noun
a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action

While it is arguably serious there is nothing unexpected about the current climate change concerns, they have been expressed for decades.

One of the only things these climate change declarations do is add political hot air, and are not being backed up by immediate action of any substance.

Running around shouting ‘the sky is heating’ is likely to fall on deaf ears if it is nothing more than political opportunism.

The costs of climate change

The costs of doing something about climate change are contentious. How much should be spent? Will it make any significant difference?

What will be the costs of not doing enough?

What will be the costs of rpid and major changes to society that some are calling for?

The warnings about the possible effects of climate change continue, and the calls to do something significant about it grow stronger.

RNZ: Dire climate change report warns of ‘threat to civilisation’ within decades

Australian organisation Breakthrough said in its report the current research on climate change is too conservative.

It said there is an urgent need to build a zero emissions industrial system, as well as a global response on the scale of World War II emergency mobilisation.

The report said that feedback cycles could push warming to 3C by 2050, making climate change a “near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilisation”.

Breakthrough research director David Spratt told Morning Report if the commitments from the Paris climate talks were not improved the world was heading for 3C or more of warming.

He said top scientist Hans Schellnhuber, science advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis, recently said if we continued down this present path there was a real risk that human civilisation would end.

“He says ‘the human species will survive somehow, but we will destroy almost everything we have built over the past 2000 years’.”

Mr Spratt said all the worst climate change scenarios were now on the table.

He said studies showed communities around the world believed climate change was the most important issue society faced, and the private sector needed to step up.

Some still claim that climate change isn’t a problem, with some claiming it’s some sort of hoax to fund scientists or take over the world (it’s unclear who will take over). But there are more and more concerns being expressed and demands that drastic action is taken.

Remarkably, when Minister  of Climate Change James Shaw spoke in Parliament on the first reading of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, he didn’t mention costs. But he did refer to the consensus he had been working on.

I want to thank the Prime Minister for her personal leadership in this, the nuclear-free moment of our generation, and the Deputy Prime Minister for his efforts in getting us to this point.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to National Party leader, Simon Bridges, and National’s Climate Change spokesperson, Todd Muller, who put politics to one side and worked with us in good faith to try and shape a Bill that could be supported across the House.

Madam Speaker, this Bill has a thirty year time horizon – it must survive multiple changes of Government in that time.

The pressures will be even greater in the future than they are today.

However National has expressed concern about costs, and also possible impacts on farming in New Zealand. Muller tweeted yesterday:

But there is no guarantee that spending 1-2% of GDP on climate change will be enough – the actual costs to make a significant differenced may end up being much higher, and the unintended consequences of significant changes to farming, to society, may be difficult to predict let alone quantify.

Muller’s tweet attracted a number of responses.

@swevers89:

Hammond was only considering costs of action. No 10 quickly rebuffed him (significant in itself) and said costs of inaction far higher (citing recent Climate Commission report). It’s false economic analysis and misleading politics to only mention one side of the ledger, surely?

Note ‘estimating’:

@lancewiggs:

Yes and if we don’t start spending serious cash now it is, basically, our economy and society at stake.

It is also our economy and society that’s at stake if we spend ‘serious cash’ and change the way we live.

@jamesbremner:

NZ climate change policies will cost a fortune and have absolutely no effect. The idea that China and India will be inspired by NZs self immolation is delusional. The most destructive policy in NZs history. Madness.

@MckenzieAl:

How did you get the idea that humanity can negotiate out of this situation? Or somehow we have a degree of choice in the matter? At what stage will deniers say “Shit. This seems really serious. Existentially serious. And finally get urgent in the response?” When it’s too late?

Debate over our warming planet is hotting up for sure. But in New Zealand we seem to be a long way from committing significant resources to try to deal with it.

More importantly, the countries emitting the most greenhouse gases are making the most difference to the climate, but don’t seem to be doing a lot about  it. Especially United States under Donald Trump’s leadership – he is virtually the denier-in-chief.

China and India, and Europe, will need to lead the charge if there is going to be any real stemming or reversing of emissions. otherwise New Zealand would be pissing into howling winds of indifference and inaction.

I think that unless there are major technological breakthroughs on alternative energy there won’t be a lot of progress made.

There are calls to make major changes to our capitalist/industrial society, but I have seen nothing coming close to serious of what we should change to and how that change should happen. I have also not seen any serious analysis of what the effects and costs that could be.

While there are growing calls for urgent action that doesn’t look like happening here or anywhere. We don’t even know what actions should be taken.

Are we fiddling while our planet burns?

Or is the sky not falling quite as badly or as quickly as some claim?

Climate change – research and hope

Climate Change: What New Zealanders have to change and when

Like it or not, climate change is going to drive significant changes with energy use, transport, travel and food. In other words, to the way we live.

Newshub – Climate Change: What New Zealanders have to change and when

Newshub Nation explores what will be different about how we get our energy, how we get around, how we shop, how we travel and what we eat.

Energy:

The Government has set a target of being 100 percent renewable by 2035. Currently, 82 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources – mainly hydropower.

“We’ve obviously got lots of wood lying around and the problems we had in Tolaga Bay – you can imagine that would have been much better used as a source of energy if we’d had the supply chain set up,” says James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change.

Another potential solution to the storage problem is using renewable sources to produce hydrogen gas, which acts a bit like a battery.

“Hydrogen plants can make a lot of energy at short notice, and that’s a really key capability that we need to push the last bit of coal and gas off the grid and get to 100 percent renewable,” says Katherine Errington, Helen Clark Foundation executive director.

Transport:

Transport accounts for 19 percent of the country’s emissions, mainly because New Zealanders love their cars.

We imported 319,662 light vehicles in 2018. Of that total, just 5,542 or 1.7 percent were electric or hybrid cars according to the Ministry of Transport.

This needs to change and fast. By 2030, the Productivity Commission says 80 percent of NZ vehicle imports need to be electric and by 2050, nearly every vehicle will need to be electric. As at March 2019, electric vehicles (EVs) made up just 0.3 percent of our fleet.

Drive Electric’s Mark Gilbert says the quickest way to get more EVs into the market would be through adjusting the fringe benefit tax, to incentivise businesses to transition their company fleets.

For trucks, trains, ships and planes, green hydrogen offers a potential climate-friendly solution.

Air Travel:

Aviation is one of the trickiest areas to reduce emissions. It currently produces about 859 million tonnes of carbon each year or around two percent of global emissions. However, by 2050 it is expected to emit more than any other sector.

solution put forward by the UK Climate Commission is having industries like aviation pay to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere. It estimates the cost of this at $20b-$40b in the year 2050, with that cost likely passed on to consumers. This means the price of flights will start to increase from 2035 as emission removals are predicted to scale up.

Shopping:

Online shopping can actually be better for the environment than traditional shopping, because it means people aren’t driving their cars to and from the store.

However, US research found online shopping is only better when consumers choose regular delivery rather than express shipping, which creates nearly 30 percent more emissions.

Food:

This is probably the most controversial area to make changes, but with the world’s food system accounting for nearly a quarter of all emissions it is one of the areas we need to adapt.

In New Zealand, agriculture makes up half of our emissions – mainly from livestock burping methane. This gas breaks down in the atmosphere after 12 years, unlike carbon, which can hang around for hundreds of years. However while it is shorter lived, methane is 25 times stronger than carbon when it comes to warming.

“There are ways to try and reduce methane which are being researched – what you feed the animal on, how you breed the animals to produce less methane,” says Ralph Sims.

“But if we can increase the productivity [e.g. more milk from each cow] then that’s a better alternative than having to reduce stock numbers.”

Sims also says that the potential of vegetable protein is something that New Zealand’s agricultural sector should keep an eye on.

The world may change significantly as a result of climate change.

I think there is no doubt how people live will change significantly regardless. Climate change as well as population, resource depletion and pollution will all at least need to be adapted to, one way or another.

School pupil climate change protests

Thousands of school pupils took to the streets today in protest about a lack of action on climate change. They had also protested on 15 March but that was overshadowed by the Christchurch mass shooting.

It’s good to see teenagers prepared to speak up about issues that are important to them, and to many, climate change inaction is of extreme importance and urgency.

RNZ:  Thousands of children across New Zealand turn out for climate change strikes

The second round of climate change strikes have been taking place today with thousands of school and tertiary students around Aotearoa skipping classes to take part.

Around 1000 turn out in Auckland

The Auckland Schools Strike for Climate wrapped up after 1000 students lay down on Queen St in protest with students from at least 20 schools taking part.

They were chanting and holding signs, and with police escorts, shut down entire blocks of Queen St as they lay down, and chanted “Wake Up”.

Wellington students call for declaration of climate change emergency

In Wellington, student leaders at the school strike for climate have urged the government to toughen up its zero carbon bill.

Thousands of students marched from Civic Square, through downtown Wellington to Parliament in Wellington, where they urged MPs to move the goal for net zero carbon emissions from 2050 to 2040.

They also called for Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

Strike leaders told the rally the world is in an emergency and political leaders need to act.

Christchurch students also turn out after 15 March strike cut short

More than 200 students and parents gathered in Christchurch, where the first school strike on 15 March was cut short by news of the mosque attacks.

Zahra Husseini said the well-being of the environment is emphasised in her religion.

“It’s very important we look after our nature, our environment because it affects our personal well-being as well in our community.”

‘Our education won’t mean anything … if the world is in flames’ – Nelson student

In Nelson, hundreds of students from schools throughout Nelson and Tasman marched down the main street.

A large crowd gathered on the Church Steps, before the students chanted their way along Trafalgar Street, attracting huge support from onlookers.

Stuff: Kiwi school students strike again for urgent action on climate change

Thousands of youngsters nationwide dropped pens for placards on Friday, calling for urgent action on climate change for the second time.

In Wellington, students gathered in Wellington’s Te Ngākau, Civic Square, before marching through the streets to Parliament.

The crowds shouted “no more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil”, calling for “climate justice” and drastic action by political leaders to enforce change. Adults shouted support to protesters as they bee-lined toward the Beehive.

Stuff – Hear our voice: Waikato and Coromandel students demand climate change action

In Hamilton, about 300 students converged on Civic Square on Friday afternoon to chant slogans, wave banners, and to grill politicians on environmental issues.

In Thames, students called on MPs and the council to take urgent action to address climate change.

Meanwhile, south of Hamilton, the Cambridge Tree Trust put on its own climate strike outside Cambridge Town Hall.

Charlotte Matthews, nine, took the day off school to support the protest and said politicians need to treat climate change as an emergency.

ODT:

School pupils and students marched along George St in Dunedin today, as part of strike action aimed at sending a message to New Zealand politicians about the urgency of climate action.

Zedd reports from Dunedin:

just got back, about an hour ago.. about 1000 attendees, mostly school kids, but also; quite a crowd of ‘we older folks too’

whilst they are often seen as ‘all noise’.. at least they are out there making it, as opposed to APATHY !

nga mihi ki a koutou 🙂

Expect this to be ongoing.