Government and farmers agree to primary sector emissions plan

The Government and farming leaders have agreed on a partnership that my be a workable solution to farm emission issues. It gives farmers  few years to come up with solutions themselves, ot else the Government will step in and act.

Beehive:  World-first plan for farmers to reduce emissions

The Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to a world-first partnership to reduce primary sector emissions in one of the most significant developments on climate action in New Zealand’s history.

Today farming leaders and the Government announced a plan to join forces to develop practical and cost-effective ways to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025, so that 100 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions will be on the path downwards.

The 5-year joint action plan includes:

  • Improved tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms
  • Integrated farm plans that include a climate module
  • Investment in research, development and commercialisation
  • Increased farm advisory capacity and capability
  • Incentives for early adopters
  • Recognition of on-farm mitigation such as small plantings, riparian areas and natural cover

The Government recognises partnering with Māori will be critical to the success of this joint action plan.

In addition, Cabinet has also agreed that in 2022 the independent Climate Change Commission will check in on the progress made and if commitments aren’t being met, the Government can bring the sector into the ETS at processor level before 2025.

“I’m proud that we have a world-first agreement as part of our plan to tackle the long-term challenge of climate change and we’ve done that by reaching an historic consensus with our primary sector,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“For too long politicians have passed the buck and caused uncertainty for everyone while the need for climate action was clear.

“This plan provides the primary sector with certainty and puts us shoulder-to-shoulder on a path to reduce emissions, with ongoing support to help with the plan such as the $229 million Sustainable Land Use investment.

“This will reduce emissions by giving farmers the autonomy to plan to do so and reward those who do,” she said.

“Our decision to put in place a sector-led plan to reduce emissions at the farm gate shows we’ve listened to farmers,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.

Major reforms to the ETS have also been announced to make it fit for purpose, with a cap on industrial energy and transport emissions, and forester incentives simplified.

“This will help keep our planet safe for future generations. With the world changing at break-neck speed, these changes will drive us towards a low emissions country,” Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said.

“Changes also align the purpose of the ETS with the Zero Carbon Act and the Paris Agreement, so that New Zealand doing its bit to limit global warming to 1.5C,” he said.

“Farmers understand that a changing climate affects them and many are already making changes on-farm to meet that challenge and to enhance our reputation for safe and sustainable food production while maintaining our competitiveness in international markets,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

“The agreement with sector leaders shows the value of collaboration and provides certainty for farmers, but the hard work begins now to develop the tools and systems to account for on-farm emissions in 2025.

“The Government will back that with investment in research, extension services and advice for farmers,” Damien O’Connor said.

Today’s agreement delivers on commitments in the Coalition and Confidence and Supply Agreements and is the latest step in the Government’s plan that has seen it take more action on climate change in the past two years than the previous 30 years.

Government’s actions to date on climate change

  • The Zero Carbon Bill to get us to zero net emissions by 2050
  • Making clean and electric cars more available
  • Planting 1 billion trees
  • Stopped the permitting of new offshore oil and gas exploration
  • Setting up a $100 million green investment fund
  • Making renewable energy like windfarms and solar easier to build

There has been some criticism that this lets farmers off the hook, and some of that criticism has been directed at Climate Change Minister and Green leader James haw.

NZ Herald: PM Jacinda Ardern dismisses claims Government has backed down on its ETS promises

The Government moved quickly today to dismiss criticisms that its plans to make New Zealand’s rural sector greener was a backdown from a key election promise.

Backdown? or a pragmatic solution to a difficult problem?

Instead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and a host of farming and agricultural sector leaders today talked up the importance of the new scheme and the “world-first” Government-industry partnership.

“We could have forced the sector into a pricing regime that it was completely allergic to,” Shaw told media this morning.

“But, ultimately that would have been unsustainable.”

Fonterra’s chief executive Miles Hurrell said the announcement was a “significant step forward” and was a much better option than “imposing a broad-based tax”.

Ardern and Shaw talked up the importance of the plan and why the Government needed to work with the agricultural sector, and not against it.

Not long after the plan was announced, the Government came under fire from Greenpeace who labelled it a “major sell-out”.

“An emissions trading scheme without the [agriculture] sector in it is a joke and won’t be able to combat the climate emergency – the greatest threat humanity has ever faced,” the organisation said.

Ex-Green leader Russel Norman now leads Greenpeace in New Zealand. Norman has never had the experience of working in Government, he has only had to promote minor party policies, many of them idealistic and without popular support.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:  I hear the Greens are unhappy with James

I’m hearing there is a significant group within the  who are very unhappy with agriculture being exempted from the ETS until 2025, and possibly forever.

They’re also unhappy the Greens are supporting the anti-terrorist legislation, and the foreign land sales Green Ministers have okayed.

Green activists probably wouldn’t be happy unless they had full control of Government policies, but they are a long way off having the level of support needed for that.

Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa hits 415 ppm as NZ waits for Government action

The carbon dioxide data measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average readings reached 400 ppm in 2015 and have continued to trend upwards.

Mauna Loa CO2

Mauna Loa — Carbon Dioxide levels reach 400 ppm, a danger sign to scientists

Global concentration of CO2 in the air — the primary cause of global warming — has been increasing in recent years at record amounts, and it has now reached a level unprecedented in more than two million years. In March 2015, for the first time the average of all of NOAA’s 40 CO2 measuring sites showed a concentration above 400 parts per million (ppm). This follows the individual observatory high points of 400 ppm in the spring of 2012 at the Barrow, Alaska, observatory, and the April 2013 high of 400 as measured by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA on the upper flanks of the Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii. In 2015 Mauna Loa is running consistently above 400 ppm month after month.

This is a concentration never before reached in modern measurements. It is measurably the highest concentration of CO2 for more than 800,000 years and probably the highest in several million years. Levels in the atmosphere result from natural and human emissions, but human emissions far exceed natural ones, such as from volcanoes. The concentration in the air varies through the year, because the oceans and the earth’s plant life absorb carbon dioxide at varying rates. CO2 is responsible for 63 percent of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases, and many scientists have recommended the world should act to keep the CO2 levels below 400-450 ppm in order to prevent even more irreversible and disastrous climate change effects.

Hawaii is remote from major direct human emissions, but is an active volcanic zone.

from New Zealand’s Climate Cghange Minister last month: Rising greenhouse gas emissions show the need for action on climate change

New Zealand’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows emissions are on the rise, underscoring why the Government is taking action on climate change.

The Inventory shows New Zealand’s gross emissions increased 2.2 per cent between 2016 and 2017, and have increased by 23.1 per cent between 1990 and 2017.

“That shows why we need the kind of clear policies and actions the Government’s proposing on climate change,” Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said.

“New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions need to start coming down and we will see that happen over time with the Government’s list of action on climate change, which also includes:

  • the ban on future off-shore oil and gas exploration,
  • $100 million start-up funding that’s established New Zealand Green Investment Finance Limited,
  • $20 million a year invested in reducing agricultural emissions,
  • transitioning the government fleet to electric vehicles
  • $14 billion dollars into public transport, cycle-ways and walk-ways.”

They seem relatively minor and hardly game changing (the offshore exploration ban may increase emissions in the medium term as dirtier energy is used). Major Government announcements on climate change have been delayed.

Stuff: Methane emissions deal kick starts climate change legislation

The government is close to announcing a deal on its contentious climate change legislation, striking a deal over agricultural emissions.

Stuff understands Climate Change Minister James Shaw and NZ First have negotiated a “split gas” target, which would see methane treated differently from other long-lived gases, like carbon.

It comes as Shaw took delivery on Tuesday of two reports – on agriculture and on transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 – from the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC).

But instead of immediately releasing them publicly, as expected, the reports will be held back until the Government decides how to respond.

Shaw said: “We have delayed release of reports to give Government time to consider the reports so that when they are released for public consultation people will have a clear idea of the Government’s thinking around the recommendations.

That seems to be standard practice from this Government – holding back reports until they decide what to do. Or until they work out their PR approach.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, New Zealand agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Scientists have long argued delays and inaction will increase costs and reduce chances of limiting temperature increase.

One report recently says New Zealand’s climate change policy too reliant on tree planting

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a heavy hitting report that says New Zealand is too reliant on forest offsets, calling it a “risky” short term fix to climate change challenges.

However, despite calling the report “thought-provoking”, the Government said it is “committed to retaining the use of forestry off-sets for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions”.

We are waiting to find out if this Government is tweaking or transformative on climate change.

CO₂ emissions per country

Rich countries tend to have significantly higher the CO₂ emissions per population.

Hannah Ritchie (Our World in Data): Who emits more than their share of CO₂ emissions?

In a recent article I explored how different income groups and world regions compared in terms of their share of the global population and versus carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

From this, two key questions from readers emerged:

  • How does this comparison look at the national level; and
  • How does this look when we correct for emissions embedded in trade, so that we are comparing the emissions caused by a country’s consumption rather than production?

Which countries emit more than their ‘share’ of emissions?

In a completely equal world, each country’s share of the world’s COemissions would be equal to its share of the global population. This is not reality. In my previous post I explored how this looked at regional and income group levels. But how do individual countries fare in this comparison?

In the chart below I have plotted each country’s share of global CO2 emissions (on the y-axis) versus its share of the global population (on the x-axis) Note that this is based on production-based (territorial) emissions.

There are a few interesting findings which emerge:

  • All countries in the high-income group emit more than their population share;
  • All low-income groups emit less than their population share;
  • Most lower-middle income countries emit less than their population share; and upper-middle income countries are mixed;
  • The USA emits more than three-times its population share;
  • China emits significantly more than its population share (29 percent of emissions vs. 19 percent of population);
  • India emits significantly less than its share (7 percent of emissions vs. 18 percent of population);
  • Brazil emits just over half of its population share (2.8 percent of emissions vs. 1.5 percent of population).

A more simplified way to determine whether countries over- or under-emit CO2 emissions relative to their population share is to compare per capita emissions with the global average.

I have mapped below which countries have average per capita emissions above or below the global average. Countries in red have per capita emissions above global ‘equity’ (meaning they emit more than their population share); those in blue are below the global average. Here we see that most of those above global equity are across North America, Eurasia, and Oceania. The surprising result for many is that in Europe, Sweden and Switzerland emit less than the global average.

New Zealand is above average. Some comparisons (tonnes CO2 per capita):

  • New Zealand 7.81
  • Saudi Arabia 19.77
  • Australia 16.91
  • USA 16.86
  • Canada 15.85
  • Russia 11.59
  • Germany 9.7
  • Japan 9.64
  • Libya 9.51
  • Iran 8.9
  • South Africa 8.39
  • Poland 8.18
  • China 7.4
  • United Kingdom 6.38
  • Spain 5.85
  • France 5.05
  • Ukraine 4.94
  • Turkey 4.9
  • Indonesia 1.82
  • India 1.77
  • Afghanistan 0.31

EU aims for net-zero emissions by 2050

This looks similar to New Zealand’s net-zero emissions by 2050 goal.

If they are going to reduce energy imports by 70% they will need to make significant progress towards alternative energy, if they don’t ramp up nuclear power.

Net-zero emissions a big goal but a long way out – 2050 is over thirty years away.

I wonder if they would be better having shorter term goals – five year and ten year targets – with realistic plans (that can be explained and sold to the public) to attain them.

 

Zero-carbon – as much pie in the sky as CO2 in the sky

Greens have long been big on ideal but absent on credible costings for their policies. Until now they have not had to actually cost and budget for policies. Now they are in Government the cost of their primary policy, net carbon zero by 2050, gets important.

But does anyone have any idea what it will cost?

Some called (Stuff September 2017): What a zero carbon act means for New Zealand

HOW MUCH MIGHT IT COST?

The effects of runaway climate change will damage our economy much more than taking steps to reduce emissions. By joining the Paris Agreement, we’ve already committed to being part of the global transition to net zero emissions.

The zero carbon act will require the Government to set out a fair, sustainable and cost-efficient pathway for New Zealand to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. What will really cost is delay – delay in reducing our emissions, and in dealing with impacts of climate change that are already on our doorstep.

The longer we continue on our current path of emission growth, the more we lock in bad investments that will become stranded assets tomorrow. A smooth, well-managed transition is in New Zealand’s best interests – otherwise we’ll be forced to make a costly and abrupt transition later.

Insurers and local councils are also ringing the alarm bells that we need to get serious about adapting to climate impacts like sea level rise now. The longer we wait, the more risk and the more cost we are creating for ourselves.

That is alarmingly vague. There is no attempt whatsoever to cost the policy.

The author Leith Huffadine  reveals in the article: . “We [Generation Zero]…”. Greens credited Generation Zero for the formation of the policy.

The Spinoff (May 2018):  NZ has pledged zero carbon by 2050. How on earth can we get there?

The word ‘cost’ appears just twice in that.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) lithium-ion battery price index shows a fall from US$1,000 per kWh in 2010 to US$209 per kWh in 2017. This fantastic cost decline is a cause for celebration.

And:

Solar and wind offer a comparatively low-cost pathway to reduce emissions in most countries that currently have a high share of coal and gas-fired generation, but how we plug the gap between 95% and 100% in New Zealand isn’t obvious yet.

that was written by Briony Bennett: B.A. Political Studies, B.Sc. Physics, Mathematics, member of the Green Party, “I am for energy that is safer, cheaper and greener.”

What also isn’t obvious to me is how much extra electricity generation we will need if all our cars, trains, buses and trucks are run by battery (which need electricity to charge them). Important things like this don’t seem to have been quantified, or even estimated.

Earlier this month – Zero carbon: Policy meets science

For example, economics.

If “no further climate action is taken”, the per household national income will increase by about 55 per cent by 2050, models show.

No indication of what models show this.

If the the bill passes as roughly signalled, per household national income will increase by about 40 per cent, the same models show.

That’s a significant loss of economic activity and many have pointed out that New Zealand’s contribution to greenhouse gases is less than 2 per cent of global emissions.

Far less than 2% (actually less than 0.2%) according to New Zealand’s Environmental Indicators:

China produced 26 percent of global GHG (green house gas) emissions, nearly twice as much as the next- highest producer, the United States. New Zealand contributed 0.17 percent.

Today at Stuff: Zero-carbon economy may not be worth the cost

Before we decide if a zero-carbon economy by 2050 is worth the cost, we must know what the damage to our economy from global warming will be if we do nothing. Only then will we know how important and urgent action on global warming really is.

Estimates of the cost of global warming as a percentage of GDP to New Zealand are elusive. I drew a nil response when I asked for that information from James Shaw, the Minister for Climate Change, and from the Ministry for the Environment. Both said such an estimate was too hard to calculate.

Too hard to calculate?

Fortunately, the OECD rose to the challenge in its 2015 report on The Economic Consequences of Climate Change. The OECD estimated the cost of global warming to New Zealand and Australia between now and 2060 was a reduction of 0.9 per cent in their GDPs.

No details on that. And that doesn’t look at the cost of doing what will be required to get to zero-carbon by 2050.

James Shaw must come clean

It is time for the Government to fund an estimate of the cost of global warming to New Zealand.

Author Jim Rose (‘an economic consultant in Wellington) seems fairly negative about doing anything at all, but it’s more than fair to ask what it all could cost. there’s a lot of variables and unknowns, but surely there should be some estimates.

There are certainly risks of not doing anything, and also risks of spending a lot of money trying to do something.

I find the lack of information about possible costs quite alarming.

 

Q&A – Bridges on cross party climate change cooperation

This morning on Q&A: National says it wants to work with the Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. What does that really mean? National leader Simon Bridges will be with us live.

This could be interesting.

One National’s decision:National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

One of the more ridiculous comments in response:

Climate change is a fraud, perpetrated on us by troughing and corrupt scientists. Not a single prediction, model or claim about the catastrophe that awaits us if we do nothing has ever come true, nor is it ever likely to. We are hobbling our economy by pandering to this nonsense.

https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2018/06/why-simon-no-one-cares-except-liberal-elites/

Apart from stupid that is either very ignorant or deliberate bull pandering to an ignorant audience.


Overall impression is that this is a one of Bridges’ better interviews. I think he and his PR team have been doing some work to improve his public performances – they have plenty of time to prepare for QA interviews.

He was knowledgeable – and there was even signs of some passion. Perhaps he can grow into the job.

As well as climate change a lot of the interview was spent on prisons and crime – this was to Bridges’ advantage because it is something he is very familiar with – he was a lawyer and crown prosecutor before getting into politics.

On the panel, on climate change, Peter Dunne says that National had no choice to engage on climate change in Parliament.

Fran O’Sullivan says she was quite disappointed that Bridges failed to say clearly what he supported on irrigation and stocking levels – but Dunne disagrees, saying that putting bottom lines out there at this stage is not a good idea.

As soon as I saw that panel i thought of The Standard.

‘Eating and farming patterns need to change a lot”

The potential effects of climate change, plus an increasing world population with a growing proportion improving their standard of living (with less in poverty) mean that it is essential to consider how we produce food and how we consume it.

Regardless of anything else, too many people eat far too much – a lot more than they need to and too much for good health.

Newsroom:  Changing our diets to save the world

Can we grow enough food to feed us all in a changing climate? And can New Zealand thrive as a dairy exporter without worsening climate change? Eloise Gibson spoke to IPCC food security and farming experts and found them surprisingly upbeat.

Newsroom specifically wanted to know what the experts thought of New Zealand’s prospects of thriving as a meat and dairy-exporting nation, in a future where people eat less meat and milk.

We talked through the issues with five experts, whose readiness to answer suggested we were not the first to raise it since they reached our shores.

Based on their research in climate modelling, food security and farming methods, all of them agreed that eating and farming patterns need to change a lot if we’re to feed more people in our new and altered climate. That means raising fewer livestock and sharing the meat and milk we still eat more fairly between nations.

“Sharing the meat and milk we still eat more fairly” should be contentious. Who decides what is ‘fair’? How could it be enforced?

Right now, people in rich countries over-consume, despite the hefty climate impact of their livestock-heavy habits, says Pete Smith, a climate change and soil professor at the University of Aberdeen.

“We can’t have nine or ten billion people consuming the way people do in the Western world. But that’s not to say we don’t still have livestock in the system, we certainly do. But we can’t continue at the rate we are. Although consumption has to come down, there are still going to be global markets.”

Those markets are likely to change significantly.

Holding the pre-Easter IPCC meeting in Christchurch signaled global recognition of what most Kiwis know already – that, among developed nations, our greenhouse gas emissions are uniquely skewed towards farming.

Our problem is mostly cows, with their methane-laced burps and gas-producing urine, both of which New Zealand spends millions trying to solve.

But when these researchers talk about the climate costs of food growing; they’re looking much wider than reducing cow burps.

They’re discussing wholesale changes to the food system. “This is first time really that the IPCC has tackled food, as opposed to agriculture, in a big way,” says Tim Benton, who studies food security in his job as Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds. “I’m really hoping that, for the first time, people will start to pay attention to the impact our food systems have on climate and the impact climate has on our food systems.”

Globally, agriculture ranks second only to fossil fuels as a source of greenhouse gases.

Smith, from the University of Aberdeen, lists the numbers:

“Direct emissions from crops and livestock are about 14 or so percent of global emissions, if you include deforestation it’s 24 percent, and if you add things like transport for moving food around and the embedded emissions in the agri-chemicals, you’re probably talking 30 per cent. We can’t meet the Paris targets without it.”

Farming faces a circular problem. Growing food creates a lot of greenhouse gases, and greenhouse gas is threatening the world’s food-producing capability. “If we don’t tackle climate change, the impacts on the food system will be such that there’s no guarantee we could feed 11 billion people at the end of the century,” says Benton.

Even cows are not immune. “Dairy cows really do not like warmer temperatures, it decreases milk production and fertility,” says Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Mitigation, Rosenzweig, Smith and Benton each explained, has to include rearing less livestock, especially our burping cows. “We need to think about what we’re eating and how much. Because large-scale animal production, especially industrial animal production, has a very large carbon footprint,” says Rosenzweig.

None of them suggests everybody goes vegan, because most of us will not, they say.

“It’s just unrealistic to think that everybody is going to give up meat tomorrow,” says Rosenzweig. “So we need to realise there’s probably a pathway of healthy diets that is not no meat at all, but reduced meat consumption.”

Dairy has a lower greenhouse footprint than beef, but it remains considerably higher-emitting than producing vegetable products.

Still, no-one expects a quick switch. “New Zealand has an important livestock sector and I don’t think these people are about to start growing carrots tomorrow. It’s about finding pathways to sustainable production,” says Rosenzweig.

Benton agrees. “On an existential basis, I don’t think any country needs to be particularly worried, because we’re talking about changes over a number of years,” he says. “If you look back 30 years, our agricultural industry was very different to what it is today and in 30 years’ time it will be different again.”

Major change is certainly needed, says Benton.

There will have to be major change in food production in New Zealand, eventually at least. The world market is likely to demand it.

If the current Climate Change minister James Shaw has his way there will be major change much sooner.

Rosenzweig, the impact modeler, sums up those trade-offs and farmers’ tricky conundrum. “The challenges for agriculture everywhere are to simultaneously be reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases and be adapting to a changing climate,” she says. To do it, they will need our help, and that includes changing our diets. “That’s why there’s a role for people changing what we eat. Because as we go from 6 or 7 billion people to 9 or 10 billion, how are we actually going to do that?” she says.

In New Zealand and elsewhere in the developed world eating less will be better for our health – but won’t that increase the population more if we live longer?

 

 

 

Greens confuse democratic process with democratic votes

Despite what some try to claim he number of submissions in a democratic process is not a measure of popular support.

Submissions are not votes.

A high number of submissions promoting one view has become common, but they often mean that one view has been organised and promoted with mass submissions.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei recently sent out an email that was predictably critical of the Government emissions target announcement but her argument is a bad example of the confusion of democratic process versus democratic votes.

Here are five reasons why this weak target should be a concern for all New Zealanders:

  1. This target undermines our democratic process. Back in May, thousands of New Zealanders participated in the Government’s climate consultation. An overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target) asked for a more ambitious target than what the Government is proposing. John Key’s administration has effectively ignored almost everyone who participated in the consultation, from doctors and business leaders to scientists and conservation groups.

For a start this doesn’t even give the total number of submissions, she just claims “an overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target)”.

How many submissions were there?

How many submissions didn’t specify a target?

But claiming “this target undermines our democratic process” is based either on ignorance of democracy (which is alarming from a party that claims to be more democratic than any other) or it is deliberately deceptive.

Submissions are an important  part of the democratic process, a means of giving the public a say.

But organising mass submissions has become common practice from parties like the Greens and also allied activists:

Like Generation Zero: Use our quick submission tool to call on the Government to commit to a pathway towards zero CO2 emissions by 2050 or earlier, and call for a global zero carbon target in the Paris deal.

This is our chance to call for a plan to Fix Our Future. Take a few minutes to add your voice by submitting below.

It’s easy to have your say. Just fill in your details and tick all the points you agree with.

Personalising your submission will really add weight to it so please add your own thoughts and comments at the end of the form.

In an open democracy like ours groups are free to organise mass submissions, a form of group speak.

But claiming that the number of submissions is some sort of democratic measure of support is an abuse of democracy, or ignorance of how democracy works.Metiria Turei

Either way a party leader should know better than to make claims like Turei has.

Are the Greens confused about democratic processes? Or are they deliberately trying to confuse?