Borders closed until 2022?

I don’t think anyone can predict how long our borders will be closed to anyone who is not a returning New Zealander (and a few exceptions) with 14 days isolation mandatory, but it looks like being for some time, probably well into next year if not until 2022.

On Monday (RNZ): NZ travel bubble with Cook Islands could be in place by end of year – Ardern

In a press conference this afternoon, Ardern says Cabinet considered a draft text for the basis of an agreement.

The next phase will be a verification phase on both sides within the next 10 days, she says.

She says the draft text is nearing its conclusion and they’re hoping the travel bubble will be in place before the end of the year.

Two factors are the maritime and aviation border, and that will be a “significant part” of the verification phase, she says.

“I expect in the next 10 days or so undertaking that on-the-ground verification process … it is not a simple exercise and it is one where we are exercising caution.”

“The whole point of establishing this regime is the assurance that both the Cook Islands and New Zealand are considered to be Covid-free, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have extra stages of assurance.”

Ardern says New Zealand is still waiting on Niue to be ready for a potential travel bubble but at the moment the plan is just for the Cook Islands.

So this signalled the possibility of a very limited opening of borders with the Cook Islands maybe by the end of the year.

And then yesterday it was announced that New Zealand is not Covid-free any more, with four positive cases with no known source of infection.

From what has been said that may put the cobwash on travel to and from the Cook Islands for the rest of the year at least, all going well.

What about trans-Tasman travel? With the spread of Covid in Victoria and a 6 week lockdown in Melbourne at least that’s looking a long way off. How long?

From the Northern territory yesterday: Hard border controls will remain for the NT for at least 18 months

Australia’s Northern Territory will be closed to visitors from virus hotspots for a further 18 months to protect its large and vulnerable Aboriginal population, authorities said Tuesday.

“We’ll have our hard border controls in place for at least the next 18 months. And we’re resourcing so we can do that,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner told public broadcaster ABC.

Many Aboriginal groups fear the virus could sweep through remote indigenous communities where healthcare services are limited.

“This is what I think I need to do to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in the world stay safe,” Gunner said.

The Northern Territory has recorded few virus cases and no deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

It is currently closed to Victoria state and Sydney, and Gunner said he expected other regions to be excluded.

I had booked time in Darwin in June and obviously had to ditch those plans. I have close family there, but it looks like it could be a long time before I can visit there or they can visit here.

If different parts of Australia are shut off internally then opening borders with New Zealand looks a long way off.

What does that mean for travel to and from the rest of the world?

Things could change. An effective vaccination may become available by some time next year. But there seems no point in planning any offshore travel at this stage.

Even local travel is now in doubt again. I had changed plans and was due to have an internal holiday soon, and have made bookings, but now even that is in doubt.

Trump’s speech on significant US action on Covid-19

President Donald Trump gave an address on fairly drastic action to try to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but after clarifications it isn’t as drastic as it first sounded.

Travel from non-American citizens and residents from Europe (excluding the UK) to USA is banned for 30 days.

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

Contrary to impressions from the speech freight from Europe is not banned.

Major sports reactions to with the all US NBA basketball games suspended until further notice.


President Donald Trump’s speech to the nation on the coronavirus:

My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world.

Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.

We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.

This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.

From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.

Our team is the best anywhere in the world. At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.

And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.

The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.

After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.

There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea. And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.

Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.

We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time. These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.

Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.

The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus. The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful.

In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas.

My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings.

Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.

Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best.

For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.

To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.

I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.

Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.

Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.

This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.

However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.

Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.

Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.

Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.

We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first.

If we are vigilant — and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will — we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. The virus will not have a chance against us.

No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.

We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.

As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity.

Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.
God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.

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.

More communication, less travel

Communications has changed radically via the Internet and smart phones. Has this and will this have a significant effect on how much people travel?

In his ODT column today Colin James writes:

If all cars are electric by 2030 and relatively cheap to maintain and run, might not there be more demand for roads, not less? Rail is nearly two centuries old. What will “public” transport be in 2025?

The Ministry of Transport (MoT) has been grappling with these sorts of questions, looking out 10 to 30 years. It has found the future is unlikely to be a projection from the past through the present.

When MoT looked at future demand for personal mobility, it found vehicle kilometres travelled flattened in the mid-2000s at around 40 billion kilometres a year and only recently have picked up again (perhaps reflecting record net immigration?).

Young people are far less likely to get a driving licence or buy a car than their elders. They have other, digital, ways of linking with friends or getting entertained.

I hadn’t thought of that. Back when I was young the Internet didn’t exist and phones were used far less than now.

We used to find friends and socialise by travelling, and many of us did this by car. I booked for my drivers license as soon as I turned 15 and had my license 2 weeks later. I owned my first car when I was 16, and travelled to communicate and socialise.

We used to cruise to find fun.

From what I hear many young people don’t bother getting licenses let alone cars now. They can save travel by organising what they are doing in advance.

It may be that a lot of socialising has moved from in person to electronic, cutting the necessity to travel.

We can see the sights of the country and the world (and the solar system and universe) from the comfort of our homes. While this may encourage some people to get out and travel to see things for themselves it may also reduce the need for others.

I can now communicate with family who are overseas by video phone so the pressure and need to travel to see them is reduced.

In the early days of working in Information Technology (I’ve worked in IT since before it was called that) I had to travel to customers to work.

Now much of that travel is unnecessary because I can work remotely -from a desk in an office in Dunedin I can be working in Auckland, Sydney and New York virtually at the same time (and have to be careful which client window I do things in).

I think it’s impossible to predict how travel will be affected in 10 or 20 years, it’s a complex issue. But the necessity to travel is certainly reducing in some ways.