Thursday, 1 May 2008

Climate Snippets - 2 May

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Cawthron ETS report.

Read the report here: Scoping Report For An Environmental Assessment Of The NZ Emissions Trading Scheme And Closely Related Measures.

The Government is being advised to strengthen measures to enhance energy efficiency and provide clear national guidelines to protect natural resources from potential degradation as it moves to address the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The advice comes in a scoping report by Nelson based Cawthron Institute into potential environmental effects of the Government’s proposed Emissions Trading Scheme (and associated carbon reducing measures) over the period 2008 to 2020.

The report identifies a number of positive effects from an Emissions Trading Scheme these include: reduced soil erosion and sediment yield to rivers and coastal margins, gains in biodiversity in some areas, and better water quality from new forest plantings and reduced deforestation; improvements in air quality and human health due to reduced use of fossil fuels and increased walking and cycling; as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term. Some benefits will be delayed, predominantly because it will be 2013 before Agriculture is included in the Emissions Trading system.

In response the Green Party welcomed the release of the assessment.

Green co Leader Jeanette Fitzimons said that “Pricing of the emissions trading scheme is not enough and some complementary measures are required. At present agricultural emissions are subsidised until 2013 by the taxpayer, so that emissions from any kind of intensification are paid by the taxpayer. It’s vital that changes start now to avoid land use patterns that are unsustainable and costly to reverse. Afforestation must go on low quality marginal lands - not where regeneration is already happening. Land that qualifies to be forested under the Kyoto agreement , land that was bare in 1990, may not be bare now, but regenerating with native kanuka and manuka that provides a lot of biodiversity. Replanting with exotics would be a misguided measure on this land. We do need to plant more forests, but on marginal and eroded land that is not suitable for farming.”

Sustainability lobby says emissions scheme unfair and will make little difference to the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the report: The Carbon Challenge:

The Sustainability Council this week called for the Government to re-jig its emissions trading scheme (ETS), building on the central mechanism of a charge automatically indexed to the world price for carbon, said executive director Simon Terry. It wants the Government to ditch its proposed new carbon "currency", the NZU and instead use the existing international carbon currencies established under the Kyoto protocol. And it called for the blanket subsidies now being offered to farmers and other big industries to be dropped and the carbon charges fairly spread over all sectors of the economy.

Saying if the Government goes ahead with ETS in its proposed form, householders, road users and small and medium enterprises will pay 90 per cent of the money required by the scheme up to 2013 – even though they will generate only a third of the nations' greenhouse gases in that time.
The authors of the report said farmers and big industries are being heavily exempted and rebated and will escape about $4 billion of the $4.4 billion worth of net payments through the ETS up to 2012.

In response: Government defends climate change scheme.

Climate Change Minister David Parker has defended the Government's planned emissions trading scheme from criticism it will hurt householders more than farmers and big business from The Sustainability. Mr Parker said bringing agriculture into the scheme by 2013 would be a world first and to do it quicker could harm the economy. Phasing in different parts of the economy was important to reduce harm, he said. Mr Parker told Radio New Zealand that [ditching the NZU] was worth looking at and he disagreed with suggestions that the scheme would do little to reduce overall emissions.

In response: Don’t delay the ETS - get it right say Greens.

The Green Party says delaying the Emissions Trading Scheme will just cause more problems and higher costs. However a lot of changes are needed if we are going to get the ETS right,” Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says. Agriculture must not be given a free ride for five years and the allocation of free credits to industry must be totally rethought.”

“Giving all the credits to existing firms will stifle innovation and lock us into old technology. Giving them all to very large firms endangers the small and medium enterprises on which New Zealand’s prosperity is based. “The coal industry must pay for the methane emissions from their mines which are charged to New Zealand’s account under the Kyoto Protocol. “There must be incentives to capture this methane and use it to produce power, reducing its global warming potential to one twentieth of what it is now, and reducing the mining industry’s energy demands on the West Coast rather than damming precious rivers like the Mokihinui.

Govt emissions plan will hurt more than necessary –NZIER report.

Read the report : The impact of the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme on New Zealand's economy. Full Report

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has put a $4.5 billion price tag on the plan, saying households, the provincial economy, agriculture, energy producers; transport and "most other industries" will feel the pain. Its report comes just a day after the Sustainability Council said the scheme was neither fair nor efficient.

At the core of NZIER's criticism is its belief that the trading scheme makes firms in New Zealand less competitive than firms in countries that have not imposed the cost of greenhouse gas emissions. It says New Zealand is the only country in the world known to be including agriculture in an emissions trading scheme, despite very limited opportunities for this sector to control its emissions.
"Agriculture, which delivers more than a third of the country's export earnings, will be particularly hard hit because it cannot make quick adjustments and its ability to do so is largely reliant on unknown future improvements in technology," says Dr Brent Layton, the institute's chief executive.

In response: Parker defends emissions trading scheme.

Responding to the report released by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Parker said the impact on gross domestic product of meeting Kyoto Protocol commitments was easily manageable. Furthermore, New Zealand could face duties on exports if it did not honour international commitments, Parker said. However, Parker said a Government commissionedInfometrics report showed that despite the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme, the economy would continue growing and New Zealanders would continue getting richer. An emissions trading scheme would only reduce private consumption growth per capita - by 2025 - to 51 per cent from 54 per cent, Parker said.

Climate Change Leadership Forum backs main parts of emissions trading plan.

The Forum has released a summary of its advice - or at least what its 34 members could agree on. It supports the principle of an emissions trading scheme to help the economy make the transition to a carbon-constrained world. And it agrees with the policy of including all sectors and all greenhouse gases. The wider the base the greater the potential for low-cost emissions reduction opportunities to be found, it said. Business New Zealand yesterday dissociated itself from the Climate Change Leadership Forum's statement. "The claim that the nationwide economic impacts should be relatively modest, for example, is something that NZIER would dispute and so would I," said Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly.

Russel Norman ‘Industrial dairying drives rainforest destruction.’

A thousand-fold rise in imports of a rainforest-destroying feed to prop up New Zealand’s burgeoning dairy industry has huge implications for the country’s clean and green brand, the Green Party says. Palm kernel is the most important by-product from the production of palm oil at is imported as supplementary feed and has soared from 408 tonnes in 1999 to 455,000 tonnes in 2007 Already in the first three months of this year we have imported 185,000 tonnes of palm kernel meal and a recent Rural News article said some traders estimated 700,000 tonnes would be landed in New Zealand this year. Increases in consumption of palm kernel mixtures or ‘cakes’ by New Zealand agriculture over the last seven years, excluding this year, would need up to 900,000 hectares of rainforest to be cleared for palm oil to meet the increased demand if new plantations were required. This is equivalent to clear-felling rainforest four times the size of Te Urewera National Park” Dr Norman says.

UNHCR: Climate change could force 1 billion from their homes by 2050.

As many as one billion people could lose their homes by 2050 because of the devastating impact of global warming, scientists and political leaders will be warned today. Hundreds of millions could be forced to go on the move because of water shortages and crop failures in most of Africa, as well as in central and southern Asia and South America, the conference in London will be told. There could also be an effect on levels of starvation and on food prices as agriculture struggles to cope with growing demand in increasingly arid conditions.

The conference will hear a warning from Craig Johnstone, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that the developed world should start preparing for a huge movement of people caused by climate change and that humanity faced a "global-scale emergency" whose effects would accumulate over the next four decades. He said it was impossible to forecast with confidence the numbers of people who would lose their homes through climate change. But he pointed to assessments of between 250 million and one billion people losing their homes by 2050.

In Brief

James Hansen on Peak CO2 and Big Carbon.

Carbon News reaction to Greens coal announcement.

16 May is the closing date for submissions on Genesis Energy's baseload thermal power station proposal for Rodney.

Live Earth back this October.

Russia says has no plans to cap carbon emissions.

Climate change is already affecting the prospects for children in the world's poorer countries, according to Unicef.

Macquarie expects a shortage of coal for steelmaking to last several years, coking coal price trebles in one year.

US air force calls for mission to combat climate change.

UK tabloids rapped over climate coverage.

'Green' awareness to be part of UK driving test.

Best of the Net

Mediawatch: Reporting climate change scepticism.

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