Thursday, 18 December 2008

Climate Snippets - 19 December

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Key likens climate goals to Rudd's.

New Zealand's new direction on climate-change policy will be as cautious as that revealed by Australia this week, Prime Minister John Key suggested yesterday.Mr Key was commenting in Parliament following the Australian Government's commitment on Monday to cut carbon emissions by as little as 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, and at a time when National's priority in Parliament this week is to undo the flagship policy of the previous Labour Government.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee capped off a series of moves to weaken or overturn Labour's climate change measures by issuing instructions to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to stop any ban on incandescent light bulbs. National has a long-term policy of reducing carbon emissions by 50 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. But it has no medium-term target of the sort that will be negotiated at Copenhagen. In Parliament yesterday Mr Key confirmed, under questioning from Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, that the National Government would not actually suspend the present emissions-trading scheme as stated in its confidence and supply agreement with Act.

Gas and coal-fired electricity ban repealed.

The new Government has scrapped another Labour climate change measure - passing legislation this week that repeals restrictions on the building of new coal and gas-fired power plants. But Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today labelled the move a retrograde step, which shuts off one of the easiest ways New Zealand could reduce its carbon emissions. The two-page Electricity (Renewable Preference) Repeal Bill passed its third reading by 63 votes to 58. It was opposed by Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party and the Progressives.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said the ETS put a price on pollution, providing adequate incentives for power companies to invest in renewable generation. But Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand's per capita emissions were about five times the global average and electricity generation and urgent measures were needed to reduce them. Power generation contributed about 10 per cent of the country's emissions and was one of the easiest things to clean up because of the abundance of renewable options. She said officials had told the previous government a target of 90 per cent renewable energy could be reached - up from about 70 per cent at the moment - with "negligible cost".

Biofuel obligations repealed under urgency.

Mandatory biofuel obligations have been repealed after Parliament passed legislation under urgency on Wednesday afternoon. The legislation was passed by a slim majority of 62 to 59 because two of the Government's support partners - the Maori Party and United Future - opposed the move. The Biofuels Act, which came into force in October, required a proportion of petrol and diesel sold to be sourced from biofuel. Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said the mandatory obligation would have loaded unspecified costs on consumers and meant the importation of biofuel with no guarantee that it had been sustainably produced. But the Green Party said there was a clause in the legislation that required biofuels to come from sustainable sources and sustainability standards could have been in place by the middle of next year.
Groser defends NZ climate treaty stance.

Climate negotiations minister Tim Groser has defended the Government's call for better treatment of agricultural emissions in the next global climate treaty. Last week he laid out New Zealand's position for the talks, saying he would be negotiating aggressively to achieve better rules governing agriculture, which contributes about half of the country's emissions. He said New Zealand had a small population which raised public transport issues; an already high proportion of renewable electricity generation meaning scope for gains was small and an already efficient agriculture sector. But the Government's stance has come under fire from non-government organisations which say seeking "favourable" treatment for agricultural emissions runs the risk of weakening the whole agreement and establishing New Zealand as an "international climate pariah".
Australia sets new climate target.

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include cutting emissions by at least 5% by 2020 and a carbon trading scheme to be implemented by 2010. But the proposals were immediately denounced by critics as inadequate, with the Green Party calling them a "global embarrassment". The new measures announced by Mr Rudd will see:
  • Greenhouse gas emissions cut by between between 5% and 15% by 2020, from 2000 levels
  • A scheme to be implemented by 2010 requiring industrial polluters to bid for government licences to emit carbon. It will cover 75% of emissions and include 1,000 of the country's biggest firms, but will initially exclude Australia's drought-battered farmers.
In Brief

Scientists say they now have unambiguous evidence that the warming in the Arctic is accelerating.

Climate change: 2008 is world's 10th hottest year.

No new coal - the calling card of the 'green Banksy' who breached fortress Kingsnorth.

166 MW solar power plant will be China’s largest.

EARTH MEANDERS: Light REDD: The looming tragedy of carbon markets paying to destroy ancient forests.

Global climate deal? Yes we can, Gore says.

Jonathon Porritt: Press the panic button.

Bill McKibben: The most important number on Earth.

Monbiot: At last, a date.

Gareth Hughes: A Green New Deal for Aotearoa.

Best of the Net

Blog: John Key’s uncertainty principle.

Blog: Putting the ETS “on hold”?

Video: Jeanette gives her opinion of Rodney's Climate Change Denial Select Committee.

Video: George Monbiot meets ... Fatih Birol.

Video: Head in the sand on climate change.

New Project backed by Kiwi sport celebrities.

Interactive carbon atlas.

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