Thursday, June 16, 2005



Missing the target

Pete Hodgson has just admitted that New Zealand will miss its first commitment period Kyoto target by 36.2 megatonnes of CO2-equivalent. This is expected to cost us around $600 million over that period to purchase carbon credits to cover the extra emissions.

The government is blaming higher-than-expected economic growth and changes to the way forest sinks are calculated for the change, but there's also a significant policy failure. From the beginning, we had been relying on forest sinks to cover excess emissions - and just three years ago, the picture was looking very healthy. But the government has now established a policy framework that, rather than encouraging land-use changes to forestry or conservation forest, encourages the opposite. Those in the forestry sector have been cutting their trees down early to avoid the "Kyoto penalty" if they cut them down after 2007. At the same time, the government itself is helping to change a large portion of North Island forest into dairy farms - and vastly increasing our net emissions in the process (not to mention contributing to the pollution of our lakes and rivers).

This has to change. It's not enough to focus on the energy sector. If we are to meet our international obligations and do our bit towards mitigating global climate change, the government needs to encourage the planting of forest sinks and long-term changes in land-use. It is a one-off gain, but it will give us more time to solve the real problems of reducing animal and transport emissions.

2 comments:

Ha, ha, ha.

Remember: The Kyoto transferrable credits system was forced in by the US as the proviso for them entering. They renegged, as we knew they would (it would have been Al Gore had he not stuffed up) and so the world is left with a system designed for the party who will never join! What a King hit kybosh!

Only a dumb country would ever pay some other country to allow themselves to continue to pollute (which I guess is now NZ). Which is why all smart countries will fudge their figures, ie. lie, and pretend they have more "good" stuff like forests planted after 1990 than "bad" stuff like factories and farms. What are the verification processes to make sure cheating does not happen? I'm guessing their are NONE AT ALL. Every government is just going to have to accept what every other govt. says about their own country. We were doing well with our bullshit greener-than-green myth that we could use to make dumb, truthful European countries pay us money and then we ruin it all by reporting things accurately. Wake up - play the game! See this farce for what it is.

So what country would really be stupid enough to pay money to another govt. for the right to continue to do things they have always done? It better not be us. If the theory of a market for carbon credits was crazy enough in abstract it will be impossible, impractical and politically suicidal to implement in practice.

Posted by t selwyn : 6/16/2005 03:44:00 PM

Tim: Well, people's figures must withstand scientific scrutiny and argument, which prevents the obvious falsification. I expect they will also be checked against government published statistics as well. And on the credit side of the ledger, the amount of forest cover can be checked by satellite (which is also used to calculate it).

As for who would be fool enouh to pay another country to do what they were doing anyway - an honest country that kept to its word, for a start. I'd like to think New Zealand was a place like that, rather than a bunch of renegers like the Americans. I should also point out that other countries (e.g. the Netherlands) have been paying us for credits devolved under the Projects Mechanism. Now the government will have to buy those credits...

Actually, it's the latter bit which is most worrying. Government policy has focused around using credits to incentivise the market. Which made perfect sense when they had a surplus (provided they were giving away less than they were saving, of course). Now that they're having to buy, that is looking a lot more expensive, and they'll have to find another way of pushing for change.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/17/2005 08:30:00 AM