Thursday, December 19, 2019

Climate Change: The scale of failure

The government released its Fourth Biennial Report under the UNFCCC today, setting out our emissions reduction targets, policies, and emissions projections. The projections paint a dismal picture of failure: we are not on track to meet our 2030 target, and we will meet our 2020 one only by relying on laundered fraudulent "credits". James Shaw is trying to be upbeat about it, calling it a starting point and a baseline for assessing the impact of his Zero Carbon Act. Which is true, but at the same time a huge chunk of that failure is his fault, for selling out to the dairy industry, delaying their entry into the ETS and then giving them a 95% pollution subsidy - removing any incentive for them to cut emissions.

Helpfully, the report quantifies the scale of that failure for us, with a table estimate the emissions impact of each policy measure:

So, the ETS, which covers the non-agricultural half of our emissions, is expected to reduce emissions by ~9.5 million tons a year in 2030. Meanwhile, agriculture, the other half, is expected to reduce emissions by 95 kT / year - about 0.27% of their total, or about 1% as much as the rest of us. To compare it with other policies, EECA's Efficient Products Programme, which promotes LED lightbulbs and puts energy-star stickers on fridges (so, taking a small amount off the ~8% of emissions which result from electricity use) is expected to save 234 kT/yr in 2030 - or about two and a half times as much as our most polluting industry. So, farmers are expected to do less to help than you buying an LED lightbulb.

And its worse when you consider that that 50% of emissions is produced by, as National keeps saying, 23,000 farming families. Who are expected to do a hundred times less than the rest of us, while being subsidised by us forever.

As I've said before, you cannot compromise with physics. If we are to achieve meaningful emissions reductions, let alone the ones necessary for human survival, farmers must do their part. And that means not just ending dairy growth, but a massive reduction in the herd. Anything less, and we are simply not going to be able to solve this.