Monday, July 17, 2006

Climate Change: the latest inventory

The Climate Change Office quietly released its latest inventory report on Friday. It's been in preparation since April, and is based on 2004 figures. The headline data can be seen in the graph below (stolen from p. 21 of the report):

Emissions dropped slightly last year, but are still well above the 1990 baseline. And the drop itself seems to be mainly due to seasonal fluctuations in electricity generation, rather than any long-term change. In other words, no worse - but no real progress either.

The next interesting data will be the projected balance of units, which is due out in the next month or so. From what David Parker was saying to the Local Government and Environment Committee last month [PDF], the balance is "volatile", and depends a lot on what assumptions are made about the forestry sector (assumptions the government has consistently been very bad at making; even in the 90's they were simply taking last years plantings and projecting it out to 2020, with no allowance made for the ups and downs of the international forestry market). But they also depend on oil prices, and there's just a slight hint there that the estimates they make there will begin to reflect reality far more strongly than they have in the past. This will probably make the figures look better, but serious policy will still be needed, and the government just isn't providing it at the moment.