Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Murray Ward on National Radio

Nine To Noon this morning had an interview [audio] with Murray Ward, the former head of the Ministry for the Environment's climate change office and one of New Zealand's negotiators on the Kyoto Protocol. It's an interesting and wide-ranging discussion, covering both the international situation and local policy response.

In talking about New Zealand's position, Ward makes the point that despite our 21.3% growth in gross emissions since 1990, we would be in an excellent position to comply domestically if we did only two things: limiting emissions growth from 2004, and reducing deforestation over 2008 - 2012. The latter particularly is the key - deforestation is projected to add 21 MTCO2-e to our Kyoto burden, and it could be as much as 40 MTCO2-e. At the same time, it is also the easiest to handle. The trees are already in the ground, and the problem is stopping people from cutting them down without replanting. The easiest way of doing this is to impose a deforestation liability to ensure that forest-owners pay the costs they are imposing on society (this can be combined with an economic incentive for afforestation - planting new trees - but it is the liability which is the key). As for the former, Ward thinks we really need to use renewable energy and prevent the construction of more fossil-fuelled power stations; a limited emissions trading system would be one way of doing this

On the demise of the carbon tax, Ward thinks the government utterly failed to talk about how the revenue raised would be recycled back into the economy to relieve equity effects and further reduce emissions - thus allowing the tax to be demonised as just another government revenue grab. As I've pointed out, there’s enormous potential here, and hopefully the government won't make the same mistake in future.


I/S, I vaguely remember reading recently that generators are claiming carbon credits for their wind farms that they then sell on the open market.

Is this the case to your knowledge?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/07/2006 12:46:00 PM

Pablo: not "claiming" - being given. It's called the Projects to Reduce Emissions program; more information here.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/07/2006 12:52:00 PM

So they get rewarded for the wind, but are not yet punished for the less carbon efficient stuff?

When I say not yet punished, I mean, everybody else is paying/will pay.

That hardly sounds...equitable?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/07/2006 01:55:00 PM

Pablo: well, theoretically they're "punished" by not getting the reward (it's called an "opportunity cost") - but I'd much rather have it work the other way round.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/07/2006 02:13:00 PM

That's the way it seemed when I first thought about it.


Posted by Anonymous : 11/07/2006 03:52:00 PM