Friday, May 16, 2008

Climate change: NZ's net position

The government has released its Net Position Report 2008: Projected balance of emissions units during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol [PDF], which it recently cited as justification for its cowardly backdown on the ETS. On reading it, some of my initial fears have been confirmed - the numbers used to justify pulling transport from the ETS assume that transport is part of the ETS, while the methodological improvements in forestry are unexplained. However it also explains some of the other assumptions which makes them seem a lot less dodgy. In particular:

  • The "methodological improvement" to transport emissions projection is using more realistic assumptions (US$100 / bbl rather than US$60/bbl). As a result, they're now projecting transport emissions to basically flatline during CP1, which seems reasonable (they mention 2007 petrol usage data which shows that transport emissions actually dropped between 2006 and 2007, solely as a result of high oil prices). Of course, with oil currently hovering around $125/bbl and setting a new record every day, this still seems low. But its not as obscenely wrong as previously.
  • The current drought is incorporated into agricultural emissions because it is expected to result in substantially fewer sheep being around next year, so that is a real reduction. On the down side, they're projecting more and dirtier cows, producing 2.17 TCO2-e / yr rather than 2.05. Multiply that by the expected 6.06 million dairy cows, and we're looking at 0.72MTCO2-e / yr just from the dairy sector alone. And thanks to the government's continued pandering to farmers, you and I will be paying for that increase in pollution.
And back on the bad news front: the reduction in deforestation emissions is predicated on the ETS as it stood pre-backdown, and therefore on forest-owners having someone to sell credits to. With transport's entry delayed, then prices will be lower, which will probably see more deforestation. So those numbers will probably get worse, unless the government jiggles the electricity sectors allocation to compensate.