Monday, December 10, 2018

Climate Change: Punching above our weight

New Zealanders are usually proud when New Zealand ranks highly at something when measured per capita. But one measurement of that nature which we shouldn't be proud of: we're one of the worst countries in the world for per-capita greenhouse gas emissions:

New Zealand accounts for a fraction of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, about 0.17 per cent in 2014.

But, on a per capita basis we have an out-sized carbon footprint, emitting 18 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per person, every year.

That makes New Zealand the 21st biggest per capita contributor to climate change in the world. Amongst the OECD (other rich nations which we benchmark ourselves against) we have the fifth highest per capita emissions.

The primary reason for this? Our outsized agricultural sector, which produces roughly half of our emissions (46% directly, plus a fair whack of transport and energy sector emissions for processing). But 95% of that is for export, so if it was scaled back to cater for only our domestic needs, our emissions would roughly halve - putting us somewhere in the middle of the EU pack.

we can also look at it as an internal distribution issue. Those agricultural emissions are produced by and for the benefit of the ~5% of kiwis who work in agriculture. And that tiny portion of the population emits as much as all the rest of us combined. At the moment, they don't pay a cent for that - we in the 95% carry the cost of their pollution. At the very least, they should pay their own way, rather than destroying the planet at our expense.