Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Climate Change: The sell-out

Stuff reports that the government has finally made up its mind on the Zero Carbon Act. Unfortunately, the news isn't good:

The government is close to announcing a deal on its contentious climate change legislation, striking a deal over agricultural emissions.

Stuff understands Climate Change Minister James Shaw and NZ First have negotiated a "split gas" target, which would see methane treated differently from other long-lived gases, like carbon.


NZ First was worried its farming base would be unfairly disadvantaged by ambitious targets. It's understood the party's chief of staff Jon Johansson played an instrumental role in the compromise.

I guess farmers don't have kids. Because the only reason to have a separate target is if you want to abandon the government's promise of net zero for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in favour of something slacker (e.g. giving farmers a few more decades to reach net zero, or even a permanent right to pollute). But with temperatures rising, methane is not something we can afford to be slack on. Globally, concentrations are spiking, threatening our ability to meet Paris targets. And if we fail to meet those targets, your house gets flooded and your kids burn. It is that fucking simple.

Its also completely wrongheaded. Yes, methane is a short-lived gas. It is also much more powerful than carbon dioxide - 86 times more powerful over a twenty year timescale. If we want to halt warming quickly (and we need to), rapidly reducing methane emissions is a highly effective way of doing it - it has immediate effects, which will also limit feedback in the global climate system. So rather than giving farmers weak targets, we should be giving them tougher ones, driving them to rapidly reduce herd sizes and hence methane emissions. Instead, we're going to let those polluters destroy the world for their own private profit. Heckuva job the Greens are doing. I'm so glad they're in government and able to change things rather than outside...

Oh, and meanwhile, Labour is about to approve another offshore drilling extension. I guess their "ban" was just a lie, a shitty spin job to give the appearance of change while business-as-usual continued. But we can no longer afford business-as-usual, and there's absolutely no point exploring for fossil fuels we can never burn. The sooner the fossil fuel industry is forced to acknowledge that, the better off we will all be.

These two data points make it clear: this government is not going to deliver effective action on climate change. Instead, it will commit us to failure for decades to come. Politics has failed. If we want to save the world, we need to use activism and disruption instead.