Monday, September 23, 2019

Climate Change: We must do more

Like many people, my submission on the Zero Carbon Bill urged more ambitious targets. And if the select committee was in any doubt, they're needed:

An assessment backed by the world’s major climate science bodies has found commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions must be at least tripled and increased by up to fivefold if the world is to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The report, launched as leaders gather at a UN climate action summit in New York on Monday, says current plans would lead to a rise in average global temperatures of between 2.9C and 3.4C by 2100, a shift likely to bring catastrophic change across the globe.

Coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation, the United in Science report says it is still possible to reduce the gap and keep global heating to a safe level, but it would require an urgent shift in commitments and action.

In other words, we must cut deeper and sooner than the slack timetable set by the bill. Developed nations need to end coal use by 2030 (the majority world gets another decade). With the shift in energy prices, that looks perfectly doable, even profitable, but we need to push it along. In New Zealand, it means setting a clear end-date on coal and gas, both extraction and use, while pushing industry to use electricity rather than combustion for heat. And it means setting a target pathway, and so an ETS pathway, which will provide clear incentives for that to happen, and removing the roadblocks which are preventing that shift (chiefly the ETS price cap, but also the ban on considering climate change in the RMA). And we need to do it now.

And if the government is thinking of dragging its feet, hopefully the climate strike on Friday will help focus their minds.