Monday, November 01, 2021

Climate Change: Spin and bullshit

Yesterday Climate Change Minister James Shaw unveiled a new climate change target at COP26 in Glasgow: we're now planning to cut emissions by 50% by 2030! Except that when you actually look into the numbers, it turns out to be the usual accounting tricks:

A 50 percent reduction sounds good, and it is a significant improvement on our current NDC. But it is not as good as it sounds. If we exactly meet this target in 2030 then, based on our calculations, New Zealand’s net emissions will only have decreased from 57.1 Mt CO2-e in 2005 to 44.7 Mt CO2-e (that is, a decrease of 21.8%).

The reason for this disconnect between the headline figure and the actual effect on emissions is that New Zealand has chosen two accounting methodologies for expressing our NDC which allow for a headline number which sounds much more ambitious than it really is.

The first technique is to express our NDC in gross-net terms. That is, the NDC sets a target for net emissions in 2030, but the target number is calculated by applying the percentage reduction to gross emissions in 2005.

They're also using their funny "target accounting", rather than the internationally accepted and comparable UNFCCC inventory accounting, which inflates things even further. And even then, they're still planning on "meeting" more than two thirds of the target by buying credits from overseas (which, based on past experience, will turn out to be pure fraud). And the reason they're doing that is a refusal to confront the dairy industry and force it to reduce its emissions like the rest of us.

And that's Jacinda's "nuclear-free moment": spin and PR and funny accounting. Not the honest, ambitious government we hoped for and need. We deserve better than this. The planet deserves better than this. But we are clearly not going to get real climate action under this chickenshit government.