Monday, April 08, 2024

Climate Change: Bad faith from National

One of the weird features of the Zero Carbon Act was its split-gas targets, which separated methane, produced overwhelmingly by farmers, from carbon dioxide produced by the rest of us. This lower target for methane was another effective subsidy to the dairy industry, and was the result of a compromise to get bipartisan support for the law. Part of that compromise was a statutory review of the methane target, to be conducted this year. The first findings of that review will be released later today, but they will have been shared with the government under the "no surprises" policy. And it is clear that the government does not like them, because they have just announced their own "independent" review, premised on farmer/denier "no net warming" bullshit. Which means it will be a strapped chicken review by National / farmer / denier stooges, aimed at weakening the already weak methane target and giving farmers even more of a free ride (while the rest of us continue to pay for everything).

Just to make this even clearer, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has already looked at this bullshit. Their finding was that holding New Zealand’s methane emissions steady at current levels - i.e. letting farmers do nothing - "would not be enough to avoid additional global warming". There's also a big question of "additional from when"? Farmers clearly want it to be from now (or maybe even later). But if you think the level of warming now - and by implication, the level of flooding, droughts, and cyclones - is tolerable, I have some more glue for you to sniff.

So, this is a terrible idea, National dropping the mask to show that they were climate deniers all along. What can we do about it? Well, as pointed out earlier, the weak methane target was the result of a compromise. By breaking that compromise, and revealing their bad faith, National opens up space for future governments not just to reverse what they do, but to strengthen efforts on methane. What that looks like in practice is bringing methane fully within the 2050 net-zero target, measuring its impact using GWP20 rather than GWP100 (making it "cost" more), and bring its primary emitters - farmers - fully within the ETS, with no subsidies, so they are forced to pay their own way for once rather than being supported financially and environmentally by the rest of us. It also means ruling out any future "compromises" with National, on this issue, or any other. They've shown they can't be trusted, on this or anything. It's time we stopped pretending they're anything other than treacherous, murderous arseholes.