ETS report: wishy-washy and a waste of time

The ETS review committee has published its report [PDF here], and recommends that an all sectors, all gases emissions trading scheme should be the “primary economic mechanism” in the government’s response to climate change. However the report makes very little in the way of substantive recommendations about how the current ETS legislation should be amended. Agriculture should be included, and forestry given legislative certainty, but there’s no detail on how the current ETS timetable could be altered. The report’s main conclusions appear to echo climate change minister Nick Smith’s recent comments on the likely future course of climate policy — but effectively give him a free hand to do what he wants.

The majority report — supported by National and United Future — is accompanied by minority reports from Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party and ACT. Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party want tougher action, while ACT still denies the reality of climate change. The Maori Party and ACT would prefer a carbon tax to an ETS, but are otherwise on different planets. This leaves National trying to drum up support for amending legislation, but unable to rely on anyone other than Peter Dunne. Meanwhile, Labour is still offering an olive branch: they’ll support amending the current ETS, but not if it means huge taxpayer subsidies to big emitters or cripples forest planting.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

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A solemn warning on coral reefs

Australian scientist and coral reef expert John Veron reckons there’s a “great big gorilla in the cupboard” — advancing ocean acidification. It cleans out reefs, leaving them “horrible places – dead, empty, slime-covered.” He paints this grim picture in a lecture given to the Royal Society in London last month. It’s available on line and I have just watched it – twice. His seriousness and the weight of his concern are deeply impressive.  Veron warned that his talk would not be a happy one. Usually his talks on coral are fun. This one wouldn’t be, but “I’ve never given a more important talk in my life.” It was highly focused and informative, accompanied throughout by a range of illuminating pictures and graphs. I watched it carefully, anxious to fully understand its import, and have pulled out a rough summary of some of his major points.   

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A little bad marketing for the weekend…

Not a good look for a tourism minister who happens to be Prime Minister. An even worse look for a country where tourism is 18% of export earnings.

[H/T – The Standard]

Nitrous oxide no laughing matter for ozone layer

Nitrous oxide (N2O, aka laughing gas) apart from being a powerful greenhouse gas, 298 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2, is also the single most important ozone depleting gas being emitted by human activities. A paper published in this week’s ScienceXpress, Nitrous Oxide (N2O): the dominant ozone-depleting substance emitted in the 21st century, by Ravishankara, Daniel and Portman(*), shows that as the chlorofluorcarbons controlled by the Montreal Protocol have been phased out, atmospheric N2O has continued to increase. Here’s the abstract:

By comparing the ozone depletion potential-weighted anthropogenic emissions of N2O with those of other ozone depleting substances, ODSs, we show that N2O emission currently is the single most important ODS emission and is expected to remain the largest throughout the 21st century. N2O is unregulated by the Montreal Protocol. Limiting future N2O emissions would enhance the recovery of the ozone layer from its depleted state, and would also reduce the anthropogenic forcing of the climate system, representing a ‘win-win’ for both ozone and climate.

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Prescott: Plan B for Copenhagen failure?

PrescottJohn Prescott, whose activities in the lead-up to Copenhagen I drew attention to in an earlier post, continues to make waves in Guardian reports. Is he fighting on two fronts?

Yesterday he reiterated his basic position when he launched the campaign New Earth Deal, on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 

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