Generation Zero’s NZ speaking tour asks: What’s the holdup?

by Gareth on July 19, 2013

Youth-led climate campaigners Generation Zero have just finished the first week of their nationwide What’s The Holdup? speaking tour1 — an attempt to start a national conversation about action to reduce emissions. Here’s what the group has to say about the tour:

In between extreme weather and rising oil prices, countries around the world are making a shift towards renewable energy – but New Zealand is lagging behind. Tackling climate change for many Kiwis feels like an impossible task. But together, we can create the movement to change this and bring forth a thriving New Zealand we are proud to hand on to future generations.

The facts say that it’s 100% Possible to move beyond fossil fuels – but we need leadership at every level, from entrepreneurs and business leaders, from communities, and from the politicians we elect.

Generation Zero will initiate a conversation with the country. New Zealanders young and old are invited to hear young people and experts talk about the solutions to climate change, and what each one of us can do to make a difference.

It’s 100% possible to create a thriving New Zealand beyond fossil fuels. So what’s the holdup?

Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the tour:

  • Wellington – Monday 22nd July, Ilot Theatre, Town Hall 111 Wakefield Street
  • Palmerston North – Tuesday 23rd July, Massey Uni, Ag Hort 1 Lecture Theatre
  • Wanganui – Wednesday 24th July, Wanganui Museum, Davis Theatre
  • Havelock North – Thursday 25th July, Havelock North High School Auditorium
  • Tauranga – Tuesday 30th July, Bongard Centre, lecture theatre 104, the Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Rd
  • Hamilton – Tuesday 30th July, Waikato University Lecture Theatre S1.04
  • Thames – Wednesday 31st July, Life Equip Church, 507 MacKay St
  • Whangarei – Thursday 1st August, Whangarei Girls High School theatre
  • Auckland – Monday August 5th, Auckland Uni Engineering building, room 401
  • Waiheke – Tuesday August 6th, venue Onetangi Community Hall

All events start at 7pm. For more information, sign up here.

  1. Apologies for not posting in time to promote this week’s South Island events. []

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Painting July 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Must try to get along to the Whangarei event.

John ONeill July 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Here are figures for the electricity consumption, as opposed to production, of 27 EU countries, Croatia, Sweden and Switzerland for 2012.
http://www.reliable-disclosure.org/static/media/docs/RE-DISS_2012_Residual_Mix_Results_v1_0.pdf
The five countries with the lowest carbon dioxide per kilowatt/hour consumed are Switzerland, Sweden, France, Slovakia, and Belgium. They all get half or more of their electricity from nuclear power.
The countries which make the most carbon dioxide to get their power are Estonia, Poland, Greece – and Germany. Germany and France are by far the biggest producers of electricity in western Europe, but Germany’s CO2 emissions for power production are about six and a half times higher than France’s. So why is Germany regarded as a shining success to be emulated?

Thomas July 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

John, I am not sure why the figures quoted in the link you posted have Germany at 3% of Renewable energy generation. This is way of the mark. The actual figures are in the > 20% range. Wikipedia compiles the advance of renewable energy in Germany to be at 22.9% in 2013.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Germany
Also:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/crossing-the-20-percent-mark-green-energy-use-jumps-in-germany-a-783314.html

John ONeill July 21, 2013 at 10:43 pm

My bad, while for some of the countries listed the ‘residual mix’ made up 99 or 100 percent of consumption, for Germany it was only 69%. I knew Germany exports a lot of its windpower, but it also imports a lot of hydro from Switzerland and Norway, so renewable electricity consumed is actually much higher than the 22 percent or so of production. ( Of course, this leads to Norway, with 99 percent hydro production, getting most of the power it actually consumes from fossils and atoms.)
Some of the generation billed as ‘renewable’ is a bit suspect, burning rubbish for example-
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/europe/oslo-copes-with-shortage-of-garbage-it-turns-into-energy.html?_r=0
and burning wood pellets, which is the destination of half the wood milled in Germany, will only get anywhere near carbon neutrality as the next generation of trees reach maturity. Iceland also has surprisingly high emissions, presumably from geothermal.
The CO2/kwhr figures I had meant to provide are here-
http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/co2-electricity-g-per-kwh
Unfortunately they’re a bit out of date. Lithuania used to get about three quarters of its electricity from the Ignalina nuclear plant, and had one of the lowest generation emission profiles in Europe, but since 2009 they’ve been forced to close the plant, which used to make about 75% of the country’s power, as a condition of entry to the European Union.

Thomas July 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Yes, this ‘residual mix’ metric is confusing at best.

mustakissa July 25, 2013 at 2:48 am

Germany and France are by far the biggest producers of electricity in western Europe, but Germany’s CO2 emissions for power production are about six and a half times higher than France’s. So why is Germany regarded as a shining success to be emulated?

France is indeed a very special case — no other OECD country has come remotely as far. But before emulating France, it would be good to study the very special circumstances there, like the country being probably the most centralized power bureaucracy in the Western world, where the civilian and military nuclear programmes were joined at the hip and both run Soviet style from La Ville Lumière — except for the test explosions (perfectly safe of course!) outsourced to ‘overseas provinces’ almost two Earth radii away. And I hardly think democratically minded people would be swayed by such ‘features’ as having your secret service liquidate bothersome environmental activists.

John ONeill July 26, 2013 at 1:25 am

France is not a total outlier. Sweden and Switzerland have much more hydro available for their size, but like France they get their baseload from nuclear power, most of the rest from hydro, and as a result have much lower emissions than Germany or Denmark, the poster boys for wind and solar. It’s important to look at the technology and its results, without being too distracted by the political history. All three countries developed nuclear power after the 1973 oil shock, simply because oil was too expensive and they had little coal. New Zealand might have done the same, but instead they found the Maui gas field and the coal at Huntly. The planning team at the New Zealand Electricity Department concluded that the country wouldn’t need nuclear power until the end of the century. Well here we are now, most of the Maui gas has been added to the atmosphere, and they’re talking about fracking for more. Meanwhile France, Sweden and Switzerland have consistently been putting out less CO2 than us for the last thirty years. Sweden had a referendum which gave the electorate three different choices on nuclear- get rid of it straight away, gradually, or when the current plants reach retirement. Now they’ve decided, without a referendum, to keep them and build more when needed.
Austria, like Switzerland and New Zealand, gets about half its power from hydro. After the oil embargo in 1973, they built a nuclear power plant about the size of Huntly, with more planned. A major anti-nuclear campaign led to a referendum, which came out 50.4% against. The completed nuclear plant was closed , and a solar plant built on the site to general rejoicing. It put out about 2 megawatts on a good day, at noon. Two coal plants, putting out 750 megawatts, were built just down the road. Meanwhile, Switzerland had a referendum on nuclear at about the same time, which came out about 51% for. If you peruse this chart you will see that since then Swiss emissions per head have gone down and Austrian ones have gone up. hhttp://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=wb-wdi&met=en_atm_co2e_pc&idim=country:AUS&dl=en&hl=en&q=australia+co2+emiss

John ONeill July 26, 2013 at 2:23 am
mustakissa July 26, 2013 at 6:45 am

Actually according to OECD stats for 2012, both Sweden and Switzerland have 40% nuclear, unremarkable against France’s 77.8% and the OECD average of 20.7%. Even such bastions of well-functioning democracy like Belgium and Slovakia clock in over 50%.

But your point about those referenda is well taken: those percentages (49.6, 51) don’t exactly point to broad multi-partisan acceptance and social licence, now do they? Building nuclear requires the subversion of at least the spirit of democracy. Too high a price for me.

John ONeill July 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm

It won’t matter whether we’re democracies, dictatorships, or slave societies if, as gareth’s post above suggests, we fire the clathrate gun and wipe out our species. And if enough people realize that, the particular kind of ‘-ocracy’ they’re in will be immaterial: they’ll back any programme that gives them a fighting chance. At the moment, chances are you could scrape together a 50% majority in many countries that thought climate change was a hoax, or at least that action on it was premature. By your reasoning, that would mean any measures to avert catastrophe required the ‘subversion of the spirit of democracy.’ I reckon it just needs a bit more education of the peasants.

mustakissa July 27, 2013 at 6:34 am

Well the nuke people have been teaching the peasants for over half a century now, but they just don’t want to learn… I wonder why. An issue of trust, perhaps?

Yes, we need a programme that stands a fighting chance. Not just technically but politically. Renewables hold that promise: nobody is actually afraid of them (aka social license), wind turbine syndrome nonsense notwithstanding.

…and yes, a 50% majority against climate change mitigation would have to be ‘scraped together’, using techniques you know best.

John ONeill July 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm

‘Yes, we need a programme that stands a fighting chance. Not just technically but politically. Renewables hold that promise:’
Politically? in some places, for now. Technically? Apart from hydro, not so far.
http://canadianenergyissues.com/2013/07/16/ontario-electricity-who-pays-the-rent/

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