How not to negotiate #1

targetNew Zealand’s commitment to piffling and highly conditional emissions targets appears to have been weakened even further by chief negotiator Adrian Macey’s admission in an interview with Point Carbon that if the conditions aren’t met:

“…we reserve the right to drop (our target) below 10 per cent.”

As Geoff Key of Greenpeace notes, this is like holding the world to ransom with a pop gun:

Point Carbon asked Ambassador Macey about why New Zealand hasn’t made a unilateral pledge. For comparison, the European Union has pledged to reduce emissions to 20% below 1990 levels no matter what the rest of the world does and has written this into law. In reply Adrian Macey said, possibly without realising the irony of the statement, “We didn’t think there was any point in setting a low-ambition figure.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the world thinks that’s exactly what we’ve got. I can only hope that John Key was paying attention at the UN climate conference last week and will return home ready to take firmer action.

But I’m not holding my breath.

23 thoughts on “How not to negotiate #1”

  1. Here’s a fixed URL.
    [Oops… Thanks Sam, now fixed.]

    Nick Smith said that the government has agreed to a 2°C rise limit – which hopefully should mean that the 3% pa reduction now looking necessary should fit right in, yeah?

    If only they’d just create the conditions to make it profitable (ie open market) and let entrepreneurs do the rest…

  2. John Key’s speech at the UN started off bravely on climate change. This was what I saw on TV news, and it sounded as if he had had a change of heart in New York. I didn’t know whether to be cheered or to sink deeper into cycnicism:

    “Distinguished representatives, the major focus of the General Assembly this year must be the challenge of climate change.

    “Climate change demands innovation and a global response. The world cannot afford to contemplate failure at Copenhagen. Political leadership is needed, and it is on display.”

    I ferreted out the text of his speech to see whether this was for real. But it was all downhill from there. He gradually worked his way down to the real position of the NZ government, that we are not going to risk anything that looks like changing the economy as we know it.

    First step, start a cautionary move down to the individual case:

    “All countries must take action that reflects our individual circumstances, responsibilities and capabilities.

    Second step, keep environmental imperatives in an economic perspective:

    “For our part, New Zealand is committed to securing a durable and meaningful agreement on climate change. An agreement that is both environmentally effective and economically efficient.”

    Third step, introduce that ever so useful concept, balance:

    “Our challenge is to find a way to balance growth in agricultural production with the need to reduce emissions and reach climate change targets.”

    In spite of the ringing tones of his opening I see little there ultimately to suggest that Key will return home ready to instruct our negotiators to offer more.

  3. Just moving from another thread…

    Discussion: what kind of an issue is climate policy for New Zealand? Is it an environmental issue? Currently the portfolio is tied in with the Minister for the Environment and policy is written by MfE.

    My proposition: It is a MFAT issue.

    We take action to protect foreign affairs and trade. That is the only benefit we can get.

    Agree in principle with your sentiments R2D2 but would probably put it higher than ‘merely’ MFAT. As you say the really big issue is how our actions impact on our trade, and other external financial flows. I think that there are two sides to this:
    1. Direct trade related – the cost / benefits of paying for carbon credits or of including the costs in the production. My guess would be that countries that don’t have adequate carbon costings included in their economies will start to see carbon tariffs placed on their exports – there’s no way nationally based carbon reduction schemes can work otherwise. So even though any CO2 reductions we make are always going to be minor as a percentage of the world’s total (as is our population and our economy), the effect of them on our economy in both cost and benefit is obviously going to be large.

    2. Indirect – leverage and the ability to negotiate favourable trade and carbon-related international agreements. The big issue here for NZ is the place of our farming and forestry. We are unique in being part of the developed world (ie high historic and present CO2 emissions) but with relatively small industrial-based emissions. Also our farming is relatively low in added emissions (ie apart from the biological based emissions). Ideally, our negotiators would focus on ensuring that future carbon treaties are favourable to our unique situation as far as that is possible. To ensure that the climate legislation we enact must provide sufficient credibility so that we are taken seriously in the negotiations. My worry is that if we are seen to be not pulling our weight or worse to be free-loading then the negotiators will not have sufficient leverage to convince other countries to support our positions.

    So to get back to the topic of this thread, our negotiators are in some sense hamstrung by the present govts. ETS and the philosophical reasoning underpinning it.

    The ETS also has domestic implications that only indirectly impact on the external position as above – i.e. it provides a carbon pricing mechanism that facilitates a shift in the economy towards low-carbon activities and away from high-carbon activities. This obviously has an effect on external trade (ie potential reduction in oil imports and potential implications on acceptability of our products overseas) but also has a direct impact on investment decisions within this economy – e.g. energy / transportation infrastructure, types of industrial development, land use, etc. Depending on how the ETS is structured, it will promote quite different kinds of future development in NZ.

    So yes, to a large extent there are significant external implications, but there are v. large implications for the future development of NZ itself – depending on whether or not carbon inputs are fully accounted for or left out, NZ could look very different in 25 years time.

    Obviously if your vision of the future 25 years is that NZ will continue much the same as today – i.e. relying on high carbon based industries and economic activities – then your negotiating position in respect of an international carbon reduction treaty is rather constrained… In effect all you can do is filibuster and hope that because we’re so small in the scheme of things we’ll just slip under the radar of the big players and will be able to carry on business as usual with only a minor cost in terms of ‘annual carbon fees’.

  4. Bryan Walker, every word in John Key’s speech about climate change is a lie. Don’t be optimistic about this man or his peers, you’re only setting yourself up for great disappointment.

    This really upsets me.

    Remember when New Zealand had an economy that depended on free and easy exports to the UK. And then things shifted rapidly. We’re setting ourselves up to be on the wrong side of the same kind of economic shift. Only this one is predictable.

  5. George, I realise it is probably silly to entertain any optimism about John Key’s and his government’s approach to climate change. They seem firmly set in a number of ruts which prevent them from altering course. Going so far as to call them liars is a step I find difficult. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has taken on board the science of climate change would then simply lie about it. I therefore tend to assume that they can’t summon up the intellectual rigour to look the facts in the face, but engage in a communal avoidance of that reality, encouraged by the company they belong to. They say they accept the science, but they don’t fully. Their presuppositions won’t let them.

    It’s a sad spectacle, with frightening consequences for society, but I can’t think John Key et al are deliberately choosing to lead us to destruction. They just don’t understand what they are doing. Something like that is how I see it.

  6. After the shattering of Briffa’s Hockey Stick this week ALL proposed GW measures should be at worst be delayed, totally scrapped is better. The science is a LIE. The beleivers on this site will deny this of course as it does not fit their agandas, funding, socialising the world and controlling what people can do. I have always said that this was never science, the conclusion was pre determined and data was found to ‘prove’ the conclusion. This was never how I did science, I always needed research to draw the conclusion, not vice versa.

    1. What shattering would that be? The one where people thought McIntyre had said one thing, but it turned out he really meant something else, and there is nothing wrong with the Yamal chronology after all.

      And since when did it become Briffa’s Hockey Stick, anyway? I thought it was Mann’s Hockey Stick that you lot objected to – and the Yamal chronology isn’t even in the MBH98 (or MBH99) Hockey Stick.

      So in fact, you saying that “the science is a LIE” is the real lie. Scurrilous accusations that have no basis in fact have got nothing to do with science.

    2. “After the shattering of Briffa’s Hockey Stick this week ALL proposed GW measures should be at worst be delayed, totally scrapped is better.” – Peter Bickle

      Deniers sure are stupid alright. I know, I know, that’s a given, but it’s uber stupid to suggest that all climate science rests upon a dozen trees in Siberia.

      This was never how I did science – Peter Bickle.

      You did science???.

    1. Well done you are a biochemist and have done work for a pharma company.

      What courses have you taken that are relevant to climate science and what journals do you follow (publish in) that are on climate science?

      1. Here we go again, everyone is expected to be worried about global warming, willing to sacrifice a good chunk of their income for it, but only those who have published articles on climate science are aloud to have an opinion. The rest of us should fall in line and keep quiet.

        1. It’s simple enough. If you want to comment on the detail of the science being done, you should first do some study on the subject. Here’s an analogy. It’s perfectly appropriate for me to have an opinion about how the NZ health system should be structured, because that is not purely a medical matter, but I should not attempt to tell doctors what treatments they should use — that’s a matter where expertise trumps gut feel. So it is with the detail of earth system science. Go right ahead and have an opinion about how we address the problem, but if you’re going to start questioning the diagnosis, you better have some education on the subject. And that’s why, incidentally, the likes of Bob Carter and Chris de Freitas are infinitely more dangerous that the likes of Peter Bickle…

          1. OK, extending the analogy, if a study stated that there was a link between activity x and disease y would a non-scientist have the right to read the study and critically evaluate it in their own mind, and then to read counter studies and make there own mind up if they cease activity x from there own life?

            Take the folate in bread case as a real life example, perhaps the Govt should have allowed bread makers that wished to infuse bread with folate to do so (without making it mandatory) and let consumers make up there minds on the merits rather than taking an all or nothing approach.

            Some Governments and people like you seem to think ordinary people can’t think for themselves and need to be told what to do from cradle to grave (ps I would have bought the non-folate bread).

            1. If you want to read up on that sort of issue and make a purely personal decision, that’s fine. But if you want to affect policy on the subject, then your view — while informed — can’t be equivalent to expert judgement. Governments need to rely on the best available information, the evidence, and have to get that from experts, not the public, however informed they may be.

              With respect to climate policy, it’s interesting to note that the provision of misinformation about the reality of climate change and the underlying science has been central to the campaign to do nothing or as little as possible. That’s what’s going on with the latest tree ring brouhaha… Whatever the importance of the underlying matter, the misinformation machine is in full cry — as Peter’s first comment shows!

            2. AGW is not going to be solved by individual consumers deciding whether or not they believe in it, so your analogy is inappropriate.

              This is more like drinking and driving – you may very well believe that it is okay to drink and drive, but the government has decided, on the basis of expert advice, that it should not be allowed. Therefore, for the common good, you are not allowed to drink and drive. If you base your personal decision on whether to drink and drive on what Jeremy Clarkson says, then you deserve to end upside down in a ditch.

        2. It was Bickle that was arguing from authority.

          I would be quite happy to give weight to a non scientist on some part of the climate science once they have demonstrated a solid grasp of the principles involved, knowledge of the area they are commenting on and a clearly structured argument.

          I don’t see this sort of analysis coming from Bickle, R2 et al.

  7. “I did science” – Peter Bickle.

    “They are implicated in the Briffa HS as they used the same data & there was not great Peer Review” – Peter Bickle.

    Again talking out of your backside. Plenty of information on that link, previous discussions also on paleoclimate. It is not purely an exercise in statistics as Mc Fraudit seems to think, but he even gets that arse about face. Apart from the fact that Mann’s hockey stick is fine (excluding the fantasyland denialosphere), there are numerous studies that don’t use tree-ring data, and they also shows hockey sticks.

    You don’t want to read or understand then fine, but repeat your denialist crap here and it will attract rebuttal.

    Who knows, maybe you are Peter Bickle, maybe not. Maybe he’s your neighbour or relative, whatever the case you sure don’t understand much about climate.

  8. Dapple – I enjoyed the bitchslap opportunity you gave me. I am who I say I am, so stop being a plonker and accusing me of being someone else.

    I am free to state my mind, at least I do not live under a false name.

  9. “Dapple – I enjoyed the bitchslap opportunity you gave me” – Peter Bickle

    Good, now after slapping yourself, remember anyone on the internet can claim to be who, or what ever they are. I see it all the time from deniers ” I’m a rocket scientist, no joke!” or “I have x number of years study in the Earth sciences blah, blah, blah.” The same self proclaimed experts then promptly negate all claims of scientific expertise, by producing one denier canard after another. Much like you have done.

    You’ll have to excuse me if I’m unimpressed with who you allege to be and any such qualifications you claim to have. Even if true, they’re pointless if you comment on climate and know nothing about even the basics.

  10. Dapple – go read the Yamal data and make an opioion for yourself. You probably don’t have a science background, you never post as yourself, probably beyond you to make an informed opinion.

    Also. you confuse me with someone who gives a fuck if you don’t think that I am who I am.

    1. Did you look at the Yamal data, Peter, or did you just repeat the libellous accusations you read elsewhere?

      Tell us, then, what are the objective reasons that McIntyre had for removing the 12 cores he doesn’t like? How does he account for the fact that the 34 cores he substituted do not appear to be temperature-limited, and are therefore unsuitable as temperature proxies?

  11. “Also. you confuse me with someone who gives a fuck if you don’t think that I am who I am.” – Peter Bickle.

    Of course you’re Peter Bickle, you’ve commented so a few times now. It must be true (snicker).

    “probably beyond you to make an informed opinion.” – Peter Bickle.

    So “Peter” thinks repeating denier canards in parrot like fashion is an informed opinion?.

    “After the shattering of Briffa’s Hockey Stick this week ALL proposed GW measures should be at worst be delayed, totally scrapped is better” – Peter Bickle.

    Yeah, that’s some great scientific deduction there, some former fossil fuel stooge who now runs a denier blog, screams fraud, and now all of climate science is suddenly invalidated. Do the words “thick” “as” and “pigshit” sound familiar to you “Peter”?. Hint: it’s you!.

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