Fact checking Finlay

Finlay MacDonald, former editor of the New Zealand Listener, uses his Sunday Star Times column to cast a few stones at carbon trading. He’s sceptical about business “going green

Polar opposites

Interesting reading: on the one hand, Christopher, Lord Monckton, Britain’s most famous climate crank, is exposed as, well, something of a crank in a profile in The Observer, while James Lovelock comes on a bit strong in the Times Online.


‘Well,’ he says, breezily, ‘for a few years, the temperature will continue to rise, but nowhere near as fast as the alarmists would wish it to rise. Then solar physicists suggest that in the next solar cycle but one, and a solar cycle is about 10.6 years, there will be a considerable cooling of the Sun. And the panic will disappear.’ Hey presto.


If you want to get some idea of what much of the Earth might look like in 50 years’ time then, says James Lovelock, get hold of a powerful telescope or log onto Nasa’s Mars website. That arid, empty, lifeless landscape is, he believes, how most of Earth’s equatorial lands will be looking by 2050. A few decades later and that same uninhabitable desert will have extended into Spain, Italy, Australia and much of the southern United States. “We are on the edge of the greatest die-off humanity has ever seen,â€? said Lovelock. “We will be lucky if 20% of us survive what is coming. We should be scared stiff.â€?

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair‘s now annual Green Issue includes an excellent profile of Myron Ebell, the man behind the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s sceptical effluvia. Worth reading if only for the phrase:

Many of the skeptics are curmudgeons: old, bald, and bitter. But not Myron Ebell.

Old, bald and bitter. Who can they mean…?

NZ emissions increase

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.8% to 77.2m tonnes CO2e in 2005, mainly due to an increase in the proportion of thermal power generation in a dry year for hydro, according to the Ministry For The Environment. Details here, and NZ Herald story here.

The Herald points out the obvious:

In 2005 emissions were 24.7 per cent above the levels of 1990, and Treasury has estimated that at the end of February New Zealand’s liability under Kyoto was $567 million. The National Party claims the figure is actually closer to $1.8 billion.

The figures don’t (yet) include any information on how our carbon sinks performed, or any projection for the 2008-2012 Kyoto commitment period, when we either meet our target (100 percent of 1990 emissions) or buy credits. The government estimated in 2005 that we’ll overshoot our target by 36.2m tonnes over the five years. With the current EU trading price at about $37 per tonne, the cost of covering those emissions would be $1.34bn. Not quite what National (and the Greens, to be fair) were suggesting, but still a lot more than the government is admitting to.

IPPC mitigation report released

The Summary for Policymakers of the IPPC’s Working Group 3 Report is now available from the IPCC web site. It says we have to take early action, but that the cost is affordable. Reports at the BBC, Reuters, Guardian (UK) and New Scientist. More from me when I’ve had time to read it.
Link to PDFs: WG3 SPM, WG2 SPM, WG1 SPM. Full WG1 report (index of pdfs).

Global carbon trading triples to US$30bn

The World Bank reports that global trading in carbon credits tripled last year to US$30bn, with the European market accounting for $25bn. $5bn was spent on emissions reductions in developing countries. The booming market, and tightening supply of credits in the European market prompts the Independent (UK) to caution that demand might exceed supply by the end of the Kyoto commitment period in 2012, forcing prices up. Credits are currently trading around E20 (NZ$37).