dunne.jpgAccording to Carbon News (also at Scoop), the extension of the deadline for submissions to the ETS Review committee last week came at the request of major emitters who feared that committee chair Peter Dunne’s refusal to listen to arguments about climate science would mean their views would be ignored.

Sources say that the Greenhouse Policy Coalition – whose members include New Zealand Aluminium Smelters, New Zealand Steel, Fonterra, the Coal Association, Carter Holt Harvey, Norske Skog Tasman, Winstone Pulp, Pan Pacific Forest Products, SCA Hygiene, Business New Zealand, Solid Energy and Methanex – realised that it was in danger of not being heard because its submission failed to meet Dunne’s criteria.

The organisation asked for more time to come up with an acceptable submission, and it is understood that several members of the coalition then also asked for extensions. (Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly has confirmed to Carbon News that his organisation asked for more time).

The clear inference is that the GPC and its members had prepared submissions that included attempts to call the basic science of global warming into doubt — or would at the very least fall foul of Dunne’s insistence that he would not hear arguments from “groups wanting to re-litigate the science of climate change”. Some of New Zealand’s largest corporates were prepared to stand up in front of the review committee and argue — what? That the world’s cooling? That the risks are overstated? That CO2 is not a greenhouse gas? The intellectual dishonesty of a group apparently prepared to line up with the cranks and argue black is white in order to defend its narrow economic interests beggars belief.

Meanwhile, lest the Greenhouse Policy Coalition forget the reason why emissions reductions are important and urgent, a prominent climate scientist not called Hansen has warned that climate change is proceeding faster than projected in the IPCC’s Fourth Report [BBC, Reuters]. Chris Field, a professor of biology and of earth system science at Stanford, and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference last week that recent studies showed that:

…in a business-as-usual world, higher temperatures could ignite tropical forests and melt the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gas that could raise global temperatures even more—a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control by the end of the century.

Field also considers that aggressive action to reduce emissions brings multiple benefits:

“What have we learned since the fourth assessment? We now know that, without effective action, climate change is going to be larger and more difficult to deal with than we thought. If you look at the set of things that we can do as a society, taking aggressive action on climate seems like one that has the best possibility of a win-win. It can stimulate the economy, allow us to address critical environmental problems, and insure that we leave a sustainable world for our children and grandchildren. Somehow we have to find a way to kick the process into high gear. We really have very little time.”

That should be required reading for the CEOs of the companies that fund the Greenhouse Policy Coalition. Unless, of course, they define their economic interests as more important than the survival of our civilisation.

[Roxy Music]

15 thoughts on “Re-Make/Re-Model”

  1. OK, so while it’s a relief that Dunne isn’t going to hear a bunch of sceptics trot out the usual cherry-picked arguments, the question remains: how will he deal with the point in the Terms of Reference which says:

    “identify the central/benchmark projections which are being used as the motivation for international agreements to combat climate change; and consider the uncertainties and risks surrounding these projections” ??

    Doesn’t this actually open up a discussion about the models?

  2. As I’ve argued before (and put in my submission) I think it is best interpreted as asking for a review of emissions and targets for atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. So it involves science, but is not in any way a review of the basic science of global warming.

    Mind you, I am given to understand that the NZ scientific community, through the NZ Climate Change Centre, is in the process of finalising a submission, and it’ll be interesting to see the approach they take…

  3. thanks gareth – i’ve been away and hadn’t caught up with the final wording of the select cttee’s TOR.

    interesting to see how it changed – the original draft read:

    “hear competing views on the scientific aspects of climate change from internationally respected sources and assess the quality and impartiality of official advice” … which was the way of madness.

    hmmm. so the Greenhouse Policy Coalition either
    a) thought it meant the same thing
    b) HOPED it meant the same thing

    and wrote their submission anyway.

  4. Surely the terms of reference open the door to arguing that the last IPCC report is now too conservative re sea level rise, does not include Antarctica, NIWA has a guide which updates the figures, but now Pfeffer goes even further etc. The greatest uncertainty and risk with the benchmarks are that they are now too conservative, making our international agreements inadequate. I plan to interprete the term of reference in that way. Am I wrong?

  5. Bryan’s right: it is essential (in my view) to make the committee aware that by every metric warming is proceeding faster than envisaged only two or three years ago. This is a profoundly important point, because when you add in the fact of the climate commitment (the warming in the pipeline), we’re faced with at least 20 – 30 years of additional and increasingly dangerous warming whatever we do to mitigate emissions. That’s why my submission included recommendations for adaptation initiatives.

    I don’t think many people, let alone our politicians, understand what “warming in the pipeline” might mean for the world we live in.

  6. the IPCC at least opened the door to the new science by removing the upper limit of sea level rise, due to the new science around the WAIS and Greenland ice sheets, both melting much faster than any models predicted.

    Adaptation is now inevitable, but let’s hope the select cttee doesn’t just go for that and leave mitigation out. I presume SOMEONE is going to give them figures for the cost of doing nothing.

  7. cindy, “hear competing views on the scientific aspects of climate change from internationally respected sources and assess the quality and impartiality of official advice” … which was the way of madness.

    Can you hear what you’re saying?

    If that was so, I would ask which is the way of wisdom? Would it be to hear views on non-scientific aspects from unknown sources and disregard the partiality of official advice? Do you mean that? Or something else?

    Surely you mean something else. What sensible person could claim madness from examining scientific aspects, etc.? Surely you mean something else.

    Perhaps you mean not to credit sceptics with the slightest verity, nor even a voice, in which case, of course, you have not said what you mean.

    Ah, but again I waste my time. Back to work…

  8. rtreadgold:

    the way of wisdom would be to accept the advice being given to governments, and get on with it. The time for working out whether climate change is happening or not is over. It’s happening, and a hell of a lot faster than the scientists predicted.

    This paragraph reeked of climate sceptic Rodney Hide and would have had the lunatic fringe out in force, with their cherry-picked arguments. We don’t have time to drag a select committee through that sort of nonsense – it’s crunch time for action on climate change and we need to get on with the work, not get sidetracked into business-backed silliness.

  9. The point, Richard, is “hear competing views”. The only “competing views” out there are (in the main) unscientific nonsense. The committee will not, according to Dunne, waste their time hearing cranks, and that’s a good thing because they have important matters to consider. Nor are the committee in any way equipped to sit in judgement on the science. Can you imagine the uproar if a parliamentary committee considering health legislation decided to hear arguments from faith healers?

  10. I’m not sure that report is quite what it seems. A quick glance at the latest ESA image shows not much change since I last wrote about it – it’s still hanging on by the skin of its teeth (if ice shelves have teeth, that is). I suspect something’s getting lost in translation…

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