Minister wants all options open

The Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce had a curious op-ed in the Herald earlier this week. It was aimed at those pesky people who obstruct progress when government tries to remove roadblocks in the way of business development.

And that’s when the problems start to arrive. The people who say “we want jobs” but then in the next breath say “but you can’t do that … you can’t build that there … you can’t expand that … you can’t explore for that there … you can’t live here … you can’t invest in property here – you just can’t do that!”

And very quickly we start limiting our options.

It was all safely general. No specific examples were provided. However, I recognise myself  amongst the people he is complaining about, and am happy to provide some of the detail missing from his article. Continue reading “Minister wants all options open”

To boldly go… to a low carbon future

I liked the sub-heading to a Guardian article on Friday. “The theory that cutting carbon emissions costs us growth is bunk, in fact, it’s an economic opportunity.” The article itself is a little less exuberant in its expression, understandably given that one of its authors, Vinod Thomas (pictured), is director general for independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank and the other, Manish Bapna, is interim president at the World Resources Institute, a well-established and respected global environmental think tank. Nevertheless its affirmation is clear:

“Not only can preparing for climate change offer opportunities for economic growth, it would be unwise to pursue one without the other.”

Continue reading “To boldly go… to a low carbon future”

Planting boom hangover on its way: get more trees in the ground, starting now

In the latest episode in Hot Topic’s election coverage, forestry consultant Piers Maclaren looks at a forestry issue that seems to be missed by all the major parties.

New Zealand faces a major carbon problem in the period from 2023-2038, resulting from the imbalanced age-class structure of our plantation forest estate. Let me explain.

Forestry is a cheap and easy way to sequester carbon, but it is not a total global solution because at best it could possibly offset some 10% of the carbon the planet is likely to emit over the next 100 years from the burning of coal. Afforestation is merely the converse of deforestation, which has been responsible for something like 20% of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since the industrial revolution. Afforestation can help reverse some of that portion.

Afforestation takes a landscape of low carbon density (for example, pasture or short scrub) and changes it to one of high carbon density – a forest. If the forest consists of an even balance of trees of all ages, then it will be in a steady-state situation — neither a carbon sink nor a carbon source, but
carbon neutral — and will remain in that state in perpetuity. The act of establishing a forest therefore constitutes a sink, but the maintenance of a forest is carbon neutral. This applies to all types of forest, and it is irrelevant whether the trees are felled with a chainsaw or by storm damage; whether the trees are removed from the forest, converted to some product and ultimately oxidised, or whether the biomass decays within the forest; or whether the trees are removed in clusters, or are widely spaced individuals. The point is that the removal of some component of the forest — for example a harvestable block of trees within the estate — is exactly counterbalanced
by the growth of all the other blocks.

Continue reading “Planting boom hangover on its way: get more trees in the ground, starting now”

The over-allocated units in the Report on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

Simon Johnson continues his series of guest posts looking at the Australian and New Zealand carbon pricing schemes.

Finally I have got past the chartjunk and I have read the Report on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme that Minister for Climate Change Issues Nick Smith released on 1 August 2011.

Perhaps the first point to make is that the NZ ETS has now been though a complete compliance period, the six months from 1 July 2010 (when energy and industry entered) to 31 December 2010, where both buyers (emitters) and sellers (foresters) of emissions units were in the NZ ETS market. So we should be able to make an assessment of how the NZ ETS is working.

The same underlying information, emissions units issued and surrendered in the 2010 year, has already been available from the “central bank” for emissions units – the NZ Emissions Unit Register, run by the Ministry of Economic Development. The Climate Change Response Act requires certain information on emissions trading to be disclosed annually. The Ministry for the Environment’s Report on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme is really this same trading information with some, ugh, “100% Pure” photo shoot pictures, quite a few junk charts and several text-boxes. Continue reading “The over-allocated units in the Report on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme”

The Carbon Forest

The Carbon Forest: A New Zealand Guide to Forest Carbon Sinks for Investors, Farmers, Foresters and ConservationistsA suburban section has long been the limit of my landowning ambition and I’m too old now to start thinking of anything more, but the prospect opened up by a newly published small book had me imagining I could well become interested if I were younger.  The book is The Carbon Forest: A New Zealand guide to forest carbon sinks for investors, farmers, foresters and conservationists (publisher’s site here). The four authors themselves appear motivated by climate change but the detailed advice they offer is far from tied to that concern. People looking to engage in a forestry venture for any reason, including reasonable financial return, will find the book very useful.

Continue reading “The Carbon Forest”