Now that one election’s out of the way, (a good result: Obama’s committed to 80 percent reductions by 2050) time to focus on what’s happening in New Zealand. I’ve promised several times to offer an analysis of the major parties offerings on climate change and emissions reductions, but I’ve been pre-empted by a very useful summary by Vote for the Environment (a joint effort by Eco and Greenpeace). They set up an “ideal” set of environment policies, and then surveyed the parties and scored their answers. The results are pretty close to my impression of the state of the partiesâ€¦
The Green Party has just announced that it will support the government’s proposed emissions trading scheme, because “the substantial changes we have won to the ETS justify voting for it”, according to leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. The changes include a “billion dollar” fund from ETS revenues to improve home insulation and heating, new rules on credits for firms established to use new low-carbon technologies, and some improvements on agriculture and biodiversity protection.
“A target for agricultural emissions reduction before 2013 will be gazetted along with other targets for emission reductions. Government has also agreed that there will be investment in a range of technologies and practices which can reduce agricultural emissions, particularly nitrous oxide. These will include not just nitrification inhibitors but also low input farming which can be just as profitable; biogas plants to convert manure to energy; and methods to control soil damage in wet conditions such as herd homes and stand off pads.”
No news yet from NZ First, but Greenpeace were (predictably) pleased with the decision.
[Update 27/8: NZ First has announced that it will support the ETS legislation.]
[Update 29/8: The ETS has begun its passage through Parliament.]
With a final decision required next week, the Green Party has asked for public feedback on whether it should support the government’s emissions trading scheme legislation, and people have not been slow in coming forward. Jeanette Fitzsimons announcement on Thursday explained the dilemma facing the party:
“We set out to achieve a number of things, such as including transport and agriculture into the scheme earlier, a fund to insulate homes to keep power bills down, targets for emissions reduction and support for new innovations that offer significant carbon reduction. […] On some of the issues we have not been able to make progress. We have not been able to get agreement to phase in transport instead it will come in in one lump in 2011, so this has not changed. We have made very little progress on agriculture but we are still talking about this. Very importantly we have not found a way for Government to accept a biodiversity standard to ensure that planting pines does not destroy biodiversity.”
The usual suspects have not been slow to chip in. Business NZ wants them to vote against the scheme; Greenpeace believes they have no choice but to support it. The debate at frogblog and Chris Trotter’s new blog has been interesting, while No Right Turn provides a characteristically concise summary of the situation.
In a dramatic announcement today, Vincent R Gray, the retired coal researcher and diligent proof-reader of IPPC Working Group Reports (he’s inordinately proud of the fact that he submitted over 1,800 comments to the fourth report) has resigned from the Royal Society of New Zealand because of its recent statement on climate change. Given that Gray has been criticising the IPCC view of climate science for 18 years and is a vocal member of the NZ C”S”C, this is perhaps no surprise, but the statement he has issued as a riposte to the Royal Society is a minor classic of its genre. Vincent doesn’t so much spit the dummy as hurl it into low earth orbit, and uses pretty forthright language as he does so.
My critique of the NZI’s â€œfast followerâ€ report – described as â€œspiritedâ€ by Nevil Gibson in the NBR – has received a swift response from the NZI. We’re Right Behind You was written by NZI chief executive David Skilling and researcher Danielle Boven. Danielle interviewed me about climate issues earlier this year, and has taken the trouble to prepare an extended response to my criticisms. It’s too long to post as a comment, so Danielle becomes HT’s second guest blogger (IPCC lead author Jim Renwick was the first). I have not edited her words, but do offer some comment at the end. Note: Danielle refers in several places to papers 1 & 2. The first paper is the one published this week, the second a forthcoming one which will consider other aspects of climate policy. Over to Danielle….