Geoff Simmons of the Morgan Foundation tells a good story about dodgy uncle Trev, fake bank notes and real moro bars while he fact-checks Paula Bennett on the integrity of the surplus emission units. It’s a real triple-dip!
I wonder if Paula Bennett thought she would get a soft jokey interview with that nice young man Jack Tame. She certainly didn’t. Tame takes the interview 110% seriously. He does not smile. He delivers his questions and his interruptions through a taught stone-face. And his questions are good questions.
We perhaps need to remember about a year ago, Jack Tame stood in for Mike Hosking on ‘Mike’s Minute’ and gave us a month of refreshingly different short pieces to camera. In that month, Jack Tame talked about climate change. And he concluded with a minute titled climate tipping points. So Tame takes climate change and climate change policy seriously.
Tame gives Bennett a couple of minutes to gush enthusiastically about the signing of the Paris Agreement. Then he cuts straight to the Morgan Foundation’s Climate Cheats report which alleges that the New Zealand Government was complicit in allowing dubious international carbon credits (Russian and Ukrainian and emission reduction units or ‘ERUs’) into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.
New Zealand’s new Minister for Climate Change, Paula Bennett, has just confirmed New Zealand will be “carrying forward” 127 million “Hot Air” emissions units (or offsets) under Kyoto Protocol rules. These units mostly do not represent a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced somewhere else and yet the Government intends to use them to allow New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions to continue to increase.
My previous estimate of the amount of surplus units likely to be used was 86 million units. The reports confirm the number to be 127 million units. I did a back-of-envelope calculation to relate the numbers of units cancelled (to match 2008-2012 emissions) and the numbers left over as ‘surplus’ which may be carried forward.
The updated Latest update on New Zealand’s 2020 net position explicitly confirms that New Zealand is ‘re-using’ the surplus units in assessing compliance with the 2020 target of a 5% reduction in emissions from a 1990 gross emissions base. So we will ‘meet’ the 2020 target in spite of projected increases in both gross emissions and net emissions. Gross emissions in 2020 are estimated to be 83 million tonnes, or 24% higher than 1990’s 67 million. Net emissions in 2020 are estimated to be 59 million tonnes, or 24% higher than 1990’s 38 million tonnes.
Manipulating accounting rules like this — so that an adverse trend is systematically misrepresented is as its opposite, a positive trend — is the text-book definition of creative accounting. I agree with No Right Turn that this is another example of New Zealand’s completely unethical climate change policy.
Simon Johnson (aka MrFebruary) looks at how climate change minister Tim Groser and the National-led government intend to use creative carbon accounting to ensure that New Zealand meets its 2020 climate change target (a five percent reduction) in spite of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) projected to increase to 2020 and beyond.
On 10 April 2015, when he was releasing the latest inventory of greenhouse gases, the Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser made this very confident statement about the NZ 2020 climate change target; “We’re well on track to meet our 2020 target”
That target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to five per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The five percent reduction stands in stark contrast to the Ministry for the Environments projections of increasing emissions out to 2020. The Ministry estimates that the increase in gross (total) emissions in 2020 will be 29% above the 1990 baseline (from 60 to 77 million tonnes) and the increase in net emissions (gross less any increase in the stock of carbon stored in forests) to 2020 will be 130% (from 33 to 75 million tonnes). So why is Tim Groser so confident that the target will be achieved?
Simon Terry of the Sustainability Council has commented on the ‘kicking the can down the road’ features of the Government’s climate change policies: the mismatch between the emissions target and the predicted emissions, the absence of a credible plan or carbon budget approach and the deferring of liabilities into the future.
Taking Simon Terry’s work as a starting point, I am going to look at how the Government intends to apply the accounting rules for carbon credits to achieve the 2020 target in spite of the likely predicted increase in gross and net greenhouse gas emissions.
So how is NZ going to reduce emissions by five percent by 2020?
This guest post by Professor Euan Mason of the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry first appeared at his Photosynthesis blog. His analysis of the NZ and global position, and assessment of the potential forestry response is so interesting that I asked his permission to repost it here.
New Zealand’s initial attempt to mitigate the problem of climate change is moribund, so why is this? The Kyoto Protocol, which we ratified in 1997, bound us to keep our net emissions at 1990 gross emission levels between 2008 and 2012, but also tied us to particular patterns of thinking about greenhouse gases. Not all of these patterns are rational, nor are they all helpful. Nonetheless, with a rather unique emissions profile for a “first world” nation, we could offer the world valuable solutions for developing nations if only we would accept the opportunity. Forestry could easily make us fully greenhouse gas neutral while solving erosion problems and improving profitability of our hill country farms, but for this we need a rational approach to emissions trading and commitment from our populace.
In this article I shall outline some of the key modes of thinking introduced by the Kyoto Protocol; highlight where we are going wrong with emissions trading; and show how forestry could be at the heart of solutions to this global problem.