NZ government to consult on Paris emissions target

NZemissionsconsult.jpgClimate change minister Tim Groser announced yesterday that the government is to consult on a post-2020 emissions target to present at the UNFCC conference in Paris in December. The consultation process is open to written submissions now, and there will be a series of public meetings and hui starting in Nelson on Wed May 13, finishing in Christchurch on May 20. Submissions close on June 3. In his press release, Groser said:

“New Zealand wants to set a target which is environmentally credible and reflects our particular circumstances.  But we also need to consider the possible impacts and costs to our economy.”

Reasonable enough, but Groser then starts a pitch that sounds suspiciously as though he’s preparing the ground for an unambitious target:

“Increasing our commitment after 2020 will be a big challenge, as nearly half of New Zealand’s emissions come from agriculture and 80 per cent of our electricity already comes from renewable sources. The easy gains have already been made. But we are expected to make a fair contribution to combating this global problem.”

This impression is confirmed by a quick reading of the discussion document issued by the Ministry for the Environment to accompany the process. Much is made of the difficulties of cutting emissions, and the costs they will impose on the economy, but there is no apparent effort to quantify the risks of inaction, or the benefits to be delivered by the economic transformation to a low-carbon economy.

One of principal reasons that cutting emissions will be “challenging” is of course that Groser and his cabinet colleagues dismantled a comprehensive set of emissions policies inherited from the previous Labour-led government, mismanaged the emissions trading scheme so as to create a laughably low effective carbon price, stymied new forestry planting, and refused to bring agriculture into the ETS. It’s always harder to get somewhere if you’ve spent the last six years pedalling in the wrong direction.

I’ll be commenting further on the discussion document in due course, but as Brian Fallow in the Herald notes, I am not alone in finding Groser’s approach unpersuasive.

Being a cynic, I suspect that this whole rushed process is being offered as a fig leaf for a lack of ambition — about managing expectations downwards, rather genuinely seeking ideas with a view to creating good and effective policy. In the meantime, I urge Hot Topic‘s readers to prepare submissions, make an effort to attend one of the public meetings, and lobby the government for an ambitious set of emissions targets. We can but try…

NZ: pushing the world to go beyond 2 degrees

head-in-the-sandNew Zealand is coming under increasing scrutiny in Lima, not least because it’s our turn to be reviewed by the UNFCCC process.

Early next week our representatives will have to defend our position and our lack of action to 190 governments in our first “multilateral assessment.”

Already, there have been some tough questions, coming especially from the EU and China. New Zealand’s answered them, but will have to more to defend itself than these carefully fudged answers.

Our negotiators have been trying to promote our position around the meeting, including a botched attempt in a science discussion yesterday, when they were interrupted halfway through a blatant PR presentation. They were told to get back to the issue at hand (science, not promotion of a country’s so-called “efforts”), after a number of governments objected to our highjacking the agenda. Continue reading “NZ: pushing the world to go beyond 2 degrees”

The bear necessities of climate agreement in Lima

The population in the seaside capital of Peru, Lima, has grown exponentially in the last few days ahead of the latest round of UN climate talks, with  11,000 official delegates, 40,000 police, and thousands more who’ll attend the Peoples Climate Summit, all descending on the city.

“The streets are filling up with gringos,” a horrified friend who’s living in Lima told me today.

It is a relief to be at climate talks hosted by a government that’s less in the thrall of the fossil fuel industry than the last two, in Doha and Warsaw. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can count on more action as a result.  I hope they act like Paddington Bear (whom I believe has a Peruvian background1 ) — in terms of his “trying hard to get things right” rather than his getting into trouble.

This is the first of a few blogs I’ll be writing, so let’s take a quick look at what’s at stake in Lima.

Apart from the usual “future of the planet” stakes that get higher every day, there are a number of key issues that governments can get to grips with over the next two weeks. This meeting is an important stepping stone on the way to Paris late next year, which should come up with a new global climate agreement designed to set the world on the right path towards keeping global warming below 2˚C.

Continue reading “The bear necessities of climate agreement in Lima”

  1. GR adds: Indeed he has. In fact his Aunt Lucy lives in the Home For Retired Bears in Lima. []