Anderson’s message is that although the Paris Agreement was a diplomatic triumph, it relies on speculative utopian technological fixes (bio-energy carbon capture and storage) in the future in order to reconcile the now extremely limited carbon budgets consistent with the desired 2C (and 1.5C) temperature limits with business-as-usual economics and politics. In other words, the Paris Agreement locks out the 2C target.
Why do I mention that? Because I want to run a ‘Kevin Anderson’ ruler over the New Zealand Government’s recently announced ratification of the Paris Agreement. To conduct a bare assessment of New Zealand’s emissions taking account that it is the cumulative emissions that determine warming. I want to ask the question ‘does the New Zealand ratification also lock out any policies for emissions reductions consistent with a fair share of a 2 degrees Celsius carbon budget?’
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.
Sarah Thomson, the Waikato law student who made news last month when she announced her intention to sue the New Zealand government for its weak climate targets, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help cover the costs of a judicial review. The Give A Little campaign, created by former Hamilton City councillor Daphne Bell, launched today. At the time of writing it has already raised over $1,000.
Mrs Bell explained why she supports Sarah’s initiative:
The Give A Little page will enable the many people around the country who support her an easy and practical way to help. They include those who cheered her speeches at the climate change marches in Auckland and Hamilton, and many more around New Zealand who applaud her ground-breaking legal action.
At the Auckland climate march last month, Sarah said:
“It is young people who will pay the true cost of today’s inaction. Our government has a duty to its people, to ensure a safe place for us and our children to live. But, if they are not fulfilling that duty, it is up to us to demand action.”
Although Sarah’s lawyers are donating their time, money is still needed for the filing fee at the High Court, other legal costs and disbursements and associated costs for Sarah relating to her court action — which will be heard in Wellington. Expert witnesses already lined up to give evidence include Jim Hansen and professor Jim Renwick of VUW.
Any money not used will be kept in a solicitor’s trust account and disbursed to a registered environmental charity or charities.
If you have a few dollars to spare, why not Give A Little in a good cause? At the very least, Sarah’s action will remind John Key and new climate minister Paula Bennett that they owe a duty of care to everyone in New Zealand, not just their fossil fool friends.