Carbon News 29/9/14: Key challenged over climate impacts on Pacific islands

Memo John Key: look Pacific Island leaders in the eye

The Government is being challenged to invite the leaders of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati to come and tell Parliament what they think of New Zealand’s climate change policies. Support to help Small Island Developing States move to renewable energy is one of five measures New Zealand outlined to last week’s United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York. New Zealand said that it will support the Small Island Developing States Lighthouses Initiative in addition to the $100 million it is already investing in clean energy in the Pacific.

Renewables make mark on emissions figures

Increasing generation from renewables is continuing to drive a massive drop in greenhouse gas emissions from electricity in New Zealand. For the second quarter in a row, emissions from electricity in the three months to August were down on the same period last year, latest government figures show.

New York talked the talk, but we’ll have to wait and see who heard

At the end of his summit meeting on the climate crisis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put out a list of accomplishments festooned with 46 bullet points, some of them marking concrete new pledges, others diaphanous phrases.

MIA … but it doesn’t mean China’s not interested

There were a few notable absentees among the more than 120 world leaders gathered in New York for last week’s United Nations Climate Summit — and perhaps most notable of all was the head of the world’s highest-emitting nation, China’s President Xi Jinping.

Do something, big business warns political leaders

Many of the biggest hitters in the global financial community, together managing an eye-watering $24 trillion of investment funds, have issued a powerful warning to political leaders about the risks of failing to establish clear policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Cities in the spotlight at climate week summit

Even as nations gathered in New York to discuss global-level action on climate change, there was strong recognition that cities, not countries, have so far played the pivotal role in the world’s fight against climate change — and will continue to do so.

Unhappy power consumers eye solar generation

Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders would like to say goodbye to their power companies and generate their own electricity.

Have a say in energy development

New Zealanders can have a say on the type of energy development they want, thanks to a Victoria University summer project.

Kiwisavers might get to have say in green investment

Research showing how many New Zealanders want their retirement funds invested in sustainable businesses will be unveiled next month.

ON THE WEB … Obama’s drive for carbon pricing fails to win at home

  • Chile becomes the first South American country to tax carbon
  • UK to introduce fracking drilling law despite 99% opposition
  • US Homeland Security moves to tackle climate change risks
  • Hawaii’s solar industry in precarious situation
  • The top 10 greenest cities in America
  • Avatar director James Cameron talks climate change

New market pact keeps Australians on the ball

Australian businesses wanting to keep up to date with the international carbon market during their country’s retreat from carbon pricing have formed a new regional agreement.

How to save the planet … bike, walk or take a bus

Here’s a way to save $100 trillion and stop 1700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from getting into the atmosphere every year by 2050: cycle, walk or take public transport.

Use your phone to report water pollution

Water pollution may soon be reported by the public over a phone app and investigated by an aerial robot.

Clear skies for aviation industry, says Boeing report

The business outlook for civil aviation is bright thanks mainly to rising Asian demand for aircraft. But airlines are expected to have a harder time, with tougher competition in Europe leading to a consolidation of the sector, according to the latest industry forecast.

Win some, lose some … that’s climate change

With climate change, you win some, you lose some. New research shows that suitable new cropland could become available in the high latitudes as the world warms, but tropical regions may become less productive.

Australia seems to be overlooking bioenergy

When we think of renewable energy, it’s easy to picture spinning wind turbines or rooftop solar panels. But what about bioenergy?

Would a climate change treaty be enough?

Do we need a climate treaty, or could a simple political deal based on national pledges work just as well?

Prices likely to drift a little

Spot NZUs remain relatively quiet. OMFinancial reports…

Worth seeing — Thin Ice

New Zealand scientist Peter Barrett’s award-winning film Thin Ice will have a public screening in Hamilton next week. Barrett, a geologist, produced the documentary himself, with a view to finding out whether his fellow scientists really were involved in some sort of climate change hoax as some were alleging.

Study will reveal our use of water

The nature of domestic water demand is being measured.

Off to the tip … 33,000 polystyrene cups

Waikato University every year sends 33,000 polystyrene cups to the landfill.

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16 thoughts on “Carbon News 29/9/14: Key challenged over climate impacts on Pacific islands”

  1. The figure on increased penetration of renewables for August looks a bit suspect to me.

    August was a very windless month, at least in the South Island. I suspect this figure might be ascribed to the warner than average winter we have experienced, thereby driving power generation towards hydro and consuming less coal and gas.

    1. So Thomas you respond to my analysis with a generic propaganda piece from the Guardian.

      I agree renewables are here to stay. We will have hydro for many generations to come, and probably increasingly improving solar PV

      Meanwhile, our countrysides will be littered with rusting wind turbines, as James Lovelock quipped, “Monuments to a Failed Civilisation”

      1. Lovelock has long been well past his best…

        The monuments of the failed civilization if anything will be the oil well heads sitting on top of reservoirs sucked dry, nuclear power stations past their due date and too contaminated to deconstruct, coal fired power stations and the rest of the fossil fuel driven infrastructure once the black gold no longer flows or brittles. And I don’t care if peak oil happens this decade, the next or in a few more or how long coal may last. What is important is that it is entirely inevitable that FF reserves will run out and it is also inevitable that AGW will force our hand to leave significant resources unused in the ground.

        The wind and the sun however…..

    1. As I asserted upthread, NZ had very little wind in August. It was also a very dry month (which makes me wonder why Carbon News say it was such a fantastic result)

      Driving past Lake Tekapo this afternoon revealed very low lake levels due to the lack of snow this winter

      There may well be a shortage of hydro generation unless we get some big rains.

      1. Uh oh! Andy discovers effects of climate change:

        “Driving past Lake Tekapo this afternoon revealed very low lake levels due to the lack of snow this winter.
        There may well be a shortage of hydro generation unless we get some big rains.”

        Now what?

      2. AndyS. The low wind in August was unusual and from your own comments they were confined to part of the South Island. NZ is normally pretty windy, so suits wind power reasonably well. Obviously you need some gas backup for particularly unusual conditions.

        Low lake levels led to a nightmare a decade ago, but since then a lot of gas fired capacity has been installed to deal with the worst of this.

        There is no perfect global energy source, so it may come down to what combination of systems suit a particular country best.

        I have been reading about various studies that show America could have most of its energy from solar combined with wind. These are studies by scientists and engineers, and they say intermittency problems can be dealt with. I haven’t read the details but different groups of people are saying the same things.

        1. I don’t think low wind in winter is particularly unusual. Long periods of still, windless days are quite common

          Long periods of no precipitation in winter are quite uncommon though.

          I did make the effort to keep a few screen shows of EM6Live during August showing little or zero wind output. Whenever I show these I get accused of cherry picking

          Unlike the UK based NETA, aggregated energy data isn’t available to the general public unless you want to fork out $10,000 (so I was told)

          1. You say low wind in winter is not particularly unusual. Do you have some actual proof AndyS? Your claim certainly seems inconsistent with the weather maps each night.

            NZ is actually quite a windy country overall, and this is the more important thing. has some useful information and is easy to read. As I noted the wind is usually blowing in plenty of places, and if it isn’t blowing sufficiently other energy sources provide a backup.


            1. I think a lot of this is driven by phases of the Southern Annular Mode, which affects westerlies and high pressure systems during winter. Jim Renwick is the person to ask about this

            2. AndyS. Please provide documented proof of your assertions with a linked internet source. Don’t tell me what you believe, or who to ask.

            3. I typed in “Southern Annular Mode” into Google and here are some results

              (Presumably you could have done that for yourself. By the way, the expression “I believe” is used to prefix a statement to make a general assumption of humility on the part of the writer, not the basis of some irrational belief system)




            4. More specifically, the NIWA link cited states

              We see a red blob of high pressure over the South Island in the positive SAM, which is associated with relatively light winds over the country. The negative SAM would show a blue region of low pressure over the South Island, with unsettled weather and stronger than normal westerly winds over most of the country, north of the low centre.

              The SAM was first identified in the 1970s. On a week-to-week basis, it flips between states – causing either windier or calmer weather over New Zealand latitudes – in an unpredictable way, apparently at random. Though these phase changes of the SAM cannot be predicted more than a few days in advance, once changed, the phases tend to persist for several weeks

              I don’t know whether the recent settled spell was due to a positive SAM, but that was the attribution during the winter before last’s settled spell

              Oh, and by the way, there is some suggestion that SAM is affected by CO2 and also Ozone depletion,

  2. Minor error in the Carbon News item on Thin Ice. Peter Barrett was Executive Producer (I think..?) Simon Lamb filmed it, narrates it, and so on.

    It’s an engaging film, if you haven’t seen it. I imagine folks with geological backgrounds would find it particularly relevant and interesting (since these are the perspectives Peter and Simon come from). It’s also quite droll in places, which I really enjoyed.

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