New year, new theme (2016)

The new look, that is. The WordPress official theme of the year, and I like it enough to make it Hot Topic‘s new look. Simpler for me to maintain than the old, very customised theme, but it does mean we’ve lost the comment editing facility. Sorry about that. Meanwhile, please use this as an excuse to discuss whatever climate-related issues you like. More substantive posts may appear soon.

[Update #2 Feb 2nd: I may have tracked the comment issue down to a conflict with an anti-spam plug in. We’ll see… Thanks to Andy and Mr February for helping me try to diagnose the problem. GR]

[Update #3 Feb 4th: The Jetpack guys at WordPress are trying to unpick this problem. Thanks for your patience. GR]

[Update #4: Working again, but without “social log in” enabled, while WP fix the code. Thanks again to everyone who helped us diagnose the problem. GR]

[Update #5: And while we’re on the subject, please be warned that very long comments are difficult to post, because of a coding fault in the theme – basically the “post” button disappears… So try to keep your thoughts succinct, until the theme is updated. 😉 GR]

14 thoughts on “New year, new theme (2016)”

  1. From Mr February: (quite why your comment appeared under a 2007 post, I can’t work out…GR)

    Happy New Year Gareth! Wow the new look and theme is quite something! I imagine I will be able to include even bigger charts of climbing greenhouse gas emissions into posts! No doubt you would have seen Carbon Brief and who have both adopted markedly different styles for their web pages.

    I will suggest a “back to ETS-school” topic. There is a review happening on the woeful NZETS. And its only 19 days to the first deadline for submissions. ( There is a 42 page discussion document of finely-finessed bureaucratic boiler-plate text. The review has two stages. First stage is whether to end the two tonnes-for-one unit deal, so that energy and industry emitters have to surrender one unit for every tonne of GHGs. Submissions on that close at 5pm on 19 February 2016.
    We are also invited to submit on other issues such as the $25 per tonne price cap, phasing out free allocation, the ‘overhang’ of surplus ‘banked’ units, links to international markets, costs, efficiency effectiveness. For those issues, the submissions close on 30 April 2016.

    Completely missing of course are any mention of the IPCC’s, Fifth Assessment reports and carbon budgets. Also specifically excluded from the scope of the review is the possibility of including emissions from pastoral agriculture.

    In one sentence the bureaucratic tone of the discussion document becomes a vignette of wry understatement. On page 8, we have:

    “Projections indicate that New Zealand’s current policy measures, of which the NZ ETS is the main instrument, will have little impact on gross emissions in the future if current settings continue.”

    Yep that hit the nail on the head!

    1. Reposted by GR, for noel fuller – comments are still borked:

      Mr February beautifully illustrates one of the points in this comment:

      How does the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal look with respect to climate change?

      My answers to that question mean that I will not recognise this deal – of little consequence unless others refuse as well.

      Business associations say we (they) will be better off. That is: more demand and more greenhouse gas emissions. Because of the urgency to eliminate GHG emissions and take back carbon, and because of the delay in implementation of effective technologies, it has been said that reducing demand seriously is the only way we could stave off climate catastrophy until mitigating technologies take hold on a large scale. Reducing demand, on climate change grounds, places any such decisions right on target for loss-of-profits litigation.

      The deal would be fine of course if free trade is restricted to non-fossil fuel dependant products and transport i.e. biased toward mitigation of global warming – one of the criteria these days of responsible government and general good.

      We have been told that our objections are purely emotional – a bit rich considering the fantasies that our economic indicators are based on, like growth! and on cost and benefit projections that omit essential considerations as was done with the recent emissions target “consultations”.

      Our PM has said that litigation over loss of profits because of decisions over environment and health will not happen – quite true of course with respect to his government because such decisions are avoided on his watch.

      The same clause in the NAFTA trade agreement means the USA government is been sued by TransCanada over Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline decision – not the only instance either.

      So what decisions might mitigate global warming and result in loss of profits? Who loses? Could it be the super rich 62 of whom, we are told, own half the world’s wealth and 1% of whom, I have heard, own 99% of the world’s wealth. Talk about “trickle up”

      On advertising:

      1. Ban all direct advertising on mass media of fossil fueled GHG emitting products or fossil fuel company promotions. Every night I watch some TV I see a number of ads for cars promising everything.

      2. Ban indirect promotion of fossil fuels through sponsorships. Again I see these any time I watch a sports program.

      We’ve banned tobacco advertising. Will we ban advertising of sugar and fat loaded products? They are harmful enough and illustrate the point that commerce tends to lack any duty of care, though not short on pretenses – the love of money trumps all. Global warming exceeds all these in present and future harm.

      On an effective carbon tax (Carbon trading has proven non-effective except in helping governments, NZ in particular, pretend they are being responsible, without actually being so.)

      1. Tax fossil fuels
      2. Tax unsustainable resource mangement
      3. Tax imports on their emissions content if that has not been already adequately done.

      That’s just for starters.

  2. Has any one else done a thought experiment of comparing the Paris Agreement with the TPPA?
    One is 5000 pages long and prepared and negotiated in secrecy.
    One is 20 pages long and was public before the Mr Fabius’ gavel went down. And all the draft versions were public.
    The Government has a 300-page national interest assessment for the TPPA. For our target submitted for Paris, we had shonky modelling hamstrung by its scope (exclude agriculture) and emotive exhortations from Tim Groser that ‘costs on familys’ would be ‘billions’.
    Which one is closest to the Government’s heart?

  3. Indeed, the TPPA will in my mind make it probably next to impossible for this or future governments to enact legislation that affects the profits of private companies who have the knowledge and the deep pockets to sue or threaten to sue under the TPPA. In other words, the TPPA locks most likely a business as usual (or business as business wishes to proceed) scenario firmly in.

    Even just the realisation that you now need to employ a bunch of super expensive lawyers to check any potential future government policy or legislation against the (secret! – go figure…) TPPA, in order to avoid exposure to future ruinous legislation, will severely hamper the process of policy making. A small country like NZ will be an easy target for these threats. It is likely that JK has effectively signed our sovereignty away today. He will go down as a traitor to his people and a co-conspirator to the removal of what little people power is remaining in this world.

    1. The person interviewed on RNZ yesterday pointed out that TPPA was one of several free trade agreements that have been signed by NZ this century.

      There are some unknowns about the litigation side of things that haven’t been that well explained to the public, but the full text of the agreement is now available online

      1. The investor state dispute resolution parts of the TPPA are indeed a huge can of worms. Here’s the Economist — hardly a pinko leftist green blob mouthpiece — on how the process is being misused:

        …the implementation of this laudable idea has been disastrous. It has become so controversial that it threatens to scupper trade deals the European Union is negotiating with both America and Canada.

        1. For a good overview of the ISDS procedure and how is implemented I recommend our very own Prof Andrew Geddis on Pundit. Here is his exposition on TPPs, ISDS, and the Constitution.
          To see just who and from where these ISDS’s originate from here is there history.
          We as a country are in jeopardy of giving away our sovereignty with the ratification of TPPA. As Marama Fox Leader of the Maori Party (a party in Coalition with National in Govt – but completely opposed to the TPPA) said when speaking to the gathering at the Auckland Town Hall on the 27th Jan. ” Welcome to our world”. Those who witnessed the march down Queen St yesterday of around 20,000 protestors would have noted a very high proportion of Maori. Maori understand what this “Agreement” is all about – they have lived it for the past 175 years.
          Sharon Murdoch sums it up with this cartoon.

      2. Yes NZ has a few FTAs with ISDS clauses in them – aren’t we fortunate that so far Chinese companies are not as litigious as those in the US! But then we have a government that bends over backwards to be nice to those who seek to prosper from what we have to offer. Take for example the export of unsawn logs. Day after day (and Thomas will verify this too) I see hundreds of logging trucks loaded with unsawn logs driving to Tauranga for them to be shipped directly to China. China does not allow the importation of sawn timber. You can see the same in Vancouver – thousands of logs, unsawn, all awaiting shipping to China. Those trucks drive past what was one of the largest saw mills in the country. Now closed with the loss of hundreds of jobs. One of the nice benefits of “FTA”s and ISDS clauses./sarc We cannot legislate to say only sawn timber to be exported. Oh No! that would jeopardize the profits of overseas business.

    2. I have also been wondering about the relationship of the TPPA, ISD process, and climate change mitigation.

      Basically it seems that the threat of being sued could certainly have a chilling affect on governments, and what legislation they pass. Governments will not want to risk being sued or offending corporates.

      There is no carve out for climate change legislation, so governments could be sued over this. Or governments could play safe and just compensate corporates for losses, but this would defeat the whole purpose of making corporates accountable for CO2 emissions and putting pressure on them.

      The TPPA tries to reduce tariffs and develop some agreed global rules on various thing. I get that, and it has some merit in theory. However its a very questionable and dangerous agreement in many respects, especially the ISD process. Sure some other free trade agreements have a similar process, but the TPPA is a massive agreement, and America is very litigious.

      1. A good example of how these trade agreements favour large corporations is that TransCanada Pipelines is now suing the US Government for $15 billion because of provisions of NAFTA. These trade agreements are great examples of how Governments now bow down to the wishes of large corporations and refuse to listen to the people.

        These agreements give corporations sole decision making over regulatory and environmental laws.

  4. Big Oil spent $10m to buy votes in the California Senate to avert climate change legislation:

    The new scheme of the year is obviously to simply buy whatever you want if you have the pockets to do so. Big business, which is now via the TPPA pulling invisible threads of our elected puppets all over the place, has been getting away with criminal conspiracies for well too long. When one must wonder, when will the people wake up to put and end to all this looting, corruption, lying and deceit for the benefit of enriching the very wealthiest few of the planet even further?

    1. Under TPP they won’t have to worry about spending all that money – there is not one word in the “Agreement” which gives Governments the right to legislate for action to address Climate Change over the rights of Corporations to make money.
      Effectively the trade ministers who signed the Agreement in Auckland on the 4th Feb signalled their governments willingness to hand over the responsibility for governing to big business.

  5. Can we rely on private commercial interests to voluntarily join efforts to mitigate climate change?

    From a story on the legal status of Obama’s clean power plan:

    “In the meantime, EPA’s foes will double down on their efforts to get the Clean Power Plan tossed out for good. Twenty-seven states and more than 100 companies and industry groups have filed lawsuits, all of which were consolidated into the lawsuit led by West Virginia.”

    Can we rely on governments to crack the whip?

    In some nations governments lead and have done well – better with the support of the people.
    Currently in NZ and OZ??? No

    Who’s left?

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