NZ’s Paris emissions commitments should be 40% by 2030 and 100% (or more) by 2050

Submissions for the New Zealand government’s half-hearted consultation on post-2020 emissions targets closed last Wednesday. I managed to sneak my contribution in just before the 5pm deadline. It remains to be seen whether it will be read. I heartily recommend reading the Royal Society’s submission – a very clear statement of the issues and NZ’s responsibilities. The Generation Zero submission is also well worth a look (pdf here). More than 4,600 people used G0’s automated submission tool, which should ensure that the MfE is well aware that this is an issue people take seriously. In the meantime, here’s what I had to say…


New Zealand’s Climate Change Target: Our contribution to the new international climate change agreement, the discussion document produced by the Ministry for the Environment to accompany the consultation process, is in my view misleading and misguided. It presents a distorted and unhelpful view of the dimensions of the challenge NZ faces. In order to arrive at a pragmatic understanding of how NZ’s domestic policy settings on greenhouse gas emissions should be adjusted to best align with a solution to this huge global problem, it’s necessary to consider the scientific and geopolitical context. NZ’s policy solutions should flow from, and work with, our best understanding of the science that underpins the need for action to cut emissions and to stabilise and reduce atmospheric CO2 loading. NZ also needs to consider the direct climate and strategic risks it faces as a result of inevitable climate change and design policy that limits those risks and increases resilience to them.


Evidence from studies of past climate conditions suggests that the last time atmospheric CO2 stood at 400 ppm — 3 million years ago, during the Pliocene — global sea levels were around 20 metres higher than today, and global average temperature was 2-3ºC above pre-industrial (the global average temperature of 200 years ago). As atmospheric CO2 continues to climb above 400 ppm, the only practical question is how long it will take the ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic to melt. It may take hundreds to thousands of years to see the full extent of the sea level rise implicit in current CO2 levels, but it’s worth noting that for every 1 ppm we add above 400 ppm, we add to the warming and the final amount of sea level rise. We have already committed future generations to a world with radically different shorelines. We are already heading for substantial warming and increasing damages from climate change.

Emissions policies are usually expressed as percentage reductions in emissions compared to an historical or projected baseline. This presents emissions cuts as a flow problem. If we can turn the tap down a bit, we can address the problem. But atmospheric carbon — as the paleoclimate data shows — is not a flow problem, it’s a stock problem. Every tonne of carbon we add to the atmosphere makes two things worse: long term warming and the sea level rise that results from it, and ocean acidification.

The best evidence available to us from modelling studies suggests that it is possible for the world to limit warming over the next century to between 1.5ºC (the target endorsed by 100+ of the nations of the world) and 2ºC (the target endorsed by the rest of the world – including NZ), but that the reductions in emissions from current levels will have to be steep and start now. The carbon budget left — the amount we can burn and still hit those targets is not big, and the world is getting through it at great speed.

In order to have the best chance of hitting those temperature targets, we will have to go beyond cutting emissions to creating a global economy which is below net-zero emissions (this is explicit in the most aggressive IPCC emissions scenarios). This means that to limit near term warming, in the second half of this century we will have to start reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Every tonne of CO2 we emit today will eventually have to be removed from the atmosphere. If we want to prevent the full extent of the sea level rise suggested by the historical data we will have to return atmospheric carbon loading to near pre-industrial levels — a huge task for us to bequeath to our children.


The available carbon budget has to be allocated equitably between nations. NZ, as a rich developed country with high per capita emissions will be expected to shoulder a greater burden than rapidly developing and underdeveloped countries. This is both a moral and an ethical issue, as well as a matter of realpolitik in relations with China, India, the US and Europe.


There are two sorts of climate risk that face New Zealand. The first is of direct and indirect climate change impacts. Climate change is already being felt all round the world in increasingly damaging extreme weather events, and this will only get worse as warming continues. NZ may (or may not) escape the worst of those direct impacts, but our trading partners almost certainly won’t. We are at least as vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on our key export markets as we are to — say — an outbreak of foot and mouth disease damaging our beef and dairy exports.

Some of these direct impact risks are unavoidable. Due to the huge heat capacity of the global oceans, initial “fast” warming lags behind CO2 levels by up to 30 years. If we could somehow freeze atmospheric CO2 at 400 ppm, the planet would continue to warm for another three decades. Every year we delay cutting emissions adds a year to the end of the process — when the damages being experienced both here and overseas will be much greater than today.

The only way to deal with the unavoidable warming is to increase national resilience to the direct impacts of extreme weather, sea level rise and climate warming, and to create an economy that is less vulnerable to climate shocks in export markets.

There is also risk associated with the accuracy of our projections of future change. Paleoclimate tells us where we’re heading, but modelling gives us our best guess of how fast we’ll get there. Essentially, this risk can be characterised as three options:

  • Climate change turns out be slower and less damaging than currently projected
  • Climate change turns out as we currently project (IPCC AR5)
  • Climate change happens faster and is more damaging than expected

The preponderance of scientific and expert evidence is handily summarised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its regular reports. The most recent, published last year, makes for grim reading, but also makes it clear that it is possible for the world to limit the worst impacts of climate change, and do so at affordable cost.

To assume that the IPCC is wrong, or “alarmist” as some would like to suggest, and that future climate change will be less damaging than currently projected, is to fly in the face of the evidence. From a risk analysis perspective, basing climate policies (global or national) on a gamble that the experts are wrong could have terrible consequences in both the near and long term.

However, it should be pointed out that the IPCC is itself regarded by many in the climate science community as a conservative presentation of the evidence. Since the publication of the Fifth Report, for instance, it has become clear that large parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may already have passed the point of no return and could be committed to large scale melt over the next century. In other words, it might be wise to assume that we should be planning to avoid the worst case. It is often suggested that we should prepare to cope with 4ºC of warming, but mitigate (by aggressively cutting emissions) to give us the best chance of staying under 2ºC.

The second dimension of climate risk facing NZ is the geopolitical risk – the consequences that our climate policy actions have in terms of our international relationships. The present government has defined itself as a “fast follower” — not seeking to lead on actions to reduce emissions, but prepared to follow overseas efforts as they ratchet up. The recent agreement between the US and China on emissions demonstrates that the overall level of global climate ambition has increased. Any target that NZ sets has to be seen to be both ambitious in that context, and should represent a significant increase on the targets currently tabled.

In the wider context, if international action to cut emissions is going to accept the reality that the global economy will have to go beyond net-zero emissions in the second half of this century, then NZ should be positioning itself to reach net zero emissions by 2050 — preferably earlier — and perhaps aim to be a global centre of excellence for carbon sequestration.

From a strategic perspective, the government needs to realise that climate policy is not an optional extra. The climate problem is not going to go away, and while it may be possible to delay implementing effective policy for a few more years, the longer it is left the more expensive introducing those policies will be because faster and steeper cuts will be required. It will be much more economically efficient to make sure that a wide range of policy tools are put in place and their impacts ramped up over time, than to try to slam on the brakes in a few years time when international action — perhaps as a result of damaging climate impacts — really ramps up.

Costs versus opportunities

The discussion document issued by the MfE makes considerable play of the costs to NZ taxpayers of actions to reduce emissions, though as I and others have pointed out, the assumptions underlying the economic modelling are flawed and unhelpful when considering any sensible cost benefit analysis of emissions policy settings.

In one respect – and one respect only – the economic modelling commissioned to examine the costs of various emissions targets is very useful. If we take the emissions targets currently adopted by the government as the baseline (rather than the ridiculous base case of no action to cut emissions by anyone, anywhere), then we can see that the costs of increasing the ambition of targets is actually rather small.

If the necessity for emissions reductions were to be spread across the whole economy — rather than excluding half of national emissions by assuming that the rest of the economy is prepared to subsidise agricultural emissions, then the costs would likely drop further.

There are also considerable benefits to be obtained by moving towards a low emissions economy. There will be economic benefits from technology development, innovation and transitioning to clean fuels, as well as encouraging agriculture to diversify out of high emissions farming systems and into high value, low emissions crops with greater resilience to the impacts of warming.

Carbon sclerosis

The Ministry’s discussion document makes little or no mention of the costs of inaction, despite the fact that Treasury has calculated that they could be as large as $52 billion by 2030. With current emissions policy settings — a weak ETS that effectively subsidises big emitters and deliberately excludes emissions from agriculture — there is a danger that the economy will become locked in to a higher emissions profile than necessary. If the likely future cost of carbon is not factored into current infrastructure and capital investment decisions, then NZ risks creating an economy riddled with carbon sclerosis — a disease that will be ever more expensive to cure as global action to emissions tightens.

Policy tools

The government appears to be planning to meet NZ’s current commitments by purchasing emissions reductions on the global market, and seems to expect that this will be the most cost-effective way of meeting future emissions targets. This increases the future economic risk to the country by effectively encouraging the domestic economy to take a high emissions pathway. NZ will therefore be vulnerable to any steep rises in the cost of emissions trading units. Since a tightening of future international emissions policies is practically certain if worst-case climate impacts are to be avoided, this amounts to a strategic blunder of considerable proportions.

To reduce that risk exposure, the government should as a matter of urgency put policies in place to ensure that the domestic economy is set on a low-carbon pathway as soon as possible. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Tighten up ETS settings to reduce grandfathering of emissions for big emitters and increase the carbon price signal to all emitters currently covered by the scheme.
  • Bring agriculture into the ETS as soon as possible, in order to allow farmers and foresters to make sensible investment decisions.
  • Require that a minimum proportion of NZ emissions units are used to settle ETS positions.
  • Encourage afforestation and native bush regeneration to enlarge NZ’s standing carbon stock.
  • Expand the permanent forest sink initiative and encourage co-cropping in permanent forests (fungi, plants, biofuels). Put in place rules that allow selective timber harvest that doesn’t reduce standing carbon stock.
  • Phase out all fossil fuel electricity generation as soon as possible.
  • Phase out all non-essential road building and divert funds to rail and coastal shipping and public transport networks to encourage a shift of freight from road to rail and sea, and greater use of public transport systems in urban areas.
  • Phase out all support for coal production and oil exploration.
  • Step up research into biofuels and incentivise the roll-out of practical systems to reduce liquid fossil fuel use.
  • Introduce minimum fuel efficiency standards for all imported vehicles.
  • Expand support for electric vehicle use.
  • Continue and expand energy efficiency initiatives for all buildings, domestic and commercial, and encourage insulation of existing housing stock.
  • Incentivise renewable energy installations at all scales, and fund the development and installation of smart grid technologies that allow domestic and small-scale renewable generation projects to integrate with the national grid.

These policies will require a whole of government approach to emissions management and reduction. Implementing them will need a mixture of market mechanisms (via the ETS or carbon taxes) and carefully designed regulation.


It is important for all New Zealanders that government delivers a consistent set of policies that are designed to allow NZ to reach net zero emissions over the next 35 years. To this end, I strongly believe that climate policy should not be a political football, liable to constant change after every election. The government should work to build a cross-party consensus on emissions policy tools and settings, a “climate accord” that allows NZ to implement meaningful emissions reductions over the long term and to build social and economic resilience to the climate changes that are now inevitable.


Given the above, I believe that New Zealand should gazette a “net zero” by 2050 target, and consider all intermediate targets as waypoints on the route to that goal. As a gesture of our renewed commitment to action (and in recognition that the major international emitters are now committed to serious cuts), the current 5% reduction on 1990 emissions by 2020 target should be immediately increased to 15%, a 2030 goal be set at 40% below 1990 and a 2040 goal be set at 70%.

These targets are credible and achievable, but will require the current government to do more than pay lip service to climate policy. It remains to be seen whether that is a credible and achievable goal.

105 thoughts on “NZ’s Paris emissions commitments should be 40% by 2030 and 100% (or more) by 2050”

  1. The line “phase out non-essential road building” reminded me of a thought I had as I bumped along one of ChCh’s wrecked roads….. tarmac/asphalt is as important a product from fossil oil as petrol. We are going to need some radical rethinking about how we move about in the future. There’s no link between EVs and the roads they run on apart from an utter dependance on the latter by the former.
    The only alternative for road building is cement, either as cconcrete or as cement-loess mixtures for light traffic loadings and it also has a horrendous carbon footprint.

    1. Asphalt for roads can be made from heavy oil, but it is also a naturally occurring substance called bitumen, and can also be synthesised from sugar based substances like molasses.

      1. Any idea of the EROEI of ashpalt made from sugar? Or what the carbon footprint of sugar is? Or how much fertile land that will be desperately needed for growing food would be needed to maintain our existing roads, let alone build new ones?

        1. Asphalt made from sugar would be expensive obviously, but there is also natural bitumen. And your better alternative is what exactly? I don’t have much tolerance for people that simply raise problems, without offering solutions.

          1. The problem is that there may not be any easy solution. Digging up more fossil carbon which, like it or not, will eventually find its way into the atmosphere, is looking more and more like a non-starter. The costs will outweigh the advantages. Our modern society is totally wedded to cheap fuel that could destroy civilization or even much of life as we know it if we persist in business-as-usual while blatantly ignoring the risk of delayed responses and positive feedbacks causing out-of-control temperature rises and chaotic weather.
            We desperately need to urgently rethink what aspects of modern life we can sacrifice to ensure survival.

            1. The saying (when driving for a long time) that one has been “eating a lot of KM” will take on a whole new perspective with sugar based roads…. 😎

            2. On a more constructive note, once we solve “the energy question” a lot of technologies can be made more sustainable. I think we are still way of from knowing what would actually be long term sustainable as a human footprint on our global resources and chemistry of the planet.

              In the meanwhile there are many things we can do.
              Here is a good article from a while back in National Geographic:

            3. I skimmed the Nat Geog article, there’s a lot to be +ve about but at no point did anyone ask the question “Why are these vehicles on the road? Are their journeys really necessary?” If we have to get our carbon output into negative figures, what else can we do without to justify these demands?”
              Over and over, we see folk expecting our current lifestyles to continue even tho they are ultimately unsustainable. “Big V8 SUVs are not an option, I’ll get a Tesla instead” instead of “why do I work so far from home?” or “can we grow the food this community needs within wheelbarrow distance?” These may seem stupid questions in the light of 150 years of unbelievable luxury, but humanity survived for many millenia with the answers. There are a lot of answers to be found by asking the sustainable communities around the world. So called “primitive” tribes that non-the-less have maintained their status quo since time immemorial where we are on track to render the entire planet uninhabitable within 2 centuries. We may not like their answers, many of our luxuries may have to go, but the alternatives will be much worse unless we agree as to what we really value.

            4. I agree entirely. We need to ask why we travel and what can we do to reduce the need. We moved into the town where I teach and the kids go to school. About 2km to school and shops. My 2008 home converted Toyota Starlet EV is doing all we need in town as far as motorized transport. The low consumption diesel sits around for the occasional trip further afield.
              People will have to adapt in similar ways.

              This sort of gear:
              will perhaps help to get us places without any transport of matter.

              NH3 technology has in my mind huge potential. It can be made using solar or wind electricity and burned in modified combustion engines, even jet engines. It is already the most-produced industrial chemical today. It could fill the need for liquid fuels for high Hp requirements where electric technology is not going to make it.

            5. Kiwiiano. I agree digging up more fossil fuels is not the answer. I also agree about less use of roads by encouraging working from home.

              In theory the ETS should encourage these sorts of things, but it seems too weak and full of loopholes to me.

              The ETS has encouraged car makers to reduce emissions a little. However what would really make a difference is electric cars. With the price of conventional cars dropping this doesn’t exactly encourage you to buy the electric ones.

              The ETS wont really encourage electric cars, or nationwide charging networks, because manufacturers will go for easier options like buying cheap carbon credits or fine tuning conventional cars. The ETS may have a fatal flaw in this regard. It may require more direct government incentives.

            6. In NZ, on-road fuel use remains stubbornly around 10L/ 100 km, despite supposedly more efficient cars being sold.

              The above link is a very interesting article very pertinent to the discussion above.
              Summary – the main driver to reducing overall car emissions is to reduce the fleet size. NZ’s fleet is around 11 years old on average, with cars remaining in the fleet for around 20 years, and doing around 200,000+km before being scrapped.

            7. Well, surprise, surprise, that’s what happens when the wealth of the nation trickles upward to the 1%, the jobs are shipped off-shore or reduced to Mc-jobs and too many people are struggling to save for a home or pay exhorbitant rent. Especially when they insist that only safer, later models can be imported. Who can afford a new second-hand Jap import?

            8. Exactly! And that is why improving Social Justice goes hand in hand with any attempt to reduce GHG emissions. Reducing the disparity in disposable incomes is one of the first steps towards solving the problem – for with limited income, many people have limited choices.

            9. “Reducing the disparity in disposable incomes is one of the first steps towards solving the problem – for with limited income, many people have limited choices.”

              This is a very good comment. The Greens are criticised for being left leaning and social justice orientated, but this is a very good reason why they should be.

              Personally I’m a bit of a moderate politically, but I certainly feel inequality is a real problem, especially if you look at Thomas Picketty’s book. Some features of the free market neo classical agenda are very antagonistic to solving environmental problems.

              If you cant afford fuel efficient cars, or insulated homes or solar panels, then you cant exactly help with the climate issue.

  2. I went back to reread the blog….if the last time CO2 was at 400ppm 3Mya temps were 2-3°C hotter and oceans 20m higher that says we are already committed to the same, it’s just a matter of time. Seems to me we’re buggered already. Maybe Jonkey et al are right “eat drink & be merry, for tomorrow we’re done for.”

    1. During a short walk today, while crossing a motorway, I fell in with a woman from Onehunga on a bicycle and another oldie from my street who felt our huge burst of fossil fueled vehicle aquisition would be short lived, both looking more kindly on public transport improvement. Hooray for them.

      In light hearted mode I suggested we should get Lydia Co to design and inaugurate a long golf course on our future redundant motorways 🙂

      In my submission I also focussed on a ‘pick no winners’ certification scheme for renewable energy generation and sequestration of carbon through sustainable soil management and permanent forestry. Certificates would have value as in the Sweden-Norway scheme. I note soil gets mentions in other submissions.

  3. I’m sure we all put forward similar submissions – I recommended we should scrap the ETS (Its too easy to be manipluated by Govt’s and others) and a Carbon Tax at a sensible level similar to that of BC be introduced with the revenue reinvested in renewables etc.
    The overall effect will be that people out there are concerned and it will be not easy for the Cabinet to wash their hands of the problem. However we still have to trust that Groser will not resort to his usual stance of thinking that the best thing – is the “best deal” – ie that which costs NZ as little as possible while looking like we are actually doing something. He approaches this topic as he does trade negotiations – and quiet frankly that is not what the Planet needs right now.

  4. Gareth,
    thats a great submission. Especially making the flow vs stock argument. I wish I had thought of that. Also your points on how to go forward set out a far better strategy than anything we have seen from the Ministry for the Environment.
    My two page submission is on Google Drive if anyone is interested.

  5. Great submission Gareth. I just hope it will be read and not just filed in a basement somewhere under the beehive.

    It would be good if this submission was circulated in public media widely. Not sure how that can be achieved when the mass media are owned by those who are invested in the no-action camp of the debate.

    Anyway, well done on your submission.

  6. ….and while we are battling on to convince our governments to do the right thing, the coal and oil barons shower the liars of the denial movement generously with money:

    Another account of the volume of funds funneled by right wing zealots to right wing propaganda organisations with attempt to finance attacks on journalists, scientists, politicians and government agencies: 125 Million in three years:

  7. I went to the Hamilton event which was very well attended. When asked what was to become of our submissions and the discussion that was taking place we were told that from the submissions and the round of “consultations” a report was to be prepared by the Consultation team for presenting to Cabinet. It would then be up to Cabinet to make the final decisions as to what NZ would take to Paris. (as one would expect). Would we be able to see the subsequent report to Cabinet it was asked? I might say the general consensus in the room was almost completely one of we must reduce by at least 40% by 2030 – as per EU. And we need to ensure this is done with with incentives across all sectors – and our current ETS sucks! There was one discenting voice from a dairy farmer who was still living in lala land, and she had the floor for about 3 mins before being shut up and that was it.
    We were informed that there was no intention of making the report to Cabinet public and we would probably have to OIA it.
    So even though I’m sure the majority made it quite clear that NZ had to make changes and we needed to go to the table with positive intentions and help speed the process of pricing Carbon and encouraging all nations to work towards making significant reductions in GHG emissions – I have a very nagging suspicion that Uncle Tim will put his trade deal negotiations hat on and offer up nothing.

    My submission ended with the following paragraph

    The Planet and the people on Earth, can no longer wait while Governments play chicken as to who is going to act first on combating global warming. Now is the time for positive action by all; including Governments owning up to the need for collaborative action across Nations.

  8. As Cindy Tweeted, One of NZ’s last deniers of the effects of AGW in a teaching position at one of our Universities, Willem De Lange, was invited by Radio NZ to confuse the listeners with his “theories” on the effect of storms, now and in the future, on our vulnerable coasts.

    The audio link to the interchange is here:

    De Lange completely denies the Elephant in the discussion: What will happen to our coast with regards to storm surges and erosion is the sea will rise during this century and the next to come.
    As reported, a 5m sea level rise caused by climate change is now inevitable and we may well see 1m or more by the end of this century already.
    Instead De Lange denies any connection of CO2 and climate change towards this questions. The old denier mantra: “Weather has always been this and that. It will always be a problem no more no less.”
    How on Earth can De Lange spout about with his nonsense that there is no connection between CO2, Climate Change and the future fate of our coasts and their defenses?

    Essential Questions:
    When will Waikato University step up and investigate whether their students are being taught according to the best view of science or according to the minority view of science deniers? Will it aid the image of Waikato University being named as the institution that stands behind this nonsense? When will our media stop calling upon contrarians when it comes to informing the public?

  9. Willem De Lange should be fired for his incompetence. His job is to teach the mainstream view on climate change, not to go on some personal crusade. What next, do we have people teaching that evolution is a myth?

      1. Richard, De Lange just talks nonsense, and ignores the fact that a warming climate should logically have an effect on rainfall, storms and heat waves and we already have evidence those have increased. He is comparable to a flat earther.

      2. With reference to the science Richard. We have at least 1m SLR booked until the end of this century and already 5m total SRL are inevitable with what have set in motion so far. This Richard is what is awaiting my children and their descendants. Not acknowledging this in the context of our wondering of what we should do about our coastal defenses would seem utterly silly indeed. But that exactly is what De Lange has done.

        If you want a summary that is accessible to anybody read the latestNew Scientist summary on the matter.

        1. Dr de Lange was reporting the results of his research that showed no correlation between storms and and climatic trend.

          Do you want him to make stuff up?

          1. That is precisely what he was doing: making stuff up. As far as I can tell he has published no such research. (Take a look at his publication record at the Waikato Uni. Not only is there no research on storms and climate trends, he has the cheek to list his plagiarised contributions to the last NIPCC report as “scholarly”).

            1. Looking through De Langes publication record at the University of Waikato I found this “Gem” from 2003 with the title:
              Greenhouses, hot water bottles, cycles and the future of New Zealand climate
              The writ is full of rather “interesting” statements of “grand certitude” about how the Greenhouse Effect works and the role of the Oceans in our climate. Strangely, the paper has a long list of references at the end BUT not a single of De Lange’s statements is actually related in the way citations are meant to be done according the Universities rules on citing to any of the papers in his reference list! If this was a student assignment it would likely have been rejected on this ground alone. So his statements stand – entirely unsupported by any data or any evidence provided by him – as his private opinion. Probably this is so because finding evidence for his statements in peer reviewed published papers would be difficult since his statements are riddled with gross misinterpretations of basic physics.

              Among the statements are these, right at the beginning:

              The oceans derive almost all of their thermal energy from the sun, and none from infrared radiation in the atmosphere.
              Based on ocean behaviour, New Zealand can expect weather patterns similar to those from 1890-1922 and another Little Ice Age may develop this century.

              (De Lange, 2003)
              Fair to say the Little Ice Age will have to wait a long time…. and to the first statement:
              Later in his paper De Lange lets us know that:

              On average oceans lose 53% as latent heat due to evaporation, 41% as infrared emissions, and 6% by conduction to the atmosphere.

              (De Lange, 2003)
              Fair to assume he has not much of an idea at all about radiation energy exchange otherwise the complete contradiction of his first statement and the one above might have dawned on him. Hint: Kirchhoff Laws… (for those with some interest in Physics..)
              The IR properties of the atmosphere and the GHG concentrations of the same are a vital component of defining the net radiation balance between the ocean surface and the atmosphere above and thereby the equilibrium temperature of the ocean surface. In other words, rising GHG will result in a shift to warmer surface temps.

              De Lange closes with the statement:

              Since the solar maximum in Cycle 23, solar activity has decreased and ocean heat content has also been falling. Extrapolation of known solar cycles (particularly the Gleissberg and Seuss cycles) predicts solar activity will continue to decline this century. If this is correct, then global climate is moving towards another Little Ice Age.

              (De Lange, 2003)

              In the real world meanwhile:

              The man is literally living in some parallel world of his own making as it seems.

            2. not a single of De Lange’s statements is actually related in the way citations are meant to be done according the Universities rules on citing to any of the papers in his reference list!

              I had a quick look at the “bibliography” that accompanied the article you cited, and noted that these were not “references” as there were no references in the article. Furthermore, I’m not sure if the University has any rules over how articles in “Grassland” should be written.

            3. All students and staff at Waikato Uni have these guidelines:


              is rated as a journal of science and De Lange would have been well advised to format his paper according to what is customary for good science writing. Statements must be made with evidence, either through the researchers own data (of which he has none to offer) or with clear reference to the published evidence of others (which he can not and has not done either) because he won’t find much to underpin his interpretation of the science. Hence the long list of references he gives at the end is completely meaningless. It gives his paper a sciency look. That’s all.

              Obviously what he thinks is very wrong and an embarrassing insight into the lack of his understanding of the basics of the greenhouse effect.

            4. Obviously what he thinks is very wrong

              Then i suggest you follow standard academic practice and write a paper rebutting this one, rather than leaving comments on blogs

            5. No need. It was pre-butted (if that’s possible) by a sensible paper by David Wratt in the same issue. There’s a third article in that issue, giving a very sensible overview of how pastoral agriculture should respond to the challenge of emissions pricing. Given that this was 2009, would that more farmers – and especially farming leaders – had responded in that way.

            6. “andyS June 19, 2015 at 3:48 pm
              Obviously what he thinks is very wrong

              Then i suggest you follow standard academic practice and write a paper rebutting this one, rather than leaving comments on blogs”

              Good grief are you for real? What utter hypocrisy of staggering proportions.You spend all your time leaving comments on blogs criticising people, reports or research. And its not very convincing criticism either.

            7. Thanks Nijel, you hit it on the nail.
              De Lange is rebutted without even trying by a mountain of peer reviewed published science and evidence. Just citing recorded observations of NOAA and others is sufficient to prove his statements to be diametrically opposed to reality.
              And indeed Andy, going by your own advice you should cancel your blogging accounts and only come back if you have peer reviewed published evidence to back up your case or show us your own paper.

            8. Thomas – I don’t need to publish a paper to support my case, because I haven’t made a case.

              However, just to clarify, are you suggesting that the Sun doesn’t heat the oceans?

            9. Yes Andy the source of the energy heating the oceans (and the rest of the Earth) is the Sun.

              However, the equilibrium temperature reached by the oceans is a function with a strong dependency on the IR radiation exchange balance between the ocean surface and the atmosphere and also the temperature of the atmosphere above the oceans with which the oceans are exchanging IR energy. As De Lange tells us, about 40% of the outgoing heat fux of the oceans is the IR exchange between itself and the atmosphere. Water has an emissivity in the IR bands of close to 1. And if you know your Physics you will know that the absorptivity is equal to the emissivity. Water is a close to perfect absorber of IR.

              Now if you alter the atmospheric IR properties or its temperature you will alter the equilibrium temperature that the oceans will end up with. A bit like if you were to alter the IR properties of your greenhouse glazing or install double glazing you will alter the equilibrium temp of your greenhouse without any need to modify the insolation. Comprehendo?

              We are adding GHG into the atmosphere – a 40% increase of CO2 over postindustrial levels with a century is probably unprecedented in its rate in the geological record. As a result the Earth and certainly the Oceans are getting warmer.

              So yes, we are currently warming the oceans by way of altering the IR energy exchange balance between the Ocean surface and the Atmosphere through warming the Atmosphere due to changes in the IR properties of the Atmosphere.

              De Lange stated that this is not affecting the ocean temperatures. He behaves like these armchair climate guys who keep telling themselves that the temperature of a colder surface (Atmosphere) cannot effect the temperature of a warmer surface (Ocean) it is exchanging IR radiation with! If you have a problem with that last statement then pick up a physics textbook before posting on the matter and get caught with your pants at your ankles….

            10. Interesting post Thomas. De Lange makes various claims, and is easily refuted just by the basic science on the greenhouse effect, and real world information on ocean heat content trends. We have basic predictions of more rainfall and heat waves, that have already happened. There are also now studies linking specific heat wave and weather events to climate change.

              Like so many De Lange looks at short term trends of ten years, and somehow assumes they must just go on. It’s obvious global warming (and sea level rise) hasnt follow some smooth line or curve, but the general trend has been upwards. I dont know the details about sea level rise in NZ, but we cant possibly escape a trend of one metre globally, and it wont stop at one metre.

              De Lange is also involved in some government programme about warning us of Tsunami threats. All I can say is I dont feel very reassured.

            11. What utter hypocrisy of staggering proportions.You spend all your time leaving comments on blogs criticising people

              I don’t spend “all” my time leaving comments on blogs.
              However, when I do leave comments on blogs, I am usually responding to another comment, which is fairly standard practice, I am led to believe.

              if I had a problem with a particular paper, and I disagreed that the sun heats the ocean, for example, as Thomas does, then I would write a paper explaining why the sun doesn’t heat the ocean. As I recall, Nigel, it was you suggesting that Dr de Lange should be sacked for his views, so if you wish to make this happen you could first publish a paper rebutting his views and then write to his employer explaining why he should have his employment terminated

            12. Andy: Thanks for asking above about the sun heating the oceans. I refer the reader to my post above answering Andys “bait” and explaining in more detail why De Lange’s argument that the oceans are not affected by IR absorption is wrong.

            13. De Lange apparently thinks ocean warming over the last 40 years is all due to the sun. That’s fascinating because over this period solar irradiance has had a slight cooling trend. This alone should tell him something else is going on, as Thomas explains.

              No need to publish anything to refute Langes basic scientific nonsense. We dont have to keep renegotiating the basics.

            1. With 1m SLR or more expected for the rest of this century

              That’s odd because this is a high end estimate for the IPCC and the Christchurch City Council are using one metre as guideline for all the new building codes.

              So are you saying that the IPCC and the councils of NZ are underestimating the effect of SLR?

              Note that there has been no SLR for the last 10 years in the Christchurch region, according to the council’s own reports, but we assume that SLR will dramatically accelerate to 5-6 times the long term rate “real soon”

            2. It’s quite possible the CCC have under-estimated it. They would be working from old findings and the IPCC are chronic for their under-estimations.
              We may dodge the worst of the SLR bullets in NZ, depending on how quickly Antarctica melts and how much our current SL is affected by the polar icecap’s gravitational mass.
              In the mean time, the rate at which polar ice is melting is ramping up, approx doubling every decade, so your guesstimate may not be far off. It probably won’t cause visible changes in our lifetimes, but I worry about my grandsons.

    1. Oh gosh, I do recommend to read that “Cornish” letter to the Pope!

      Galileo would turn in his grave if he read this! I dare to quote:

      This is especially tragic since science itself arose in Medieval Europe, the one culture nurtured for centuries in the Biblical picture of reality that encouraged the scientific endeavor.
      In short, the Biblical worldview launched science as a systematic endeavor to understand the real world by a rigorous process of testing hypotheses by real-world observation.

      Err, wait a second, wasn’t it the Biblical guys with their denial of reality in order to maintain “belief” that imprisoned Galileo for his daring insistence of thinking and working scientifically? Oh and wasn’t it the Biblical guys with their Inquisition that burned Giodarno Bruno on the stake for proclaiming that the stars were just other Suns with perhaps planets and perhaps life around them? Yes these were the glorious medieval times when denial of science was still institutionalized and protected by the brutal force of the inquisition.
      Mind you, the church finally took Galileos works of their Index of banned books in 1835. So where was the “encouragement of science” in the medieval time??

      Oh, don’t get me started! These jokers, including this De Lange boy are seemingly really wet-dreaming of those times when science was confined to the narrow and silly narrative of the biblical mythology.
      Let it be said for the record: Science took off only once the reformation movement had diminished the brutal power of the medieval churches and the human spirit was free to explore AND say it as it was found to be, and not as belief wanted it to look.

      So here we have it, a bunch of 2014 science deniers beg the Pope to remember these good old times of the dark ages of the medieval suppression of science and reign in those terrible heretics, the climate scientists, with their observations and graphs and predictions…..

      Really, if De Lange’s nonsense in our media on matters of climate science could perhaps still run (very marginally indeed) under the guise of academic freedom of expression, signing this paper is surly a sign of deep intellectual failure.

  10. On the subject of targets I was reading that article on 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels when I became interested in the history of the “2°C” limit.
    Here is a timeline. Note that it appeared first in 1975 as an “intuition” by an economist.

    I was also interested in this referenced observation in a Wikipedia article:

    “However, recent science has shown that the weather, environmental and social impacts of 2°C rise are much greater than the earlier science indicated, and that impacts for a 1°C rise are now expected to be as great as those previously assumed for a 2°C rise.” (2009)

    I have understood for several years that we are already committed to a 1.6°C rise – twice the present condition.

  11. Several Interesting events seem to belong together.

    1. The Pope’s Encyclical creating a big buzz – time govts got serious about mitigation
    2. The UNSW study on flash flooding risks increasing os peak downpours intensify
    3. Flooding over Lower NI

    The Whanganui River’s flood levels were the highest on record. “Palmerston North and Whanganui both had about a month’s worth of rain in the last 24-hour period”, meteorologist Emma Blade said. “…sometimes [fronts] move through fast and you just get bursts of rain but here there’s been one after another.”

    4 John Key on Radio NZ today: He used words like mitigate, qualified of course, and we’re doing our bit etc but one hopes it may be a sign of better things from our government. Actually the report said:

    “Prime Minister John Key told Morning Report the Government will need to act to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events.
    Though there was no official advice about any link with climate change and the recent events, he said, global warming was expected to cause more volatile weather and the Government needed to act to ensure the country’s infrastructure could cope.

    “The rise in global temperature is likely to have a more dramatic impact on weather patterns, and so I think there’s a few things we’ll need to do there.
    “Some are in terms of mitigating that – making sure our infrastructure can cope better.”
    Mr Key said the Government was also working to meet its emissions targets and big global emitters should to do their bit as well.”

    1. I think you are right. The dots are becoming bigger and closer on the paper and even for those who have been trying to avoid connecting the same, let alone guess the message it will spell when done, the writing is now getting all to clear to be mistaken.

      Voter sentiment will eventually quickly turn the table on the last bastions of denial. Further business will sense that mitigation of climate risks and the establishment of the post-fossil fuel world are likely the biggest tasks of the century, and not to be missed by anybody who wants to take part in the work to be done.
      Perhaps at last, even in our ends of the woods, the government will start to wake up. Lets hope this is so.

          1. But only -4°C on my white roof in Auckland this morning. I didn’t dare step on it to clean off bird droppings from yesterday and moths and their droppings from the night!

            1. We bought some frost cloth to drape over our citrus trees yesterday. Hope it did some good. We only got down to -2°C, but they do get a bit of a burn if it gets much lower. Not that it does – we’re high enough to get good cold air drainage down the valley, and we have coastal plants like ngaio growing wild on the slopes around us. Coldest since I set up the weather station 4 years ago was -3.2ºC.

            2. I recall that back in the 50’s we used to get 12° frosts in ChCh that would be -6.6°C. Certainly I can remember puddles still frozen for skating on when we were coming home from school and State houses had NO insulation at all with frost flowers covering the bedroom windows on winter morning. Nowadays we feel hard-done-by with -2°C.

            3. It’s called base-line syndrome Kiwiano

              In 1947, aged 8, wearing bare feet, I broke ice in muddy puddles on state highway 1, Umawera, Hokianga, while on my way to the milking shed with a billy and in the evenings I had to dress the “tree tomatoes” in scrim to keep off jack frost – one night I forgot..

              In 1957 I read in a geography text that there were no frosts in Hokianga!

              A year or so ago my one remaining aunt, now over 90, confirmed she used to break ice in mud puddles in Kaitaia as a child – further North again!

              However, I’ve heard someone from NIWA say frosts can happen anywhere given clear still air..

            4. We are on the top of the Thames Fault Line (enjoying a 180 degree view of the Firth and Hauraki Plains) so the frost (if any) drains downhill as well – no need to cover the citrus. Mind you a couple of years back we had that incredible storm that brought sleet. Unseen here for decades.
              Seems like someone left the fridge door open down south – or has it something to do with El Nino and SAM?

            1. Yes Andy, but on the other side of the globe, a few extra degrees are killing at an alarming rate with Karachi morgues filled to capacity:

              Pakistan morgue overwhelmed by heat wave deaths

              … and this is just the beginning of what is in store for the world as we trundle towards a future that could see temps rise by several more degrees on average – which means locally a lot more in many places.

              While you can don on a jacket in Twizel, there is nothing much you can do in Pakistan if you have nowhere to run from the heat, still have to work somehow for a living to make your family survive and air-con is not an option.

  12. Mr Key said the Government was also working to meet its emissions targets and big global emitters should to do their bit as well.”

    I hope Mr Key remembers that NZ’ers are amongst the biggest global emitters, per capita, and it behooves us to be leaders in cutting back.

    1. I’m still puzzled as to how we can be the biggest global emitters per capita when we have the second highest penetration of renewable energy in the OECD and huge tracts of forests.

      Creative accounting, I presume

      1. Rapidly diminishing forests, usually being converted to dairying, which is also contributing to our carbon footprints. Plus we all drive cars, have a high turnover of cheap imported junk and take a lot of air trips. They all add up.

      2. Ratio of Ruminants / Capita comes to mind…..
        If we had 10x the population we would be looking better on the per captia stats. As always, check the nominator AND the denominator of the fraction Andy. 😉

        1. As a physicist, you will be aware that methane reacts with OH in the Troposphere and breaks down in about 10 years to the CO2 and H2O that it was formed from via photosynthesis

          I like to repeat this on several blogs several times a week.

          Eventually, someone might get it.

          1. True, but that CO2 continues to accumulate and over the decades/centuries it will linger in the atmosphere it will do more damage than the methane did during it’s short life. We should/nay MUST try to reduce the amount we are releasing.

          2. Andy, your observation would be somewhat valid if we indeed stopped emitting Methane today. Then in 12 years it would have been converted into CO2. Problem sort of solved…. However, we keep Methane coming year after year and we have increased the flow over time as we have added ruminants. Each CH4 is worth 84 x CO2 as far as its AGW potential goes:

            Thus we keep a comparatively large and still growing CH4 amount airborne at all times. It is a significant component of our per capita AGW contribution. In fact, agriculture (of which CH4 is the largest component) makes up close to 1/2 of our nations AGW contribution.

            1. I thought the GWP figure for methane was commonly cited as 21, now it is 84.

              Maybe, as a physicist, you can explain what this actually means in real terms. i.e if I have a constant stock of methane in the atmosphere, for sake of argument, (i.e inputs = outputs) then why is the decay time of the gas of any relevance?

            2. GWP is a construct designed for emissions trading. I believe (and I’m sitting in a café in Petone so don’t expect a dissertation) that molecule for molecule CH3 has about 9 times the radiative impact – but I’d be happy to be corrected.

            3. The GPW calculation for CH4 on a 20 year horizon in the publication of the UN CCC is 56:


              GWP values and lifetimes from 2013 IPCC AR5 p714 list for CH4 a value of 86 on a 20 year horizon (according to Wikipedia).

              Here is a relatively goo summary on the matter:

              Apparently in 2013 the GWP of Methane was corrected upwards by the IPCC

              I think my initially quoted figure of 84 x CO2 on a 20 year horizon is reflecting our best and current understanding of the matter. But I stand corrected if there is more recent evidence suggesting otherwise.

              Can anybody find anything more recent?

            4. The subject is worth more explanation than I can give it today, but a case can be made for treating agricultural emissions of CH4 in a different way to emissions from, say, oil & gas production. The latter takes fossil carbon and adds it to atmosphere/ocean/biosphere stocks. Agricultural CH4 takes biologically available C and makes it worse (radiatively speaking) on decadal timescales, but doesn’t add to the total stock. Unless of course you increase the number of cows, rice paddies etc, in which case you increase the atmospheric CH4 loading.

              Unfortunately for NZ, that distinction wasn’t recognised when emissions trading was being worked out in the late 90s – mainly because ag emissions are not important to the major economies. And dairying wasn’t as important in NZ then as it is now. We were also planting a lot of trees and thought forestry was our get out of jail free card.

              Times have changed, and in practical terms the cell door is now locked.

            5. Yes I see of cause. The agricultural CH4 at least once its back into CO2 is (in a way) not representing an extra loading and hence the 84 figure is likely not applicable in its full extent for AG CH4 emissions. It would be interesting if somebody has worked this out.

            6. I never thought I’d say this but I once find myself in complete agreement with Gareth on this issue

            7. Andy, the choice of using a 100 year or a 20 year horizon for assessing policy based on GWP calculations is mostly a policy choice.
              If we want to male a quick impact to reducing the risk of serious AGW consequences, then adopting the 20 year GWP horizon to judge which initiatives may be most effective on the short run may well be the better policy.
              The 20 year GWP of Methane has been raised from 72 to 86 in the latest IPCC review.

              The IPCC reports that, over a 20-year time frame, methane has a global warming potential of 86 compared to CO2, up from its previous estimate of 72. Given that we are approaching real, irreversible tipping points in the climate system, climate studies should, at the very least, include analyses that use this 20-year time horizon.

              Other voices agree:

              Now in the case of NZ’s agricultural CH4 emissions some variation of the figure may be permissible to account for the fact that the CO2 that is eventually created from the CH4 is not fossil and hence is not adding to the otherwise available CO2. However, this is also debatable. If NZ had remained a forest nation then the speed of the Carbon cycle would have been a lot different as forest can act as carbon sinks while the rapid deforestation of NZ has significantly reduced this potential.
              Also in the discussion of the GWP of CH4 it are the properties of the CH4 molecule that cause the high (86) factor over CO2 on a 20 year horizon. It would seem academical to the perhaps take a “1” off that for the CO2 that is eventually produced from that CH4 as that is perhaps deemed natural.

              So at present I fail to see how we could get away with arguing somehow that NZ’s CH4 GWP is significantly different from that caused by other processes in other parts of the world.

              But again, I am happy to stand corrected if somebody can make succinct point with references that would see NZ being able to apply a significantly lower GPW to our Methane that that applicable to other sources.

    2. Good riposte! We’re among the biggest emitters per capita despite 80% renewables in electricity generation.

      I wonder how big a chunk of our emissions would be slashed just by mandating that dairy herds be reduced to pre-china-milkpowder status? So easy! 🙂

  13. WOW! Dutch court orders the Nethrelands to cut emissions by 25% based on human rights law:

    Moreover, the wording used by the judges in the ruling is incredibly strong and clear-cut: “The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts … Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.
    The court has ordered the Dutch government to reduce greenhouse emissions by 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020.”

    It will be interesting if the same case can and will be brought against other governments in their countries who are not acting in the common good.

  14. And dairying wasn’t as important in NZ then as it is now. We were also planting a lot of trees and thought forestry was our get out of jail free card.
    Times have changed, and in practical terms the cell door is now locked.

    The conversion of forests to dairying, even the stripping of the shelter belts to allow for tower irrigators has been a classic example of Capitalism’s inability to deal with the future.

  15. The carbon cost of intensive farming is loss of soil carbon. Something that can be measured.

    Scientists have said for a long time that CH4 emissions only become a problem because of the high and growing level of CO2 emissions. But if dairy methane emissions are entirely carbon neutral then the taxable emissions from a farm are fossil fuel emissions and loss of soil carbon.

    In my notion of a carbon tax, any emissions from fossil fuels and any soil degradation should incur the tax. Conversely any real gain in soil carbon beyond seasonal variation should score carbon certificates with a real value. Protection of the soil from extreme weather would be a big thing.

    1. Not sure where the idea comes from that CH4 emissions are only problematic for high CO2 scenarios.

      As we are trying to get serious to finally affect the GW trajectory it is becoming evident that looking at the 100 year horizon of GWP for short lived gasses is missing the point. CH4 has a 86x higher GWP than CO2 on a 20 year horizon and especially for constant emitters such as farming this is what we should look at.

      of the manmade global warming we’re experiencing today 25% is caused by methane emissions.

      Reducing CH4 emissions is an important pathway for NZ to become part of the solution in my mind. And if we could reverse some the late dairy conversions and regrow forests and conserve soil that would be a significant added bonus.

      1. CO2 is warming oceans and tundra which in turn release CH4 where sea is too shallow to reabsorb any gas released from the sea bed as in parts of the arctic ocean. This constitytes the bulk of methane released by human causes. It’s essentially a positive feedback.

        1. A sustainable farm has to replace carbon and minerals that are removed by sale of produce. Biofarmer once remarked that “a farm is a large solar panel”. Indeed it is but unlike the ones on my roof it could have the ability to create and maintain soil. Putting value on soil carbon and any sequestrated carbon would indirectly reduce our methane emissions and stimulate tree planting – not only as in forestry but also in planting to improve soil and to prevent flooding by capturing water in soil and acquifer.

          Soil is also lost through heavy rains and drains that do not go through appropriately sized reed beds (swamps?). Egypt lives off sediment brought down by the annual flooding of the Nile. I have often wondered how much essential soil carbon and minerals are being lost because (a) we don’t do enough to retain soil in extreme weather, (b) we do not do enough to recapture it. (c) we simply put it back into the river when we clean up after flooding.

          I once explained to a bwildered farmer the value of terminating his drains in the swamps at the bottom of his property instead of leading them straight to the inlet and harbour waters. The then Auckland Regional Authority had a large scale demonstration of this strategy just a few kilometers to the north and a move to force the use of the same strategy saw farmers racing to put drains through that did the opposite before the measure came into force! When I did my walk round the Manukau harbour the chief difficulties (mud) came directly from farm and housing development run off.

          1. You can find a goo introduction to CH4 here:

            While the tundra will possibly be a big and serious wildcard and tipping point in the future, currently direct human caused emissions are still dominating currently.

            A summary table is also here:

            For NZ the relevant measure is that globally ruminants count for about 20% of all CH4 emissions at the same rate as energy (loss of CH4 from wells etc.)

            1. Superb. Hope it works. It could open the minds of farmers to join the battle to curb AGW.

            2. Given that the consensus appears to be moving towards the position that ruminant methane emissions are a much smaller problem that we originally thought, maybe it would be better to focus on the bigger issues?

            3. In fact, CH4 concentrations have more than doubled over the last 150 years, and the contribution to the enhanced greenhouse effect is almost half of that due to CO2 increases over the same period.

              The fact is that a large part of our emissions are from ruminant methane emissions and as the planet does not distinguish between sources of emissions the problem for NZ still remains. Furthermore – although there are some encouraging signs that we might reduce ruminant emissions with different farming techniques, the fact remains that we are far from implementing these at the present time, and our gross emissions, aided and abetted by increased dairying, are increasing.

            4. Unfortunately the tables in both references rely on data from 1998 or 99 while the wikipedia article seems to hve been written by a few too many hands. What we know is that CH4 emissions plateaued from about 1998 to 2007 during which time there was no halt to human direct generation of CH4 and certainly in NZ an increase. Of course fracking and dairy emissions hve increased since 2007 as well. Nor was tundra melting in 2001 as it has since, with fires as well. The Wikipedia story does cite NOAA as follows “According to NOAA the atmospheric methane concentration is now above 1820ppb – largely due to the arctic methane release from melting methane clathrates”. (also called hydrates) I think this is from 2011 data but am unsure. I now doubt any explanation relying on methane hydrates. Methane level is higher as of 2014.

              Real Climate on importance of methane (pie charts 2014)

              In a 2012 article David (Archer I bet) at Real Climate said, as those earlier charts do, that Arctic emissions are as yet small compared to the real killer: wetlands, mainly tropical wetlands (I stand corrected). He is not too impressed with figures about how powerful methane is compared with CO2. The closing paragraph of this article titled ‘Much ado about Methane’ reads;

              “Could methane be a point of no return?

              Actually, releasing CO2 is a point of no return if anything is. The only way back to a natural climate in anything like our lifetimes would be to anthropogenically extract CO2 from the atmosphere. The CO2 that has been absorbed into the oceans would degas back to the atmosphere to some extent, so we’d have to clean that up too. And if hydrates or peats contributed some extra carbon into the mix, that would also have to be part of the bargain, like paying interest on a loan.


              It’s the CO2, friend.

            5. Definitely, CO2 is the biggie. That’s certain.
              For NZ though dairy herds and farming general are a big factor of our “contribution” and mitigating CH4 would do us well. And the research about the altered gut flora (above) holds true, this could be one relatively low hanging fruit on the mitigation tree that we should go for!

  16. Quoting Andy: “maybe it would be better to focus on the bigger issues?”
    If we are to make the desired target of 10% of our current target EVERY option for reducing our footprint is top priority.
    Active sequestration of CO2 should have “Manhattan Project” urgency.

    1. So the consensus is, as it always has been, we’ve got to srop emitting fossil fuel sourced greenhouse gases, in particular CO2. The rider is that to avoid very dangerous climate change we’ve got to find a way of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. That’s why I’ve been going on about soils. Lots of reports and papers mention this but that’s about it.

      Also our CH4 emissions are not carbon neutral in as much as synthetic fertilisers made from fossil fuels are used to sustain the huge herds sustainable farms could not. I’ve read:

      “Nitrogen-based fertilizers contribute directly to global warming:
      Making and transporting one kilogram of nitrogen in a fertilizer re-
      leases 3.7 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

  17. So Back On Topic:
    Gov’t released today NZ’s “target” : 30% of 2005 level by 2030.
    That’s around 11% of 1990 levels.
    Why are they so duplicitous? I don’t think they can help it. No one who understands this is going to be deceived by this abominable target – it stinks when other developed Nations are committing to a 40% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030. NZ will be the Pariahs at Paris without a doubt. What the knock on effects down stream will be wrt trade who knows?
    As for the complete and utter rejection of almost all submissions and scientific advice on the desperate need to make significant reductions urgently – well it’s just pissing in the wind with this idiotic lot They prove themselves time and again to be completely incapable of governance. The sooner they are out the better.
    My apologies if I sound intemperate and grumpy – but that is just how I feel right now. An appalling decision, by and appalling Government.

  18. Unfortunately, we are saddled with a government of yesterday’s men – money traders, failed lawyers and lifelong bureaucrats like Groser and English, whose vision extends no further than their shoes.

  19. It looks like very cheap trick all right. Shift the baseline to 2005 (and hope the Joe Public will not know the difference) and then pick a percentage that sounds reasonable (30%). Of cause this is pathetic when compared to the 40% below 1990 levels that other nations have in mind.

    Oh dear!

  20. Absolutely agree Macro but be careful what you wish for. What other party has a policy of any significance. ???
    Key and associates are derelict in their duty to their children and ours and future generations in providing a `smoke and mirrors` approach to Paris.
    I emailed Nick Smith re his `We can`t afford it` statement a few days ago. No response of course but had pleasure in pointing out the current cost of doing nothing. My ballpark estimates are that over the past five years through drought,flood, windstorm, tide surge and tornado events causing loss of production, infrastructure loss, personal loss and ultimately GDP loss the tax payer will fund between 10 and 15 billion just to get back to square one. A fraction of that would go a very long way to provide real renewable energy technology and bugger the farting cows. Turn them into burgers.
    You think the Greeks are screwed, we are just waiting our turn.

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