Fonterra’s coal-fired climate folly

By Jeanette Fitzsimons

Cross-posted from Coal Action Network Aotearoa 

Why would Fonterra spend several million dollars on a process lasting nearly a year, seeking planning consent for a huge new milk drier that it knows will never be built? Perhaps that’s not a lot of money to them – after all, one million is only three months’ salary for their CEO.

Fonterra’s proposed Studholme project, just outside of Waimate in South Canterbury, would see two new spray driers powered by two immense coal boilers – one 65MW, the other 50.

one lump or twoThis is the biggest new coal burning project in the country, with the hearing happening just as our Minister for Climate Change is about to travel to New York to sign the Paris agreement where we undertook to reduce our greenhouse emissions a totally inadequate 11% below 1990 levels. (It’s even more inadequate when creative accounting turns this into more like +10%).

Fonterra is already the second biggest coal burner in the country and grew its coal use by 38% between 2008-2013. They pay lip service to climate change but in practice are totally wedded to coal. Continue reading “Fonterra’s coal-fired climate folly”

Hotspots hit poor hardest

Another report this week drives home the message that the world’s poorer people are going to suffer the early and potentially devastating effects of climate change. The report is the work of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) programme associated with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a group of food research organisations.

The report, Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics, was produced by a team of scientists responding to what CCAFS describes as an urgent need to focus climate change adaptation efforts on people and places where the potential for harsher growing conditions poses the gravest threat to food production and food security.

Continue reading “Hotspots hit poor hardest”

Self-interested, myopic hot-air

AtomHeartMother.jpgNew Zealand’s farming leadership have not distinguished themselves in the debate about climate policy. Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson has called for NZ to set no target for emissions reductions and for agriculture to be excluded from the emissions trading scheme, and former vice-president Frank Brenmuhl is still ruminating on the need for more debate on basics:

Political expediency has ensured the scientific debate has been reduced to a battle between believers and deniers.

No prizes for guessing Brenmuhl’s position… It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to point to an excellent analysis of agriculture’s role in the ETS by Adolf Stroombergen at Infometrics. He is scathing of Federated Farmers:

Once again we hear Federated Farmers bleating about the potential burden placed on them by an emissions trading scheme, proclaiming that farmers are doing all they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence any carbon charge on agriculture would be pointless. Rubbish.

Stroombergen doesn’t mince his words:

Arguing that agriculture should not be part of this mechanism has as much merit as arguing that it should not pay ACC premiums linked to its accident rate, or that it should not face fines for polluting waterways.

Merit has seldom been a key feature of Federated Farmer’s arguments about emissions policy, but Stroombergen notes that:

The self-interested myopic hot air from some in the agricultural sector has fortunately been given little credence.

Perhaps Nicholson and Brenmuhl haven’t got the ear of the right people in the National Party. We should all be grateful for that.

Why did Nick Smith hide the facts on forestry?

targetGovernment ministers have deliberately played down the role of forestry in meeting emissions targets, documents released under the Official Information Act suggest. Diligent digging at No Right Turn has uncovered a Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry paper [PDF] titled New forest planting and harvesting intentions under high carbon prices, which makes clear that forest planting will increase significantly under a stable Emissions Trading Scheme, and that even a modest ($20/tonne) carbon price could trigger planting of up to 100,000 hectares a year — a rate not seen since the forestry boom of the 1990s, and enough to offset a huge chunk of NZ’s emissions to 2020 and beyond. Climate change minister Nick Smith did not mention these figures during the target consultation process, though it is clear he must have known about them. His failure to front with the facts on forestry amounts to a clear attempt to manipulate public perception of the difficulty of meeting steep targets, and raises serious questions about the agenda driving government policy.

Continue reading “Why did Nick Smith hide the facts on forestry?”

The size of a cow

AtomHeartMother.jpg NZ’s farming leadership remains in denial about the need for action on climate change, as a remarkable speech [full text, Stuff report] by Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson demonstrates. Addressing the Plant Protection Society’s annual conference in Dunedin yesterday, Nicholson took swipes at Keisha Castle-Hughes, Greenpeace and the Green Party:

It’s not the reality that Greenpeace or the Green Party informs people before they ‘sign-on’. There’s no hint of a real solution apart from some ‘great leap backwards’. No, the vision they extol is instead apocalyptic. It is designed to create a climate of fear and don’t the anti-progress agents love fear. A fear of no oil, rising sea levels, extinction and starvation. It’s moral brainwashing without facts or context.

No real solutions on offer? No facts to support calls for action? It looks to me like Nicolson’s the one who’s making stuff up — and leading NZ’s farmers down a commercially disastrous path in the process.

Continue reading “The size of a cow”