Nine climate change activists want people to respond to the Government's call for ideas on the kind of a low-emission future we want, and actions we can take to make it happen

Nine climate change activists want people to respond to the Government's call for ideas on the kind of a low-emission future we want, and actions we can take to make it happen

An open letter by nine authors

Dealing with climate change is difficult, there is no denying that.

Thankfully as a nation we have moved past denying climate change itself. Now we are debating the best way to deal with it. That much is progress.

The contributors to this article are part of a group of people that meets regularly to discuss climate change and how we might deal with it as businesses, academics, non-government organisations and individuals.

We don’t always agree on what needs to be done, but we do agree that climate change is a huge issue that will shape the future of our nation.

The response requires long-term thinking and constructive public debate.

Our businesses need stable policy in order to make the long-term investments that are required to shift us to a low-carbon society.

The Government has launched a four week consultation on the commitments it will take to the next UN climate summit in Paris this November, including a post-2020 greenhouse gas emissions target. This is the first time the Government has discussed climate change policies with the public in six years. We believe a topic this important needs a much bigger conversation.

‘Doing our bit’ internationally means weaning ourselves off fossil fuels this century.

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the priority – emission sources like the methane from cows are different and need to be reduced, but not all the way to zero. It is not enough to say New Zealand is unique - we can do a lot better than we are doing now, and all sectors of the economy can play a part.

We need cross-party agreement on a clear long-term direction and policy mix. This is important to guide effective investment decisions by central and local government, businesses and the public. Forestry investors in particular have been burnt by the use of climate change as a political football.

Thus far our policy response has been largely limited to the Emissions Trading Scheme, yet even the potency of this tool has been blunted. We need broader action to reduce emissions while supporting a high quality of life for all, and this means starting to rethink how we live, travel, work, and build our cities.

The transformation to a zero carbon economy is a challenge but it is achievable, and it presents economic opportunities. The required technologies (such as renewable generation and electric vehicles) are getting cheaper and taking a position of leadership could make New Zealand an innovation hub. This would require little more effort from government than is currently being handed to mining and oil and gas exploration.

On the other side of the ledger, there are risks from doing nothing. Major emitters including the US and China are taking action, and failing to do enough is a risk to New Zealand’s international brand and ultimately our export markets. It isn’t enough to hide behind our good base of renewable electricity generation, or the fact that a large chunk of our emissions are from livestock. Getting to zero net CO2 emissions means taking decisive action on transport, urban planning, forestry and other land use, smart grid management and the generation of industrial heat. We need to make sure our businesses are ready to thrive in a future without fossil fuel, without unduly hampering them in the present.

Whatever emissions targets the Government ends up committing to in Paris, we need a credible national strategy for how we can achieve them and an agreed set of immediate actions. Without a pathway, targets are just empty numbers. We can’t continue to puff up our existing achievements and investments while our emissions rise. There is only so long our international reputation could survive that sort of damage.

Climate change isn’t going away. New Zealand will eventually need to move to a position of zero net CO2 emissions, or face international repercussions. The only question is whether we start to plan for it now and make the necessary long-term investments, or wait until change is painfully forced upon us by our international trade partners. There is no doubt that the first option will be both cheaper and better in the long run.

We hope that this brief consultation on Aotearoa New Zealand’s 2030 target will spark a more substantial national conversation.

We need to talk about what kind of a low-emission future we want to create for future generations of Kiwis and what actions we can all take to make it happen.

Authors

Paul Young, Generation Zero
Suzi Kerr & Catherine Leining, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research
Duncan Stewart, Greenhouse Capital
Nathan Argent, Greenpeace
Megan Owen, Dairy Farmer
Meredith Osmond, Thought Partners Ltd
Sarah Meads, Independent Consultant
Geoff Simmons, Morgan Foundation

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

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In 2009 the Government held similar "consultations" and ignored the ground swell of opinion calling for a strong emissions reduction target. They even reneged on international pledges and revised down their 2020 target of 10-20% to 5%. There is no reason to believe that the Government has changed their approach.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1505/S00211/governments-climate-change-...

The environment doesn't care where carbon emissions come from. It derives exactly the same benefit if carbon emissions from China or India are reduced by a tonne, as it derives if carbon emissions from new Zealand or the US are reduced by a tonne. The only difference is that carbon emissions from China and India can be reduced more cheaply.

So why not spend the same amount of money achieving a greater environmental benefit, by funding carbon reducing projects in China or India rather than by trying to do it here?

Why is it seen as preferable to reduce carbon in expensive and difficult ways, than to do it easily and cheaply? Greens go on about "leadership" but is the rest of the world more likely to be encouraged to follow, if reducing carbon is demonstrated to be difficult and expensive - or straightforward and cheap?

That's exactly how we had been "doing our bit" up to now (buying cheap credits from offshore) - only that door was closed on us given we decided not to extend our Kyoto commitment at the Doha round;

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24499-emission-admission-new-zeala...

Their original figures were incorrect (thanks to one of the government paid "experts" getting their decimal points in the wrong place).

How about the cheapest way...zero cost...leave it in the ground and under the sea to begin with...prevention is so much cheaper than cure, especially when the hoped for cure (carbon sequestration) is pie in the sky wishful thinking as in this government's document (oh, look how smart phones came on the scene so quickly...so carbon sequestration technology must be just around the corner...yeah right).

Does anyone think that this government hasn't already decided exactly what they will go to Paris with no matter what their "consultation process" yields? Just like all their other "consultations" and citizen referenda. Eleanor Catton's analysis of them is so right on.

Leaving fossil fuel in the ground is not zero cost, unless you choose not to understand the term "opportunity cost".

What about the social opportunity cost of polluted air and water, associated health issues, damage to forests, crops, and watersheds etc. Those considerations should take precedence over mere financial factors.

Yes, there are costs in extracting and using fossil fuels.

There are also benefits.

Are you seriously saying that any potential economic benefit - no matter how great - should be turned down if it entails any potential environmental or health cost - no matter how minor?

On what measure would such a cost/benefit analysis be based? It appears such consideration never factored into equations which informed decisions within Solid Energy or Treasury.

The company envisaged that demand and prices would continue to increase, with coking coal perhaps reaching US$400 a tonne by 2020. At the same time, the company obtained petroleum exploration permits, believing that this would be profitable as oil markets became ever tighter. Debt levels started increasing dramatically, from $15 M in 2007 to $295 M in 2012 and then almost $400 M in 2013. Most of the growth in revenue was financed by retained earnings and borrowings as no new shares were issued to the Crown during a 12-year period...Treasury advised a movement towards a greater private sector involvement in SOEs, while observing that partial listing would not be consistent with, “the Government’s policy to retain 100% ownership of SOEs.” This report also recommended putting pressure on SOEs to increase their gearing (ie, the ratio of debt to equity or capital) by borrowing more from the private sector and paying special dividends to the Crown. These higher debt levels would, “put increased pressure on SOEs to perform, by committing a fixed part of their future cash flow to debt servicing, meaning they must focus more on core business profitability, and on selecting new investment projects carefully."
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Solid_Energy#1999.E2.80.932005

Perhaps they should have, because their largest customer sure began to incorporate them into their decision making.

"The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in its annual report on Thursday that it would implement policies aimed at reducing coal consumption and controlling the number of energy-intensive projects in polluted regions."
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/us-china-parliament-ndrc-idUSK...

I recall pointing the economic structural shift that China was embarking on back in 2009 and the impact it would have on demand for commodities which this country produces and exports.

Not sure what the point is that you are making. I would certainly agree that it is important to make the best possible job of assessing all the likely costs and benefits, in economic, environmental, health, social etc terms, when deciding whether or not to pursue a course of action.

Certainly, sometimes the analysis will turn out to be wrong - the market may not go as well as expected, or the environmental effects may not be as bad as predicted, or there may be unanticipated social effects as people respond differently to how you thought they would, etc.

But the fact that you can't do it perfectly, is no reason not to do any analysis at all.

Except the environmental costs are not minor and neither are the future economic costs or societal costs. So when we burn fossil fuels today (and continue to do so at our present rate) then at 600ppm and 4deg C warming we'll have little eco system left and no agricultural system, or our grand-children wont be eating.

I do not dispute that it is very important to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and so reduce the probability of anthropogenically-induced climate change.

However, it is precisely because the issue is so important that we need to look for EFFECTIVE ways of dealing with it, and so many of the ways proposed by environmentalists are far more likely to be ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. For New Zealand unilaterally to leave its fossil fuels in the ground would achieve absolutely nothing in terms of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, in fact it might even make things worse by encouraging more production in other parts of the world where they don't care so much about environmental and safety standards, as well as depriving New Zealand of income which could be used (for example) to educate the people who are our best hope - tomorrow's scientists.

a) Leadership.

b) You assume that its better to do it in china, yet NZers are one of the highest CO2 emitters per capita I believe. Higher than india by a long way and higher than china yet we are not very highly industrialized.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

or

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissio...

Then there is scale, here a few $millions a) get us off fossil fuels and b) create NZ jobs, china? not even noticed.

Money should be spent where it will buy the biggest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Yes or No?

PS: I had a look at some actual figures. Which of the following do you think likely to be (a) less expensive and disruptive and (b) more beneficial to the environment?

- the elimination of all of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions; or
- the elimination of 1% of China's?

The politics would likely trump the economics. Using your example, if we could pay the same amount to reduce Chinese emissions 1% as to reduce our net emissions 100%, and in doing so we actually reduced overall global emissions more, then your point is valid. In reality, the Chinese, or Indians, may likely say, "hang on, we've reduced our emissions say 20% (including things they've paid for themselves) and you Kiwis haven't done anything. We the Chinese are not going to do anything else". Whoever paid for the emissions reductions would be lost in the argument. If we reduced ours by say 20% as part of a deal where they paid to reduce their own by the same amount, overall reductions may well be much higher. The total global cost may have been higher, but given I am somewhat more concerned with our cost, we would have got a much bigger bang for our buck.

Whose money?

as you say, only major contributors make any real difference by volume so while we can do changes in New Zealand, it won't make a spot of difference due our small population.... AND
the chances of the major contributors in New Zealand (or what's left of them economically) are the least likely to effect change.... just take Fonterra's Coal appetite for a start, or Huntly power (they still have to keep the boilers from getting cold even when it's not fully generating). and biofuels give little advantage if any, as they take fossil fuels to grow, then process, and they don't give the same energy per tonne carbon released in creation, as coal ! at least the ones with the ruminants have grass and trees to do a local offset !

We would be far better to focus on a more holistic development, one that grows NZ economic internal development and health, than continues to punish us creatively and economically. And that counts government invention/control out.

Or we could just follow the Roman example _again_ and have the senate tell the citizens that prices are going up and they're going to have to ration themselves or use alternatives because the atmosphere in the cities is too toxic and the waste removal isn't keeping up.... because hey, over control and oppression worked so well in Rome... (and was the reason for eventual rebellions and factions)

The Sky is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, now pay me, I have contributed just as much as everyone else to the debate.

Not worthy of thought or comment other than pity.

Satire may be beyond some, the point: mere complaint about something does not constitute debate. I liken the depth of some contributions to dogs barking at what they do not understand or see as different to the norm. It may draw attention but does not provide any potential solution.
During a short period (geologically) in which mankind found some benefit from the use of fossil fuels, the burning of them resulted in a change in atmospheric concentrations of certain compounds and affected quite a bit of stuff downstream.
But change is what is constant, If you see this as a long term problem you are duped by the pinhole of human lifetime perception. We will superseded fossil fuels and likely cause other issues doing it, but such is the great experiment, Try/use it until it proves useless/dangerous (see nuclear).
I do not advocate delay in moving to efficiencies and cleaner alternatives but this will come in time and the atmosphere will largely sort itself out.
The greatest barrier to change remains the financial interest in the status quo, best way to bring about change is to make it unprofitable to continue.
My suggestion, energy produced from fossil fuels may only be sold at cost of production and that to be fixed and never rise. Commercial interests will abandon it.

debate doesn't contribute anything either, in fact it tends to waste resources while giving people the egotistical impression they're doing something - while often they, and the policies they put in place frequently stop actual workers and systems from being carried out.

I personally was testing alternatives to standard farming, particularly dairy farming, looking at using less fossil fuels, less transported fertilisers, better ways of harnessing and dealing with effluent and on farm emissions. Particularly using natural compost knowledge and soil capture to improve animal health and reduce off-farm inputs without compromising the economic viability of New Zealands current (ex?) backbone industry. The technique intended was to put this into a franchise format, that any sharemilker or farmer could take the information, rent any suitable land area, and simply follow the outline steps to have a working and economic system.
Futhermore, attention was given to utilising basic and re-use technologies to keep costs and processes _simple_ so that the constant breakdowns that occur on-farm would not cripple the operation or lead to catastrophe. ie having pumps with swappout "modular" technology like is used in the PC industry, standardising connectors, working on touch-it-once style management solutions, working on early identification signs to avoid late stage quality issues (particularly in animal and mechanical health).

Use of methane processing. Use of heat-recovery systems. In retrofit and cost effective designs - a simple copper coil and small solar thermal array with larger (or multi-stage) hot water cylinders. Use of water recovery, to reduce water intake (and thus stream/waterway affects) allowing high volumes of dairy effluent, with minimal water uage - thus gain maximum return of nutrients to soil; soil that was deliberately conditioned to maximise both nutrient and water retention from that cycle. Having minimal water also meant that heavy pumps ran for less time (saving on pump hours and service life, and cost of electricity), and also reduced staff labour for a unloved job - a job which also used fossil fuel equipment.

separation of the operational cycles, so that different parts of the system might benefit from different energy alternatives, without the need for banks to get rich through Yet More Debt. Things like using locally scrubbed methane for gas or diesil powered pumps to replace the electric effluent pumps, which allowed them to be away from the power lines. Identifying points of usage and expansion for implimenting gravity feed or water-rams where effective. Using PV solar for small equipment lights, radios, local 12v water pumps (I recycled the chemically treated hotwater, into a drum with a cooper coil for energy recovery, then used a 12v pump often deployed for weedspray (but new) to put the chemical into the primary rinse tub - thus reusing the water and the chemical twice. I had hope then then re-use that water in a automated green wash system. I had the automated system, I just had to put in the green wash separation technology - as the few of the retail systems are operationally suitable - most only work well for a few months then take many hours of labour to try and keep working.

My computer and office systems were likewise addressed. This computer system and router used to be fully PV off-grid supplied. Change of farm office/support hotwater to solar was also on the cards. Again, not as a standalone, but as measuring for best-practice plan for franchising out to others. Including which loads, and what backup technology would be essential. LED lighting was implimented, and I was looking at how to get the light circuits converted to a switchable PV supply (easy in much of the US, bogged in poor legislation and trade protectionism in NZ).

I contacted several electric vehicle manufacturers. Seeing that some technology has since been developed in that area (ruggedised personal transport, short haul PV vehicles) the least they could have done is return the email. Sadly most of that development is done in countries which sponsor alternative energies or research and they have massive advantage when trying to develop a "first-to-market" product.... while NZ is busy debating, fining, or having committees about the best way to pay the government to hamstring any such work in NZ.

I now am considering (if I can be bothered) to start looking at micro-sustainable options now that I'm in town. Changing things so that free energy and local footprint can be reduced - but I think most New Zealanders just expect the government and "somebody else" to make all the changes happen, as long as nimby.
Processes such as microscale vertical hydro and aqua ponics. Use of recycled mass and reflection energy storage.
I wish I could address some real energy and economic hogs - but government and other invested interersts control the field, and the rules. Things like longer lasting clothing (I have stuff that I bought tens years ago which has more wear and more washes that stuff bought 6 months ago, but is in better condition). Moving away from super-disposable and especially built-in self-obsolesence (which means less technology race, but less cost overheads). Yet also trading off technology upgrades (rather than Luddism) eg using small meal roasters and vertical 30second steamers, rather than heating a whole oven or a bunch of open elements for single or double person meals). Working towards meal plans that are still exciting but are meat free at least twice a week, for personal health and enjoyment, not because of cost or mental issues. Utilising the self-grown food and possibly airponic herbs for a change.
Since I only use my fridge for storing cheese and milk, I'm switching from my beloved real milk coffee, to herbal teas (sweetened and cool), and hardly touching soft cheeses any more. That's one less refrigerator to power. And town milk is just so revolting, why bother. for that cheesy taste, its much more effective to have some dry Parmesan. Cooking can just use whole milk powder....it's cheap enough and keeps well.

Double glazing is a must, so is full insulation. That's why I put it in my tenancies, as I can afford it. although recent experience is that you do have to be careful with number of air-exchanges with modern double glazing (old style windows had some draughts and the heat differential keep the air in the room circulating). The computer in my farm place actually generated enough heat to keep the admin room from getting chilly (16-18 deg) on all except the worst days. (when I arrived it was either light the fire and wait 2 hours, or put on two 2kW heaters). When I left it was comfortable with just the computer (around 400W) except in spring.
I have yet to turn my hotwater on in the town house, and that will be replaced with solar hotwater asap. likewise that is on the plan for replacement in the tenancies when there's a cylinder failure. Sadly in NZ I have to worry about theft and vandalism for such development. And it would be nice if the government/IRD saw such things as "social good" replacements, and not charge for them as "capital upgrades" but the good value is often the virtuously hard path.

Not much I can do about the transport side. Battery technology or hydrogen storage safety are still the sticking points. Range still has to come up for NZ style living. In my case, now I'm in town it's 20 minute walk to most supplies (especially if I'm not hauling milk, cheese, butter, or much meat.)

Also besides the coffee, I'm also dropping the V/cola/softdrink habit since I don't have farm stress to deal with. Better for health and more things than we don't have to fossil fuel into NZ. Although it might me making me even shorter tempered than normal, but haven't noticed anything yet ;)

For industry. It's really a question of economics and technological advance. LED tubes are a massive jump forward for most commercial/industrial - some places the lighting alone is 30% of their energy bill...likewise it's a good candidate for PV & power switching technology. Put some batteries in to cover 90% of typical load, cover the next 10% by generator (as regular brief usage keeps your emergency generator in fit trim) and then automatically switch to grid supply at night if longer or more usage is needed... which is also when national demand is low (and thus cheap!)
Again better design, insulation, and heat planning can result in business buildings being much cheap to fuel. Put in double glazing and the insulation, connect all those heat pumps to PV panels, then keeping the office cool during hot daylight hours is no longer an operational expense.... but there lies a catch...NZ government and IRD have set things up so such operational costs are good for business, while adding more capital expenditure is bad for the business economics!!! And they've got the economy is such a poor state that the government might not be able to fix that without going broke itself (or making massive changes to it's lifestyle). the beauty about using the solar PV, is that when weather is bad for that local PV generation is that we have more windmills/hydro to generate in the bad weather - so if it's hot and sunny then go local on PV, it's it's windy or raining then the grid is supplied with green sustainables.... and we don't need to keep feeding the boilers coal "just in case".
Again fighting the technical obsolescence-by-design and keeping away from SaS. Such consumption driven processes look cheap on the surface but tend to add costs over the long time and worst they are deliberately design for brand isolation and loyalty (great on the giving end, not great on the paying end). What starts cheap always becomes a cost-added treadmill which your business has no control over - it's like a streetwise drug dealer offering those few few hits for a cool looking "mate" or to those who "introduce a friend". With a free title, your cost seems high but like a good mortgage it goes down over time, especially with inflation. The addictive services always climb in price and often only have a few hit tracks and a bunch of B-side you just don't really want to pay for.

PS your "cost of production" rule will just see the bills padded and more certification cost added via more watchdogs required to see it's "kept to cost level". that's the failure point of many Liberal doctrines, they actually cost more than free market because of the oversight. Also you get the big businesses with "friends" being allowed "fair business margin" as part of "Realistic Expectations of cost"...even the milk DIRA has it built in

I made the sell at cost suggestion off the cuff and later thought that it would be fudged as you say, like the current "electricity supply charge" is used to keep the bills the same as usage declines.
With the capital upgrade thing, could you form a company to supply and install the hardware as a separate entity from the property then lease technology and its output to the property as a cost?

Our human settlements (citys / suburbs) are all built with and designed to run on fossil fuels. We use cars/buses to get to work, our food is all grown with fossil fuels (artificial fertilisers/tractors/ then transported to us with trucks etc. Village Homes in Davies, California is an example of how we should be building our settlements. Here is a link to a video that explains Village Homes. www.geofflawton.com .You will need to sign in with an email address, where you will then be presented with a list of videos. Click on the sixth one (FOOD FOREST SUBURB). Climate Change is only one issue us humans face. Go to Wikipedia then type in "Topsoil" (Erosion). You will read that we only have about 60 yrs of topsoil left on this planet. Topsoil is what grows all the plant material that we & other living things eat. Those plants are what gives us our energy (via photosynthesis from the sun). In other words, without topsoil there can be no life on this planet. Then consider our farming practices in NZ combined with more extreme weather events due to climate change. Then look at many of our rivers systems in winter and try to calculate the volume of topsoil that we are loosing to the oceans. It's HUGE. Then consider how we can replace it by making more. In large volume it CAN'T be done. Sorry to side track, but everything is connected. Feel free to watch all of Geoff Lawton's videos. He is the director of the Australian Permaculture Institute.

Sorry, I forgot to post the link.. Here tis: www.geofflawton.com

If you want to understand NZ soils better this Waikato Regional Council site is a good place to start.
http://www.nzsoils.org.nz/Topic-Basics_Of_Soils/

Interestingly since the increase of dairy and pivot irrigation in Canterbury, there are now less dust storms there, than 20years ago. I'm not saying whether this is good or bad, just mentioning a fact relating to loss of topsoil.

BACKGROUND:

In 1991 New Zealand’s delegation was instrumental in ensuring the Rio convention always referred to net rather than gross emissions. This recognised the very significant CO2 take up of forestry, farm and crop land that was a disproportionate share of New Zealand’s productive outputs vs industrialised countries - was considered in any future emission calculations.

BASIS OF MEASUREMENT:

Despite this earlier commitment - New Zealand subsequently and very unwisely chose gross agricultural emmissions as the basis of emission measurement rather than the scientifically accurate net emissons.

On a net basis – as calculated for biofuels – New Zealands’s agricultural emissions are roughly half the published figures. From this perspective, New Zealand’s overall emission levels show a very different scenario.

Biofuel emissions are calculated on a net basis as is forestry. If this was not the case, then biofuels could not be seen to be generating zero net emissions. Biofuels are deemed to be zero net emitters world wide as evidenced by the extensive programs underway to use them as solutions via numerous new fuel programs.

The simple and undisputed scientific fact is that the massive and certain absorption of atmospheric CO2 from New Zealand’s extensive grasslands and crops is currently not counted against our published agricultural emissions figures as seen in the briefing paper. This leads one to believe we are a high emitter relative to others.

This is simply not the case.

ImagIne a maize crop that is processed through a biodigester to make alcohol that is burnt as a fuel leaving universally acknowledged near zero net emisisons.

Yet that exact same crop as grown on New Zealand dairy farms today - if processed by a ruminant digester - alias cow – to produce whole milk powder is denied the CO2 absorption credit in the crop that is allowed for in the the biofuel case.

Any initiatives that are based on these scientifically incorrect assumptions will invariably deliver distorted outcomes – and that is exactly the situation we are now attempting to address.

PER CAPITA EMISSIONS:

Per Capita emissions makes no sense in any rational evaluation of the global emission issue. Imagine the closure of NZ’s Aluminium smelter – a very real prospect in the next two months.

This would substantially reduce NZ’s per capita emissions – yet the supply balance
would be immediatley taken up by increased output from low cost coal fired smelters thus delivering a very significant increase in global emissions – the exact outcome we are trying to prevent.

Similarly - per capita emissions from Iceland that has almost 100% renewable electricity and substantial smelter outputs will be high - driven simply by the low populations levels. It would make no more sense to target per capita emissions in Iceland as it does in New Zealand. Any smelter reduction would simply result in increased global emissions. These issues are not unique to New Zealand.

ABSOLUTE EMISSION LEVELS:

New Zealand is a world leader in effficient low energy input, grassland farming methods. If we wish to assist in decreasing global emissions for any given level of food demand, then increasing New Zealand’s farming outputs at the expense of less effcient producers would provide a net decrease in global emissions.

Higher New Zealand farm emissions will therefore perversly signal lower global emissions, the exact outcome we are seeking.

It therefore makes no sense whatsoever for New Zealand to offer any absolute reductions in emissions as this is very likely to constrain the ability to reduce global emissions.

Solutions to this issue wiil be found - as they always have been - by research, development and advances in technologies allied with price signals that incentivise behaviours targeting the outcomes we seek.

High levels of economic growth will make any reduction targets offered non-achievable.

New Zealand is experiencing some of the highest growth figures in the OECD, and while the takeup of new technologies such as LED light bulbs and the slow penetration of hybrid vehicles will constrain consumption growth, the impact of very high and unprecedented levels of net migration and GDP growth will eventually translate to inevitable energy demand growth including transport fuels.

Vehicle imports for example are running at all time highs of over 300,000 pa and net of replacements taken off the road and increased efficiencies – these very high increases in on road vehicles will eventually lead to increased transport emissions.

This will be the situation both in New Zealand and other countries. With already some of the highest share of renewables in power generation anywhere driven by our existing hydro, geothermal, solar and wind generation capacity - we simply do not have the ability to make absolute reductions in this segment. We will always need to maintain thermal capacity to back up non dispatchable wind and future solar generation. We are already near the level where the share of thermal generation can not be lowered and grid security maintained over the inevitable future dry years, generation failures and grid interruptions.

We have no very high emitting base load coal plants to switch to gas or close down.

China, the worlds largest emitter has announced growth targets of ~ 7% for the next decade. This means the economy will be roughly twice it’s current size in 10 years if this target is achieved.

New technologies, a switch away from coal to natural gas and decreased energy intensities from a more service focused economy will not create commensurate emission increases. There is no conceivable scenario where absolute reductions can be achieved even with substantially lower growth.

While switching from coal to gas for power generation offers significant emissions reductions – often overlooked is that roughly half the coal mined is used in the production of steel and cement for which there is no substitue.

Despite all the rhetoric – China will not be offering absolute emission reductions at the upcoming conference in the short to medium term. Neither should we.

To put this in context - they are now producing ~ 24 million vehices per annum, have just signed a huge new gas deal with Russia and have some 5000 new commercial aircraft orders planned for the next 15 years. Airbus expects Asia Pacific – predominantly China - to order over 8500 new aircraft over the next 20 years.

China added 3 x 1000 mW coal fired power units every four weeks in 2014.
Oil imports reached new all time highs.

It is simply not possible to add this level of incremental emissions and then offer any absolute reductions in emissions. They have refused to pay EU wide aircraft emission charges, now postponed temporarily, and will not be changing their stance in future.

China will achieve emissions reductions over time as a large and expanding number of new nuclear plants come on stream coupled with new technologies but this will take many years and be outside any commitment period under discussion.

Similarly there will be other major emitters that are simply going to make commitments thay have no possible way of meeting.

Germany is a major industrial producer experiencing strong growth with a commitment to close it’s zero emission nuclear plants. Despite the increase in solar and wind generation – none of this is dispatchable so to provide reliable 24/7 power it is re-opening brown coal plants – the worst possible approach to reduced emissions.

Any German comitments to reduced emissions will be a farce and we need to understand this to be the case.

Closer to home - Australia’s Loy Yang 3,150 mW brown coal power station and adjacent mine producing some 30 million tons per annum - one of the largest in the world - would have emissions grossly disproportionate to New Zealand’s total emissions from all sources. Mine resources are sufficient to last another 1300 years and two new aluminium smelter offtake contracts have been signed through to 2036.

Simply converting this station to gas, which is not going to happen, would offer massive and immediate emission reductions making any commitment we might make to very expensive marginal reductions from an existing low base level as totally irrelevant and futile.

It is simply farcical that we should be even contemplating encumbering our economy in any way with reduced emission commitments when all around us - emissions on a huge scale of many magnitudes greater are continuing and expanding into the foreseeable future.

New Zealand is already a very low emission nation with a small population, very high levels of renewables, some of the worlds most efficient farmlands and low levels of industry. We need to use this simple fact as a base line at the upcoming conference.

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS:

What we should be offering is a continued commitment to grassland and crops research focused on more efficient CO2 capture. Today our research is focused on ruminant emission reductions – primarily methane - when increased absorptions from our grass and crop lands may offer a far more cost effective route to reduce higher levels of net emissions and at the same time increase farm productivity.

Higher growth rates have been achieved in forestry over the years from ongoing research. This approach can also work with our grasslands and crops if the potential benefits are going to be recognised.

Because we have foolishly chosen to ignore farmland net emissions, we have no incentive to research what could well be the most effective research route to emission reductions via increased grass and crop land productivity with it’s associated economic benefits.

New Zealand needs instead to show we have appropriate incentives that will over time further reduce our emissions per unit of output and in the case of transport reduce our current account deficit by more efficient vehicles lowering our oil import consumption bill.

Australia has annual registration fees based roughly on engine capacity by using the number of cylinders.

It would be very easy for NZ to introduce similar pricing regimes based on engine capacity and vehicle empty weight which together very much mirror fuel efficiency.

Diesel engines will always be more efficient than gasoline powered vehicles.
Road taxes should reflect this fact to provide economic incentives to favour diesel over gasoline.

Maintaining floating excise duties on gasoline – which excludes almost all commercial vehicles which are now already diesel, so that gasoline prices, net of oil prices and exchange rates deliver constant real prices for liquid fuels at the retail level would allow consumers to plan vehicle purchases on stable and predictable fuel costs.

Encouraging liquified natural gas ( LNG ) for heavy transport, in particular trucks returning to a common depot such as Fonterra’s large fleet of heavy trucks, would deliver very significant emission reductions, lower fuel costs and have positive balance of payment benefits. LNG is very much the fuel of choice today for a very signifcant share of North American heavy truck fleets. Multiple engine providers offer a full range of LNG engines for these markets.

Implementing congestion pricing regimes to improve vehicle efficiencies through higher average speeds and less stop start driving, providing incentives to car share and through optimising road capacity thus reducing or delaying new road capacity
investments will all contribute to lower transport emissions.

Constraining vehicle import volumes through an auction system that recognises road capacity constraints as used in Singapore for many years to effectively increase the price of cars, lower emissions from lower car numbers and reduce congestion on the roads leading again to higher average speeds and reduced emissions from slow and stop / start driving will have both emission and economic benefits.

TECHNOLOGY EXAMPLE:

A very recent program on National Radio interviewed Mr Wright - a Californian based New Zealander and co-founder of Tesla Motors who illustrated how by targetting specific market segments such as stop / start rubbish trucks with currently available hybrid technology - dramatic reductions can be made in high emission target markets and offer relatively short payback periods.

A small car may consume some 500 litres /annum, a medium scale rubbish truck on domestic collection duties some 60,000. One company alone in NZ has some 850 rubbish collection trucks.

It makes far more sense to provide the appropriate investment incentives to save 30,000 litres per annum per truck than current incentives such as zero road pricing fees currently offered till 2020 for electric cars with minimal effect.

These types of initiatives have the added benefit of reduced oil imports. The reduced oil imports benefits our parlous and long running current account deficits which continue to be a huge risk to New Zealand’s economy as highlighted by all three rating agencies. Recent trade balances show a continuing sharp deterioration which we will have to address eventually.

Current initatives which appear superficially attractive but involve significant capital imports such as electric cars and solar domestic roofing programs that could result in simply spilling water over existing hydro schemes - make no sense whatsoever and will do virtully nothing to reduce national emission levels.

Australia recently reported that their domestic solar program has incurred unnecessary costs of A$ 14 billion and reduced emissions at a cost five times higher than recent auction prices.

While we are running base load thermal plant 24/7 as the marginal generator, as we do today – the marginal incremental consumption of electric cars simply increases thermal emissions with virtually no efficiency gain over a modern hybrid.
This is another example where what is seen at first glance as an obvious benefit to emission reductions is simply not the case.

CONCLUSIONS:

New Zealand must first recognise the correct scientific calculation of our actual net emissions.

New Zealand should not make any international commitments to either reduced per capita emissions, nor any reduced absolute levels of emissions over any time frame for the simple reason that these targets while superficially attractive will have perverse second order effects of constraining initiatives to reduce global emissions.

Specific technology initiatives driven by appropriate market signals from pricing initatives and specific Government programs targeting specific high emission market segments with currently available technologies will deliver economic benefits to both targeted users and consequent emission reductions at a national level for any given level of economic activity without detracting from economic growth within New Zealand.

High national growth scenarios will increase emissions from virtually all sectors over time given the very low base from which New Zealand starts today.

We cannot ignore balance of payments constraints when so much of our exports comes from agriculture.

The continued high growth, high net migration, unfettered vehicle imports, low fuel prices, and lack of dynamic road pricing from current policy settings will make any any commitment to absolute reductions unattainable.

In a world projected to have some 3 billion more people by the 2050’s – it simply not tenable to even contemplate constraining production of one of the worlds most efficient food producers with the perverse effect of increased global emissions.

Don't fight climate change - embrace it like these enterprising chaps. It's time we thought of all those poor CO2 starved plants.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/66324400/big-crop-yield...

Oh dear cherry picking again, meanwhile in parts of texas they wont be getting much cereal, fish maybe, but no cereal.

Here's another cherry pick for you. US corn production vs area. Awesome achievement for the doers out there.

http://breakthrough.turing.com/images/elements/Figure_1.png

"Then, in about 1940, acreage and yield decoupled in the United States. Since then American farmers have quintupled corn while using the same or even less land".

"A recent meta-analysis by Wilhelm Klümper and Matin Qaim of 147 original studies of recent trends in high-yield farming for soy, maize, and cotton, funded by the German government and the European Union, found a 37 percent decline in chemical pesticide use while crop yields rose 22 percent. This is the story of precision agriculture, in which we use more bits, not more kilowatts or gallons."

A few floods in - cherry picked - Texas who cares - look at the big picture. Compared to your mate Ehrlich "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate... " Good old activists. Though at least these doomsters admit they are activists which is a pleasant change.

http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/issue-5/the-return-of-nature

LOL, I do look at the big picture, the texas event isnt alone, cherry picked, as a counter to your one, yes sure, except such events and impacts and becoming more frequent and more severe.

1940+, indeed and used more and more fossil fuels to do it with, sure no gains on that scale these days.

Precision agriculture, using technology and its going to become prevalent in the developing world?
Hmm so lets assume this plays out, we get a step change in output? yes possible, but bring in severe climate events and well the system gets over-loaded anyway.

meanwhile,

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/north-american-moose-dying-droves-climate-warmi...

How many cherry picked instances are needed to convince you climate change is a real problem? In your case infinite I expect. Still you are not alone, many if not most dont want to change a thing no matter the impact on others, until it them of course.

You have don't to assume Steven if you can't see a "step change" in output in that US corn chart you ain't ever going to. You did look at the chart didn't you?

How is your Malthusian mate Uhrlich predictions panning out? Did the UK still exist in 2000? Is that why you ended up in NZ?

And as for your assertion that floods are more frequent even the IPPC doesn't agree with you there - from WG1AR5 Ch. 2:

"In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence
regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency
of floods on a global scale." Thus Texas is just a meaningless weather event. Yawn.

When researchers say that (as an example) 1 in 20 year heat waves are 16 times more likely, that is a change. Of course we can look to one side of the IPCC reports, insurance companies report higher losses and frequency of events. Interesting how the cherry picking continues, indeed the IPCC is starting to look like its own worst enemy by being very conservative in its reports. Take another section, 152.6.2.3 Droughts "AR4 concluded that droughts had become more common, especially in the tropics and sub-tropics since about 1970."

"Uhrlich predictions panning out" really this and your other arguments is as about mature an argument as my (at the time 7 year old) kids jumping off the roof onto the trampoline when its surrounded by a concrete patio, I point out it could hurt a lot and their answer "no it has not yet".

"yawn" yes by all means, many millions are doing just the same.

So you got it completely wrong on floods and got bummed out by the IPCC so switch your scare story to droughts... Lets looks at droughts, globally, in the WG1 AR5 Ch 2 (not the out of date AR4 you quote).

from page 215:

"In SUMMARY, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough
evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-
scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the
middle of the 20th century, owing to lack of direct observations, geographical
inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred
trends on the index choice."

So low confidence in floods and droughts then. Record grain yields, wheat glut etc. What other scare story do you have now?

Trampolines?! Uhrlich was just plain wrong, like all you Malthusians, funny how with all your science, logic, data you can't admit that.

Um no, floods are looking more frequent in some parts of the world such as the USA, while others look to more droughts.

So when we look at more up to date science than in the IPCC reports which also looks globally and not so much for regions we see,

"And the type of precipitation that leads to floods is getting more intense in the US, Europe, and other regions. This is projected to increase by 5-20% this century for some regions."

https://youtu.be/Ijwu1DLaE9w

Also "current assessment" so more up to date science shows a bit more concern.

"Trampolines?!" yes I was attempting to show simply that some ppl have a very childish view of the world, I can see I was not simple enough.

"And indeed, Texas lies in a region of the country that has seen, overall, a 16 percent increase in the amount of rain or snow that falls in the heaviest 1 percent of precipitation events, according to the National Climate Assessment:"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/06/01/the-...

""We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas," said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. "And it's consistent with what we would expect from climate change."

https://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/27/climate-change-factor-floods-lar...

This isnt modeling, this is collected data. So sure globally maybe no change, regionally very much so by the look of it.

1940? thats mechanisation, fertilisation and weedsprays in aerosol form.

If you do research you'll find how that and refrigeration and microwaves got into the retail stores.

In NZ we penalise development and research. How _dare_ private people make money ! We must make the developers beholden to the bankers so the banks can leech them to death.

In the US much technology was invented by special departments (in US and UK, in particular) at the end of the war the US government put many of it's top boffins back into industry and said to the top companies/boffins "here is your research you did, here is a little bit of free money" (or for places like Kodak / Xerox, who were private and developed more convenient and more robust systems for surveillance and propaganda, they were given large amounts of money and much leeway). They were told, invent domestic use for these things and factories and you get the patents for nothing, preferrential access to government contracts, and tax reductions for a very long time.
the US knew it wanted technological advancement as it had seen how that helped in the war, and how it lifted this war well above any previous war. It knew that it wanted it's civilians, and better, it's business interests to have the market cornered in such things.
Basically the complete opposite to the NZ government approach. (globalism, lets buy and support other peoples economies because it's cheaper in the short run, and being a good customer makes others treat us like special friends)

Yes, the US passed their military technology to the private sector. A lot of it came from secret British research, little things like computers and jet engines and so forth. It wasn't developed in Britain as it was kept secret plus they were totally broke.

It was more than that, they passed the boffins themselves and funding to the core companies with the directive "you're in a race to make these available to the public for a profit" do what it takes.

As opposed to NZ government which hell bent in stopping any such work.

The really interesting part of Interest.co.nz perspective is those companies are our Iconic brands of today. That's where they got their start and their momentum.

For people wanting to make a personal submission in line with the points in this article, go to http://fixourfuture.nz. The deadline is 5pm Wednesday 3 June.

What if there is nothing wrong with our future??? What if you are changing the future and problems are caused?

Well climate change guarantees the future going to be pretty bad. If you dont accept that you can make a submission to that effect.

Could not get the site to accept anything.
However I didn't tick any of the boxes because the pre-printed ideas (in the boxes) were all _really_bad_ for New Zealand and the environment and I couldn't think of a stupider way to approach the problem than what was suggested in the boxes.

So if these activists are wrong then will they pay damages/loss of income to everyone affected?

There doesn't appear to be one scientist on the list.
Their open letter completely lacks detail and the are trying to sit on a position of Climate Change without identifying what, where the damage is going to be. Is going to be rising oceans or is it going to colder?

No body in their right mind would state that there is no such thing as climate change.....every day the climate is different!!! But as I stated above this group has not identified anything just used baseless language!

These 9 activists need to be seen as activists and nothing more.........they are using common language terms in a manipulative manner to obtain a certain outcome...they have no interest in real science or measurements and have made no reference to any real science or measurements.....

That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting - Ernest Rutherford..

Every day the WEATHER is different. And can we send you the bill if the scientists are right about climate change but we do nothing

I wish it was that easy

DGMG - While we are waiting around squandering a billion a day to see if these scientists/activists are right millions are dying due lack of clean water and other easily preventable problems. Can we send you the bill for that so they can get their lives back? We are in an inter glacial - things warm up - get used to it.

pff, money spent on efforts to reduce GHG emissions pale besides the sums which society, particularly governments spends on the promotion of fossil fuel intensive economic activitiy, whether its directly subsidising fossil fuel extraction, suburban sprawl, spatial shifts in industrial activities, creation of new industries, encouraging the exploitation and processing of other natural resources, wasteful consumption of resources within government etc.

And the money spend on efforts to reduce GHG emissions in the last 20 years has achieved what exactly? Raised "awareness"?

"Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges" if only that money was spent vaccination/sanitation/electrification.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/copenhagen-climate-change-confe/67...

You are correct, no one wants to, eg record numbers dying in india in the heat waves wont deter the indian Govn from mining coal and growing its economy, so really we are extinct inside 200 years.

That is because the Indian government understand the best way to give their population clean water and electricity is to grow their economy. Or do you think they should try and be more like North Korea and try and shrink their economy?

Thank goodness it is not getting colder in India or they would be in real trouble:

"Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings, published in The Lancet, also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells."

No, the best way is to stop population growth that is out-stripping resources. Simple they need to control their population, or nature will.

You cherry pick again, sure cold kills, so does crop failures, water failures, storms all due to warmer climate and it will get worse.

Have you ever actually been to India Steven? Or for that matter any other 3rd world country?

Your arrogance is astounding, you sit here in a Western economy with all the trappings of wealth by comparison and then you would deny countries who are progressing at a different speed the ability to use resources to bring themselves up to a similar standard.......

Have you? and actually yes I have been to quite a few "developing" nations as I have been all over the world while in the Navy, though not india. Not that that matters, logic comes from the sceince, math and data. Its not up to me I am simply commenting on the limits to growth ie.
.
a) there is not the fossil fuel to feed them, so if they do not restrict their numbers nature will. Of course they could just send their navy over and take what they want off us, or just invade, that will make your day I bet, not.

b) climate change will do it to them (and us) though they'll starve due to peak oil before that I suspect.

sorry, what was the problem again?
A bunch of organisms that destroy their host die? Umm that's just natural process isn't it?

Its just part of the social spectacle. People are inherently driven to seek to increase their social standing in order to increase their attrictiveness to the oppositie sex and climate summits are just one mechanism for doing so. I can guarantee such conspicous consumption occurs at charity events which aim to raise money for relieivng poverty. One could argue that charity is itself a form of conspicuous consumption.

"Queens natives Bruce and Cynthia Sherman want to return to a time where the wealthy can shamelessly indulge in conspicuous consumption—as long as it benefits charity."
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704631504575532302398141546

The second golden age.....

How about the USA spending billions on arms to blow up ppl? spend that on water instead. Un-armed planes strike killing ppl in collateral damage, how about the US gets put on trial for crimes against humanity? Apache helicopters machine gunning kids? how about them getting their lives back?

DGMG you are simply not getting it are you.....if it is not measurable it is not science!!!
Perhaps your pseudo-science leanings will be able to explain to other readers why you think the ice is getting thicker at Antarctica??? Antarctic sea ice levels are not correlating to climate model predictions.......but no doubt you will try and tell me its different.....

And...Which event do you think is going to cause the most devastation to humanity....global warming or global cooling because I can tell you that some of the nonsense being proposed is going to destroy the lives of the many not the few......how do you think the national electricity grid is going to stand up under icy cold conditions?

Start reading some history....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

Perhaps you'd like to explain why a huge amount of Antarctic ice is about to disappear. I accept it could be anything even to the point of poles shifting if the earth is on a different tilt, but your "science" is no more credible than any other just because you follow it, and it is you doing the most jumping up and down about the generally accepted science nowadays.

So you have a preference to bastardise science DGMG........I think that is called pseudo-science and it has no validity! It is not your science vs my science or any other persons science!!

Antarctic Ice is growing and quite rapidly.....there is one area where there was a decline in ice but that was due to underground volcanic activity!

You can easily do a google search and read the many available documents on line....I deliberately didn't post any up as it is common knowledge and widely available.

In-correct, Antarctic sea ice is mostly seasonal (so of no consequence), land ice is actually declining and will in time result in significant global warming.

You didnt post URLS? because maybe what you are reading is utter tripe as opposed to actual science.

So you dont justify you assertions as they are baseless and un-supporatble, we get that message.

Oh dear....talk about ignorance and mis-direction.

Better still start by doing this free course by the world's leading scientists who do data, and facts,

https://www.edx.org/course/making-sense-climate-science-denial-uqx-denia...

Then you will be armed with real information and not rubbish by the blinkered and extremists.

Ice, differentiate between sea ice and land ice in Antarctica (well anywhere). Land ice will raise sea levels and its melting is faster than the models predicted.

Antartic ice is actually mostly seasonal and why its changing is explained in this piece,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=163&v=9PUmKHBtnlA

Oh and again cherry picking/mis-direction. ie all ppl like you are doing is hunting for possible weaknesses in the depth of research and exploiting them ,meanwhile trying to stop such research.

Little ice age was a wee aberration, and is explained here by scientists,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n3bX_5d7vA

There is no global cooling, the data is irrefutable the planet is warming.

"national grid" well it wont get cold, simple it will get warmer, though freak cold storms are quite possible and predicted. Maybe consider the air con loads from heat waves.

Or we find and develop ways which satisfy both criteria (effective, cheap, and not too much nuisance) and actually start implementing them. The downside? The government wants it's cut and the government isn't going to accept losing income - eg if everyone went 80% PV you can bet the greedy government will tax your sunlight collection (probably per m2) to replace it's lost revenue from taxing electricity providers/sales.

LOL, or maybe this is why they have sold out SOEs? they saw this coming? Looking overseas when States etc tried to stop/slow such things the public got really anti.

I wish. they sold the SOE's then where'd the money vanish to?
I was just reading a piece on recycling in Palmerston North. All hard plastics can go in the recycing bin provided by the council... but 3 of those that are classified as "recycled" are actually just sent to landfill anyway after being sorted because there is no market for it.

I would say that what was really happening is they realised that government didn't have the money left after phat salaries and fancy reports to actually fund any of the +work_ that would have to go into those plants. When the rest of the world gets hard and TPPA binds us to meeting commitments, the government was going to be expected to keep up with the pack and stop using old technology. they couldn't afford that, the political loss of face would have been enormous, and none of them would have got cushy post-party jobs !

but 3 of those that are classified as "recycled" are actually just sent to landfill anyway after being sorted because there is no market for it.

Yes, well then the incentives have to be altered for the packagers which will force a move to a packaging material that there is a market for in terms of its re-use, or for a packaging product that is biodegradable. Point is, such moves require a more enlightened central government;

http://www.france24.com/en/20141011-france-outlaw-single-use-plastic-bag...

Recyclability should not be the only consideration when making decisions about which material to use. Recycling is only one aspect of the environmental life cycle of any product.

As an example, when they banned the use of plastic packaging in Germany because it wasn't recyclable, many food items started being sold packaged in glass instead. It was worked out that if you were able to collect 90% of all of that glass and recycle 90% of that - both fantastically ambitious assumptions - you would still end up sending a greater weight of waste to landfill than all of the plastic packaging that had been replaced. And in the meantime, you've put far more lorries onto the road transporting the goods about and those lorries have had to work harder, because of all the extra weight; and you've used up more energy in the manufacture of the glass jars than you would have if you'd carried on using plastic. On a whole life-cycle approach, plastic worked out considerably superior in environmental as well as economic terms.

The money from the SOE sales didn't vanish. It went into the Future Investment Fund, out of which about $600 - 700 million has already been invested into each of education and health.

I agree that recyclability should not be the only consideration. The first consideration is to use the least amount of material. The second priority should be to [genuinely] reuse the item or packaging. The third is recycling. And the fourth prioity is recover the energy in the material. Recycling is a third level priority. This heirachy of responsible materials selection is why 'plastic' invariably wins. Thin-walling, clever structures, and fit-for-purpose all add up to plastics having the least impact and usually the lowest [society] cost in a product life cycle. Phones, cars, clothing, packaging, etc are all getting smaller, lighter, and being made with far less material. Modern tiny material footprints work against recycling; you need so much more effort to recollect sufficient itdems to make recycling investments worthwhile.

I would love to observe the thought processes of a product designer who decided not to make or package their product using plastic options. There would be some twisted logic there. And I bet their product customers would pretty instantly reject the excess materials needed to be used.

As they say: reduce, re-use, re-cycle in that order :-)!

The requirement for 'biodegradability' is a nonsense. That is only a sop to litterers. Biodegradability ruins any chance of recycling; no manufacturer would buy an item spiked with degradability agents.

Secondly, zero degrading goes on in a light-free, sealed landfill. Anaerobic conditions down there suspend any biological action. It is only as litter that degrading happens.

Middle-class shallow/lazy thinking is the only basis for legally requiring biodegradable plastics. The thinking is to make it 'more like paper' which you throw out the window and it magically disappears. But paper has vastly more harmful constituents that most plastics (HDPE, LDPE, PP, even PS or ABS).

The right way to approach the problem is to a) use the least materials, b) re-use what you have, c) recycle when you can, d) recover the energy ... and only then send it to landfill. But never litter, and certainly don't add incentives to encourage that.

also some biodegradability is only for the pieces to break into finer pieces, not for the materials to actually be reformed into natural nutrient chain.

Many are like that old plastic bag, or that ancient rubber band. They just break into finer and finer pieces. Until it becomes a plastic dust. The polymer chains themselves take enormous amounts of time (hundreds or thousands of years) until they're fused into something else often by fire.

Some papers and cardboards are better than others, if unbleached, unplastercised and unwaxed/unglossed. Sadly by many consumers expectations such materials are barely acceptable for packaging materials, certainly not suited for sales or product display materials.

but heck, we're all about making more humans, why care about the five guys on the track? We can always breed more more more. Because living in highrise New York is what everyone must want.

So are you saying this type of argument below is shallow/lazy middle-class thinking, David;

Much of the reason for disappointing plastics recycling goals is that conventional plastics are often commingled with organic wastes (food scraps, wet paper, and liquids), making it difficult and impractical to recycle the underlying polymer without expensive cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

On the other hand, composting of these mixed organics (food scraps, yard trimmings, and wet, non-recyclable paper) is a potential strategy for recovering large quantities of waste and dramatically increasing community recycling goals. Food scraps and wet, non-recyclable paper comprise 50 million tons of municipal solid waste. Biodegradable plastics can replace the non-degradable plastics in these waste streams, making municipal composting a significant tool to divert large amounts of otherwise nonrecoverable waste from landfills.

Compostable plastics combine the utility of plastics (lightweight, resistance, relative low cost) with the ability to completely and fully compost in an industrial compost facility. Rather than worrying about recycling a relatively small quantity of commingled plastics, proponents argue that certified biodegradable plastics can be readily commingled with other organic wastes, thereby enabling composting of a much larger position of nonrecoverable solid waste. Commercial composting for all mixed organics then becomes commercially viable and economically sustainable. More municipalities can divert significant quantities of waste from overburdened landfills since the entire waste stream is now biodegradable and therefore easier to process. This move away from the use of landfills may help alleviate the issue of plastic pollution.

The use of biodegradable plastics, therefore, is seen as enabling the complete recovery of large quantities of municipal sold waste (via aerobic composting) that have heretofore been unrecoverable by other means except land filling or incineration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodegradable_plastic

Yes, I do think that is sophomoric from Wikipedia. Undergraduate stuff, perpetuated by the biodegradable additive companies who are pandering to supermarket buyers mostly (and who could care less about the science).

I recently ran a simple test in my backyard. In a sunny, windy fence that got rain, I fixed four plastic bags. A New World one, white (TO2) and printed, A Fruit World one, lighter gauge, clear but printed, a Countdown one, no colour, no print, and a Farro Fresh one, white (TO2) sporting a biodegradable claim. (Farro Fresh is an upmarket store that panders to the urban 'organics' crowd.)

All were HDPE bags.

The first to disappear (in about 150 days) was the Fruit World one. It quickly reverted to CO2 and H2O, the natural consequence of leaving HDPE to weather.

The second to disappear was the Countdown one. Not sure why it was second, but maybe it was the heavier gauge. Took about 6 months.

There are remnants of the New World one still there after about a year.

The whole Farro Fresh bag is also still there too, completely intact. Their biodegradable claim is rubbish.

In a composting situation things may go faster. Certainly I expected the 4-5 month degradation of the clear HDPE, That is what normally happens even though urban myth is that they 'last for centuries'. (Everything will in an anaerobic landfill, even plant matter.) The problem is the TO2 colour and other stabilisers that are sometimes added. Printing inks are also an issue. None of those would disappear to CO2 and H2O in composting. The HDPE would, but not the additives.

Thinking you can salve your guilt by using biodegradable LDPE, LLDPE or HDPE is an illusion. These structures are naturally degradable into pretty harmless substances. It all does wrong when you add stuff, like colours, inks and especially a 'magic biodegradable' potion. These are this things that will linger in your compost.

But if you are a lazy thinker, you will feel like you are doing your bit for the environment. Product sold. (And because such products are 'sold' into upper middle class markets, I will stick with my 'shallow/lazy middle-class thinking' tag. After all, at the cheap end of the supermarket business, they buy simple, uncoloured, unprinted, and thin bags - just like we all should.)

Everything will [last for centuries] in an anaerobic landfill, even plant matter.

Thanks for the reply David, as the above illustrates my point - all four of your sample plastic bags (additives or not) presently go to landfill.

I too apply a personal perspective on the problem through 'real world' observation of my own rubbish bins - and that tells me that the waste I send to the anaerobic landfill is double the volume that goes into the recycle bin - every week. The fact that 80% of what goes into my anaerobic landfill bin would actually compost/biodegrade if given the chance - makes me really wonder about why we are doing waste the way we are doing waste. Why not just aim for as near as possible to 100% aerobic processing of biodegradable matter?

So, get rid of the additives, the colours, the inks .. it's all just marketing fluff. Why not regulate that all packaging has to be "simple, uncoloured, unprinted, and thin" as you promote. And surely with the sophisticated science we have today, there must be an aerobic/biodegradable product (even if Farro Fresh's bag isn't one)!

"Everything will last for centuries in an anaerobic landfill"

Indeed, but so what? Gold, diamonds, granite, oil, marble statues carved thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks, all lie inert in the ground forever while the world goes on above. Where is the environmental harm?

I would say that there's far too much nanny state already there. What is needed is more real competition for the consumer to choose and to increase their ability to choose.

Tom who is a professor in packaging materials at Massey is a font of information :)

However the constant "improvement" in rules, and desire for manufactures to increase shelf lives and appearances for goods, and customer guarantees of perfection (and legislative support for such impressions) results in a constant push for more Packaging (One of marketing's big P's - the 5th of 4). And more stringent development of the packaging design and materials.

the result is, as usual, not what the customers speaks or the government shows, but what their _actions_ and buying preferences _demand_. And with only two major supermarkets, and most durables coming from foreign mass production (eg our annual demand = 1 hour or less of foreign factories time) there is little real choice in the matter with in consumers available market.

Consumers on the whole, I suspect, will always prioritize convenience over every other consideration aside from price - and in many cases even price signals don't work all that well given the availability of cheap credit.

The climate scientists are not wrong, end of story. The 9 accept the science and as 9 voters want NZ to do the right thing and are saying so, simple.

Climate change is measurable and funny thing it is physics.

Rubbish they are trying to force change based on theories, models and predictions.

For goodness sake I can measure the change in climate from yesterday to today, last week, last year etc.....you're using standard language to confuse the masses......

The theories start at basic physics, the models are proving accurate enough in terms of predictions.

No, what you are measuring is weather and at a single location, not climate globally.

Standard language? well what else do you want me to use for you, "simpleton"!

Well then ask your 9 What is the role of soil biota?
Ask them how does the soil store CO2?
Ask them about pH and CO2?

Why use the words Climate change when what you are saying is there is going to be Climate Catastrophe.......talk about hedging your bets either way just in case......the fact is you can't prove the theory and so you are not going to support the theory with appropriate language!!

My information comes in part from a friend who was doing their PhD at Massey in carbon sequestration in field biota, and also from a friend in Scotland who was doing her PhD in relation to effluent speed in different soils but specifically to do with angle of the land.

A lot of their research pointed to validity of composting information that many gardeners already knew through millennia of practical experiment (and before the use of ammonia based fertilisers).
Things like increasing fertility through pH and organic material, but the importance of the right factors to get the right bugs and the right break down rates that matched with the plants (eg root crops such as turnips are massively different in compost handling that rye/clover or corn/cereal).

Also there is the examination of handling of refuse which traditional would be stubble burn off, which affected pH and reintroduced a high load of potash (potassium) compounds back into the soil - situations that are naturally occurring and in places like Australia an important factor in the plant lifestyle. It also functions as disease and phage control on the soil micro-organisms; frequently destroying developing populations and growing epidemic or monocultural issues (a parallel would be the bee mites - cyclically destroy all species in a wide area also resolves the issues of emerging transportable pathogens. Because the neighbouring areas are unaffected it allows for migration into the fresh territory, the re-establishment from a smaller number of colonists (ie small capital) means that unhealthy mutations or parasitic issues will destroy small populations before the pathogen can become re-established.
This is a natural process and occurs in all facets of nature including human activities. Many of our current problems can be traced to avoiding such market sets and the technology we have developed which allows us to span the width of the world.

The problem Cowboy is that there are those with a self-interest who are not interested in the soil or the plants. Much of the science on soil biota etc is over the average persons head.......yet it is the average person who this group are targeting....I think they should at least be honest and inform the public of their knowledge shortfalls and how the whole system is integrated.

If they do not admit their shortfalls in information etc then perhaps we have the Dunning-Kruger effect at play in NZ!!

http://mindhacks.com/2013/12/02/the-more-inept-you-are-the-more-inaccura...

Now you are mis-directing again.

When a manager/business looks at its business future it should be considering the adverse risks and impacts to it. In fact I think that if directors fail to take an adequate stance on a risk and it occurs they can be held responsible for their failure. As managers of risk they dont need to be an expert just take the information and run a risk analysis and plan.

These 9 are voters just like you and I and have looked at the evidence and determined a course of action that is necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change and are making their views known.

"climate change" is the agreed handle. There is more than enough science, math and data to show proof that should satisfy any normal person.

Appropriate language? what are you going on about, first you want it "normal" but is seems that isnt Ok now you want it "appropriate". Well I'm sorry I can speak normal english it seems I just cant get down to your level. Know any 5 year olds? maybe they can explain it for you.

Again you fail comprehension!! Perhaps English is your second language.

Why is reducing the use of fossil fuels the only priority? A very significant part of this problem is deforestation across the planet. Currently there are very few viable alternatives to fossil fuels for our transport needs and some power needs. Focussing on fossil fuels will increase every ones cost to a level of unaffordability, but if nothing is done to stop the deforestation it won't matter how little fossil fuel is used, there will be no forests to absorb the carbon being released into the atmosphere, leaving the oceans to turn acidic, killing all the fish species. The end result - no forests; most wild life will disappear, acidic oceans; marine life will disappear - without technology to ensure food production can meet all our needs the human race will starve to death. If we could stop the rape and pillage of the forests across the world, replant what has already been lost, then most fossil fuel use will not matter!

Because a) peak oil so we have to get off it anyway and b) on the present CO2 output trajectory we get to 600ppm, 4+Degrees C and our agri-cultural society is gone. You are right on transport fuels, only its worse there are no alternatives for our industrial economy so we wave bye bye to it.

"everyone" "food production" you are correct it comes back to there being too many ppl everytime. So we have not controlled our numbers, so nature will.

Because it's profitable and a great political sounding board. It will achieve nothing in it's current form but at least the government can tax it and pay themselves more for their important work in addressing the problem top-down.

The climate is acting well within its normal cycles.
The science is mere hypothesis.
CO2 is not a pollutant.
Fossil fuels will run their natural path.
Society has far more fundamental social and economic problems looming.
Governments will find other ways of controlling and taxing us.

LOL....

um no.

I notice you don't provide any data to substantiate your assertions. Perhaps because they are nothing but statements based on groundless confidance wholly lacking in substance.

Actually if one uses the generally accepted definition, that being, "A pollutant is a substance or energy introduced into the environment that has undesired effects, or adversely affects the usefulness of a resource." CO2 is actually a pollutant..

I would say increasing average temperates throughout the globe, creating disturbances in global weather patterns, and increasing the intensity of weather events certainly constitude undesirable effects.

BTW, the Green House Effect of atmospheric gases is elementary science and has been know since the mid 19th Century, when John Tyndal a physicist conducted experiments and derived a scientifc explanation for the effect.

Anarkist - you're exhaling CO2 all over your computer keyboard and the undesired effects seem to be the content of your post!

Try sucking in Oxygen at 100% and see what happens.....as you'd get an undesired effect or adverse effect then perhaps you'd want to ban that pollutant too.

pff. Such a comedian notaneconomist, but obviously lacking a sense of proportion. Many substances have negligible effect in small quantities, but are highly toxic at higher concentrations.

Anarkist..........I just asked Mr Notaneconomist about my proportions and he assures me all his senses say nothing is lacking!! So there you go......using the science of the climate change comedians....(.I'm liking this pseudo science).....I have been measured !!!

Double Post

LOL, your ignorance is outstanding, try breathing completely normal air mix except at say 45PSI.

Mathus postulated that the Greenhouse effect would actually be good for economics and food, as it would increase plant growth and food levels.

Likewise CO2 is only a pollutant if you were in a comfortable spot before. Many others were in marginal areas and didn't appreciably suffer more than they already did. And because the weather was more erratic rather than outside of parameters it fell within their management norms. eg my farming system actually worked more effectively with the rapid and wider extremes. I was ready for droughts, and the extra water meant that shortterm housing which was to be implimented so the stock would be self-voluntarily 10 minutes from the dairy every day rather than 45-60 minute walk up to twice a day. A I managed to reduce dairy shed water usage from 2500 liters to about 1000 liters, with target of 800 on a bad day, with the majority roof collected, so dry spells weren't such a big deal.
Likewise moving the stock and standing for 60 minutes +/- some, would have enhanced the effluent recovery system.
My last two years, the droughts were only just starting to heavily the grazing pattern when the rains came (I didn't have to put out any extra feed for at least another week). While that was developed as a management assurance plan, it also works on a climate level. Keep moisture and cooling for longer, while having minimal affect on animals or economic benefits.

so the CO2 wasn't a big issue....

And in NZ CO2 geneally isn't the problem !! It's the CO and CH4 (by volume) and a handle of other chemicals which are slowly changing over (old air conditioners, certain anesthetic gases). So fixing the CO2 problem isn't the question, CO2 is just a measuring convenience, finding which chemicals and finding economical and lifestyle alternatives for them is the important factor.

Indeed, CO2 is great for plants and so is temperature: that's why commercial glasshouses run at 800-1000ppm CO2, and a few degrees above average ambient....

Plants cannot be lied to......

Except extra CO2 taken in isolation does not take into account all the extra downsides produced by the increased CO2. So sure some crops in good, ideal years will do better. However the increase in heat waves, an droughts etc can wipe crops out.

What increase in heatwaves? The world is awash with grain, the planet is greening and even the IPCC AR5 WG1 can't find any evidence for increased droughts....

"In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough
evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-
scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the
middle of the 20th century, owing to lack of direct observations, geographical
inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred
trends on the index choice."

"Total world grain production, excluding rice, will probably advance to a record this year, the International Grains Council said Jan. 22. Abundant supplies from Europe and the Black Sea region are edging out Indian wheat from markets in Southeast Asia, according to Tejinder Narang, a New Delhi-based consultant.'

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-11/wheat-exports-from-ind...

yet more mis-direction, if by planting crops we can say its greening, yes, however that isnt an eco-system or a carbon sink. So chopping down native forests and dropping in palm trees maybe well, be both the colour green but that is all it is.

IPCC like I said is derived from old data looking back, more up to date and looking forward science shows worse to come.

Sure we can get good crop years, however when russia had a few issues, not really.

Oh and india a somewhat hot time over there right now.

What bit of low confidence do you not understand? You were the chap posting out of date ar4. Ar5 is the latest data.

Global greening is not due to crop planting. From Nature:

"From 2003 onwards, forest in Russia and China expanded and tropical deforestation declined. Increased ABC associated with wetter conditions in the savannahs of northern Australia and southern Africa reversed global ABC loss, leading to an overall gain, consistent with trends in the global carbon sink reported in recent studies."

Cheer up mate a greening planet and record crops should be celebrated.

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n5/pdf/nclimate2581.pdf

You know, I am almost convinced that you believe some of what you say. You have got to seriously be kidding if you think that world is being naturally re-forested. Good grief

I attempted to make a submission which in retrospect could have been a lot better.
The questions are so wishy-washy and the discussion document only focuses on costs without considering potential benefits from improving technology, forest carbon sequestration, or the good public relations NZ could get from a positive commitment. My take on it is that this is only a pretense of consultation. The government knows that to get back below 1990 emission levels will now require something radical, and this government doesn't do radical.

however neither will Labour.

" My take on it is that this is only a pretense of consultation." You got that right. They know full well exactly what they'll be taking to Paris, all predetermined to satisfy their mates and their ideology. Besides, look at their record at honouring the results of "consultations." And I said exactly that in my submission, for all the good it will do. They really have won. No sense in making submissions and marching, it just gets ignored. Guess that's why some call this an oligarchy.