21 October 2015

Environment Aotearoa 2015 omits NZ's greenhouse gas growth trend

The Ministry for the Environment and the Statistics Department jointly released the new state of the environment report Environment Aotearoa 2015 today.

The press release for the co-produced report, promises quite a lot.

Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said the report gives a clear and independent overview, based on the best-quality information available.
Ms MacPherson said the report uses robust data from hundreds of sources, and follows international best practice for environmental reporting. “We would like to improve the data for future reports, and we are working on this,”
"The report is supported by interactive web pages containing trend and regional data. I would encourage people to take a look at the areas they are interested in.”

Wow! Interactive web pages containing trend and regional data! How could I resist the temptation to look for some interactive graphs of greenhouse gas emissions! And to compare their graphs with my graphs.

I browsed on through the 'Atmosphere and Climate' domain to the page for Global greenhouse gas emissions and found only...information on global greenhouse gas emissions. And a factoid that could have culled from any speech by Tim Groser or Nick Smith.

Between 1990 and 2011, New Zealand emitted an average of 0.1 percent of global net GHG emissions.

I tried again at the page Greenhouse gas concentrations. This page reported concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions recorded at Baring Head. Interesting but still no national emissions data.

However, i did find a widget enabling the embedding of a graph the Baring Head atmospheric carbon dioxide data record.

Nowhere from anywhere within the Te Taiao Aotearoa environmental indicator web pages could I find any mention of New Zealand's gross and net greenhouse gas emissions.

I resorted to doing a search of the Statistics website for greenhouse gases. That did turn up a web page showing New Zealand's greenhouse gases. That page clearly reported the trend with a prominent red cross.

Negative change. New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions have increased 42 percent since 1990. New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increased 42 percent between 1990 and 2013. Total emissions increased 21 percent.

Another widget for embedding. A very plain graph. It uses a different greenhouse gas inventory report published earlier this year from my graphs for 1900 to 2012. The data for 1990 to 2013 uses a different way of calculating the carbon dioxide equivalent values for methane. This increases the year by year values by several million tonnes per year.

Still it just seems so bizarre to have statutory environmental indicators and to not include our national production of greenhouse gases. Especially since Statistics already had the data on it's web page. They need only to have put the link in. Is this cognitive dissonance, self-censorship or climate silence?

17 October 2015

New Zealand Gross & Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990 to 2012

I have just prepared and revised a graph of New Zealand's gross and net greenhouse gas emissions for the years 1990 to 2012. I have recycled the style of the graph of gross emissions from 1861 to 2012.


I have used html code from the scalable vector graphic I uploaded to Wikipedia Commons and not the Blogger template. I think it gives a better quality graphic.

The data is from Ministry for the Environment publication New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 – 2012, Report ME 1148, ISBN 978-0-478-41242-0, April 2014.

The data and R programming language script are available at Wikimedia Commons.

12 October 2015

How I made the graph of NZ gross greenhouse gas emissions

Yes another post about my new line chart of gross greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand. I have just uploaded a SVG version to Wikimedia Commons. On that page there is a link to the data source on Robbie Andrew's website and the background to the data and it's use in a publication.

The scaled vector graphic looks like this when the suggested template from Wikimedia is used.NZ Gross GhG Emissions 1861 to 2012

And I have uploaded the R script I wrote to Google Drive


11 October 2015

Graph of New Zealands gross greenhouse gas emissions 1861 to 2012

Robbie Andrew has compiled a data set of gross greenhouse gas emissions for New Zealand starting in 1861. So obviously that prompted me to make a line chart.

This image is set at actual size of 535 pixels.

28 September 2015

The Burning Question debunks peak fossil fuels

I recently met a certain Green Party councillor of a nearby local council who said he thought New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions would decline by 10 percent in the next twelve months. The decline would be caused partly by restrictions on the availability of oil and gas and partly by the recent decline in the global whole milk powder prices.

I proposed a bet of one thousand dollars (to be given to a climate change project) that there would be no decline in either net or gross greenhouse gas emissions from 2015 to 2016, let alone a decline of 10 percent. In other words I was happy to bet against 'peak oil'. Because don't see how any one can claim to understand anthropogenic climate change as an issue and still hold the view that declining supply of liquid fossil fuels will damage the world's economies.

So I am very pleased to find this talk by Duncan Clark given at University College London on 2 July 2013 about the book The Burning Question co-authored with Mike Berners-Lee.

Their simple thesis is that the available proven reserves of oil gas and coal, that are already recognised as assets on the balance sheets of fossil-fuel companies, exceed a 'likely' carbon budget consistent with limiting average global warming to two degrees Celsius by 2100. And therefore the policy question is "how do we keep trillions of dollars of fossil fuels in the ground?"

The Guardian has a good review of The Burning Question.

24 September 2015

What is a Intended Nationally Determined Contribution?

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are outlines of the actions that countries intend to take to address climate change, submitted ahead of the December 2015 Paris UNFCCC negotiations (Source: The Road Through Paris).

This is explained in this short video.

The video is the creation of Climate Countdown,

who examine different facets of this complex issue and break it down into bite-sized bits

09 July 2015

Tim Groser and New Zealand's impersonation of a 2030 Climate Change Target

Gareth Renowden at Hot Topic covers the release of New Zealand's 2030 Climate Change Target.

I think we need to understand that this target, just like its predecessors, is a complete fiction. Groser and National have no intention of ever adopting any measure that will make NZ’s greenhouse gases deviate from continued ‘business as usual’ growth.

Note that the Ministry for the Environment's website says; “New Zealand will meet these responsibility targets through a mix of domestic emission reductions, the removal of carbon dioxide by forests and participation in international carbon markets.”

Brian Fallow says the MFE’s (dodgy) economic modelling assumes 80% of the “reduction” will be “met” by buying international carbon units. On that basis, they can then just repeat the Kyoto Gross-Net forest accounting fudge of saying the baseline is ‘gross’ or total emissions and that the target will be ‘net’ including credits for afforestation and reforestation. There we have it! Zero domestic reductions in emissions.

Note also the very conditional language in the INDC sent to the UNFCCC and in Groser’s press release.

The target is provisional and conditional on 1) access to carbon markets, 2) land use and forest rules NZ agrees with (presumably to keep the Kyoto Gross Net fudge), and 3) effective and affordable mitigation technology for agriculture.

On that basis, NZ might start to reduce domestic emissions but only if the rest of the world at the UNFCCC Paris December 2015 meeting bends over backwards to meet Tim Groser’s unattainable provisos.

Whatever approach Paris 2015 takes and whether it “succeeds” or not, the rules of whatever agreement, if there is one, will probably take several more years to thrash out. All of which enables NZ to claim the conditions haven’t been met, so no reductions. Even if some perfect rules appear, NZ can say “Sorry our little-battling-punching-above-its-weight Agricultural Research Centre still hasn’t given us affordable mitigation for pastoral agriculture.

This is real “heads we win, tails the atmosphere loses” approach.