04 September 2012

How fast over the cliff? Kennedy Graham's speech on the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

How fast shall we drive over the cliff

I really like Green MP Kennedy Graham's speech on the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. Its is worth listening to.

"The Green Party will vote against this bill, the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, on the grounds that it weakens an already weak emissions trading scheme to the point of irrelevance."

"The deliberate weakening of the emissions trading scheme reflects a fundamental misperception of the nature of the climate change challenge...[the] Government's flawed world view....subordinates climate change to economic growth...It implies that economic growth is the principal criterion of the quality of life. It asserts a narrow and myopic view of the nature of climate change...

Climate change is not just another tough problem today and a potential crisis tomorrow. It is part of an ecological crisis today. It is the first of the nine planetary boundaries we must stay within if human civilisation is to continue to flourish. It is 20 years now since we agreed to avoid excessive carbon concentration in the atmosphere that would cause dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

It took 18 years to identify a 2 degree temperate rise and 450 parts per million concentration as the limit for avoiding that danger. The global carbon budget for the climate boundary is 1,600 billion tonnes of net greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1990 to 2100. In 20 years we have used almost half of that.

The remaining budget from now to 2100 is 870 billion tons, about one third of the remaining fossil fuel reserves. We have to learn to say no to fossil fuel extraction. Such a global budget allows future annual global emissions of 9.5 billion tons. This is 20 percent of current emissions, so the global emissions reduction curve will need to be steep if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.

This requires global emissions to peak before 2020, and to drop by 8 percent in 2020 and by some 56 percent by 2050. The developed countries—the global North—are required now to reduce their national emissions by about 35 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. These are not matters of choice. This is not the stuff of currency speculation, dealing with toxic debt, or hedging risk through derivatives and futures trading.

Emissions reduction is an ecological imperative. Nature does not do deals, other than with itself, and certainly not with humanity. Nature is what it is. Human notions of choice will prove as ephemeral as a feather in an evolutionary storm if we court dangerous climate change, yet this is what we are doing.

So where does New Zealand stand? We are called upon to reduce national emissions by up to 40 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. What have we pledged? We have promised conditionally a mid-point of 15 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050. It is simply not possible for New Zealand to achieve these weak targets with the spineless market instrument it has fashioned for the purpose over these past 3 years.

An 80 percent reduction by 2050 would mean a drop from 63 million tons to 13 million tons. How might we conceivably achieve this? Not by the 2008 Labour emissions trading scheme , not by the weakened 2009 National emissions trading scheme, and certainly not by this limpid legislative construct masquerading as a model of responsibility and balance that is before us today.

Today's bill will defer agriculture indefinitely, defer any increase in the price cap, defer the one-for-one surrender obligation, allow a greater switch from forestry to dairying, and enable importers to increasingly use dangerous synthetic gases. What remarkable, steel-like resolve!"

No comments:

Post a Comment