17 May 2013

A Northern Crossing of the Tararua Range with Robin in 1987

Last night I was sorting through some of Robin's many photographs.

I found some great photos of us tramping in the Tararua Range in 1987, 25 years ago.

It was more or less on Robin's 60th birthday, which was 19 December 1987. We did a Northern Crossing, from the west or Otaki/Levin side out to the east or Masterton side of the range.

That is me and Robin outside Arete Hut No. 2. I guess we met some one who took this photo. I still have that fairydown jacket.

This is just me outside Arete Hut No. 2 on 20 December 1987. I have changed jacket. Did Robin take that photo? 

This is me approaching the old Tarn Ridge Hut (old) (aka Blatchford Memorial Hut) on 20 December 1987.  
This is me outside the old Tarn Ridge Hut on 21 December 1987.  

This is a sequence of three photos that I took from Girdlestone Trig. They show Robin walking down the ridge towards Mitre Peak, with bright light shining off the wind-swept tussock grass, with Table Ridge in the mid background and the Bannister Waingawa ridge in the far background.

This is me at the old Mitre Flats Hut on 21 December 1987.

01 March 2013

Germany's electricity - renewable vs thermal

Tom exclaimed to me the other day "Solar electricity generation has really taken off in Germany!"

I thought I would obtain the data from the US EIA international web page and see for myself.

So yes from that chart, I see that solar generation has gone from zero in the early 1990s to 20 billion kilowatt hours in 2011. And both wind and biomass generation contributed more than 40 billion kilowatt hours in 2011.

But, Germany's thermal generation (meaning fossil fuels, coal, gas and oil) has been consistently over 300 billion kilowatt hours for the lat 30 years. There was a slight dip in 2008 and 2009, which I would say reflects the Eurozone debt crisis rather than the European Emissions Trading Schme. Then an increase in 2010.

So Germany's thermal generation (read "coal") still dwarves (or is that "dwarfs"?) the renewables.

And German coal consumption seems pretty steady at over 200 million tonnes consumed annually since 2000.

02 February 2013

Friday night climate change and emissions trading reading

What do economists think is the best policy to adopt to respond to climate change? Hat-tip to the Environmental Economics blog.

The New York Times discusses energy taxes as tools to help tackle climate change. Hat tip again to the Environmental Economics blog.

The Davos World Economic Forum is not ignoring climate change. They have commissioned a report saying that curbing climate change will cost $700 billion a year.

Leo Hickman of the Guardian concludes you can't assume your flying emissions are 'offset' just because the EU has an ETS.

A UBS analyst concludes that the emission allowances (emission permits/units/credit) in the European Union emissions trading scheme are “worthless” without a change in the rules to tighten supply and curb the record glut of excess allowances.

According to UBS, the European Commission’s strategy for the glut is to reduce the supply of allowances into the market by postponing the sale of 900 million allowances from the 2013-2015 period to 2019-2020. This is being called "backloading".

However, "The European Commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm, will not get support from governments for its plan to temporarily cut oversupply by delaying auctions of some permits"

Consequently, the "EU nations and the region’s parliament have two options now: to “sit back and do nothing and see the market crash” or to support the short-term rescue plan to backload allowances".

31 January 2013

Kennedy Graham memo to John Key and Tim Groser - you are on the wrong side of history

Kennedy Graham gave a great speech in response to the annual Prime Minister's statement. This is the full speech

"Lord Nicholas Stern acknowledged just days ago that he had "got it wrong". Climate change is already far worse than he thought it would be only 6 years ago when he released his report."

"We are no longer likely to achieve the 2 degrees Celsius limit that the international community set for itself only 2 years ago. We are now on target for 3.5 degrees to 6 degrees. That takes us beyond the dangerous dimension of climate change, which the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sought to prevent, and into what the World Bank calls "cataclysmic" climate change."

"What to say to a Government that in face of these developments guts its domestic climate legislation and refuses to enter a second binding international commitment period?"

"What to say to a Prime Minister who, in his annual statement to Parliament, omits climate change on the grounds that he touched on it last year?"

"What to say to a Minister for Climate Change Issues who says that New Zealand is ahead of the curve, that it is time to move beyond the Kyoto Protocol and join the largest polluters of the world, and who derides the global civil society when it criticises New Zealand for being one of the chief obstacles to progress at the UN conference in Doha?"

"We say this to John Key and Tim Groser. We say this: you are on the wrong side of history, both of you, in your respective ways."

Kia kaha, Kennedy!

Paul Krugman and the Japan worriers to apologise to the Emperor

Thursday evening and Friday early morning are not good times to have insomnia. National Radio has an unlistenable jazz programme before midnight, which is soon followed by a programme about differently-abled people.

Much better to watch and listen to Paul Krugman talk about the economy of the USA from the start of the GFC in 2008 being like Japan in the 1990s - except with more unemployment and suffering.

Krugman tells the joke that the US has so badly managed it's economic response to the GFC, that he and the other US-based 'Japan worriers' (the economists who criticised Japan's management of it's economy in the 1990s for its failure to stimulate growth in a period of near-zero interest rates) are planning to go to Japan to apologise to the Emperor, for the worse US management of the GFC

30 January 2013

China's primary energy

I have made a chart showing the trend in China's primary energy production and consumption.

I got the raw data from International Energy Statistics part of the US Energy Information Administration webpage. I downloaded two sets of time series data, production and cosumption, from 1980 to 2011 as Excel spreadsheets. I opened each sheet with a spreadsheet program (Gnumeric) and saved each file as a comma separated values file. I then opened each CSV file with a text editor and copied the numbers separated by commas into the script sheet of Rkward, the script editor I use with R.

That made it easy to read the data into R

China Total Primary Energy Consumption (Quadrillion Btu)

Being American, the data is expressed in the bizarre unit Quadrillion British thermal units (BTU) WTF? It's the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Not even the British use the BTU. The conversion factor to joules is 1 Quadrillion BTU = 1055 × 10^15 joules.

#num [1:30] 1.82e+19 1.81e+19 1.89e+19 2.01e+19 2.16e+19 ...(telling us the data is a numeric R object, consisting of 30 numbers )
#[1] 9.522205e+19 (the maximum number in the data series is 9.522205 x 10^19)
ejc<-c(jc/10^18) #convert data from joules to exajoules
[1] 95.22205
p<-c(18.12198,17.9451,18.92106,20.2361,22.12683,24.30279,25.04091,25.93877,27.14594,28.77554,29.38537,29.62193,30.32492,31.97204,34.13204,35.04591,35.668,37.81456,36.38594,34.99918,34.19953,37.5048,42.8456,49.44335,59.38067,64.44807,66.78499,70.841,78.34819,81.88698) #China Total Primary Energy Production
Year<-c(1980:2009) # need a time integer
png("China-primary-energy-ej-2009v1.png", width=650, height=500, pointsize = 16)
plot(Year,ejc,las=1,ylim=c(0,95),type="n",cex.main=1.6, cex.lab=1.2, main="China Total Primary Energy 1980 to 2009",xlab="Year", ylab="exajoules (10^18 joules)")
mtext(side=1,line=-2,"Data: US EIA")
legend("top",bty='n',bg="white", c("Energy consumption","Energy production"),lty = 1,lwd=3,col = c(2,4))

Give that a go!

24 January 2013

Challenging New Zealand's '100 percent pure' reputation

TV3's Campbell Live has started a series of quick (what else but quick can you say about one fifth of a current affairs news show?) investigations into the state of New Zealand's environment. TV3 are calling it 'Challenging New Zealand's '100 percent pure' reputation' and the first segment, which went to air today, featured Massey freshwater ecologist Mike Joy Massey, Dr Jonathan Garden, Simon Kingham, Alan Palmer, James Renwick and Diane Brunton from Massey.

Each scientist was asked for a realistic alternative percentage of pure to the much-hyped "100% Pure"

I am refusing to go with percentages. So I will note the scores out of a total of ten. Just like school essays of yesteryear.

The lowest score was 1.5 out of 10 for biodiversity, awarded by Diane Brunton from Massey. Climate change was next lowest at 4.5 out of 10. Former NIWA climate scientist James Renwick, now at Victoria University of Wellington, gave NZ 4.5/10 for NZ's high agricultural emissions, high car ownership, and opting out of the Kyoto Protocol.

The gimmick was for the reporter to conclude the series of 60 second interviews bt averaging all the scores. The final average for NZ was 5.66/10.

16 January 2013

The Kyoto New Zealand break-up - when unfaithful New Zealand said 'commitment' he never meant it

In this post I argue the best analogy for New Zealand's choice to opt out of a second commitment period (of reducing emissions) under the Kyoto Protocol - is: unfaithful men who won't commit to their partners!

New Zealand governments have behaved faithlessly towards Kyoto. The current National Government under Climate Minister Tim Groser won't commit to the Kyoto Protocol stage 2. And the 1990s National Government gave a commitment they had no intention of being faithful to. New Zealand politicians and diplomats intentionally negotiated the Kyoto Protocol so that New Zealand's Kyoto target would be met without reducing either gross or net emissions of greenhouse gases

I have argued before that New Zealand did not sign the Kyoto Protocol in good faith. As we seem unable to commit to Kyoto stage 2 in good faith, I have had another look at how faithful New Zealand's position was right from the the beginnings of Kyoto Protocol negotiations and at ratification in 2002.

According to a UNFCCC account of the Kyoto negotiations 'Tracing the Origins of the Kyoto Protocol: An Article-by-Article Textual History' on page 48;

"New Zealand was the only Party which made an early, more comprehensive proposal on the treatment of sinks, suggesting that sequestration of greenhouse gases from certain listed categories should be added to a Party's emission budget" (paragraph 226)
"New Zealand...faxed through a proposal for the treatment of sinks...sinks would not be included in a Party's baseline, but removals would be credited to a Party's budget (the so-called 'gross-net' approach)." (para 227)

(NB 'Sinks' meaning forests or land-use or land-use-change that sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So the New Zealand diplomats were 'ahead of the curve' in negotiating to get forest sinks recognised so they could offset other emissions.)

In October 1997,three weeks before the UNFCCC meeting in Kyoto, Simon Upton, the Minister for the Environment in Jim Bolger's National Government said in a speech:

"New Zealand has long been advocating" for Kyoto rules where "removing carbon from the atmosphere in future years will earn us credits"

Let's look at the advice the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade gave the government in February 2002, prior to New Zealand ratifying Kyoto that year. It was in a document called National Interest Analyses - Kyoto Protocol Part II

"New Zealand has an initial assigned amount for the first commitment period currently estimated to be 365 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent. That is, New Zealand is allowed to emit 365 Mt of carbon dioxide (or equivalent in other gases) over the years 2008 to 2012...New Zealand is expected to emit between 50 and 75 million tonnes over its 365 Mt initial assigned amount during the commitment period...."
"Current estimates are that, during the commitment period: New Zealand will emit between 415 million and 440 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and New Zealand sink activities (derived from forests planted from 1990 onwards) will provide an additional 110 million units of assigned amount, in the form of removal units."
"At a national level, New Zealand is therefore expected to have a surplus of assigned amount over emissions of between 35 and 60 million units over the five years of the first commitment period."

So the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were saying:

  1. New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions would increase (not reduce) through to 2012.
  2. New Zealand would meet its Kyoto target by issuing itself additional forest sink removal units.
  3. New Zealand would make an economic gain from having a surplus of emission units.

So New Zealand would meet a 'trifecta' of Kyoto-related goals, none of which were reduced gross or net emissions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were especially proud of that last point, making a profit.

"New Zealand’s effectiveness in climate change negotiations means it is one of the few developed countries that stands to make a small net economic gain from the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period."

So what would the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's predicted increased emissions and forest removal units look like on a chart? Assuming the maximum 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases is represented by a linear increase of 0.94% p.a. from a base of 73 million tonnes in 1990, and the forest removal units are issued equally over 2008 to 2012, it looks like this.

This is what 'gross-net Kyoto accounting' of emissions and emission units looks like. From 1990 to 2007, gross (or total emissions - blue dots) are the same as "Kyoto" emissions (the red dots). However, from 2008, you get the "Kyoto" emissions by subtracting carbon dioxide removed by 'human induced afforestation, reforestation and deforestation' (the violet dots) from the gross emissions. And the red dot Kyoto emissions suddenly dive under the 1990 baseline, even though both net and gross emissions have increased.

Except for the straight line, which is from my linear growth assumption, that looks very much like the current gross, net and Kyoto emissions, which I update below in a brand new animated 'Kyoto Escalator' chart

It's interesting to note that in the Ministry for the Environment's November 2012 calculation of the net Kyoto Protocol position, that although the ministry predicts a surplus of units (exceeding the target), this will happen in spite of an estimated 80% increase in annual net emissions since 1990 and a 27% increase in gross emissions. The actual gross and net emissions to 2010 have grown by 19% and 59% respectively, as shown in this chart

This is why whenever we hear Tim Groser or Nick Smith claim the New Zealand is meeting it's Kyoto target, we need to realise they are being the ultimate uncommitted unfaithful partner; in spite of their smooth rhetoric of caring about global warming, New Zealand's gross and net greenhouse emissions are showing an increasing trend. New Zealand needs to adopt policies that really do just stop emissions.

NB The original meme is Kyoto New Zealand break-up and all the images are at Picasa at Kyoto's Break-up with New Zealand where they can be viewed as a slide show. Feel free to use them and make up some more.

12 January 2013

New Zealand breaks up with Kyoto Protocol over lack of commitment

I have made up a meme using a meme generator. It's about New Zealand and the Kyoto Protocol.

It is the break-up.

They were a nice couple. They met at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They set an example for the rest of the world. but..after five years, New Zealand broke up with Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto says New Zealand wouldn't give a second commitment...even though they set up international emissions trading together. Lately New Zealand is believed to be hanging around Durban Platform.

Here is another. NZ won't commit.

But we had an Emissions Trading Scheme together.

He's left me for China, India and the USA.

It's been so difficult since the Durban Platform.

I only asked him to reduce net and gross emissions.

I only asked him to stop fiddling with his forest sinks.

The collection is called the Kyoto New Zealand break-up. It's been so much fun!

11 January 2013

Yes the planet is still warming

Gareth Renowden notes that John Cook of Skeptical Science has produced a short video debunking the false 'no warming for 16 years' meme.

Gareth says:

Spread this excellent new video from the talented team at Skeptical Science far and wide. It explains why the latest denialist trope — no warming for 16 years — is rubbish. Take out the impact of the three biggest factors driving natural variations in the global average temperature — volcanoes, the El NiƱo Southern Oscillation and the solar cycle — and what’s left is the underlying upwards trend being driven by our CO2 emissions. The world’s warming, Australia’s burning, ice is melting and we did it. No room left for wishful thinking or complacency.

The Guardian also reports that a revision in one of the UK Met Office's global temperature time series has caused the meme to have a brief run around the British media paddock. Leo Hickman investigates and also concludes that global warming is still warming.

10 January 2013

The social and psychological taboo on climate change

Claire Browning has written a post Nemesis Narcissus.

It’s about how climate change - embarrassing, frightening, disempowering - has become almost a social taboo. People are (allegedly) aware, (reputedly) concerned - but not acting, and a bit frightened even to talk about it. We’re taking refuge in denial.

For Claire Browning, the substance of this denial is the unwillingness to let go of lifestyle.

We don’t want to give it up - the personal lifestyles, the geopolitics - to have to admit that, in some respects, our definition of progress was wrong; that it was a treadmill, and a trap. Easier roads lie in denial, and trust, and hope.

Claire refers us to The id and the eco. which says

"Thinking about climate change makes people feel helpless and anxious – but that’s why we must talk about it openly".

This is an article by Rosemary Randall, a British psychologist who has looked at resistance to the disturbing message of climate change.

Randall writes;

Climate change is a disturbing subject that casts a shadow across ordinary life...what most people don’t admit — thinking about climate change is upsetting and brings to the surface an internal conflict about how to respond.

According to Randall, the common psychological response is defensive;

In dealing with climate change, we are in the terrain that psychoanalysis calls resistance or defence — the ability to defend ourselves from too much mental and emotional pain. Although each statement carries an element of truth, its primary purpose is protective: a rationalisation for inaction. These are subtler forms of denial than those found among outright climate sceptics or deniers. The reality of climate change is acknowledged but its significance is discounted, and the person involved avoids taking any responsibility for the issue.

Randall concludes with a call for a Churchillian 'fight them on the beaches' level of inspiration. Claire Browning invokes a previous post of hers on iconic Kiwi story-telling knocking the bugger off.

Both Randall and Browning are worth a read. May 2013 be a year where humanity overcomes it's resistance to taking action on climate change.

02 January 2013

James Hansen The Climate Crisis and the Need for an Energy Revolution

I have found another talk by James Hansen to listen to. It is titled 'The Climate Crisis and the Need for an Energy Revolution' and Hansen gave the talk on 10 October 2012 in New York as part of the Energy Emergency, Energy Transition roundtable convened by Cornell University's Global Labor Institute (GLI), a program of the Worker Institute at Cornell, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.