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.