23 May 2016

An open letter to Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett cancel the dubious surplus units

In which I write to Paula Bennett and ask her to cancel the 124 million surplus emission units.

Paula Bennett's first act as the new Minister for Climate Change Issues was to announce that yes indeed New Zealand would be using creative carbon accounting and shuffling of dubious 'surplus' emissions units to meet the 2020 climate change target without actually reducing any emissions of greenhouse gases.

That approach became unstuck for Paula Bennett with the release of the Morgan Foundation's 'Climate Cheats' report.

Report author Geoff Simmons pretty convincingly put the case that if New Zealand has unethically benefited from buying dubious Ukrainian emission units, then Paula Bennett is ethically bound to cancel the remaining surplus units. I have heard no response, so I thought I would ask her myself. Hence this letter.

Hey why don't you write or email her too? Her email address is p.bennett@parliament.govt.nz

The Hon Paula Bennett
Minister for Climate Change Issues
Parliament Office
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160

23 May 2016

Your ethical duty to cancel 124 million surplus assigned amount units

Dear Minister,

I see that last Friday (20 May 2016) the Ministry for the Environment released New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2014 and the summary 'Snapshot'.

I see that in the Snapshot summary on Figure 5, page 5, that New Zealand is still intending to use 123.7 million emission units (Assigned Amount Units or 'AAUs') that were 'surplus' from the Kyoto Protocol first Commitment Period to meet the 2020 emissions reduction target and still have a surplus of 92.6 million units.

You are aware that the Morgan Foundation's report 'Climate Cheats' and the Stockholm Environment Institute report (Kollmuss, Schneider and Zhezherin 2015) set out a persuasive case that the 97 million Emission Reduction Units ('ERUs') that were imported to New Zealand were “questionable or of low environmental integrity”. Those ERUs were surrendered by NZETS participants into Crown holding accounts.

According to the Kyoto Protocol 'True-Up' Report, in December 2015, the Ministry for the Environment cancelled (transferred Crown-owned units to cancellation accounts) 373 million emission units to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. The numbers and types of units cancelled were: the 97 million imported ERUs, 16 million imported Certified Emission Reduction units ('CERs'), 81 million removal units ('RMUs'), and 179 million AAUs . The 'surplus' units remaining in Crown holding accounts were 124 million AAUs.

In a nutshell, the only reason New Zealand (the Crown) has so many 'surplus' AAUs is because of the inflow and use of the dubious ERUs in the NZETS. Each dubious imported ERU has allowed one additional AAU to be carried forward in a Crown holding account as a 'surplus' unit. Because the ERUs have no credibility, the AAUs no longer represent carbon safely stored out of the atmosphere. No emissions were reduced. Therefore to use these surplus AAUs to comply with the national 2020 emission reduction target is simply an exercise in creative carbon accounting. It is simply unethical.

I put it to you that as Minister for Climate Change Issues, you are morally obliged to cancel these surplus units owned by the Crown. Will you cancel the units? It may hopefully to some small extent restore New Zealand’s very tarnished reputation with respect to mitigating climate change policy.

Yours sincerely

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