NZ climate policies grind uselessly on

Simon asked in comments:

What fundamental central and local government policy decisions have been based exclusively on the 7SS?

The question is too restrictive. Possibly the only “exclusive” policy was the decision to spend $70,000 reconstructing the national temperature record using the wrong method and then ignoring public-spirited citizens who found serious faults in it.

Widening slightly the scope of Simon’s question by ignoring the word “exclusively”, we discover hundreds of policies with indistinct justification provided by local temperatures. Our temperature record claims 50% more local warming over 100 years than global warming elsewhere, so it would be indeed odd if climate activism were not aided and abetted by the 7SS.

Of course people are alarmed by the record, never mind how NIWA disavows knowledge of any national temperature series. It’s published proudly on their web site and their climate scientists traipse around the country whipping up fervour for climate change policies by publicly presenting the 7SS and they wheel it out in every court case that touches present or future national temperatures or the imagined effects of temperature change.

The Environment Court probably by now has the damned graph nailed to the wall for ready reference. Every politician in the country knows our temperature record shows strong warming and are therefore either concerned about the future or understand why the Green Party and Greenpeace are concerned about the future of the climate. The 7SS most decidedly influences policy even though in using it NIWA is knowingly presenting an inferior scientific product.

But to discover how the 7SS might have influenced our national climate policies and to find out what the policies are, I went to a government web site that lists departments that include climate change in their responsibilities.

Government – who does what?

A number of government agencies carry out functions relevant to climate change.

The Ministry for the Environment is responsible for leading the development of the emissions trading legislation and for the development of allocation plans and regulations under the scheme. The Ministry is also responsible for reporting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention) and the Kyoto Protocol and has a climate change adaptation work programme.

The Ministry of Transport contributes to the NZ ETS, and leads work on biofuels, electric vehicles, other alternative fuels and technologies and the energy efficiency of commercial fleets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries contributes to government policy on climate change in a number of areas, including policy development and implementation of the NZ ETS, the Climate Change Plan of Action, adapting to climate change, and a range of other funding and research activities relating to agriculture and forestry policy.

The Ministry of Economic Development is responsible for energy policy and the management of the New Zealand Emission Unit Register. The Ministry of Economic Development is also involved in research into carbon capture and storage, energy information and modelling, and exploring the use of oil, natural gas, geothermal and alternative fuels.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority encourages, supports and promotes energy efficiency, energy conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy in New Zealand.

The Electricity Commission is responsible for regulating the operation of the electricity industry and markets. It also promotes and facilitates the efficient use of electricity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for leading New Zealand’s international climate change negotiations. A number of other agencies contribute to and support this work.

The Treasury provides information, research and economic perspectives on climate change policy.

The Department of Conservation is responsible for conserving the natural and historical heritage of New Zealand. It also manages large tracts of native forest and provides policy advice on climate change issues, where they relate to and intersect with conservation issues.

The Ministry of Science and Innovation has a role in promoting New Zealand’s innovation system by providing science and technology policy advice to the Government, some of which relates to climate change. The Ministry is also responsible for investing money in science and research on behalf of the New Zealand Government, including research on climate change.

Local authorities (regional, district and unitary authorities) have the primary responsibility for regulating resource use in New Zealand and for promoting the environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of communities. Local authorities are required to have regard to the effects of climate change. Many local authorities are active in promoting emissions reductions policies and measures in their respective regions.

Last updated: 9 August 2012

Our children’s future

Quite an impressive list. Although some of those departments have climate change as their major purpose in life and some merely dabble in it, overall, climate change is a huge enterprise, sucking up serious quantities of tax dollars as it trundles remorselessly into our children’s future.

I wanted to see quickly the kinds of policies inspired by climate change and discovered “New Zealand’s Fifth National Communication Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” in which I found: “Table C.1: Summary of policies and measures by sector.”

“That’s interesting,” I thought. “I shall write down in my blog for the edification of my readers the description of each of these policies.” As the word count climbed towards 500 I began to hope I wouldn’t lose too many of those readers to slumber.

Here’s the list of policies from that table, with descriptions. Our next task, children, will be to discover the justification for each and every policy. Those that are unjustified we shall destroy.

NZ’s climate change policies

  • New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme
  • The scheme will cover all sectors and all gases, and will reduce emissions by making emitters pay for any emissions covered under the Kyoto Protocol.

  • Marine Energy and Distributed Generation Funds
  • Providing financial assistance and support for research into, and deployment of, marine and small-scale electricity generating activities.

  • Efficient Products Programme
  • This programme develops energy efficiency measures for a range of residential, commercial and industrial products, and allows both New Zealand and Australia to set consistent standards and measures for energy efficiency.

  • Business programmes
  • Provides information on new technologies and energy management, grants for energy audits and demonstrations of new technology, and one-on-one support for energy-intensive businesses. Grant funding is available for new or under-utilised technology improvements.

  • ENERGYWISE homes
  • Aims to increase energy efficiency in homes by providing information and grants for energy efficiency measures. Also provides information on the funding available to reduce energy consumption, including clean space heating options and solar hot water.

  • Electricity efficiency programme
  • Provides subsidies for efficient electrical products such as light bulbs and electric motors. Subsidies are also available for projects to improve efficient use of electricity in commercial buildings.

  • Energy efficiency in government
  • Supports central and local government entities to implement energy efficiency initiatives within their own operations. Provides information and forums to improve awareness of energy efficiency in the community. Also provides grant funding for energy audits.

  • Vehicle fuel economy labelling
  • Renewable transport fuels including biofuels
  • To encourage greater production of biofuels` and to ensure equal incentives for different types of biofuels between now and 2012, the Government has agreed to provide a grant to biodiesel producers.

  • Electric vehicles
  • Promote uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand, by exempting them from road-user charges.

  • Other transport measures
  • These include research and driver training to promote more efficient driving practices, and funding to improve and promote the use of public transport in New Zealand.

  • Global Alliance on agricultural emissions
  • A worldwide virtual network set up for climate change research into agriculture and food production.

  • Primary Growth Partnership (PGP)
  • Provides investment in significant programmes of research and innovation to boost the economic growth and sustainability of New Zealand’s primary, forestry and food sectors.

  • Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC)
  • A partnership between the Government and the dairy and fertiliser industries which provides livestock farmers with the information and means to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Plan of Action
  • Initiatives and programmes in the agricultural and forestry sectors that focus on adaptation to climate change, reducing emissions and enhancing sinks, and new business opportunities.

  • East Coast Forestry Project
  • The main purpose of this project is to reduce erosion by encouraging tree planting on erosion-prone land. The project also enhances the sequestration of carbon in forest sinks.

  • Afforestation Grant Scheme
  • Aims to increase the area of Kyoto-compliant forest in New Zealand by offering a simpler alternative to the NZ ETS for landowners with small tracts of forest.

  • Permanent Forest Sinks Initiative
  • Promotes the establishment of permanent forests on previously unforested land by offering the opportunity to earn assigned amount units for carbon sequestered in permanent forests established after 1 January 1990.

  • Increasing the use of wood as a construction material
  • A range of initiatives designed to increase the use of wood as a construction material, such as: funding full life-cycle analysis research, professorship positions, and funding demonstration buildings.

  • Waste Minimisation Act 2008
  • Aims to lower the social costs and risks from waste, reduce the damage to the environment from waste generation and disposal, and increase economic benefits by encouraging more efficient use of materials. It will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector.

  • National Environmental Standard for Landfill Methane.
  • Requires landfill sites with a design capacity greater than 1 million tonnes of refuse to collect and destroy methane emissions.

Some of these projects have little to do with climate change but have been shanghaied, dragged kicking and screaming into the climate change arena to make the government look good to the eco-terrorists.

Some are mere stocking-fillers with no intrinsic value, such as labelling vehicles with their fuel economy – nothing but a mindless propaganda exercise.

Others cost a lot of money, such as the Global Alliance on agricultural emissions, which seems open-ended and could soak up as much money as we want to throw at it, although if it improved agricultural efficiency or production it might be worthwhile.

Still others are very expensive AND a waste of everything they use, like the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC). For until ruminants stop using multiple stomachs and anaerobic bacteria to digest grass, they’ll never stop belching methane.

We’re good, but I can’t see our scientists altering physiology in any fundamental way.

In this list, I suspect, lies the true cost, or the beginnings of knowing the true cost, of our climate change policies. Policies we’ve adopted not for our own good, nor for the good of the world, but for the good of our image in the eyes of trading partners and, it must not be forgotten, the United Nations.

It is to the UN we must look, probably, to put a stop to the nonsense, but in the meantime there are local avenues still untried, such as simply publicising the real costs of our “fight” against “climate change”.

Next step: find the cost of each of these policies.

9 Thoughts on “NZ climate policies grind uselessly on

  1. Robin Pittwood on October 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm said:

    Richard, your list indicates tentacles into all sorts of things.
    Therefore I wonder about the likelihood of this happening.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/7873305/New-Zealand-may-quit-Kyoto
    Or, if it did, whether much would change. Certainly not fast anyway.
    Cheers
    Robin

    • Robin,

      First, thanks for the link. Second, I take the view that, because the tentacles are long, strong and intertwined, it won’t matter if we flee the Kyoto Treaty. The great flywheel will continue its inexorable progress! I think we’ll just have to keep chipping away as enthusiasm dies and Nature fails by continual failure to warm to confirm the outrageous fears.

  2. Huub Bakker on October 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm said:

    I ran across this interesting paper by Green and Armstrong looking at other public predictions of catastrophe. Their take-home message was that, in most of the other examples, Government action was taken, was harmful and continued well after the catastrophic predictions were known to be spurious.

    Here’s the Abstract from their draft paper. (http://kestencgreen.com/green&armstrong-agw-analogies.pdf)

    When the beach patrol raises the alarm that a shark has been sighted we know what to do, but how should we respond to an alarm that is based on predictions of what will happen 100 years from now and the person raising the alarm tells us we must make great sacrifices now to avoid the predicted catastrophe? To answer this question, we forecast effects and outcomes of the current global warming alarm using a structured analysis of analogous situations. To do this, we searched the literature and asked experts to identify phenomena that were similar to the alarm currently being raised over dangerous manmade global warming. We obtained 71 proposed analogies. Of these, 26 met our criteria that the alarm be: (1) based on forecasts of human catastrophe arising from effects of human activity on the physical environment, (2) endorsed by experts, politicians and the media, and (3) that were accompanied by calls for strong action. None of the 26 alarms were based on scientific forecasting procedures. None of the alarming forecasts were accurate. Governments took action in 23 of the analogous situations and those actions proved to be harmful in 20. The government programs remained in place after the predicted disasters failed to materialize. The global warming alarm movement appears to be the latest manifestation of a common social phenomenon: false alarms based on unscientific forecasts of human-caused environmental disasters. We predict that the alarm over forecasts of dangerous manmade global warming will, like previous similar alarms, result in harm.

    The final published paper(1) concentrates more on the abject failure of the GCM models in the 140-odd requirements for robust predictions. Who’d a thunk it?

    1 Kesten C. Green and J. Scott Armstrong, (2007) Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasting, Energy & Environment, 18, 7+8, 2007.

  3. Clarence on October 29, 2012 at 12:38 am said:

    That’s a frightening list of bureaucratic entanglements – and a massive commitment of scarce resources.

    Has anybody ever defined the goal? How much reduction in the 7SS trend is to be achieved by (say) 2030, or 2050, as a result of all this red tape?

    There is only one possible justification for this all-out effort. The Government must believe that failure to act will result in NZ experiencing a dangerous increase in average temps within the foreseeable future. Why would they think that? Because NIWA told them so.

    How does NIWA know? Because their models told them so. What verifies the models’ figures? The ability to accurately hindcast what the 7SS says for the last 100 years.

    What if the 7SS is wrong? Well … it all comes tumblin’ down.

  4. A lot of this stuff done in the name of “climate change” seems to be just box ticking.e.g the Ministry of Transport have a page about climate change and transport, and their fig leaf to the environmentalists appears to be offering road user charge exemption to the owners of electric vehicles in NZ
    (assuming that there are any)

    • As I noticed an ad for an electric car (the Holden Volt) on TV last night, I thought I’d find out a bit more about this amazing new car.

      http://www.holden.co.nz/new-cars/volt

      I was quite excited about this “long range” mode that the Volt offers.
      It’s not until several minutes of watching the “about” video that you notice that “long range mode” involves stopping at a regular petrol station and filling up as with a regular car. Note, however, this is NOT a hybrid. The petrol engine does not charge the electric battery (I think)

      Therefore it is ELECTRIC, and is therefore free from road user charges (thanks to our government climate change mitigation policies)

      But it does use petrol, when you run out of charge.

    • The petrol engine charges the batteries when they are getting flat, so the petrol is not used directly to drive the car.

      It costs a mere $85,000, so I expect we can see a lot of government support for this exciting new initiative as we “transition to a low carbon economy”

    • Richard C (NZ) on October 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm said:

      Or, for those in the transition to a low dollar economy, a non-electric Volt (1.8 Cruze CDX) for $34,500.

      It just makes sense.

    • It also makes sense to buy a Golf TDi over a Prius because it has better open road fuel economy than a Prius.
      The electric and hybrids work fine for city driving when there is a lot of start/stop behaviour.

      We had electric milk trucks back in London when I were a lad, a long time before anyone thought of “transitioning to a low carbon economy”.

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