NZ Climate Change History of Inaction
12 November, 2012
'Key defends decision not to stick with Kyoto Protocol' - NZ Herald link here
04 December, 2012
'Groser defends ditching of Kyoto' - NZ Herald link here
10 December, 2012
'Kyoto pull-out 'economic mistake' - NZ Herald link here
02 April, 2014
'The New Zealand Government opens eight areas for oil and gas exploration' - NZ Herald link here
15 April, 2014
'NZ emissions accelerating' - NZ Herald link here
18 November, 2014
'Editorial: Quit cooling our heels on climate action' - NZ Herald link here
19 June, 2015
'Pollution from dairy continues to grow' -NZ Herald link here
21 July, 2015
New Zealand: ‘Climate Change Refugee’ Case Overview   - Library of Congress link here

"A New Zealand case involving an application for refugee status based on the effects of climate change in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has received media attention around the world.  The proceedings in the case came to a close in July 2015, when the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the highest court in the country, dismissed an application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in which it ruled against the applicant.

This report summarizes the decisions of the different courts that issued rulings in the case and provides information on other Australian and New Zealand cases that involved refugee claims based on the impacts of climate change in different countries.  Links to media articles and academic writings that include discussion of the New Zealand case are provided at the end of this report."

Download report here

29 November, 2016
'Revealed: NZ household's impact on climate change' - NZ Herald link here

"New Zealand's gross emissions per person were now fifth highest out of the 41 countries which set reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and our net emissions were the 14th highest."

28 March, 2017
‘Innovative bill protects Whanganui River with legal personhood’ - New Zealand Parliament website link here
27 June, 2017
'Climate change court case:”The costs of inaction are terrifying’ - NZ Herald link here

"... Law student Sarah Thompson, 26, is suing the Government over its climate change targets, alleging it's not doing enough.
"Her lawyer, Davey Salmon, today argued in the High Court at Wellington that the National Government was looking for reasons to delay taking action...” - NZ Herald link here

31 August, 2017
What is the problem with New Zealand's water sources? - Aljazeera website link here

A look at how water pollution has become a major concern for the country

01 September, 2017
Why are New Zealand's waters so polluted? - Aljazeera website link here

New Zealand's abundant rivers have been central to its reputation as a land of natural beauty – but are its waterways as sparkling as the tourist ads suggest?

20 October, 2017
Reactions to Formation of a Labour, NZ First, and NZ Green Party Government

‘Jacinda Ardern becomes New Zealand's youngest woman leader’
- BBC News link here

‘How reluctant leader Jacinda Ardern charmed New Zealand’
-  The Guardian link here

‘Mike Hosking: Already a mess - we are all in trouble’
- NZ Herald Headline - NZ Herald link here

Mike Hosking was the host at the final leaders debate, a position that was opposed without success by a petition on the basis that he is “one of the most politically biased TV personalities in New Zealand ...”

17 November, 2017
‘Urban sprawl and the land that keeps on giving’ - NZ Herald link here

" ...Scientists warn that populations here and around the world are growing so fast that it will curtail countries' ability to feed their own people. It may sound improbable, but they warn that urban sprawl could limit even New Zealand's ability to be self-sufficient in vegetables.  

...Contrary to popular belief, New Zealand does not have an abundance of rich soils. Most of it is class six - suitable for pasture or forestry, but not much else.

...Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman wants the 5.5 per cent of New Zealand's landmass that is used for fruit and vegetable production to be preserved. He says that since 2001, we've lost about 10,000ha of growing land - 6000ha for vegetables and 4000ha for fruit. That's an area just under the size of Hamilton. "What it's showing is that we are losing valuable land to houses and lifestyle blocks," Chapman says. "The problem with that is that it is very difficult to keep growing the same amount of vegetables to feed New Zealand at certain times of the year.

...Most of the vegetables grown in New Zealand are consumed here.

...While the majority of vegetables were grown near main centres 40-50 years ago, there is now more of a reliance on large food production hubs - Pukekohe, the Horowhenua and Canterbury.”

19 November, 2017
‘Fonterra's climate change fudge’ - Rod Oram link here

“At first glance, Fonterra made on Tuesday a massive pledge to tackle climate change.

...But those targets apply only to Fonterra’s own operations, which amount to only 10 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by its total supply chain. They do not cover the other 90 percent of its footprint, which is generated on-farm by its farmer-shareholders who supply more than 20 bn litres of milk a year to it.

...Fonterra still hasn’t got its head around climate change. One particular factor clouds its judgement. It says its farmers’ operations have an emissions intensity which is only half of the average for the global dairy industry. One of their great advantages is pastoral farming compared with feedlot farming among many of their competitors. But this is just the same argument that the Australian coal industry uses. It says its product has a future because it is higher quality and lower emissions than its competitors’. It’s even coined a name for it, HELE coal. This ignores the fact that all coal is facing strong and growing competition from zero emissions fuel, and from countries’ climate change policies. Such clean competition and regulatory pressures are only just emerging for dairy companies, but those will ramp up fast in the years ahead.

...pressure is building on some of our dairy competitors overseas to cut their emissions. The leader is California. It passed a law in September that requires its livestock industry to cut its emissions of methane, a highly potent GHG, by 40 percent of 2013 levels by 2030, with three-quarters of that reduction coming from dairy farms.

...we’re lagging far behind California overall. As a nation, our GHG emissions have risen by 21 percent since 1990, but California’s are nearly back to 1990 levels. By 2030, the state aims to cut its emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels. But we’re only aiming for an 11 percent cut.

Our international commitments are meaningless, though. On our current trajectory, we are missing them by miles.

Thus, Fonterra is playing a highly irresponsible and very risky game with its future and the country’s by trying to fudge its impact on climate change with its 10 percent solution.”

18 December, 2017
‘Prime Minister announces formulation of Zero Carbon Act, climate change commission’  - NZ Herald link here
12 April, 2018
‘Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans new offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand’ - NZ Herald link here

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand. The only exploration likely to be contemplated by the new Government is on-shore exploration, limited to energy-rich Taranaki.

"We're protecting industry and protecting future generations from climate change," said Ardern.

"This is a responsible step, which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels."

The more than 30 existing permits, 22 for offshore oil and gas exploration, are unaffected by today's announcement, Energy Minister Megan Woods said. If those permits, which cover 100,000sq km are continued or taken up, exploration will continue for more than a decade.

Ardern and the ministers are expected to outline plans for their version of a managed transition towards a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and a goal of achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.”

26 July, 2018
‘NZ 'complacent' over climate change’ - NZ Herald link here

“New Zealand's approach so far to climate change has been labelled "complacent" by a leading energy researcher.
Anna Berka, a research fellow at the University of Auckland's Energy Centre, says there has been a tendency by Kiwis to think New Zealand is too small to contribute to significant global change and can't afford to try.

"People regard the process as too expensive, that we should wait for other countries to develop the technology," she says. "This self-defeating narrative is repeated and reinforced by established industry players who dominate policy and media discourse."
She says our legacy and international standing in hydroelectric and geothermal power has, ironically, made us "complacent about putting in place" measures to help with climate change (New Zealand is the fourth largest generator of geothermal in the world, the energy accounting for about 16 per cent of our electricity needs)."

Although there has been targeted investment support from regional and national government for geothermal and electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure Berka says we must, and can, do much more.”

14 March, 2019
School Strike 4 Climate Action NZ - website link here

"We are striking from school to tell our politicians to take our futures seriously and treat climate change for what it is - a crisis.
They can show us that they care by taking urgent action to move New Zealand beyond fossil fuels and get the job done of moving us to 100% renewable energy for all!"

14 March, 2019
'Show us how it's done' - 22 leading NZ academics who back the School Strike 4 Climate' - NZ Herald link here

"Why should students strike over climate change tomorrow? Here, 22 of New Zealand's leading scientists and academics explain."

15 March, 2019
'Climate change protestors outside Parliament' - NZ Herald link here
16 March, 2019
Tens of thousands of school students demonstrate across NZ calling for action on climate change - Dominion Post "Stuff" link here

"From Southland to the Bay of Islands, tens of thousands of school pupils took to the streets today demanding action on climate change.

Around 40 demonstrations were planned in cities and towns across New Zealand as part of the international School Strike 4 Climate campaign.

Young people are calling on the Government to do more to reduce global warming before higher temperatures and rising sea levels have catastrophic consequences.

The student strike is the largest of its kind ever staged in New Zealand and organisers vowed more action is to follow."
16 March, 2019
'Editorial: The climate must change' - NZ Herald link here

"Yes, we have gone big today on climate change.

Ugh, some readers will say.

Out come the tin foil hats and the pseudo-science.

So I'll type this slowly, because clearly some people are having trouble understanding this:

Climate change is real.

Humankind faces a real and imminent threat to not only our cushy way of life, but perhaps to our survival.

Two degrees of warming will be catastrophic, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We're on target for four-plus.

We have pumped more carbon into the atmosphere in 30 years than in our entire existence.

Within 10 years it could be too hot and humid to survive in some of the world's largest cities.

Sea levels are rising, millions of people will be displaced, hurricanes and heatwaves grow more intense and frequent ... do we lose the ability to grow crops before we take this seriously?"

07 May, 2019
Several mayors 'unsure' whether human activities contribute to climate change - link here

"Several New Zealand mayors are still reluctant to say they agree with the scientific consensus that human activities have an impact on climate change.

The Local Government Leaders' Climate Change Declaration has been signed by 59 mayors and regional council chairs. Nineteen are still yet to sign.

At less than three pages, the declaration is a short, vague document, with nothing in the way of specific targets or commitments.

The essential points are that those who sign it acknowledge that climate change exists, and ask central government to work with local government in both reducing and mitigating the effects. It doesn't outline any specific measures central government should take.

It also includes a handful of commitments for councils, which again are vague and don't include any specific criteria.

These include: promoting walking, cycling, and public transport, improving resource efficiency of homes and businesses, supporting renewable energy and electric vehicles, and working with central government to reduce emissions."

08 May, 2019
Landmark climate change bill goes to Parliament - NZ Government Press Release by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern - Beehive link here

"The Government is today delivering landmark action on climate change – the biggest challenge facing the international community and New Zealand.

“To address the long-term challenge of climate change, today we introduce the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to Parliament,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“We’ve built a practical consensus across Government that creates a plan for the next 30 years, which provides the certainty industries need to get in front of this challenge."

08 May, 2019
Zero Carbon Bill: Who supports it and who doesn't  - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"The Government has released more information around what's in its Zero Carbon Bill - so who supports it and who doesn't?

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on Wednesday.

In it, biological methane emissions will legally need to be reduced by at least 10 per cent by 2030 and between 24 and 47 per cent by 2050.

All other emissions would be reduced to "net zero" by 2050 to limit global warming increases to 1.5C.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the bill balanced the need to respond to climate change while not unfairly punishing agriculture.

"New Zealand is a food-producing nation. We have to become a sustainable food-production nation," she said.

Forest and Bird spokesman Geoff Keey said they were "strongly backing" the target to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, because "this is the limit required to protect nature and people from the worst effects of climate change".

...However Keey said they were disappointed the draft legislation offered "special favours to the agricultural lobby".

The policy treats methane more softly than all other greenhouse gas emissions - but still mandates a large reduction.

"If agriculture doesn't play a bigger role in reducing warming, everyone else in New Zealand will have to work twice as hard. Climate change demands we do everything we can, not pick and choose," Keey said.

... Minister for Climate Change James Shaw has been negotiating with National for months to get bipartisan support. There has also been some negotiation within the Government, as NZ First has slowed the bill.

National leader Simon Bridges said the party was supportive of the general structure of the bill and of taking politics out of climate change, but had serious reservations about the methane target itself.

ACT's David Seymour has said he would oppose the bill. He said New Zealand would not prosper if forced to make significantly deeper emission cuts than its trading partners.

... Greenpeace executive director Dr Russel Norman said the bill had no ability to enforce its climate change targets.

It had no mechanism that would hold any person or body to account for not adhering to it, he said.

...The agricultural sector also wanted changes made around the bill's methane approach.

Beef and Lamb was "deeply concerned" over the proposed treatment of methane and targets and was calling for critical changes to the bill.

It wanted for a "fair approach" - where each gas was reduced based on its warming impact.

Although Dairy NZ supported much of the legislation, it wanted the target range around methane to be reviewed and aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The Government expects to have the bill passed into law by the end of the year. It is set down for its first reading in late-May."

14 May, 2019
New Zealand's world-first ‘wellbeing’ budget to focus on poverty and mental health - The Guardian link here

"Country claims to be the first to measure success by people’s wellbeing

Child poverty, domestic violence and mental health will be the priorities in New Zealand’s “wellbeing budget”, the finance minister has announced, with the nation declaring itself the first in the world to measure success by its people’s wellbeing.

... Although comparable countries such as the UK have begun to measure the national rate of wellbeing, New Zealand is the first western country to design its entire budget around wellbeing priorities and instruct its ministries to design policies to improve wellbeing."

21 May, 2019
National supports climate change bill through first reading - Dominion Post Stuff website link here

"The National Party will support the Government's Zero Carbon Bill through first reading, but has serious concerns about the methane target in the bill.

Speaking during the first reading of the bill, National leader Simon Bridges said his party was supportive of the principles of the bill but National had "real differences" and expected to see change in select committee.

The Government's flagship climate change bill - technically an amendment to an earlier law - would force future governments to set a series of "carbon budgets" over the next 30 years, declining until all long-lived emissions reach net zero at 2050.

It passed its first reading on Tuesday afternoon 119-1, with just ACT opposing it. National's support is not needed for the bill to pass, but has been sought by the Government to signal bipartisan consensus for the country.

24 May, 2019
Kiwi school students strike again for urgent action on climate change - Dominion Post "Stuff" link here

"Thousands of youngsters nationwide dropped pens for placards on Friday, calling for urgent action on climate change for the second time."

30 May, 2019
Budget NZ: $1b KiwiRail boost 'first step' to revitalise rail - Dominion Post Stuff website link here

"KiwiRail is set for a huge funding boost, with $1 billion in new money for trains, ferries and regional lines.

Budget 2019 also included a major additional cash injection for the Auckland City Rail Link, with more than $500 million to cover cost blow-outs and other changes to the project.

The Government rail funding is being described as "the first step" as the Government prepares to develop a national rail plan later this year, raising expectations for more large funding allocations in the future

"This funding will enable KiwiRail to become resilient and reliable through substantial investment in rail infrastructure, purchasing new locomotives and wagons, and beginning the process to replace the Interislander ferries," Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said. Peters holds the state owned enterprises portfolio."

16 July, 2019
Farmers exempt from 95 percent of emissions charges under new proposed rules - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"Agriculture, the most polluting sector of the economy, looks set to join the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), but under a sweetheart deal that will see it pay just 5 per cent of its total emissions cost from 2025. That would equate to a charge of just $0.01c per kilogram of milk solids and $0.01 cent per kg of beef at the current ETS price of $25 a tonne of carbon.

Agriculture accounts for nearly half of total greenhouse gas emissions. It has been excluded from the ETS until now. The ETS works by forcing polluters to pay a price for their emissions, whilst paying a credit to owners of "carbon sinks" like forests.

The proposals come from a report from the Government's Interim Climate Change Commission (ICCC) which was established to look at ways to bring agriculture into the ETS ahead of a final Climate Change Commission which will be created once the Zero Carbon Bill has passed later this year. The ICCC has proposed bringing agriculture into the scheme from 2025 but under a 95 per cent discount rate, which means farmers will only meet the cost of 5 percent of their emissions. The 95 per cent discount rate was part of Labour's coalition agreement with New Zealand First.

The agriculture sector has cautiously welcomed the report.

08 August, 2019
Doctors refute Fonterra's claim that cow's milk more environment friendly - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"Doctors have hit back at Fonterra's claim that cow's milk is better for the environment. They said that not only was the dairy industry more damaging to the environment, it also contributed to a number of human diseases, including a raised risk of cancer and allergies.

Fonterra's chief technologist, Dr Jeremy Hill, has said milk substitutes such as soy, almond, oat and rice have double the carbon emissions of Fonterra's milk produced in New Zealand, when compared on the basis of their nutrient content.

Speaking on behalf of a panel of three GPs who have formed the lobby group Evidence-Based Eating New Zealand, Wellington-based Dr Luke Wilson said Hill had been "mischievous" in quoting from a United States-Swedish study because it obscured the truth.  "For a start, the Swedish researchers worked for the dairy industry and the findings were published in a little read journal," Wilson said. He said the researchers created a formula combining a measure of nutritional density based on Nordic nutrition recommendations, with estimates of just the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each drink.

"Cow's milk has been shown to be three times worse for greenhouse gases but they then introduce the measure of nutrition content.  "The equation used in this study has however been criticised as biased and the finding questioned by other scientists in the field," Wilson said. He said dairy farming had an impact on the environment besides greenhouse gas emissions. Land, water, and fertiliser use, impact on soil and natural habitats, and, in the case of animal farming, effluent production, all had to be taken into account.  "Processed plant milks produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, no effluent, and overall are better for the environment than cow's milk in every single aspect mentioned above."

Wilson acknowledged processed plant milk alternatives contained fewer nutrients than cow's milk but the nutrition provided by cow's milk was unnecessary and likely to be harmful. None of the nutrients contained in cow's milk are unique, they are all found in whole plant foods with the exception of vitamin B12, which is found in other animal products or can be supplemented. ..."

14 August, 2019
Potatoes vs people: govt moves to protect top vege-growing land - NZ Herald link here

"Lifestyle blocks and new subdivisions will be far harder to develop on areas of rich soil under a new national policy statement on highly productive land unveiled for submissions by the government today.

... The policy seeks to deal with fears that if too much prime horticultural soil is lost to housing, it will reduce New Zealand's capacity to grow staple foods."
27 September, 2019
School climate strike: Adults join with kids in huge day of national protest - Dominion Post Stuff website link here

"A sea of people waving placards and megaphones lined New Zealand's streets for the nation's biggest Strike for Climate action to date. Strike organisers say about 170,000 people around the country took part in Friday's action. Schoolchildren, adults and activists all banded together to protest against climate change. It was the third school strike to take place here this year, inspired by 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

... It's thought more than 40,000 people demonstrated in Wellington, organisers said. Thousands of people marched from Civic Square to Parliament, demanding stronger action against climate change from the New Zealand Government.

... Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the strike showed the power of young people demanding more of their politicians, and it gave hope for the future. "We have worked tirelessly to get a Zero Carbon Act in place with cross-party support and would be open to ways to bring net zero carbon into place by 2040 if the political consensus allowed. "We don't want to see any new fossil fuel permits granted and we'd like current permits to be wound down in an orderly fashion. We have championed an end to exploration and have lobbied to have existing permit extensions closed off," Shaw said.

... Auckland's strike organisers said the best crowd estimate they had heard was around 80,000 people.  ... In Christchurch, about 5000 took part in the strike in Cathedral Square. ... In Dunedin, more than 4000 people were estimated to have taken part in strike there. Protesters marched through the city streets in a line which stretched several city blocks, before swarming into the Octagon. There were more than 40 strike events held around the country."

14 October, 2019
Aaron Hawkins [Green Party] one of youngest mayors ever for Dunedin - Otago Daily Times link here

"Dunedin's new mayor is the youngest ever to take office, replacing outgoing three-term mayor Dave Cull."

24 October, 2019
Government sets deadline for farmer emissions - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"The Government has announced plans to make New Zealand the first nation in the world to fully fold agriculture into an emissions pricing scheme, with a comprehensive price on greenhouse gases introduced by 2025. It will do this by accepting an agricultural sector proposal to give it those five years to develop a farm-level pricing mechanism separate from New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which the sector opposes. Farmers will pay no additional levies or charges in the meantime. If this new scheme is not established, agriculture will be folded into the ETS by default in 2025 – a "backstop" measure neither the Government nor the sector wants to use. It could even be brought in as early as 2022 if the Government at that point felt agriculture was not moving fast enough.

An emissions trading scheme aims to cut emissions by charging companies a price for each unit of greenhouse gas produced, giving a financial incentive to to reduce their contribution to climate change over time. While the Government stands ready for criticism from green groups and more vociferous climate activists that it is moving too slowly, Stuff understands Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's overriding objective is to make the key components of emissions policy bipartisan – in the same way trade policy is. This is to give certainty to the farmers, investors in the sector and the economy overall. A senior Government source said Ardern was not wedded to the ETS as the mechanism to lower emissions. "The overall objective is to drive down emissions," the source said. One industry source close to the decision told Stuff political consensus was crucial. "We can't keep jumping from one end to the other on this stuff. This is beyond politics now. This is really the consumer talking," they said.

... Agriculture accounts for about half of all New Zealand's carbon emissions profile. One reason given to Stuff for the timeline – five years until agriculture enters into the pricing mechanism – is to allow the sector to adjust and develop with the Government a comprehensive measuring and accounting regime. The Government's plan rejects an earlier recommendation from the Interim Climate Change Committee to start pricing agriculture from as soon as next year.

Sector sources say the plan gives farmers a direct and healthy incentive to work out their own farm-level pricing system for emissions and not incur the backstop. The ETS backstop is still unpopular with farmers, with the sector source close to negotiations saying the Government and sector had "agreed to disagree" on the matter. The source also said the sector was determined to reduce emissions quickly enough to make the backstop irrelevant. The Government source said the sector would naturally oppose the backstop, but both sides were confident it would not be needed. "We think they will work out a scheme by 2025. There needs to be a measure in case they don't." The sector has already committed to measuring all emissions at a farm-level by 2022.  Thanks to the coalition agreement with NZ First, emission pricing will still be discounted by 95 per cent initially.

... Agriculture is by far New Zealand's largest greenhouse gas emitter but the problem of how exactly to price it – because alternative technology to reduce livestock emissions is not readily available – has been a political nightmare for well over a decade. Other countries with similar emissions profiles have faced the same political dilemma. All major sector groups, including Federated Farmers, have agreed to the Government's plan in spite of disquiet over the backstop, which will be passed into law as an amendment to the main emissions trading law, introduced when Labour was last in government in 2008.

... The three governing parties have had serious hurdles to overcome to get agreement on the matter, with one proposal stalling in Cabinet committee.  Labour's coalition agreement with NZ First expressly notes that if agriculture comes into the ETS, it must receive a 95 per cent discount on whatever the carbon price is on entry into the scheme. On current emissions pricing that would cost farmers about $0.01c per kg of milk solids and $0.03c per kg of sheep meat.

The 2025 introduction will not give the sector a huge amount of time to meet the first target mandated under the Government's Zero Carbon Bill – a 10 per cent reduction on methane emissions by 2030."

31 October, 2019
“You’ve failed us” – student takes over Russel Norman’s speech - Greenpeace website link here

"A high school student has taken over what was meant to be a speech delivered by Greenpeace head Russel Norman at an Environmental Protection Authority conference today. Norman had been invited by the EPA to speak at the private event, but in a surprise twist handed the microphone to Wellington high school student, Sorcha Carr, instead. Norman said it was time the Authority started listening to the voices of the future.

In a mic drop moment, Carr told the government agency charged with protecting New Zealand’s environment that it had failed. “Sacred Heart College is where I should be right now, celebrating my final week of school with pranks and banter. But instead, here I am, because yet again, the people we have entrusted with our lives and environment have failed to protect me, my brothers and my sisters of Aotearoa,” she said. Carr implored the EPA to hold a public hearing into an application by oil giant OMV to undertake high risk deep water drilling off the coast of Otago.

The Authority has been considering the application behind closed doors, despite mounting pressure and a 12,000 strong petition to make it public in order for local communities, iwi, scientists and local businesses to have a say. Under New Zealand law, the EPA doesn’t need to hold a public consultation for such applications, but has discretion to do so if it deems consultation “necessary or desirable”. Until now, the Authority has refused make OMV’s application public.

During her speech, Carr said the impacts of OMV’s drilling could be devastating for the future of young people around the country.“Oil drilling has no place in Aotearoa. It threatens entire ecosystems, and the fruits of such labour threatens the future of the millions of children around the world and New Zealand,” she said. “It’s time to stop hiding behind the greed and profit. It’s time to stand up and tell the truth. As a democratic society, we deserve to know about this process.”

Greenpeace’s Norman says he hopes Carr’s speech will inspire the EPA to put the future of New Zealanders first, and reject OMV’s application. “Today Sorcha has bravely stood up on behalf of us all, to give us the voice that we’re being denied. The EPA has a moral obligation to act on this,” he says. “Sorcha is one of millions of young people around the world who are being forced to take action on a problem they didn’t create, who are facing a climate emergency on such an immense scale that their future is uncertain. We simply cannot afford to let them down.”"

07 November, 2019
Ardern hails 'historic moment' for NZ as Zero Carbon Bill passes - 'We are on the right side of history' - TVNZ link here

"New Zealand's new climate change zero carbon law has passed its final hurdle in Parliament. It sets out the country's commitment to prepare and adapt to the effects of climate change and to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it a "historic moment" and told the House New Zealand would not be a "slow follower" when it comes to climate change action.

... The third reading of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill saw a highly anticipated revelation by National that it would support the law change through its last stage, after proposed changes were rejected in Parliament last night. Leader Simon Bridges said there were still aspects of the bill he disagreed with, but said "we have taken a bipartisan approach to climate change but we will continue to fight for the changes we think will make the law better". He pledged to implement National's proposed changes if it were to govern after next year's election.

... Today, Mr Shaw, who brought the bill to Parliament, told the House, "some things are too big for politics, and the biggest of them all is climate change". "The intent of Zero Carbon Bill was, is and always should be to elevate climate change policy beyond petty politics. To transcend and transform a problem so wicked and so stuck that we have made virtually no progress on it in the 30 years we have been aware of it."

... All parties except ACT supported the law change throughout all readings, with ACT leader David Seymour saying "it will not be effective at reducing carbon emissions" during the first reading in May. "It hasn't worked in the UK; why would it work here?" he asked the House.

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill sets out a 10 per cent reduction target for biological methane emissions by 2030, and "aims" for a 24-47 per cent reduction by 2050. It proposes limiting global warming no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The bill creates a Climate Change Commission, which is intended to give "advice, guidance and regular five-yearly 'emission budgets'", Mr Shaw said. The bill takes a split gases approach, with "long-live gases and short-live".

The original timeline had anticipated the new law to be in force by April 2019. The bill came under fire by former Greens co-leader Russell Norman, who said in May there was no way to enforce the 30-year climate change policy.

Earlier today, Mr Shaw told the House that the Zero Carbon Bill was the idea of youth climate organisation Generation Zero in 2016. The bill had more than 10,000 submissions from the public and almost 1500 people requested to present their submission."

27 December, 2019
Huge sea temperature anomaly has water six degrees above normal - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"A massive heat sink is developing in the ocean to the east of New Zealand, with temperatures as much as 6 degrees Celsius higher than usual. The large blob, which is about 2000 kilometres wide, was identified by thermal imaging from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A lot of sun in the area combined with very little wind have combined to make it one of the hottest ocean spots on the planet right now. The red area seen in the heat map indicates temperatures at least 4C above average, and the white areas at the centre indicate temperatures 6C above average."

28 December, 2019
Fight on as multinational oil giant gains go-ahead - Otago Daily Times link here

International oil giant OMV is turning its sights on southern waters after being given approval to drill in the Great South Basin. But travelling south with its drill rig will be big questions about climate change and human rights. Chris Morris reports.

"It is not every day you get the chance to fight a multinational oil giant in your own back yard. That is the prospect facing Jack Brazil, a spokesman for Oil Free Otago, as he and the other members of the group plot protest action against OMV when it enters southern waters later this summer. "It’s not every day you can stand up to these companies that are responsible for so much harm in the world. "Personally, that’s why I stand up to them — it’s the intersection of climate justice and, as well as the emissions, this also has an impact on people and the environment as well as the future climate," he told the Otago Daily Times this week. His comments came after the Environmental Protection Agency this week granted OMV consent to drill up to 10 exploration and appraisal wells in the Great South Basin — which lies off the Otago and Southland coastline — by 2030.

... A recent Carbon Majors Report, published in 2017, named OMV AG — the Austria-based parent company of OMV’s global operations, including OMV NZ — as one of the top 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions. OMV came in at 94 on the list, which also featured big players ranging from China’s nationalised coal output to the likes of ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron. At the time, the Guardian highlighted the report’s blunt warning — that if fossil fuels continued to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4degC by the end of the century. That was likely to have catastrophic consequences, including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks, it warned.

... In October, climate activist Mike Smith, of Nga Puhi and Ngati Kahu, travelled to Vienna to accuse OMV chief executive Rainer Seele in the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity and the environment, including genocide. Mr Smith claimed OMV had contributed to the destruction of the land and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, including Maori. "By continuing the search for new oil and gas to burn in the face of the climate emergency, companies like OMV are condemning our grandchildren to a future of immense suffering," Mr Smith said. "We believe that this is a crime of global proportions and as such, the company executives that are making these decisions deserve to stand trial."

... OMV staff in New Zealand and Austria did not respond to ODT questions yesterday, including on Oil Free Otago’s concerns or when the company would begin drilling here.However, OMV’s ambitions in southern waters have been welcomed by others, including — cautiously — the Otago Chamber of Commerce, which has said tight environmental monitoring would be needed but economic benefits could follow for Dunedin. The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) has also welcomed the EPA’s decision to grant drilling consents for the Great South Basin as "great news". PEPANZ chief executive John Carnegie said it "makes sense" to develop energy sources within New Zealand, rather than import it, and a discovery of natural gas or oil would have "major economic benefits". Taxes and royalties for the Crown would be "substantial" and investment in infrastructure and well-paid jobs "will help secure a more inclusive and prosperous society". "All credible forecasts show the world will still need new reserves of natural gas and oil as we transition to a lower-emissions world. "Natural gas in particular is a crucial transition fuel, providing affordable and reliable lower-carbon energy for New Zealand." "

02 January, 2020
New Zealand glaciers turn brown from Australian bushfires' smoke, ash and dust - The Guardian link here

Snow-capped peaks and glaciers discoloured as former PM says ash could accelerate glacial melting

"Snow and glaciers in New Zealand have turned brown after being exposed to dust from the Australian bushfires, with one expert saying the incident could increase glacier melt this season by as much as 30%. On Wednesday many parts of the South Island woke up to an orange haze and red sun, after smoke from the Victorian and New South Wales blazes drifted east on Tuesday night, smothering many parts of the island for most of the day. On Thursday, pictures taken from the Southern Alps showed the smoke haze carrying particles of dust had tinged snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers a shade of caramel, with former prime minister Helen Clark expressing concern for the long-lasting environmental impacts on the mountains. “Impact of ash on glaciers is likely to accelerate melting,” Clark tweeted. “How one country’s tragedy has spillover effects.”

There are more than 3,000 glaciers in New Zealand and since the 1970s scientists have recorded them shrinking by nearly a third, with current estimates predicting they will disappear entirely by the end of the century.

Professor Andrew Mackintosh is head of the school of earth, atmosphere and environment at Monash University, and the former director of the Antarctic Research Centre. He said in nearly two decades of studying glaciers in New Zealand he had never seen such a quantity of dust transported across the Tasman, and the current event had the potential to increase this season’s glacier melt by 20-30%, although Mackintosh stressed this was no more than an estimate. “It is quite common for dust to be transported to New Zealand glaciers, but I would say that the amount of transport right now is pretty phenomenal – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” Mackintosh said.“It is concerning to me to see so much material being deposited on the glaciers.”"

21 January, 2020
OMV fails in Taranaki - win for the climate - Scoop Politics link here

" "OMV's failure to find fossil fuels in its recent drilling campaign off the Taranaki coast is a win for the climate" says Urs Signer, member of Climate Justice Taranaki.

"Every dollar spent on keeping humanity dependant on oil and gas brings us closer to climate chaos. It is completely irresponsible to be drilling for fossil fuels in 2020. We all know that in order to maintain a stable climate for future generations, we can't afford to be looking for more oil and gas. Instead, we need to urgently transition to a just and fair low-carbon economy."

An OMV spokesperson was recently quoted in the media: 'It is looking like there has not been a commercial-scale find from the Gladstone-1 exploration well.' [ Link here]

Urs Signer says: "OMV only cares about making a profit. In 'The Carbon Majors Database', OMV features among the 100 companies responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 [Link here]. Now they are drilling off the Otago coast in an attempt to fill up their CEO's bank account but are having to run around trying to stop protesters whose numbers are growing as public opinion turns against the industry. The most recent failed company, Tamarind, left local businesses and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars out of pocket and it's still not certain how this may play out with other companies as they fail. It is time we stand up to protect the oceans and our communities from climate criminals like OMV" concludes Urs Signer."

09 July, 2020
Tiwai Point smelter closure: What happens to the electricity sector - Radio New Zealand link here

"The news that Rio Tinto is set to wind down the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter means change for New Zealand's electricity sector. The smelter makes up 13 percent of the country's electricity consumption, so when its contract with Meridian Energy is up in August 2021, the impact will be widely felt.

So what does the industry and experts on it think will happen? Electricity Authority chief executive James Stevenson-Wallace said the future of Tiwai had caused significant uncertainty for the electricity sector. "Now that Rio Tinto has confirmed the termination of their contract, we are keen to avoid further uncertainty for the industry as to how NZAS will approach the wind-down of operations. "Given that Tiwai represents 13 percent of total electricity consumption, we expect the decision to impact on the timing of new build plans by generators and a range of operational decisions."

And Contact Energy has already indicated an example of that. Chief executive Mike Fuge said it would put off investing in its Tauhara geothermal power station, a project it in June described as "shovel ready". "Tauhara remains a fantastic project, however it is prudent to press pause for now. We need to factor in the impact of Covid-19 and the potential exit of NZAS and get a clearer picture of demand," Fuge said.

Stevenson-Wallace said: "From a transmission perspective, previous announcements by Transpower to address transmission constraints in the lower South Island will support greater capacity to export electricity from Southland should the aluminium operations cease. "The exit of the smelter will mean that the transmission costs that they pay will be spread across all other transmission customers. The exit will also free up electricity that can be applied to other users which should contribute to short-term downward pressure on power prices after operations have ceased."

More renewable electricity 'not that easy'

Massey University professor Emeritus Ralph Sims said in comments provided by the Science Media Centre that in a perfect world, closing Tiwai Point should "theoretically result in greater shares of renewable electricity, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and cheaper electricity prices for all New Zealanders". "However, it's not that easy," Sims said. "We have an electricity market largely driven by profit motives; an emphasis on increasing supply rather than reducing demand from increased energy efficiency; and the challenge of designing an electricity system that will be reliable even when higher shares of variable wind and solar generation drop, or in dry seasons when hydro lakes are low... "So, will New Zealand electricity consumers reap the economic and environmental benefits of having cheaper hydro power suddenly becoming available once the smelter starts winding down? I have my doubts."

But Massey University's Dr Anna Berka said the closure would result in a surplus of capacity, leading to "downwards pressure on market prices". "In terms of emissions, this may be actually be a good development as the plant has been using up a lot of our low-cost hydrocapacity and this might let us close down Huntly sooner," the lecturer in management, entrepreneurship and innovation said.

Longer-term upside

In addition, University of Auckland adjunct professor Harvey Weake said in comments provided by the Science Media Centre: "While this will be a tough period for Southland, I see longer-term upside for New Zealand around a substantive gain in electricity storage. "As New Zealand progresses towards 90+ percent renewable power from a mix of incremental geothermal and wind, New Zealand must increase electricity storage capacity to meet both short and medium term interruptible supply to cover both windless periods and droughts." The most effective option would be having the Huntly coal power station as a standby, but it would eventually be retired, the adjunct professor in the faculty of engineering said. Then, the country would have to "build another high elevation lake of around one billion tonnes of water, or build some other electricity storage facility to hold the equivalent of 500MW over 100 days. Either way, the solution will be very expensive," Weake said. "This announcement effectively allows this decision to be deferred for a couple of decades as Manapouri becomes more integrated with New Zealand's strategic electricity storage."

01 November, 2020
Deal done: Greens accept ministerial portfolios – NZ Herald link here

"The Green Party has accepted Labour's Government-forming deal, which includes their two highest ranking MPs receiving Ministerial portfolios. A spokeswoman for the Green Party confirmed that more than 75 per cent of the 138 party delegates assessing the deal have voted to accept it. The delegates have been negotiating the deal for close to four hours. A spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the vote in a statement moments later.

"The Green Party is thrilled to enter into this governing arrangement with Labour, after three years of a constructive Confidence and Supply relationship", co-leader Marama Davidson said in a statement. "We entered into this negotiation hoping to achieve the best outcomes for New Zealand and our planet. This was after a strong campaign where we committed to action on the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and the poverty crisis. "New Zealanders voted us in to be a productive partner to Labour to ensure we go further and faster on the issues that matter. We will make sure that happens this term." The accepting of the deal means Davidson will become the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence and Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness).
Co-leader James Shaw will become the Minister of Climate Change and Associate Minister for the Environment (Biodiversity). "We are very happy to have secured areas of cooperation in achieving the goals of the Zero Carbon Act, protecting our nature, and improving child wellbeing", he said. "We have a larger caucus this term who are ready to play a constructive role achieving bold action in these areas."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who addressed the nation earlier tonight, pointed out that Labour won a "clear mandate" to form a majority Government on our own to accelerate our recovery from Covid-19."

02 December, 2020
New Zealand declares a climate change emergency - The Guardian Link here
Jacinda Ardern calls climate change ‘one of the greatest challenges of our time’ and pledges carbon-neutral government by 2025

“New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025, in what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern called “one of the greatest challenges of our time”.

A motion tabled in parliament on Wednesday recognised “the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire”. Thirty-two other nations have formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency. The motion acknowledged the “alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity” including the decline in New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. The declaration of a climate emergency was supported by the Green Party and Māori Party and opposed by the National and Act parties.

Speaking in parliament after its introduction, Ardern said the country must “act with urgency”. “This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,” she said. “It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.” Ardern said the government sector will be required to buy only electric or hybrid vehicles, the fleet will be reduced over time by 20% and all 200 coal-fired boilers used in the public service’s buildings will be phased out. The motion also calls for recognition of the “significant progress on meeting the challenge” by the country through signing the Paris Agreement and passing the Zero Carbon Act 2019, which commits New Zealand to reducing emissions.

That legislation – which sets up a Climate Change Commission tasked with putting the country on a path to net zero emissions by 2050 – made New Zealand one of few countries to have a zero-emissions goal enshrined in law. But experts says the country is well behind on changes needed. The lack of action was “embarrassing” and had become “untenable”, University of Canterbury political science professor Bronwyn Hayward said last week. “The irony is, even under [President] Trump, the US is going to have made better per-capita reductions than we have.”

Writing in The Conversation, Robert McLachlan, a professor of applied mathematics at Massey University, said New Zealand was yet to make emissions reductions. Of 43 industrialised countries, New Zealand is among 12 that have seen net emissions increase between 1990 and 2018. This is despite strong statements from the prime minister, such as this when the Zero Carbon Act was passed in November last year: “[New Zealand is] on the right side of history. I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.”

Wednesday’s declaration also said the government will “demonstrate what is possible to other sectors of the economy by reducing the government’s own emissions and becoming a carbon-neutral government by 2025”. But opposition parties have described the move as a publicity stunt, with the National Party leader, Judith Collins, calling it “virtue signalling”. “We think it’s all very well to declare an emergency but there’s no proper plan in place as to how to deal with it,” Collins told Radio New Zealand. As an example, she pointed to the government’s fleet of more than 15,000 vehicles, of which only about 10% are electric. New Zealand contributes just 0.17% of global emissions but that is high for its size, placing it 17th out of 32 OECD countries. Its net emissions have risen by 60% in the past two decades. The nation’s biggest source of CO2 emissions is road transport but most greenhouse gases stem from agriculture.

New Zealand’s pledges have been seen internationally as less than required and the second-term Labour government is yet to introduce carbon-cutting policies that would put the country on track to meet its emission targets.

14 January, 2021
Tiwai Point aluminium smelter to keep operating until end of 2024 - Radio New Zealand link here

"The threatened Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will keep operating through to the end of December 2024, in a new deal just announced to the New Zealand stock exchange. Mining conglomerate Rio Tinto announced last year it was closing Tiwai due to high energy and transmission costs. Meridian Energy said that global mining giant Rio Tinto, Tiwai's owner, has accepted a new contract. Its chief executive Neal Barclay said the company offered a significant deal to Rio Tinto keep the smelter open for another four years.

Last year, Meridian revealed that Rio Tinto rejected a deal which would have saved it close to a quarter of a billion dollars over a four year period. Barclay said there was a strong commerical imperative to give a Rio Tinto a good deal. "The deal is a pretty sharp deal to be fair, it's more or less the same deal we put to them last July after we received the termination notice of their existing contract.

"If the smelter had exited in 2021 as originally notified then a large amount of generation wouldn't be able to be produced from the hydro-catchments in the lower South Island and that energy would largely be spilt for a few years until the transmission lines could be enhanced." Meridian is mulling the development of a green hydrogen plant, a data centre or using the surplus power to replace coal burners in the South Island.

Barclay said the new deal should provide more certainty to the people of Southland. He said it was still planning for the eventual exit of the smelter but would now accelerate other opportunities. The extension of time for Tiwai smelter will help extend around 1000 jobs in Southland. Another 1600 owe their income to contracting and services required to keep the plant running. Rio Tinto, which had proposed to close the smelter by August this year, said the extra three years operation will provide time for better planning for after the smelter closes in 2024.

... Ngāi Tahu also entered the fray with Te Runaka o Awarua Upoku, Sir Tipene O'Regan, sending a letter to Rio Tinto last month calling on the mining giant to give local Māori a voice in the process. Sir Tipene said when Rio Tinto eventually leaves, iwi do not want to see the surplus energy supplied by Manapōuri hydro station going to waste and had a vision for a green hydrogen production in the future. But firstly the iwi was concerned with a managed exit so not to cripple the region's economy and to ensure Tiwai Point was appropriately remediated once the smelter's doors closed. At the time Rio Tinto refused to comment, saying they did not want to conduct negotiations through the media. Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods said last month that the government was doing all it could to ensure Rio Tinto kept operating the smelter for another three or more years beyond its anticipated closure in August 2021. The government was also determined to avoid a toxic wasteland being left behind, she said."

28 January, 2021
Climate change will shape Jacinda Ardern’s legacy – Newsroom link here

In the decades to come, will New Zealanders look back on Jacinda Ardern as someone who seized the chance to act on climate or someone who frittered away the opportunity until it was too late?

“… For 34 years, successive New Zealand governments have known about climate change and failed to take sufficient action. In time, if rising sea levels inundate the homes of a quarter of a million New Zealanders, if droughts become more common, if the number of hot days spikes and the number of cold days dwindles, the only legacy of these successive governments will be one of failure. Jacinda Ardern has the opportunity to make a difference. With a historic majority under MMP, she has the ability to take transformative action. If she doesn't, then her overriding legacy will not be her conquest of Covid-19, but rather her surrender to the far larger long-term threat of climate change.

34 wasted years

The world has been committed to action on climate change for three decades. Yet, in the intervening period, annual greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 60 percent globally. There is now more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than at any point in the last 800,000 years. In 1913, for the first time in nearly a million years of available records, atmospheric C02 levels crossed the threshold of 300 parts per million. They are now well over 400 ppm and growing fast.

A handful of countries have managed to make progress, reducing emissions over the past three-and- a-half decades. In the United Kingdom, for example, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 40 percent from 1990 levels. New Zealand is not one of these countries. Despite our first hints coming in the 1970s, despite Upton's prescient warning in 1986, despite signing onto the UNFCCC in 1992, our greenhouse gas emissions continue to skyrocket. Our net emissions (which take into account the removal of greenhouse gases through carbon sinks like forestry) are now 60 percent higher than they were in 1990 and are expected to grow to 208 percent above 1990 levels by the middle of the decade. Our gross emissions, although not growing, are also not declining. The Ministry for the Environment projects, on currently policy settings, that 2050 will be the first year that our gross emissions will be lower than they were in 1990. That's the year we've pledged to have net zero emissions. At the same time, climate scientists are telling us that responding to the crisis is more urgent than ever before.

… New Zealanders say climate change is important to them - nearly two-thirds told Ipsos pollsters in April that it was as serious a threat as Covid-19 - but are unwilling to do much about it. The same Ipsos poll found nearly four in ten New Zealand respondents opposed replacing car travel with walking or cycling, compared with a global average of 23 percent. Reducing beef and dairy consumption was similarly opposed by 46 and 59 percent of the New Zealanders polled, respectively, while just 39 and 49 percent of the global population disagreed with these measures, respectively. The Prime Minister has an opportunity to change this. She is immensely popular in her own right and could use her platform to acknowledge the failures of past governments and commit to a new path. This would also involve an acknowledgment that existing policy pledges (like Labour's 100 percent renewable by 2030 promise) fall far short of what is needed. We would need to see an end to the pretence that our action over the coming decade represents New Zealand doing our fair share, even if it does make a difference and even if it is everything that we can realistically accomplish.

There is not, right now, a popular mandate for the sort of climate action that science makes clear is needed. But Ardern could create that mandate through her own action and by bringing the country along with her. The Covid-19 alert level system necessitated a televised address to the nation from the Prime Minister's office. Why doesn't climate change? Over the seven weeks New Zealand was in lockdown - and the days leading up to the decision to move to Level 4 in the first place - Ardern explained why collective action was needed to avert collective catastrophe. Now action on a similar scale is needed - not for seven weeks but for years to come. The Prime Minister can shepherd New Zealand along the path to a low-carbon economy. Or she could choose not to. She could choose, as have politicians over the past 34 years, to be a soft-core climate denier - saying she believes the science but acting as if she doesn't. In the end, though, it is her decision here that will define her legacy. Over the decades to come, when sea levels are rising, wildfires are becoming more common and coral reefs have all but died out, will people look to Ardern as they do Michael Joseph Savage, as someone who seized the moment to transform New Zealand for the better? Or will they look to her as yet another in a long line of Prime Ministers who frittered away the chance they had to take action?”

31 January, 2021
NZ reacts to major climate report - Newsroom link here

Greenpeace calls it “underwhelming”, while the National Party urges caution. David Williams reports

"Like most others, Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel has only started reading the Climate Change Commission’s report this afternoon. But that’s been long enough to form a view on its agricultural section. “It’s going to sound brutal - but pretty underwhelming, to be honest,” he says. “Certainly in regard to the ag stuff it barely tinkers and has very low ambition on reducing methane emissions.”

As reported by Marc Daalder, it will be hard for the agricultural sector to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emission to zero without reducing herds to zero, and some reductions are called for. In particular, the dairy herd is likely to shrink about 15 percent by 2030. But emissions cuts for agriculture are less steep than in other sectors – the Commission wants it to fall from 8.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2e) in 2018 to 6.9 million by 2035. Abel says the report gives the dairy industry a free pass to keep polluting, and puts pressure on sheep and beef farmers, which is unfair. “The overwhelming majority of our biogenic methane emissions are from cattle – 57 percent. And the simple solution is reducing stocking rates. They do mention that, but they don’t have an active mechanism for getting them there.”

What riles Abel most is references to what he calls “future fantasy tech fixes”. The report says technology like methane inhibitors or vaccines would likely be needed to meet the upper level of the target of nearly halving emissions from 2017 levels. The Commission says: “It is likely these technologies will become available, and this would increase the speed and efficiency of reducing methane emissions.” Abel responds: “What about some actual regulatory recommendations, such as cutting synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, reducing actual stocking rates, cutting imported feed like palm kernel.” Price signals and market messages lock in the status quo, Abel says, rather than bite the bullet on existential crisis of climate change.

The report says agricultural productivity should remain stable, despite measures to cut emissions. The dairy sector would be producing the same tonnage of milk solids per year in 2035 as it did in 2018, with a smaller herd and fewer emissions, while sheep and beef farmers would produce slightly more meat even as livestock numbers and emissions fell. “So hang on a minute,” Abel says. “You’re not even prepared to produce one kilo less milk or meat to deal with climate change, and it’s not as if we can’t be producing other things that are making money for us, in terms of plant-based agriculture. “That is an alarm bell for me. It’s still oriented around a status quo society. It’s not transformational; it’s certainly not deserving of that description.”

Newsroom couldn’t reach Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard for comment."

31 January, 2021
Climate Change Commission confirms real Government action will be a minefield - link here

OPINION: Climate politics is incredibly fickle.

".. Because it is so fickle, and because politicians can almost always see some short-term advantage in attacking policies that only pay off in the long-term, many people like the idea of depoliticising climate change – taking the party political heat out of the issue so cooler heads can get together and sort the issue out. This is the idea behind the Climate Change Commission, which released its first carbon budget and tranche of advice on Sunday. It’s not just something Labour and the Greens like the sound of – National voted for the bill that created the commission and set its targets into law largely on the back of supporting the commission.

There are people on all sides of the political spectrum who want more done on climate policy, and know that it is much easier to make hard decisions when an independent body is pressuring you to do so. Indeed, the commission may well have ended up as something closer to the Reserve Bank, independently setting policy themselves, had NZ First not hated that idea so vociferously. The goal makes sense, but depoliticising climate is impossible. The decisions that need to be made are deeply political and will require serious change to our entire economy and way of life. There is simply no way to take this out of the realm of politics, which is how we as a society make big decisions.

… The Commission has a bunch of policies to help meet the targets. These include: Banning new petrol cars from entering the market from 2032, banning new natural gas connection from 2025, fully closing the Tiwai smelter by 2026, and increasing the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) price to $70 a tonne of emissions, double its current figure. They also include a policy almost no politician in New Zealand has ever really endorsed, lest they feel the full force of the farming lobby: A reduction in the overall number of cattle. That the commission is endorsing this, even with the much-lower target set for biogenic methane the sector won during the bill’s passage, shows they are truly independent.

… None of these policies will be easy to shepherd into being. Some of them might be broadly popular, but massively opposed by sectoral groups with serious power, or locations that would be the hardest hit. Others have the potential to blow up into “nanny-state” nightmares: A lot of people will feel pretty nannied when told they can’t have infinity water heating and gas stovetops in their new house, or have to pay thousands more for a second-hand Nissan Leaf than they would have for a Toyota Corolla.

Some think a lot of this political pain could be avoided by getting the Government out of micromanagement and using the ETS as a blunt-force tool. If emissions were priced high enough the market would work out the most efficient way to reduce these emissions. The commission disagreed, essentially saying the ETS alone could mean acres and acres of pine forest planting without enough actual reductions. It's also a bit of a fiction to imagine the ETS itself would keep messy politics away: since its creation the ETS has been a political plaything, constantly buffeted by the whims of those in office.

These policies have not yet been taken up in full by the Government, and it will likely be out of office by the time of some of the tougher calls are needed. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted the overall direction of travel, however, and the shrinking carbon budgets themselves. She has a lot of political capital after a historic election win, and clearly wants to build her legacy around climate change somewhat. That will be horrendously difficult.

The Opposition’s task is far from easy. In the short term many of these policies will make for easy targets. National leader Judith Collins has taken the portfolio of climate change from the quite considered and environmentally minded Scott Simpson and given it to Stuart Smith, who has already said that climate policies must not meddle with "personal freedoms”. But the public are clearly thinking about climate change more and more these days, and for National to return to feeling like the natural party of Government, it will need to be credible on the issue. How it does that will be one of the defining political stories of the next decade.

31 January, 2021
Climate change report ‘incredibly encouraging’, PM says - Radio New Zealand link here

"The Prime Minister says it is incredibly encouraging that the Climate Change Commission's first official report shows that reaching our emissions reduction goals are both achievable and affordable.

The commission's first report, published today, laid out a path to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Three new targets for the country were set: an average reduction of 2 percent each year between 2022 and 2025, 17 percent each year between 2025 and 2030 and 36 percent each year between 2030 and 2035. Commission chair Dr Rod Carr said investing in electric vehicles, renewable energy generation, climate-friendly farming practices and planting more native forests would be critical to meeting the targets.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the draft advice was incredibly encouraging. "The commission has determined that the economic cost to New Zealand, as I've said, is not as great as previously thought. "In fact, there are great economic opportunities for new jobs and new business over the coming years as we transition to an emissions free economy." However, Ardern said the government would have to address the problem of costs not being distributed evenly across communities.

While the National Party cautiously welcomed the report, it said more analysis was needed. The party's climate change spokesperson Stuart Smith questioned whether the proposals were the most cost-effective way of reducing emissions. He said he would like to see the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) get more use.

… Climate Minister James Shaw said the release of the draft advice was a significant milestone in the government's response to the climate emergency. He said the report had significant implications for forestry, with a recommendation to move away from pine forests, often used as carbon credits in the Emissions Trading Scheme."

09 April, 2021
Parts of NZ dangerously dry with no immediate end in sight - NZ Herald link here

"The east of the country is rapidly drying out with soil in deficit of up to 50mm of rain for this time of year, and there is no immediate end in sight. Niwa forecaster Ben Noll said in parts of Gisborne, Marlborough, Canterbury, east Otago and Southland, they are seeing very dry to extremely dry conditions for April. "Soils are in deficit up to 50mm below the normal for the time of year, that is a substantial margin. "We are going to need several soaking rainfall events to make up that deficit after what was quite a dry March across the country but especially east of the South Island."

... Akaroa farmer Hamish Menzies said it has been exceptionally dry at his property. "It's come on top of a really dry year. It's been about 18 months of dry weather and has just continued. Menzies said the writing has been on the wall for a while. "We started destocking a while back by selling off trading cattle. Now we have a mix of strategies to get through a dry year, you sell stock, you feedstock, you graze them out. "The creeks are low, the water supplies are low." They have recorded about 25mm of rain at their farm in the last three months. "The big thing will be if it rains at the end of April, good rain we could possibly squeeze out of it. But if we don't, next year could be potentially catastrophic."

Although the conditions are extremely dry, Noll said it is unlikely anywhere will enter a meteorological drought due to the time of year. "During this time of year, the water is leaving the ground less and less. There is less evaporation and our days are shorter so the chance of drought is low but the point still stands that it is very dry for the time of year."

Menzies said he finds that quite interesting. "I'd say a number of people over here would be saying we are in a drought. That's what it feels like." It's been pretty dry since Christmas really. It feels drier than any other year we've experienced. "For the first time in the 20 years we've been farming, I've seen plants that were established in the late Summer that have actually died. It's really unusual." Noll said over the next three months, there is a near equal chance for below normal or near-normal rainfall for most areas on the east."

13 April, 2021
NZ's emissions increased by 2% in latest greenhouse gases report — 'We clearly have a lot to do - TVNZ link here

New Zealand's emissions increased by two per cent in the latest annual reporting of greenhouse gases, with the agriculture (contributing 48 per cent) and energy (42 per cent) sectors the biggest contributers. The increase between 2018 and 2019 was said to be due mainly to the increase in manufacturing and construction industries, as well as public electricity and heat production. The figure has spurred Climate Change Minister James Shaw to acknowledge "we clearly have a lot to do".

More than 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent was emitted in New Zealand in 2019, with the reporting period from 1990 to 2019. Both New Zealand's gross emissions (total emissions) and net emissions (minus emission removals from land use, land use change, and forestry) increased two per cent in 2019. Of the gross emissions in 2019, 46 per cent was carbon dioxide, 42 per cent was methane and 10 per cent was nitrous oxide and 2 per cent fluorinated gases. It takes about 15 months to collect the yearly data for the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which means the impact Covid-19 had on emissions will not be released until the release of the 2022 report. Shaw said the most recent report did not show the impact some of the Government's recent changes have had on emissions, such as the ban to new coal boilers and the cap on the Emissions Trading Scheme.
23 April, 2021
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes no new climate commitment at Biden's global summit - link here

"Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced no new climate initiatives while speaking at a global climate summit early this morning – a move that will disappoint local activists. It was hoped Ardern might lift the ambition of the country’s Paris Agreement pledge. She said work was underway to adjust this target, also known as a Nationally Determined Contribution. “We will lift our ambition because we must,” she told the meeting. But unlike other nations, she did not make a firm commitment during the event.

US President Joe Biden hosted the climate summit, as a milestone on the road to a major UN conference set to be held in Glasgow in November, the postponed COP26 meeting. Biden’s announcement – to cut US emissions in half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels – was one of the biggest of the summit, which is to run April 22 and 23 (US-time). He also pledged to double the climate finance the US will provide to other countries, from 2024.

... Countries including Canada and Japan joined Biden in announcing new climate targets. Chinese president Xi reiterated his country would “strive to peak” emissions by 2030. He promised to strictly limit new coal consumption over the next five years and phase the fossil fuel down during the following five years.  Australian prime minister Scott Morrison​ was criticised on social media for excluding exports when claiming during his summit speech that his country has cut emissions by 36 per cent.

Ardern spoke at 3.15am New Zealand-time, an hour few Kiwis would be awake to listen in. She outlined four steps our country has taken to limit climate change: pricing carbon including agricultural emissions by 2025; mandatory disclosures of climate-related financial risks; ending fossil fuel subsidies and financing adaptation.

... Before the summit, concerned citizens called on leaders to announce ambitious action. A group of 101 Nobel Prize winners wrote an open letter, urging governments to introduce measures to keep fossil fuels in the ground. In New Zealand, youth activists with Generation Zero also called for action. Pointing out how weak our current Paris Agreement pledge compares to countries such as the UK, Generation Zero asked the Prime Minister to announce a new world-beating carbon-cutting pledge during the event. In 2016, the National Government set a target to reduce our emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The Climate Change Commission’s draft advice, released in February, concluded the country should make this pledge a lot tougher – though whatever the final 2030 target is, it’s likely the country will need to purchase billions of dollars of international carbon credits to achieve it."

23 April, 2021
NZ Battery Project

Cabinet has approved funding to investigate pumped hydro against other possible energy storage solutions to New Zealand’s dry year electricity problem - MBIE link here

Finding a solution to our dry year problem

"The ‘dry year problem’ is that New Zealand’s existing hydro-power catchments sometimes don’t receive enough rainfall or snowmelt and the level of the storage lakes run low. When this occurs some form of back-up is needed, and this is currently provided by fossil fuel generation. As we transition away from fossil fuels and increasingly rely on hydro, wind and solar, the dry year problem may expand to become a dry, calm and cloudy problem. The NZ Battery project will provide comprehensive advice on the technical, environmental and commercial feasibility of pumped hydro and other potential energy storage projects.

The name NZ Battery refers to the manner in which the intended solution will provide stored energy for the New Zealand electricity system in an analogous manner to a battery. The first phase will evaluate the viability of pumped hydro schemes of various sizes at Lake Onslow, as well as at other possible locations, and will consider these solutions against alternative methods to resolve New Zealand’s dry year electricity storage problem to achieve 100% renewable electricity and help to decarbonise the wider energy system."

29 April, 2021
Glaciers are shrinking everywhere – but they’re melting fastest in New Zealand - Spinoff link here

A new study reveals the startling rate at which the South Island’s spectacular glaciers are melting away, reports Mirjam Guesgen.

"Anyone who has visited Franz Joseph or Fox glacier over several years will see how they’ve shrunk, now just a narrow patch of ice peeking out from a rocky mountainscape. But a study published today in the journal Nature details the extraordinary rate at which New Zealand’s glaciers, and those worldwide, are melting. In recent years, we’ve been losing ours faster than anywhere else on the planet. The study used images captured by a NASA satellite to calculate how much the mass of the some 220,000 glaciers worldwide changed between the years 2000 and 2019. It found that glaciers lost a whopping 267 billion tonnes of ice per year on average. That’s the equivalent of four and half Lake Taupōs.

... The study also found that, overall, glacier thinning has picked up in pace in recent years. During the first part of the 21st century, glaciers were losing around 227 billion tonnes on average. That ramped up to nearly 300 billion tonnes annually between 2015 and 2019. New Zealand’s glaciers shrunk the fastest during those later years, losing around 1.52 billion tonnes of ice annually, seven times faster than at the start of the 21st century. Researchers put this down to the fact that New Zealand is warmer for more of the year than, for example, glaciers in polar regions where low winter temperatures lock ice in for longer."

17 May, 2021
Taking stock of our soil: How housing developments are threatening NZ's fertile land - TVNZ link here

"Growers are concerned their land is under threat as housing developments take over fertile soil plots. Farmers are sounding the alarm, revealing new research that shows how much land has already been lost to housing projects. Bharat Jivan is a local vegetable grower in Auckland’s Pukekohe and says he’s being squeezed out by lifestyle blocks. The area is only 50km from central Auckland so there’s a huge demand for housing. Land he used to crop last year is now becoming a school. He points to 23 sections as well as rural lifestyle blocks now sprawling over agricultural land. “I know people want to live and they all want a house. And, but you know, people have got to remember that they need to eat. “And even though we can build houses just about anywhere but you cannot grow vegetables. anywhere,” Jivan says.

New research shows New Zealand is disproportionately developing its best produce-growing land but that research will also help inform the Government exactly how much land is being subdivided. Soil scientist Fiona Curran-Cournane says once New Zealand’s best fertile land is cut up, there’s no going back. “It’s really important that we’re taking stock of what’s happening to these land and soils,” she says."

For the full Sunday story, watch the video at the above link

10 June, 2021
Mike Joy: Why I was disappointed by the Climate Commission’s big report - Stuff website link here

The prime minister said yesterday that we need to move faster on climate - but does the government really understand how fast it's going to have to act? Yesterday's report suggests the message still hasn't got through, writes ecologist Mike Joy.

""The time is now" is the headline for the Climate Commission's final advice to the government released yesterday. After looking at the detail I think a more apt title would be "The time is later". This final advice suffers from the same issues as those in the draft advice, which led the group Lawyers for Climate Action to conclude that "the Commission appears to have focused on what is 'achievable' rather than first asking 'What is necessary to contribute to limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius?'" It lacks the urgency required and again sets targets that are too weak and too late. The critical changes we all need to make - like reducing consumption of everything, especially energy, and avoiding waste - are a crucial omission.

… While there have been some welcome improvements from the draft advice regarding land use - the commission now envisages a 20% conversion of grazing land being converted to native forests, up from none in the original draft - de-intensification of agriculture barely rates a mention. The obvious mitigation of significantly reducing farming intensity is passed over in favour of technological fixes that ignore the co-benefits that would come from reducing ruminant numbers. The impacts of intensive agriculture in New Zealand are more than just climate related; there are also major impacts on soils and freshwater that could all be significantly reduced with fewer animals on our farms.

The commission's final advice calls for a reduction of biogenic methane of 12% by 2030. Contrast that with a recent UN Environment Programme finding that methane production needs to be cut by 40-45% by 2030 for us to have a chance of meeting the 1.5deg warming target. Methane also has plays a big part in sea level rises, and will continue to do so for centuries to come.

The beefed up suite of regulatory tools to accelerate the uptake of low emissions vehicles is welcome, but there's a clear problem with any solution that involves manufacturing new things using fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are a good example: a big chunk of the greenhouse emissions for an EV has been released before the car even leaves the showroom. Many would argue that the EV manufacturing process represents a short term hit to carbon reduction targets for a long-term gain - but it's in the short term that we most desperately need reductions.

Worryingly, the report says biofuels are likely to have a much greater role in the transition than was envisaged in the draft advice, despite the impact of biofuel production on arable land use in a world struggling to feed people. Then there are the net energy limitations of biofuels, which see almost as much energy going into producing many of them as is gained in the end.

From a climate perspective the news about biofuels is even worse. In 2014, the IPCC found that indirect emissions from biofuels "can lead to greater total emissions than when using petroleum products". Another study commissioned by the European Union focused on indirect emissions and concluded that C02 emissions from biofuels are four times higher than those of petroleum-based products. The International Institute for Sustainable Development estimated that the climate benefits from replacing petroleum fuels with biofuels are close to zero. Finally a study by Chatham House found that "biodiesel from vegetable oils is... worse for the climate than fossil diesel".

All of the above is why I found the final advice from the commission so disappointing. We must act much faster and harder than the course of action this report recommends, because kicking the can down the road for future generations has gone on too long."

30 June, 2021
Government green lights companies to search for new fossil fuels in Taranaki – and could do again in 2022 - Stuff link here

"Six months after a climate emergency was declared, the government has granted two new fossil fuel exploration permits – a move that energy experts say is at odds with the global goal to limit global warming to 1.5C. In 2018, the coalition Government banned exploration for oil and gas, but only for offshore resources. The two new permits cover onshore sites in Taranaki. Energy Minister Megan Woods said the Government is fulfilling a promise made when it banned offshore exploration. A similar approval process began in 2020, and new exploration permits could be announced next year.

Climate activists say the approvals are incompatible with pledges the Government made to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Government committed to the Paris Agreement and passed the Zero Carbon Act, both of which set 1.5C of warming as the target.

In a statement, Woods said the permit announcements should not be a surprise to anyone. “In July 2018, Cabinet agreed to see out three block offers for onshore blocks in Taranaki: 2018, 2019 and 2020. This is part of that process.” The outcome of the 2020 application process would be announced next year. Woods said she will consider a range of factors before deciding whether the process would proceed this year. If this goes ahead, new permits could be issued in 2023 with exploration rights out to 2033. “No decisions have been made.”

… The world’s leading energy body, the International Energy Agency, said the 1.5C goal was tough, but achievable as long as the world took immediate action. The first task, in the agency’s report released in May, was to refuse the development of new oil and gas wells, as well as new and expanded coal mines in 2021. There’s no room for new fossil fuel projects in the pathway,”

[Erica Finnie of 350 Aotearoa] said. “If the Government wants to take climate change seriously, it needs to ban any new coal, oil or gas prospecting exploration permits – including extensions of existing permits.” Caril Cowan of Extinction Rebellion Tamaki Makaurau agreed: “This is not meeting our responsibility under the Paris Agreement. This is taking us to an unbearable 3 degrees and unlivable 4 degrees.”

Climate Change Minister James Shaw​ declined to comment."

02 July, 2021
Major legal challenge against Climate Commission - Newsroom link here

A group of lawyers is challenging the Climate Change Commission's ambition in the High Court, Marc Daalder reports

"A coalition of more than 300 lawyers has filed suit against the Climate Change Commission and Climate Minister James Shaw in the High Court. They allege the commission's recommended emissions budgets and advice on strengthening New Zealand's Paris Agreement target are not consistent with the international climate pact, the Zero Carbon Act or limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels. "The Climate Change Commission’s advice looks ambitious on a first glance. However, when you dig into the detail, it fails to adequately address the scale and urgency of the task and is inconsistent with the legislation and international agreements it is meant to address," Jenny Cooper QC, the president of Lawyers for Climate Action New Zealand (LCANZI), said. "There is scientific consensus that limiting warming to 1.5°C is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It is also the agreed global goal under the Paris Agreement, and the purpose of the Climate Change Response Act. The Commission’s current advice does not meet this target."

... In their statement of claim, filed with the High Court on Thursday, the lawyers lay out five grounds for review and ask the court to order the commission to re-work its advice on the Paris target and recommended emissions budgets. They also want the court to declare that the commission acted unlawfully in providing its recommended emissions budgets and Paris target advice.

... The lawyers' first reason for seeking judicial review deals with the commission's efforts to match New Zealand's Paris target against international estimates for what is needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Everyone agrees our current Paris target - also called our Nationally Determined Contribution or NDC - is not compatible with 1.5 degrees. That was one of the main findings of the commission's report and was an open secret in Wellington ever since an international panel of experts reported in 2018 on what reductions would actually be needed. That report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 Degrees, found that global carbon dioxide emissions would have to fall between 40 and 58 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels to have even a 50 to 66 percent chance of remaining within 1.5 degrees.

In determining what Paris target would be consistent with 1.5 degrees, the commission applied that range of reductions to New Zealand's emissions. However, while the IPCC ranges involved net carbon dioxide (which takes into account the impact of forestry) in 2030 being 40 to 58 percent lower than net 2010 levels, the commission used a method called gross-net accounting. As one might guess, this meant it set a target whereby New Zealand's net emissions in 2030 would be 40 to 58 percent below gross emissions in 2010. This makes the required cuts look steeper than they actually are. While New Zealand uses gross-net accounting for communicating its targets, including its Paris target, the lawyers say this method can't be applied to imply compatibility with the IPCC ranges, which were calculated completely differently. In essence, they say the commission is comparing apples with oranges. They describe the choice to use gross-net accounting in this as a "logical error" and say the commission's advice on the NDC is therefore "unlawful and irrational"."

05 August, 2021
Emissions from cows on New Zealand dairy farms reach record levels

Calls for further regulation after latest data after latest data from Stats NZ shows greenhouse gas emissions rose another 3% in 2019

"Greenhouse gases released by New Zealand’s dairy industry have hit an all-time high, according to the latest data. Data from Stats NZ, just released for the years 2007-2019, showed dairy emissions rose 3.18% in 2019, to a total of 17,719 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent that year. That rise helped drive an overall increase across the agricultural sector, which released almost 42,000 kilotonnes that year. Agriculture made up more than half of the total industry and household emissions measured by Stats NZ, with most of that split between dairy, sheep and beef farming. The increase continued a longer-term rise in emissions from New Zealand agriculture, where emissions were up 5.5% in the past decade. The emissions created by the digestive systems of New Zealand’s 6.3m cows are among New Zealand’s biggest environmental problems. Agriculture is one of the country’s biggest producers of the greenhouse gases that cause global heating and the climate crisis.

Greenpeace spokesperson Steve Abel said it was “no surprise that when you let corporations and industries regulate themselves, they basically maintain the status quo of their pollution profile”.

… New Zealand is one of the world’s worst performers on emission increases. Its emissions rose by 57% between 1990 and 2018 – the second greatest increase of all industrialised countries. Earlier this year, data showed that New Zealand’s emissions had increased by 2% in 2018-19.

… In 2019, New Zealand passed multipartisan climate legislation setting a net zero by 2050 target for CO2 emissions, and set up the Climate Change Commission to map out a pathway there. The government is legally bound to formulate a policy response to the commission’s report, which was released in June – but has not outlined what those policy steps will be. The commission’s report found that some of the work to reduce methane emissions could be done through improved farm practices and breeding animals that produced less gas – but it would also require a drop in the number of total herd numbers by 10%-15%.

… Abel said Thursday’s data release should be considered a conservative estimate, because it did not include emissions from transport, coal used to dehydrate milk powder, or the emissions of palm kernel imported for food. “All of the promises of the dairy industry that it will self regulate and take charge of the problem are clearly not working, and that is borne out by the actual emissions data,” Abel said. “We need farming, but farming needs to stop being this industrial polluter – it needs to move to making the land healthy, keeping our rivers healthy, keeping our fresh water healthy and not driving extreme weather events through climate change.”"

23 September, 2021
The delay to New Zealand’s emissions reduction plan is embarrassing – we need action now - The Guardian Link here

Every time we postpone change we make it harder to transition to the low-carbon economy we need to help prevent global heating

"Last week, New Zealand’s government announced a five-month delay to the emissions reduction plan (ERP) – its key programme for combatting climate change. This is gutting – climate decisions by many organisations and institutions have been delayed since 2017; first to wait for the Zero Carbon Act, then the advice of the Climate Change Commission, and now the ERP, which won’t be announced until the budget in May.

The postponement even requires an embarrassing legislative change to the Zero Carbon Act to get around the December 2021 deadline for the plan, which is currently enshrined in law. Every day of delay makes the transition we will have to make to a low-carbon Aotearoa – and the ability to make it fair for affected communities – more and more difficult.

… New Zealand now won’t have any part of the emissions reduction plan to declare at the crucially important Cop26 in November (yet again – New Zealand didn’t attend the climate leaders summit last year either because we had no climate policies to announce). It will announce an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC), the emissions reduction target we pledge to the rest of the world.

Concerningly, New Zealand last week decided not to do any public consultation whatsoever on the formation of the NDC. A report from Oxfam argued that when considering our historical responsibility, New Zealand’s “fair share” NDC would be a reduction of at least 99% below 1990 levels by 2030 – a far cry from the 11% reduction pledge in our current NDC."

26 November, 2021
Our climate promises are vapourware – Newsroom  

This country made grand gestures and pledges at the UN climate summit, but scratch the surface and there is not a lot to back them up, writes Rod Oram

"Opinion: New Zealand had a busy time at the UN’s COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow. Our  Government signed us up to 27 pacts, alliances and declarations - at a rate of more than two a day. Of those, four go right to the heart of our great challenge to make our land use, farming and food  production climate-compatible and ecosystem-sustainable. Conversely, solving them is by far our greatest opportunity to transform them into highly sophisticated,  profitable and enduring sectors.

… So, we looked great in Glasgow signing up to all those worthy ambitions. But our promises are  vapourware. If we don’t figure out very fast how to deliver on them - and then do so - we will  irretrievably damage our environment and economy, our society and reputation.

25 March, 2022
Ministers told to be 'cautious' about subsidising green hydrogen production - RNZ

The environment watchdog is calling for the country to take stock of its whole energy set-up before charging down a path to green hydrogen

"Cheerleaders for turning
renewable electricity into hydrogen have been gathering, and partnering-up with iwi, eyeing the cheap power the Southland aluminium smelter gets, including Australian mining major Fortescue which will send its hydrogen boss to visit New Zealand next week.

The government has already invested more than $60m in projects testing hydrogen viability but emphasises large-scale projects would be by private industry ventures for whom it stacked up.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton warned in an eight-page letter to ministers this week, against being premature and ad hoc.

"The government should be particularly cautious about subsidising the creation of a green hydrogen production industry," he said.

… Upton is calling for a whole energy system analysis first.

… His letter is a shot across the bows of an industry that has its share of
enthusiasts and sceptics, like other energy alternatives such as biofuels, which is replete with pros and cons

…Another spanner in the spokes is that the smelter
may not now close as expected in 2024, so the power may not be available after all.The smelter takes 13 percent of national electricity consumption or enough to power 680,000 homes. Fed into the national grid, instead, it could lower wholesale prices by $20 a megawatt hour for a decade.

… The national energy strategy that gets underway in May, would follow up on work such as a 2019 report
A Vision for Hydrogen in New Zealand, [Minister of Energy, Megan Woods] said.

But Upton said that report presupposed green hydrogen was a good idea for this country, when that had not been analysed yet."

30 March, 2022
Hundreds of millions of dollars at stake on eve of refinery demolition  - Newsroom

Retaining a functional oil refinery would be the least cost option for improving fuel reserves – but only if the Government moves swiftly to hold off the gas axes

Opinion: Hundreds of millions of dollars hang on whether the Government acts in time to preserve the Marsden Point oil refinery. The facility is winding down operations but if plans to start scrapping it from next week were put on hold, this would buy time to reimagine it as New Zealand’s least cost option for coping in a fuel supply crisis. Retaining a functional refinery appears a lot less expensive than building equivalent new tank storage.

In the wake of the Ukraine invasion, the Government has indicated it will increase onshore fuel reserves – which could cost fuel users hundreds of millions of dollars. This is after having earlier proposed a plan to leave storage capacity essentially unchanged. That plan would have seen onshore fuel reserves rise from an average of just 20 days’ supply to 24 days for petrol and 28 days for diesel – against a European average of 90 days supply.

Having apparently now recognised that greater security of supply is required, the question is how much is needed and how to get it. Additional storage tanks are the base case. But if what is ultimately needed to run the nation is thought about in terms of ‘reserve capability’, rather than simply storage tanks, then the refinery turns out to be not just a low cost option but also one ideally suited to be part of the mix. It can provide another form of capability – ‘perpetual storage’ – an amount that can be produced continuously from domestic crude.

… There is no need to decide immediately whether to mothball the plant as it will remain in good condition for quite a few months without this, according to the engineer formerly with the refinery. All that is required right now is pausing to take stock of what role the refinery could have if the nation wants to seriously consider increasing its fuel reserves capability. While the Ukraine invasion is an obvious reminder of how things can change abruptly, it was never a smart plan to go cheap on supply security. New Zealand has some of the longest fuel supply lines in the world and will remain utterly dependent on petroleum supplies for quite a few more years - whatever the level of commitment to decarbonising the economy. And refining fuel offshore rather than at home does not significantly change the amount of carbon the atmosphere sees.”

05 April, 2022
World hurtling to climate danger zone, brakes half pulled – 1News

Temperatures on Earth will shoot past a key danger point unless greenhouse gas emissions fall faster than countries have committed, the world’s top body of climate scientists said on Tuesday, warning of the consequences of inaction but also noting hopeful signs of progress.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed "a litany of broken climate promises” by governments and corporations, accusing them of stoking global warming by clinging to harmful fossil fuels. “It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world,” he said.

… “Projected global emissions from (national pledges) place limiting global warming to 1.5C beyond reach and make it harder after 2030 to limit warming to 2C,” the panel said.

… “To keep the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris within reach, we need to cut global emissions by 45% this decade,” said Guterres, the UN. “But current climate pledges would mean a 14% increase in emissions.”

… The report’s authors said they had “high confidence” that unless countries step up their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will on average be 2.4C to 3.5C warmer by the end of the century — a level experts say is sure to cause severe impacts for much of the world’s population. “We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris," said Guterres. “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another." “Simply put, they are lying,” he added. "And the results will be catastrophic.”"

17 May, 2022
Help to buy EVs in ‘landmark’ New Zealand net zero climate plan - The Guardian link here

Lower and middle income families will benefit from ‘scrap and replace’ scheme, while 20% cut in car, van and ute trips sought

"New Zealand will help some people to buy electric vehicles, end its reliance on fossil fuels, lower agricultural emissions, and reduce waste going to landfill, the government has promised in the most significant announcement on climate change action in the country’s history. The emissions reduction plan sets the direction for climate action for the next 15 years, with a cap on the amount of greenhouse gas New Zealand can emit, in order to meet targets to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

… One of the most significant initiatives is the clean car upgrade programme, which will support lower and middle income families to transition to low-emission alternatives through a “scrap and replace” trial. That will allow eligible families to trade in their vehicles and receive support to buy electric or hybrid vehicles, which will in turn be cheaper to run. This, and plans to improve public transport through greener bus fleets, better cycleways and walkways, and more frequent trains, will put the country on track to make zero-emissions vehicles 30% of the light vehicle fleet (cars, vans and utes) and reduce the total kilometres light vehicles travel by to 20% by 2035, the government says.

More than $1.2bn had been allocated towards this part of the plan, which was expected to reduce emissions equivalent to taking 181,000 cars off the road between now and 2035, said Michael Wood, the minister of transport. The climate fund was established using an initial $4.5bn from the emissions trading scheme – which charges certain businesses for the greenhouse gases they emit – and meant “the polluters are paying [for pollution], not households”, Robertson said.

… New Zealand has long relied on its “clean green” image for tourism, trade and wider global cultural cache, and has regularly made headlines for some of its grander gestures, including when Ardern declared a climate emergency. But the country’s green reputation has become more untenable in recent years. The country’s gross emissions per person are high and it is one of the world’s worst performers on emissions increases. Emissions in New Zealand rose by 57% between 1990 and 2018 – the second-greatest increase of all industrialised countries.

… The University of Otago’s Prof Lisa Ellis, who is also a member of He Kaupapa Hononga/Otago’s Climate Change Research Network, told the Science Media Centre: “The good news … is that we finally have the legal and political infrastructure to drive the transition to a sustainable and equitable low-emissions economy.” The bad news, Ellis added, was that the emissions budgets were weak. “As a country with one of the world’s highest per capita emissions, we have a responsibility to do our fair share by taking prompt action to prevent runaway climate change.”"

Updated 17 May 2022 (includes retrospective updates)