16 March 2012

Nick Smith 'punchs above his weight' in lukewarm climate policy denial part 1 - the NZ "Kyoto Escalator"

I introduce a 'killer' graphic to look at how Nick Smith is really a "lukewarmer", who - while saying he accepts the science of anthropogenic climate change, nevertheless denies the need to adopt any effective climate policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The worthy Kennedy Graham of the NZ Green Party recently tried to question Climate Change Minister Nick Smith in Parliament about the inadequacy of New Zealand's reduction targets for emissions of greenhouse gases.

Kennedy Graham, who does not seem to have read the Skeptical Science Debunking Guide, can be a bit verbose in his questions. He describes the debate as "apocryphal". Which ties in my previous theme that debates about climate change politics can quickly degrade into jargon and 'yada yada' that cause MEGO. And this is the definition of flogging the dead horse and swallowing of the elephant in the room.

Nick Smith seems to be aware of this as he typically discusses climate change policy using short catchy "public-relations" sound bites. For example:
I can absolutely assure the member that this Government takes those international negotiations very seriously. I have to say that this House should be very proud of the contribution of the Minister responsible for those international negotiations. Tim Groser is playing a very pivotal role and this country is punching well above its weight in ensuring progress is made.
I would also point out that New Zealand is going to comfortably meet its Kyoto obligations around emissions.

So New Zealand is the real Kiwi battler, "punching above its weight", in terms of climate change policy!! Really. Really? Really!

Smith's specific example is complying with the Kyoto Protocol. For New Zealand, the Kyoto 'outcome' is average greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 ('the commitment period') and the 'target' is the 'baseline' of gross emissions in 1990. New Zealand must manage the 'outcome' (2008 to 2012 GHG emissions) so that it meets the 'target' - the 1990 'baseline'.

New Zealand must either reduce average 2008-2012 greenhouse gas emissions to the 1990 volume x 5 years or obtain other Kyoto-compliant emissions units to match the growth in emissions.

The Ministry for the Environment says New Zealand will not just meet the Kyoto target we will probably exceed it by 21 million emissions units.

In reality, according to New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2009 New Zealand's total (or gross) GHG emissions increased from 1990 to 2009 by 19%. Net emissions (after subtracting forest sequestration) increased by 23%.

So why is Nick Smith saying we comply with Kyoto? Let us recall that New Zealand's ease in complying with the Kyoto Protocol is because of the forests loophole.

The NZ Kyoto 1990 baseline/target is defined as gross emissions - that is without deducting carbon sequestration in forests. The 2008 to 2012 Kyoto 'outcome' emissions are defined as gross emissions less Kyoto compliant emissions units recognised for carbon sequestration in forests after 1990.

Okay that was a bit yada yada. Feeling a bit MEGO?

As an antidote to MEGO here's the Kyoto escalator. Imitating the Skeptical Science temperature escalator it is an animated chart for the New Zealand Kyoto forest loophole. Click on it for a larger version. The chart shows firstly gross GHG emissions in green from 1990, actual to 2008 and projected to 2012. Clearly an increasing trend. Then net emissions after carbon sequestration by forests in blue. Also an increasing trend. Then "Kyoto" accounting of GHG emissions - gross to 2007, then net from 2008 to 2012.

Back In 1997, another National Government Minister for Climate change, Simon Upton, said that New Zealand's climate change policy would lack credibility if New Zealand's interest in forest sinks appeared to be all about gaining a large buffer to allow for significant growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Obviously Nick Smith has no such concerns.

No comments:

Post a Comment