16 January 2013

The Kyoto New Zealand break-up - when New Zealand said 'commitment' he never meant it

In this post I argue the best analogy for New Zealand's choice to opt out of a second commitment period (of reducing emissions) under the Kyoto Protocol - is: unfaithful men who won't commit to their partners!

New Zealand governments have behaved faithlessly towards Kyoto. The current National Government under Climate Minister Tim Groser won't commit to Kyoto stage 2. And the 1990s National Government gave a commitment they had no intention of being faithful to. New Zealand politicians and diplomats intentionally negotiated Kyoto so that New Zealand's Kyoto target would be met without reducing either gross or net emissions of greenhouse gases

I have argued before that New Zealand did not sign the Kyoto Protocol in good faith. As we seem unable to commit to Kyoto stage 2 in good faith, I have had another look at how faithful New Zealand's position was at the beginnings of Kyoto and at ratification in 2002.

According to a UNFCCC account of the Kyoto negotiations 'Tracing the Origins of the Kyoto Protocol: An Article-by-Article Textual History' on page 48;

"New Zealand was the only Party which made an early, more comprehensive proposal on the treatment of sinks, suggesting that sequestration of greenhouse gases from certain listed categories should be added to a Party's emission budget" (paragraph 226)
"New Zealand...faxed through a proposal for the treatment of sinks...sinks would not be included in a Party's baseline, but removals would be credited to a Partys budget (the so-called 'gross-net' approach)." (para 227)

(NB 'Sinks' meaning forests or land-use or land-use-change that sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So the New Zealand diplomats were 'ahead of the curve' in negotiating to get forest sinks recognised so they could offset other emissions.)

In October 1997,three weeks before the UNFCCC meeting in Kyoto, Simon Upton, the Minister for the Environment in Jim Bolger's National Government said in a speech:

"New Zealand has long been advocating" for Kyoto rules where "removing carbon from the atmosphere in future years will earn us credits"

Let's look at the advice the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade gave the government in February 2002, prior to New Zealand ratifying Kyoto that year. It was in a document called National Interest Analyses - Kyoto Protocol Part II

"New Zealand has an initial assigned amount for the first commitment period currently estimated to be 365 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent. That is, New Zealand is allowed to emit 365 Mt of carbon dioxide (or equivalent in other gases) over the years 2008 to 2012...New Zealand is expected to emit between 50 and 75 million tonnes over its 365 Mt initial assigned amount during the commitment period...."
"Current estimates are that, during the commitment period: New Zealand will emit between 415 million and 440 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and New Zealand sink activities (derived from forests planted from 1990 onwards) will provide an additional 110 million units of assigned amount, in the form of removal units."
"At a national level, New Zealand is therefore expected to have a surplus of assigned amount over emissions of between 35 and 60 million units over the five years of the first commitment period."

MFAT were saying:
(1) New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions would increase (not reduce) through to 2012.
(2) New Zealand would meet its Kyoto target by issuing itself additional forest sink removal units.
(3) New Zealand would make an economic gain from having a surplus of emission units.
So New Zealand would meet a 'trifecta' of Kyoto-related goals, none of which were reduced gross or net emissions.

MFAT were especially proud of that last point, making a profit. "New Zealand’s effectiveness in climate change negotiations means it is one of the few developed countries that stands to make a small net economic gain from the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period."

So what would MFAT's predicted increased emissions and forest removal units look like on a chart? Assuming the maximum 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases is represented by a linear increase of 0.94% p.a. from a base of 73 million tonnes in 1990, and the forest removal units are issued equally over 2008 to 2012, it looks like this.

This is what 'gross-net Kyoto accounting' of emissions and emission units looks like. From 1990 to 2007, gross or total emissions (blue dots) are the same as "Kyoto" emissions (the red dots). However, from 2008, you get the "Kyoto" emissions by subtracting carbon dioxide removed by 'human induced afforestation, reforestation and deforestation' (the violet dots) from the gross emissions. And the red dot Kyoto emissions suddenly dive under the 1990 baseline, even though both net and gross emissions have increased.

Except for the straight line, which is from my linear growth assumption, that looks very much like the current gross, net and Kyoto emissions, which I update below in a brand new animated 'Kyoto Escalator' chart

It's interesting to note that in the Ministry for the Environment's November 2012 calculation of the net Kyoto Protocol position, that although the ministry predicts a surplus of units (exceeding the target), this will happen in spite of an estimated 80% increase in annual net emissions since 1990 and a 27% increase in gross emissions. The actual gross and net emissions to 2010 have grown by 19% and 59% respectively, as shown in this chart

This is why whenever we hear Tim Groser or Nick Smith claim the New Zealand is meeting it's Kyoto target, we need to realise they are being the ultimate uncommitted unfaithful partner; in spite of their smooth rhetoric of caring about global warming, New Zealand's gross and net greenhouse emissions are showing an increasing trend. New Zealand needs to adopt policies that really do just stop emissions.

NB The original meme is Kyoto New Zealand break-up and all the images are at Picasa at Kyoto's Break-up with New Zealand where they can be viewed as a slide show. Feel free to use them and make up some more.

Kyoto's break-up with New Zealand at Picasa

I have just uploaded all the 'Kyoto's break-up with New Zealand ' images from the quickmeme website to Picasa

14 January 2013

New Zealand and Kyoto Protocol The break-up

I have made up a meme using a meme generator.

It's about break-up of New Zealand and the Kyoto Protocol.

They were a nice couple. They met back in the mid 1990s at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They set an example for the rest of the world.

But..after five years, New Zealand broke up with Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto says New Zealand wouldn't give a second commitment...even though they set up an emissions trading scheme and a greenhouse gas emissions inventory together. New Zealand just didn't seem interested after the Durban Platform. Lately New Zealand is believed to be hanging around with Canada, the USA, and China

New Zealand just won't commit.

But we had an Emissions Trading Scheme together.

He's left me for China, India and the USA.

He's been so difficult since the Durban Platform.

I only asked him to reduce his net and gross emissions.

I only asked him to stop fiddling with his forest sinks.

The collection is called the Kyoto New Zealand break-up. It's been so much fun!

10 January 2013

The social and psychological taboo on climate change

Claire Browning has written a post Nemesis Narcissus.

It’s about how climate change - embarrassing, frightening, disempowering - has become almost a social taboo. People are (allegedly) aware, (reputedly) concerned - but not acting, and a bit frightened even to talk about it. We’re taking refuge in denial.

For Claire Browning, the substance of this denial is the unwillingness to let go of lifestyle.

We don’t want to give it up - the personal lifestyles, the geopolitics - to have to admit that, in some respects, our definition of progress was wrong; that it was a treadmill, and a trap. Easier roads lie in denial, and trust, and hope.

Claire refers us to The id and the eco. which says "Thinking about climate change makes people feel helpless and anxious – but that’s why we must talk about it openly". This is an article by Rosemary Randall, a British psychologist who has looked at resistance to the disturbing message of climate change.

Randall writes;

Climate change is a disturbing subject that casts a shadow across ordinary life...what most people don’t admit — thinking about climate change is upsetting and brings to the surface an internal conflict about how to respond.

According to Randall, the common psychological response is defensive;

In dealing with climate change, we are in the terrain that psychoanalysis calls resistance or defence — the ability to defend ourselves from too much mental and emotional pain. Although each statement carries an element of truth, its primary purpose is protective: a rationalisation for inaction. These are subtler forms of denial than those found among outright climate sceptics or deniers. The reality of climate change is acknowledged but its significance is discounted, and the person involved avoids taking any responsibility for the issue.

Randall concludes with a call for a Churchillian 'fight them on the beaches' level of inspiration. Claire Browning invokes a previous post of hers on iconic Kiwi story-telling knocking the bugger off.

Both Randall and Browning are worth a read. May 2013 be a year where humanity overcomes it's resistance to taking action on climate change.

02 January 2013

James Hansen The Climate Crisis and the Need for an Energy Revolution

I have found another talk by James Hansen to listen to. It is titled 'The Climate Crisis and the Need for an Energy Revolution' and Hansen gave the talk on 10 October 2012 in New York as part of the Energy Emergency, Energy Transition roundtable convened by Cornell University's Global Labor Institute (GLI), a program of the Worker Institute at Cornell, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.