Earlier this year [February 2007] the Prime Minister [Helen Clark] has set for us the target of becoming the first country to be truly sustainable, and even to be a carbon neutral nation. (from nzembassy.com)
Well, we have a very good proven track record so far.
The Kyoto Protocol would require New Zealand to ensure that total greenhouse gas emissions for the first commitment period (the five years from 2008 to 2012) are no higher than five times New Zealand’s 1990 level of emissions, or that we have taken responsibility for any emissions over this level through the flexibility mechanisms and sinks provisions of the Protocol. (Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – 13 February 2002)
Greenhouse gas emissions have increased from 1990 to 2006 by 33.1%. Since we already lost 1.5 years and cannot just cut everything off, we would have to bring emissions down by approximately 50% until 2012. How should that work?
Agricultural emissions in 2006 were almost as high as the total emissions in 1990. Since we cannot reduce the energy demand to zero, that means we have to reducing emissions from agriculture significantly. Poor farmers. I wonder whether any politician has got any plan.
National Party Leader John Key says his party willl set a target of a 50% reduction in carbon equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050. In shorthand: A 50% cut by 2050. 50 by 50. (national.org.nz)
Sorry guys, but to stick to Kyoto, we would need almost that until 2012, not 2050.
National will “Send a clear signal that gas will continue to be a significant fuel source for the foreseeable future” (http://www.national.org.nz/files/2008/National_energy_policy.pdf, retrieved 15 June 2009). Well that will definitely reduce carbon emissions, won’t it?
Govt3 has been abolished
Climate Change Minister Nick Smith has axed five flagship Labour Govt programmes, which he says are “expensive sloganeering” and will help fill a $26m funding gap left by the last Govt for the Ministry for the Environment. Most notable among the deletions are the Carbon Neutral Public Service and Govt3 programmes, both of which consumed substantial resources in the last two years of the previous Govt as they sought public sector leadership to entrench measurable, sustainable business practices.
There are some interesting QnA’s from the NZ Parliament website, questions for written answer:
6452 (2009). Dr Russel Norman to the Minister for the Environment (13 May 2009): Are all building materials being used in any building renovation being currently undertaken on Environment House, or planned to be undertaken, this calendar year sourced according to Govt3 or other sustainable procurement guidelines?
Hon Dr Nick Smith (Minister for the Environment) replied: I would expect the Ministry to comply with Cabinet directives on environment practise within government and governmental procurement rules.
362 (2009). Dr Russel Norman to the Minister for the Environment (18 Mar 2009): What advice has the Minister received on the effectiveness of the Govt3 programme; in particular, what advice has he received relating to changes made to the vehicle fleets and fuel usage, electricity and gas usage, air travel, and waste volumes of the lead agencies involved in the Govt3 programme, if any?
Hon Dr Nick Smith (Minister for the Environment) replied: I have received no advice on changes to vehicle fleets or fuel usage, electricity and gas usage, air travel, air travel or waste volumes. I was advised that savings of $4.7 million have been achieved across a range of areas although the cost of achieving those by Departments has not been reported.
1363 (2009). Dr Russel Norman to the Minister for the Environment (18 Mar 2009): What advice has he received regarding the amount of electricity that has been saved by the agencies involved in the Govt3 programme as a direct result of the programme, if any; the amount of carbon emissions saved, if any; and the amount of money saved, if any?
Hon Dr Nick Smith (Minister for the Environment) replied: I have not received advice regarding the amount of electricity saved by agencies involved in the Govt3 programme and it is difficult to decifer what would have occured or not occured with the programme. The Government expects all Government agencies to exercise common sense in continuing to make environmentally sound choice in products subject to cost effectiveness.
So it seems that although having programes, they are rather guidelines that noone sanctions and monitors. Unfortunately most eco friendly options are rather more expensive.
Note to cost-effectiveness:
It is very cost-effective for landlords not to insulate the house you are living in, because you pay the energy bill and society pays for the medication.
It’s also cost-effective to go on doing nothing for the environment. But remember, once the lakes and soils are poisoned, you cannot eat your money, nor can you fix your crippled children.
That brings up memories to a poster that I once saw in my brother’s room (back in the 70s), the prophecy of the cree:
Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten