It is a huge relief that Copenhagen is over with no binding agreement. At Kyoto our negotiators did NZ a disservice when they signed up to the system of carbon dioxide equivalents with its global warming potentials which were nonsense then and they are nonsense now. I was not hopeful that our negotiators at Copenhagen were any more clued up than the last lot so I was thankful there was nothing of any substance to sign. The whole thing was a circus there is no other word for it.
A couple of points about agriculture and what emerged from Copenhagen. There is of course the Global Alliance which will put money into mitigation research. This research will achieve nothing in terms of reducing any global warming that might be happening because as I repeatedly say agricultural emissions don’t alter the composition of the atmosphere in the same way a fossil fuel emission does and so do not contribute to global warming. But the outcome of the research, if there is any, will be to reduce methane production per unit of production and to reduce nitrous oxide similarly. Enteric methane production represents an energy loss during the digestion process so any reduction in that will give a production response so that should improve profitability. Same with nitrous oxide, it represents a loss of nitrogen from the system so any reduction in that should see a production response and an environmental benefit as well .
So big ‘ups’ for John Key, the only agreement with any substance at the circus in Copenhagen and it was an accord to research ways to reduce emissions that don’t need reducing.
The interesting thing for me has been reading overseas media comments from Copenhagen about agriculture. Over here we have our media talking of bludgers and polluters but internationally it is a different story. The emphasis is on helping agriculture, not to reduce its emissions, but continue to produce unfettered by climate change rules and despite the supposed ravages of climate change. They even talked about giving money to farming to adjust to climate change. Although I think they had the poor African countries in mind here rather than NZ farmers. Forgive my scepticism here but Africa should be growing more food than it is now, climate change has to be the least of their problems, corruption is probably the only problem they need to solve. But anyway, agriculture is not seen as the baddie by the rest of the world, it is only in NZ by people who must think the world will somehow be a better place without agriculture.
The other heartening thing was the Copenhagen Accord, as they call it, agreed to do what the IPCC say needs doing, which is reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. What is good about that for NZ is that this target is for fossil fuel emissions, not agricultural emissions. The target for agriculture is only about a 15% reduction. Nick Smith and John Key might not be aware of this yet and the NZ media certainly aren’t but this gives farming a great opportunity. We can take the high ground and question;
At a time when the world is focused on increasing agricultural production why is John Key going to tax our producers for producing”
When the IPCC is differentiating between fossil fuel emissions and agricultural ones, why is NZ treating them the same?
When the IPCC is talking about a 15 % cut in agricultural emissions by the year 2050, why is NZ setting a reduction target in excess of that for its agricultural emissions?
It is time for farmers to front foot it a bit and get out of defensive mode. The world does not want agriculture in NZ to be treated the way NZ is treating it, and it is time to remind our Government about that and re look at the ETS.
Meanwhile, now Copenhagen is over we can all relax, knowing our hapless negotiators are locked away safely and no more bad deals will be signed for a while, if ever. John Key seems to think Copenhagen was a step towards a binding agreement next year but then he actually thought a binding agreement was possible at Copenhagen so I would not take what he says too seriously. It is a good time of the year to relax and for celebration and so a merry Christmas to you all.