The Carbon zero bill sets out to set up a climate commission which is going to advise the Government on carbon budgets to meet the targets set in the legislation.
The only target for CO2 is that net CO2 emissions be reduced to zero by 2050, although this is conditional on a number of factors that the climate commission can consider, such as science, technology options and economics. So come 2050 it may not even require net zero
Methane has two targets
The first target is a 10% reduction in gross emissions from 2017 levels (not net like CO2) by 2030. This target is not conditional on anything.
The second target is for a reduction of gross methane emissions of between 24 to 47% by 2050, again not conditional like the CO2 target.
Why else is it a bad bill?
Firstly its name. The bill does not propose reducing carbon emissions to zero at all, yet it is called the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.
It proposes that carbon sourced from CO2 and N2O reduce to net zero but that carbon sourced from methane does not have to reduce to zero. It is being ridiculed by the Aussies who are right to call it out as a joke for setting NZ on a path to carbon neutrality by ignoring our biggest source of carbon emissions (livestock methane)
The Aussies are right to call this out even though the Government is doing the right thing by setting different targets for methane. The Aussies (and most NZers) do not understand that the carbon emissions from methane do not increase the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas in the same way carbon emissions sourced from CO2 do. In other words Carbon, which stands for CO2 equivalence, is not really equivalent at all,
It is our intention to ridicule political parties which choose to support legislation that relies on an equivalence unit which is not equivalent and also supports the deception arising by calling it the Zero Carbon bill when in fact it does not propose that at all.
The methane targets are unscientific. James Shaw plucked them from an IPCC document which set pathways for emissions reductions but stated quite clearly that these reductions should not be used for national reduction targets.
The same IPCC document’s pathway for nitrous oxide also did not call for N2O to reduce to zero, (as the bill does) nowhere close, it suggests a range from -26 to +39.
So not only has James Shaw misused the document, he has selectively excluded what it said about N2O.
Farmers will one day regret being so compliant with the N2O target
Shaw proposes an unconditional target for gross methane emissions to reduce by 10% below 2017 levels by 2030. But no CO2 2030 target. How is that fair? The Climate Commission may well advise a 2030 target for CO2 but that is conditional on a whole range of factors.
The 2050 targets for methane are way ahead of what any science supports.
Farmers should lobby hard National and NZ First MP’s. One problem National is having is that it is not seeing enough push back from farmers. National don’t want to appear climate deniers and without farmers putting up a strong case against the treatment of methane they will find it harder to vote against the bill.
It does not help when farmers themselves support the 2030 target even though it is grossly unfair. The best evidence is that some farmers may be able to meet the target but many will not be able to and also that this relies on capping production at current levels. Your production in 2050 will be the same as today in other words.
So it is all very well for one of Dairy NZ’s climate ambassadors to say farmers should embrace the 2030 target but what is not known is what legislative tool the Government will use to achieve that. The 10% reduction may not be at farm level and most probably will not work anyway. The target will just become an excuse to clobber farmers financially for no environmental gain. Why would any farmer wish that on their industry?
The bigger question is what honour is there in NZ farmers cutting production or capping it, so that the rest of the world has to produce more food to feed a growing population at higher emissions than we do. If we really cared about global warming would we not want to meet as much of that demand with low emissions food as we can?
What if an industrial country decided it could reduce its emissions by capping or reducing production of tractors and lifesaving hospital equipment, and the best way to do that is to stop exporting to NZ? That is exactly the type of selfish response farmers who support this 2030 target propose.
It is not the emissions we produce that matter, it is the emissions we cause. We cause emissions in other countries when we import machinery, and other countries cause emissions when they import our food. The current system hits the producing country when in fact it would be more appropriate to hit the consumers. There may be honour in reducing emissions by producing product in a more emissions efficient way, but there is no honour in my view in reducing emissions just by cutting or capping production which is what the 2030 target requires, and to hell with everybody else.
The Bill is a bad bill and any political party that supports it deserves the ridicule they get. It is grossly unfair to farmers, compared to CO2 emitters, and farmers need to be expressing this strongly to enable National and NZ First to oppose it in its current form. A clever agricultural sector would have its leaders playing NZ First off against National to try and get each wanting the credit for supporting farmers. I am not sure our leaders are clever enough, but let’s hope.