Back to where we were fifteen years ago…

The incoming US government is planning to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and cut those by 80% by 2050.

Barack Obama on climate change:
“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.”

The incoming NZ government is planning to set up a committee.

Draft terms of reference from the National-ACT agreement on confidence and supply:
“The Committee shall:
hear competing views on the scientific aspects of climate change from internationally respected sources and assess the quality and impartiality of official advice”

Why do I bother?

Well, coz:
“The early bioneer Bill McLarney was stirring a vat of algae in his Costa Rica research center when a brassy North American lady strode in. What, she demanded, was he doing stirring a vat of green goo when what the world really needs is love? “There’s theoretical love,” Bill replied, “and then there’s applied love”—and kept on stirring.” – from RMI

16 thoughts on “Back to where we were fifteen years ago…”

    1. Yes, he needs to front up and deliver. But saying you’ll do something is rather different to ignoring people who say that something should be done.

  1. If we had a select committee on stopping child abuse, should it hear competing views about whether abuse is bad for children or good for children?

    “Competing views” covers a multitude of sins. There’s plenty of scientists who believe that the IPCC consenus viewpoint (which is roughly “oh crap”) is far to conservative and the correct description of the scientific aspects of climate change could best be described by the phrase “holy living crap”. Somehow, given Rodney Hide’s previous statements on his views of the climate science, I expect that the “competing views” will be “it is happening” versus “it isn’t happening”.

    And frankly, the time for that debate was ten years ago. The evidence is overwhelmingly to the side that ‘it is happening”, but that leads to conclusions that are politically unacceptable, so we’ll just stick our hands over our ears and sing “la, la, la”.

    1. I guess that the neoliberal ideology denies that benefit of community action. When an issue appears that can only be solved by community action, the logical response of neoliberals is to deny the issue exists.

      But hey, when the CBD’s under 5 metres of water, at least we’ll be able to have (floating) billboards with no promoter statement on them.

      1. I dunno about that, you could happily argue that it is feasible to include an externality like climate change inot market-based decisions. That’s what an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax is trying to achieve.

        There’s practical difficulties, of course, about justifying a particular level of current charges, when costs are uncertain, mainly in the future, potentially open-ended, and depend upon (mainly) overseas decisions about the path along which the global economy develops. However, various studies have put the charge in region of NZD 200 per tonne, minus 100, plus maybe 100, maybe 100.

        (The cost to the economy of this could be zero, because increased government income from carbon taxes could be offset by reduced taxes elsewhere.)

        And therein lies the problem. It’s not politically feasible to impose that kind of cost on the groups that the emissions mainly come from (farmers, major electricity users, truckers and so on). Lots of farms would be unprofitable, several other industries would be less internationally competitive. That’s the major sticking point.

        1. several other industries would be less internationally competitive

          The EU at least is considering addressing this by imposing some sort of import tarriffs on countries that don’t have adequate controls on CO2 emissions.

  2. The way they’ve worded their statement suggests they’re open to being convinced of the astounding possibility that the expert consensus on climate change is in fact not a huge pink/green conspiracy.

    They have to be, really. They’d be f*(ked if they weren’t. Either way, give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves.

    1. Yeah, but the rest of the world gave up on the “huge pink/green conspiracy” idea about ten years ago. And now they’re reintroducing it. You can see why I’m not exactly chuffed?

      1. Yes, absolutely.

        But OTOH, there are clearly folk in NZ that need to be convinced that “climate change is real f*(kos”, so having a forum to do that in could be a good thing. It’s kind of the difference between people feeling like they’ve been forced to act a certain way, and actively changing their minds.

        But seriously, we shouldn’t really be arsed with this kind of thing at this point in the game. Yes. It’s A-grade annoying.

  3. How much of a fuss was there when petrol nearly doubled in price? There were strong, monotonous calls for politicians to do something, despite the price drivers being entirely overseas.

    So, you want to be a politician who is going to argue that petrol should be more expensive, not because of overseas wars or demand in China, but because we should all drive less, for some ill-defined brownie points, some decades in the future? Good luck getting elected on that platform.

  4. I like steak. Just saying.

    Would I base my vote on my liking for steak vs the world ending? No. But only because I know how to grow my own cows and make sufficient income that I can afford to be fundamentally unsustainable.

    [EDIT] I should add here that a large part of the National vote is conservative farmers. So letting them all go bankrupt is a politically unsound move.

    So I suggest we all go and live in caves. Some of us should probably be dressed in loincloths too.

  5. A lot of farms would be economically unsustainable, if they paid carbon costs.

    However, the arguement goes that just kicking them in the teeth is a fairly unilateral response to climate change, and if we stop farming, then other nations, with even worse performance, will pick up the slack. So, arguably, making our farmers pay their externality could result in worse outcomes at a global level. Whether or not that will happen in practice, I don’t know, but it’s a politically persuasive arguement.

    (You might like to refer to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report “Growing for good”, which called for the redesign of NZ’s farming systems.)

  6. The politicians were being asked to implement the Emissions Trading Scheme. This would have added something in the order of five cents to the price of a litre of petrol. And apparently, that’s too much to bear.

  7. You’ve seen the stains in my office then?

    But seriously, people are fundamentally lazy. If things are going just fine and fixing a problem can be put off until tomorrow, then most people are happy to sit on their arse, coz nine times out of ten, the problem will go away all by itself.

    I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War. Endless analysts, game theorists and pundits told us that war was inevitable, that it was the only logical conclusion. However, the Cold War never turned hot, because people are not logical, they are human, and by that I mean lazy. They’d say to themselves “hey, we’ve got enough nukes to kill everyone on the planet, shall we launch them today? Mmm… maybe tomorrow”. And that facet of human nature got us through forty years of staring into the apocalypse. Sadly, that facet of human nature is also less helpful when it comes to climate change. But hey, that’s human beings for you.

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