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Not in my back pasture

15 May 2019 | News Roundup

The New Zealand government has a plan to stop global warming. Or not, if farmers complain. In that case it will treat methane differently from other GHGs and more leniently. The orthodoxy on methane is that it’s way worse than CO2, something like 25 times as bad or maybe 84 times. Whatever. The science is settled. Unfortunately the general feeling about displeasing farmers who vote is that it’s way worse than burning up the planet. Again making you doubt the sincerity of many of those on the climate change bandwagon.

According to Radio New Zealand, “The government has unveiled its plan to combat climate change, under which methane will be treated differently to other greenhouse gases, in response to push back from the agricultural industry.” That headline pretty much says it all, don’t you think?

The story goes on to say that they’ve introduced a “Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill” with a 30-year plan. Everything’s going to net zero by 2050 “in line with New Zealand's commitments under the Paris Agreement.” Um except methane. We stay away from hot air jokes here at CDN. But honestly between the bill title and the rhetoric it’s hard. “The government is today delivering landmark action on climate change - the biggest challenge facing the international community and New Zealand” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Then she said agriculture is “incredibly important to New Zealand” which is true as the place has 4.7 million people and 27.6 million sheep (which at under 6:1 is actually a sharp decrease from a 22:1 ratio in 1982). But, she burbled, agriculture must be "part of the solution". A plan. You’re right. We’ll need a plan. A good plan. A win-win plan.

In lieu of which they created a "split gas" approach because of a split between a children’s crusade to save the Earth and a politicians’ crusade to save seats from angry farmers. At least they didn’t create two classes of methane, agricultural and industrial, and start trying to explain why there’s really bad CH4 and sort of bad CH4 even though they’re the same molecule. (Oddly, climate alarmism generally does maintain that all natural CO2 is absorbed by the natural “carbon cycle” every year but just half the man-made stuff, though again the fact that the molecules are identical makes the pathway hard to discern.)

New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister James Shaw, of the Green Party, did say "The Zero Carbon Bill outlines our plan to safeguard the future that those school students will inherit. The critical thing is to do everything we can over the next 30 years to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and the Zero Carbon Bill makes that a legally binding objective. Carbon dioxide is the most important thing we need to tackle - that's why we've taken a net zero carbon approach."

Why is CO2 the most important thing? He didn’t explain. He probably knows there’s carbon in methane. Probably. But regardless, according to RNZ the Zero Carbon Bill aims for a 10% reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, “and aims for a provisional reduction ranging from 24 percent to 47 percent by 2050. That provisional range will be reviewed by the independent Climate Change Commission, to be established under the Bill.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby is in the building striking interdepartmental committees and writing talking points. “’The split gas target that we've got is informed by the science about what needs to happen in each class of greenhouse gas in order to get us there," Mr Shaw told Nine to Noon…. The commission will provide advice, guidance and regular five-yearly emissions budgets, Mr Shaw said.” Regular five-year budgets? With 11 years to save the planet? Where’s your sense of urgency?

According to RNZ “In his report in August last year the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, said to prevent global warming, methane emissions would have to fall by a much lower rate - 10 to 22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050.” But a powerful farm lobby said it didn’t.

And that was that.

One comment on “Not in my back pasture”

  1. Atmospheric CO2 has been on a declining trajectory over the course of the earth's existence. More and more CO2 has been sequestered in plant life and carbonaceous rock - limestone, coal, etc. - as time went on. To the point where, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 was at a dangerously low level: 280 ppm. At 150 ppm - which is where the planet was heading before we discovered how to release CO2 in the process of generating energy from hydrocarbons - plant life dies for lack of inputs for photosynthesis. At 415 ppm today, we are still far from the optimal level of atmospheric CO2 for plant life on earth. It would be better if we could get it up to 1200 ppm or so again.

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