Posts Tagged ‘UN Climate Change Talks’

Is 2,750 KT of Credit A Big Issue For New Zealand Agriculture?

December 28, 2008

Andrew D of the Physics Department at the University of Queensland has put much effort into his comments on my earlier post (please read them all).  He concedes that I have a point about the Kyoto rules but reckons I am overstating the case.  According to Andrew (I have asked him to explain this a bit more fully, and he has in his most recent comment) New Zealand’s 24,866 kt of methane emissions are produced from 2,750 kt of stored carbon.  That is carbon that has been absorbed by our pasture, but for which the agriculture sector gets no credit.

Would an 2,750 kt offset be significant for New Zealand agriculture?  I believe that it would, particularly when you remember what our Kyoto obligation is.  Our obligation is to restrict emissions to 1990 levels.

Many thanks Andrew for the effort you have put in on this.

In 1990 New Zealand emitted 22,413 kt of methane (CO2 equivalent).  In 2006 we emitted 24,866 kt of methane.  That is a 2,453 kt increase.  The 2,750 kt of offset that the New Zealand agriculture sector is being denied by the silly Kyoto rules would mean we have no carbon liability.

Looked at another way we need to buy credits to offset our methane liability.  At a cost of NZ$30 per credit x 2,453,000 we are required to buy credits worth $73,590,000 to offset our Kyoto methane liability.  I deem this significant particularly as the tax payer is currently set to meet the cost of any liability coming from agriculture (agriculture is not due to be part of the ETS until 2013).  I would much rather that $74 million was spent on something other than Russian AAUs.

Advertisements

Why I Think The Kyoto Rules Treat New Zealand Sheep, Beef And Dairy Farmers Unfairly

December 27, 2008

At least one reader of Kiwiblog appears not to have understood the point I was trying to make about the rules around methane production so I will try and explain myself more clearly.  Yes, I know methane is a potent GHG and that it is probably one of the worst GHGs because of its half life being so long.  I also know that the carbon atoms in methane molecules that are produced in the gut of a ruminant come from carbon stored in the grass not from the atmosphere (I actually thought that was pretty clear from my post).

The point I was trying to make was that farmers are being penalised for the amount of methane produced without adjusting for the fact that to produce the methane their pasture has absorbed close to an equal amount of carbon.  I really only know wine making chemistry so can’t comment definitively about the relative bulk of a tonne of methane as compared to a tonne of carbon dioxide but I can tell you that a molecule of CO2 has as much carbon as a molecule of CH4.  Each contains one atom of carbon.  My guess is that it is almost a one to one conversion.  If one looks at the latest edition of the Ministry of Economic Development’s publication New Zealand Energy Green House Gas Emissions you can see that in one of the tables  (1.1) all gases are converted to CO2 equivalent.  Agriculture produced 37,668 Kilotonnesof CO2 equivalent.  This is made up of 24,866 kt of methane and 12,802 kt of nitrous oxide N2O.   

From the above we know that to produce the 24,866 kt of methane (CO2 equivalent) New Zealand farmers have had to absorb roughly 24,866 kt of CO2.  Why do the rules not give credit for this?  I have seen some argue that it is impossible at this time to tell how much CO2 is absorbed by a New Zealand farm.  This may be true, but a chemist can tell you exactly how much CO2 must have been absorbed by pasture to produce the methane which the Government says it knows each farm is producing.  I think it is unfair that our farmers are not being given credit for this CO2 absorption.

Some Questions On The Science Of Kyoto

December 26, 2008

This post is not a challenge to those who believe that the climate is changing due to the release of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) by humankind.

It is asking questions about the science that underpins the Kyoto Protocol and and which is being used to determine our level of emissions. 

 Several aspects of the Kyoto Protocol really annoy me.  For a start how can we solve this problem if major emitting economies have not taken on any obligations?  It looks as though the US will take on commitments to whatever replaces Kyoto but there seems no chance off China, India and Brazil etc taking on commitments.

Why is there such inconsistency over points of obligation?  Why are consumers held responsible to the release of GHGs from oil, gas and coal and not the producing countries, when the country that cuts down a tree is held responsible for emitting the full amount of carbon stored in that tree from the time that it is cut down?  An importing country faces the full liability for emissions from gas, oil and coal, but exporting country faces the full liability for wood.  And why does the exporting country face the full liability for its agricultural emissions as opposed to the country that is going to actually consume the product that was produced as a result of all those emissions having been made?  So New Zealand imports oil from country x and bears the full costs of releasing the GHGs from burning that oil in New Zealand.  We export meat to country x, but also face the full cost of producing all the GHGs released while producing this meat.

Why was horticulture excluded from the original emissions trading scheme?  We store plenty of carbon in horticulture.  Our systems are essentially closed – in wine for example we absorb in the grape growing process exactly as much CO2 as we put back into the atmosphere in the wine making process.  Our vines store more cabon each year, and those of us growing things organically, are constantly boosting our carbon levels in our soil.  We get no credit for this under the previous Government’s scheme but we face full costs on all our inputs.

And have we got the science right over methane production from our cows and sheep?  This is a critical issue for New Zealand as our agricultural emissons are half our total emissions.

Where does methane come from? It comes from the guts of cows and sheep.  It is is produced in the guts of ruminant livestock as a result of the actions of methanogenic bacteria and protozoa on the feed being eaten by the ruminant livestock.  In New Zealand’s case that food is mostly grass.

Now this is where I am hoping to be corrected, but my reading of the Kyoto Protocol gas calculation rules suggests that the methane emitted is being measured (estimated based on stock numbers) in gross terms.  But no counterbalancing adjustment is being made for the fact that the components that make the methane were largely absorbed from atmosphere as carbon (methane – CH4 – is one atom of carbon and four of hydrogen).

No where can I find a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by our pasture in New Zealand.  While pasture doesn’t store carbon well (grasses tend to die and then release carbon back into the atmosphere relatively quickly – unlike trees that live many years) pasture absorbs as much carbon as does forest.  If is wasn’t for the interaction of animals, pasture would be a fully closed system in terms of CO2.  As much carbon as is absorbed would be released again once the grass dies.  The animals convert the carbon that has been absorbed by grass into all kinds of things.  Out one end comes the methane that everone is so exercised about.  The other end is even more disgusting but those droppings do add carbon back into the soil where it is stored.  And of course the meat and wool produced gets eaten or consumed into clothing.  The carbon will get released back into the atmosphere one day, but is maay take many years.

But in terms of carbon and GHGs isn’t this as much a closed system as pasture without the animals?  The grass absorbs the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  It gets eaten and that carbon gets combined with some hydrogen in the gut thanks to some microbe induced anaerobic frementaion and methane gets released into the atmosphere.  So as a result there is less CO2 in the atmosphere but more methane than there would otherwise be. But they are both GHGs.  Why therefore do our farmers not get pinged for producing methane when in fact without the methane there would still be CO2 being released into the atmosphere?  And why are they being pinged at all for being part of what is essentially a closed system?  No more GHGs are being put up into the atmosphere than are being absorbed by the pasture.

Looking at the way things are measured here in New Zealand the amount of CO2 being emitted and absorbed by agriculture is treated as a neutral exercise – data is deemed to be not available.  If it was, would it confirm or refute the case I make above?  But even without this data how can determine a farmer’s liability?

Finally, as mentioned above in relation both to pastural agriculture and viticulture, I think that there is an issue over the measurement of, and need for account to be taken of the amount of carbon being absorbed in our soils.  I have seen plenty of scientists getting excited over the prospects for using biochar to store carbon in soils, but what about what is already going on?  Without taking acount of what is already taking place how can we get a true picture of the amount of GHGs we are actually producing from our agriculture sector?

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2008

We are paying the price for two near 30 degree days in a row down here with a much cooler overcast day today.  I actually prefer cooler Christmas days.  There is nothing worse than spending the day in the kitchen when it is hot and sunny outside. 

I see that 50 people have visited Dear John today which is more than I had expected.  Can I wish all readers a very happy Christmas.  I hope the New Year is as prosperous as possible.

As we can’t sell any wine today I may have some time to post on concerns I have about threats to free trade.  I might also share some thoughts on the science underpinning the Kyoto Protocol and our ETS.  This is not about the science of climate change and whether we humans are causing the climate to change.  Rather it is about the science used to underpin the rules.

Quite a few people have read the post yesterday about Fiji.  Whaleoil has posted a long comment which suggests that my proposed policy response won’t work.  This may well be the case but I have yet to see anyone come up with a suggestion which might work – aside from direct intervention.  And, if Whaleoil is right and the good Commodore enjoys majority support for what he is doing, then intervention won’t work either.

The Australian On Rudd’s Climate Change Policy

December 17, 2008

Very good Editorial in today’s Australian by Paul Kelly.  I hope all NZ policy makers read this as should those criticising our Government

THIS was the only way Australia was going to price carbon: with huge household compensation, help for trade-exposed industry, a modest absolute target equating to an ambitious per capita target and locking our effort into the global agenda.

John Howard, where are you now? This is a deft policy in which Kevin Rudd is Howard. Put precisely, Rudd is a green Howard. He has made climate change into a magic pudding. It is a work of political genius that would make Howard proud.

This is a huge fiscal churn: pricing carbon from just the top 1000 companies is a classic top-end revenue base with the proceeds distributed to households with a bias to the poor and families, where low-income families are over-compensated at 120 per cent, petrol is quarantined from price damage, new funds are created to assist small business and big businesses at risk win healthy protection money.

All the parts of this political machine are stolen from John Howard Incorporated. No wonder the Coalition is tight-lipped. If only Howard had realised emissions-trading policy could look like this. If you thought Howard’s GST compensation was generous – and it was – then have a look at Rudd’s even more generous carbon pollution compensation. It sure beats the hell out of the GST. Households get more money plus the moral vanity of telling the neighbours they are saving the planet.

Paraphrasing a famous line, Kevin is here to help you, help your pocket and help your planet. The greens and the scientists are still playing in the warm-up arena, having missed the main event entirely.

The policy papers are filled with increases in Family Tax Benefit A, Family Tax Benefit B, sweetheart deals for pensioners, special guarantees for motorists, rewards for self-funded retirees and proof of Labor’s commitment to equity. Appendix E of the white paper says the Rudd Government “will use every cent it receives from the sale of pollution permits to help Australian households and businesses” adjust to pricing carbon. In the first two years of the scheme, the extra revenue is $11.5 billion and $12 billion.

The message from Rudd’s policy is that politics has not been suspended and the world has not changed. Just the reverse. The wheels of government spin. Only the method of the tax-transfer system is modified and redirected in a new crusade to re-elect another government.

Rudd’s white paper occupies the middle ground of politics around a new structural reform.

This is how Australian democracy pioneers historic reforms. It is the same middle ground that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating used in the 1980s to carry their reforms, and it is the middle ground that Howard used to introduce his GST-led tax reform.

But the price of reform keeps increasing. Rudd cannot make everyone a winner but, at a carbon price of $25 a tonne, the cost-of-living impact is estimated at 1.1 per cent, less than the GST, with household compensation running at $9.9 billion during the first two years, which is far higher than for the GST.

The key to Rudd’s policy lies in its balance, its hip pocket and its idealism. “Our primary objective has been to get the balance right,” he says.

Like every successful PM, Rudd is pragmatic. He doesn’t pretend that Australia can save the world. He won’t jeopardise Australia’s interests by offering binding cuts unreplicated by others. And he refuses to privilege climate change science with an absolute command of the public policy.

The feature of the climate change debate during the past six months has been its fantasy element: the range of people who deluded themselves into thinking the rules of Australian politics and public policy had been abolished. That didn’t happen in World War I or World War II and itwon’t happen in the climate change war.

The scientists, frankly, should heed the lesson from this decision. They don’t grasp what is happening. They risk seriously misreading this issue in Australia and globally.

Rudd’s unconditional reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020 off 2000 levels with the option to lift to a 15 per cent reduction constitutes the policy balance the Australian community expects from its leaders.

It is not a sell-out.

The 5 per cent target (taking note of Australia’s high population projections) equates in per capita terms to a 27 per cent reduction. The 15 per cent target – Rudd’s option if the world concludes a tougher global deal – equates to a 34 per cent per capita reduction. Such Australian goals are comparable with or tougher than counterpart EU per capita targets.

President-elect Barack Obama’s position is for the US to return to 1990 emission levels by 2020, or a zero reduction. Obama, presumably, will be pushed further in global negotiations. But this benchmark represents a 25 per cent reduction in per capita terms. So Rudd’s targets compare favourably with those of other industrialised nations.

This reality has been apparent for some time. It was documented at length by Ross Garnaut.

The propaganda campaign by greens, scientists and non-government organisations for Australia to embrace an unconditional 25per cent to 40 per cent reduction target was always doomed. Rudd concluded this required too extreme an adjustment for Australia and too great an exposure compared with lesser efforts from other nations.

There is no prospect the Obama administration will commit to such 25per cent to 40 per cent reductions. The Australian Government has long recognised this reality. The EU’s campaign to this effect created a benchmark that originated in science and not global negotiating reality.

The key to the genuine global progress lies elsewhere: in a deal between the US and China. The question is how much extra Obama must move to force China across a threshold to stronger action creating the basis for a global compact. When they meet, this will be Rudd’s message for Obama.

The immediate politics will assist Rudd and create a dilemma for the Malcolm Turnbull-led Coalition. Rudd is selling two ideas. First, Labor has acted on climate change. It made the promise and it honoured that promise. The scheme will start in 2010 and be in its infancy at the next election. Rudd will depict himself as a hero who responded to the climate change threat “to our people, our nation and our planet”.

Every delaying tactic by the Coalition will be painted as proof of climate change scepticism. Labor will turn this against Turnbull in his own seat. Rudd wants to negotiate Senate passage with the Coalition and this will become a political wedge against Turnbull. If Turnbull resists he becomes a sceptic; if he agrees he faces an internal revolt. Meanwhile Rudd will define Labor forever as the party that acted on climate change.

Second, Rudd depicts his action as the essence of responsibility, recalling his fiscal conservatism in 2007. Unlike the Australian Greens, Rudd says he gets the balance right between “a scheme that reduces carbon pollution and supports economic growth”. Rudd will sell his scheme as pro-jobs.

The economic consequences of this policy will take several years to have an impact. In the near term this policy is the moment when climate change and happy families came together.

 

Russia Threatens Not To Join UN Climate Change Outcome

December 15, 2008

This just in

POZNAN – Russia may not join a new global deal to fight climate change if it is against Moscow’s interests and will set a national mid-term target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions next year, an official said on Friday.

“If the conditions for the international agreement are not favorable for us we may not join such an agreement,” Alexander Pankin, deputy head of the Russian delegation at UN-led December 1-12 climate negotiations in Poland, told Reuters.

If a new UN climate pact meant to be agreed in Copenhagen at end-2009 was unfair and failed to set comparable commitments for countries according to their economic and social standing, Russia would not sign, he said.

“If you are better off than me, why should I make a stronger commitment than you,” he said.

Pankin said Russia’s ambition was to stabilize emissions at around 30 percent below 1990 and then reduce them further but did not give a percentage about possible cuts by 2020.

“We will have our national commitment. We will see what is achievable for Russia, we will do it at a government level and we will say this is the Russian target,” he said.

“Definitely we have to do it within the next year.”

Russia would set its own “achievable and realistic” target and would not tolerate pressure from the European Union or others for emission cuts of 20 or 30 percent by 2020. The EU leaders approved on Friday a 20-percent target by 2020.

“We take our national actions not because there’s international pressure on us, we take action because we want to live in a cleaner world,” Pankin said.

Russia, the world’s number three greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the United States, ratified the current UN Kyoto Protocol in 2004 only after years of debate about whether to take on targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

Fears of global recession have now made many rich nations reluctant to launch costly new projects to fight climate change, or push ahead with ever deeper greenhouse gas cuts.

Pankin said talking about a collective mid-term global target for curbing emissions was not realistic because many countries were not ready to commit to combating climate change with concrete actions.

Emissions in the oil and gas-rich Russia, mainly from burning fossil fuels, have plunged by about a third since the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries. Its goal under Kyoto is to keep emissions below 1990 levels until 2012.

Moscow has previously feared its emissions may surpass 1990 levels in coming years because of strong economic growth. But the financial crisis has hit growth and Pankin said emissions would likely fall due to declining demand for commodities.

US Farmers Preparing to Fight Restrictions On Agricultural Emissions

December 15, 2008

As Greenpeace was this morning criticising the New Zealand Government for falling behind the (yet to be announced) policy positions of the (yet to be sworn in) Obama Administration it is useful for us to analyse where things are sitting in the US on the application of a cap and trade or carbon tax on agriculture.  Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal did the work for us.

Is the Environmental Protection Agency preparing to slap a “cow tax” on bovines for their contribution to global warming?

The agency says no. But in recent weeks, farmers and livestock ranchers have flooded the EPA with letters warning of catastrophic consequences if such a tax was imposed.

“If President-elect [Barack] Obama tries to include farmers in some kind of livestock assessment based on greenhouse-gas emissions, I want my Iowans to know that I’m going to stand beside the producers and fight,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) said this week.

The idea of a so-called cow tax might seem far-fetched. But the uproar highlights a serious policy decision awaiting Mr. Obama’s administration: whether to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions — effectively branding as harmful pollutants carbon dioxide and other gases generated both by industry, as well as by the digestive processes of livestock.

Many environmental groups want the Clean Air Act used to control greenhouses gases. But business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are resisting. They argue such use of the Clean Air Act would lead to a cascade of unintended regulatory consequences, with regulations covering schools, hospitals, breweries, bakeries and farms.

At the core of the battle is a Supreme Court ruling last year that the 1970 Clean Air Act authorizes the agency to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions if it concludes they endanger public health or welfare. In response, the EPA published a 570-page notice in July that drew no conclusion on that question, but instead solicited comment on options for controlling emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The EPA document only briefly suggested that livestock could be subject to regulation. But the document went too far for the Bush administration, which — in an unusual step — published comments from four federal agencies slamming the EPA’s work. The Agriculture Department said regulating emissions from agriculture could subject “numerous farming operations” — including “dairy facilities with over 25 cows” — to the “costly and time-consuming process” of getting permits to operate. The American Farm Bureau Federation alerted its members that the EPA was on course to saddle them with “costly and burdensome permits,” costing as much as $175 per cow per year for dairy cattle, enough “to force many producers to go out of business.”

Local chambers of commerce, meanwhile, began disseminating estimates of what such fees would mean for farmers at the state level — arriving at a figure of $24,995 a year for the average dairy farmer in North Dakota.

“This can be considered the most outrageous proposal in regards to the environment and animal agriculture that has been brought forth,” Ron Sparks, commissioner of Alabama’s Department of Agriculture and Industries, said in a letter to the EPA dated Nov. 26. “I An EPA spokeswoman says the agency “is not proposing a cow tax,” and notes that the document published in July states that the Clean Air Act “does not include a broad grant of authority for EPA to impose taxes, fees or other monetary charges specifically for” greenhouse-gas emissions. David Bookbinder, an attorney for the Sierra Club, says the idea of a cow tax is “a fantasy designed to whip up opposition to regulation,” and that the EPA has the discretion to choose not to regulate small emitters, such as dairy farmers.

But the idea that Mr. Obama’s administration might try to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions isn’t far-fetched. Environmental groups such as Mr. Bookbinder’s group are pressing him to do so, on the grounds that the U.S. cannot credibly participate in climate talks with other nations aimed at forcing a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change until it passes climate legislation or begins regulating such emissions.

Talks aimed at forging such an agreement are scheduled to begin in December 2009 in Copenhagen, and it isn’t clear Congress will be able to pass climate legislation by then. Mr. Obama’s administration could move to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions without waiting for comprehensive legislation. Many Democrats expect one of the new administration’s first acts will be granting California’s request for a waiver from the law, so it can regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles — an authority it was denied under the Bush administration.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama’s transition team said the president-elect “believes a comprehensive federal approach” to regulating greenhouse-gas emissions is “far preferable” to using the Clean Air Act to regulating, but that he “intends to follow the law.”

Greenpeace Put Credibility On Line

December 15, 2008

Criticism of the leadership shown by the Key/English Government over climate change by Greenpeace on Morning Report this morning calls into question the credibility of the organisation.  So let me pose a couple of questions:

Was agriculture responsible for the growth in emissions beyond our existing Kyoto commitments? (Answer – not really.  Something like 97% of our increase in emissions have come from the electricity and transport sectors.  The rest of the economy has pretty much met the Kyoto target)

How can you criticise New Zealand for falling behind the US when we don’t know what the US policy is going to be? (Answer: You can’t)

Does the EU apply its domestic policy to all sectors and all gases? (Answer: No, agricultural emissions are exempted from the EU scheme.  The scheme applies to CO2.)

Commonsense At Last

December 12, 2008

The New Zealand statement from the Poznan meeting

Mr President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. 

Climate change is among the greatest challenges of our age. Finding a durable solution – a solution that will allow the development process to continue but in a more sustainable way – is a formidably complex problem. The New Zealand Government is determined to play a positive role here. 

We thank the Polish authorities for providing the international community an opportunity to take this a step forward at Poznan. We congratulate them for the excellent arrangements and their generous hospitality. 

The complexity of a meeting such as this is considerable from purely a logistic point of view and we very much appreciate the organisational efforts that have been made. 

We have had a change of Government in New Zealand within the last few weeks.  The implications for the New Zealand economy arising from our Kyoto obligations, given New Zealand’s emissions profile, which is highly unusual for an Annex 1 country, was an issue.  

The political debate was not of course couched in technical terms. Rather, it was expressed in general terms about the balance between our economic interests and environmental responsibilities.  

What is clear is to New Zealanders is that their jobs and our prosperity depend on maintaining our export base, 63% of which is based on our primary sector. It is also clear to New Zealanders that neither they nor the world would benefit from a transfer of production from New Zealand to countries that are less efficient in food production and whose carbon footprint in food production, taking account of every step in the supply chain, is worse than New Zealand’s.  

As a consequence we are reviewing our suite of climate change policies. The objective here is not to step back from Kyoto. The Government fully understands and accepts its long-standing international obligations under Kyoto for the first commitment period.  

Indeed, far from retreating from the climate change challenge, this review is a means to find a more politically durable way of moving forward by building a wider policy consensus.  

New Zealand is unique among Annex 1 countries. With nearly 50% of our total emissions coming from agriculture, no other developed country comes close to having such a large percentage of its emissions arising from food production.  

However, we are certainly not unique if developing countries are brought into the picture. Globally, an average of 27% of all emissions from developing countries come from their agriculture production. 

New Zealand is a food basket for the world – we export some 90% of what we produce. From decades of working with developing countries on agriculture issues in the GATT and now WTO, New Zealanders understand how difficult it is to advance any international agenda if it is seen to undermine food security, domestically and internationally.  

Let me put this in strategic negotiating terms. The ‘New Zealand problem’ with the current treatment of LULUCF and agriculture is perhaps a minor irritant only for Annex 1 countries since they are concerned primarily with their industrial emissions. But this treatment may turn out to be an issue of real significance if emission reduction commitments from developing countries – whatever form they might take – are to play a part in a post-2012 agreement.  

This Ministerial meeting in Poznan is another step in a chain of meetings designed to ensure that there is a successor agreement after 2012 that will establish a set of firm and coordinated commitments to combat the threat of anthropogenic GHGs beyond the first commitment period.  

There is certainly no question about the absolute need for a successor agreement. It would be an extraordinary political failure if the international community failed to put one in place, given the gravity of the issue.  

Further, this forum is the logical forum to find a coordinated international response to one of the great challenges of our age.  

But objectives, even in times of great need, are one thing. Delivering a result is another. The history of international diplomacy is replete with examples of negotiations which have failed to deliver a politically durable result, even when the consequence of diplomatic failure means armed conflict or deepening economic crisis.   

A result will not be achieved by soaring rhetoric and setting yet more objectives that are divorced from the capacity of countries, both developed and developing, to achieve. Negotiators will, given the choice, always prefer to focus on objectives where deep ambiguities can be buried politically, rather than focus on modalities to achieve those objectives.  

My delegation, both here and at subsequent negotiating meetings, will focus its efforts on designing modalities that might serve as a more durable basis for the second commitment period. To put it in plainer language, we will be focusing on the rules governing commitments before we focus hard on the commitments. 

Within that broad policy area, New Zealand will focus on more appropriate rules in the LULUCF area, not just because they are vital to New Zealand but because they will, in our view, be vital for a range of developing countries if developing countries are expected to make any commitments in a successor agreement. 

An absolute priority here for New Zealand and all developing countries where livestock agriculture is an important activity is further scientific research on mitigation options. There are very few abatement options for grazing livestock agriculture.  Many of those that do exist are amongst the most costly options in world, difficult for New Zealand let alone developing countries.  

 Food production must continue to expand if we are to feed the world and we must do this while responding to the challenges of climate change. If, in the area of livestock production, ‘mitigation’ simply means ‘cut production’ – we do not have a sustainable way forward.  

New Zealand has established the Livestock Emissions and Abatement Research Network (LEARN) to work collaboratively with other countries in this effort. The new Government has decided to build on this by creating a virtual world research centre on agriculture mitigation strategies.  

Considering that an average of 27% of emissions from developing countries are emissions from agriculture, there is a huge under-investment in global climate research on this matter. We will be looking creatively to build international interest in this area. 

This brings me to the vital issues of land use. 

The world must act on deforestation.   

The case for doing something urgently is compelling.   

We should leave Poznań with a strong message to create a framework to incentivise retaining forests.  We need time to explore and negotiate such a framework.   

And we must be open to all options to provide incentives, whether through the use of carbon markets or other means. 

Mr President, Poznań will be a success if it provides the impetus to finally get down to the business of full negotiations next year. That is the kind of message that I hope you will be able to convey to the world at the end of this meeting.

UN Climate Change Process Also In Trouble

December 12, 2008

The shape of what is to replace the Kyoto Protocol is looking increasingly unclear.  The current UN climate change Ministerial meeting has not delivered anything like the progress hoped by some.  This means that next year’s meeting in Copenhagen is also likely to undershoot expectations.  The shape of, and timing for,  final agreement being reached on international rules to replace the current Kyoto rules (which expire at the end of 2012) remain very much in question.  This report from the Christian Science Monitor updates what is going on in Poland and within the EU on its Climate Change policy position

Hopes of laying a solid foundation for a post-Kyoto climate pact in 2009 are diminishing, as representatives from 189 nations gathered in Poznań, Poland, squabble over financing methods.

Delegates met for the two-week COP14 talks held in the western Polish industrial city hope to set the stage for a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocols, which expire in 2012. The details of the new climate pact are set to be agreed upon in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

But the current talks, which close Friday, are proceeding more slowly than expected, casting into doubt hopes of a comprehensive climate treaty next year: “We’re working under a very tight timeline,” said UN climate chief Yvo de Boer, according to Bloomberg’s Alex Morales. “I don’t think where we are now it is going to be feasible to develop a fully elaborated, long-term response to climate change in Copenhagen.”

Even if the resulting deal from Poznań lacks specifics, says Mr. de Boer, it could still give participants something to work with. “My sense is that we should be careful not to reach too far and achieve nothing,” de Boer told Bloomberg. “What we need to reach in Copenhagen is clarity on the key political issues so that everything after Copenhagen is settling the details and not negotiating fundamentals.”