Wanting to be a Sustainability Champion?

Then register now, for our first gathering of people from throughout the Auckland Diocese at http://www.cherished-earth.nz/registration/ .

This will be on Saturday, 30th November 2019 at St Andrews Pukekohe. For out-of-towners, we will be arranging billets and ride-share.

Our program for the day-long gathering will introduce the idea of a Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan, covering aspects like purpose, limitations and how parishes fit into it, as well as exploring the elements that will go in to it.

You will also learn about the roles of sustainability champions – Education, Advocacy and Leading Action – as well as seeing first hand the sustainability projects already implemented at St Andrews and at the Franklin Food Forest.

This is an opportunity to contribute to the development of the Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan and so much more… so Register now.

Shaping our Community in a changing climate: the good, the better and the best

Presentation to the LSMU Conference, Vaughan Park, 19th October 2019.

Hello, and thank you for this invitation to speak to you today.

All of a sudden, it seems the world’s news media are full of stories on climate change – some are facts, some opinions and some, even in the face of overwhelming science-based evidence, are objections to the fact that we humans have caused global warming.  

Cancellation of one of the All Blacks Rugby World Cup games due to tropical typhoon Hagibis raised a storm of its own earlier this month.  It’ll take a while for science to show that the severity of that storm, the typhoon one, not the media one, are a consequence of anthropogenic global warming.  But it likely will – science has already shown the proof that global warming has claimed five whole islands in the Pacific.  And that we have seen the death of the first glacier in Iceland.  And…  And… And…

… I could keep going with such examples but do not need to frighten anyone in to taking climate actions.  There are now so many science-based attributions of human induced global warming causing or worsening today’s catastrophic events, that the message is clear: if we do not stop emitting new carbon to the atmosphere, those impacts will worsen.  

Given these warnings plus the fact that global emissions are not declining, who can doubt that we are facing a Climate Emergency?

Declaring it as such, acknowledges that we are living in a time that represents a grave and urgent threat to the global environment, to the earth’s ecology and to humanity.  For both today’s and future generations. 

How can we even think about shaping communities in the face of all this?

The answer lies in the evident need for us to apply our Christian values.  These call for us to care for each other and to cherish the Earth.

If we do not care enough, then we will experience a rise in greed and in envy.  Greed leads to the exploitation and commodification of God’s resources for personal profit, and envy leads us to societal unrest and for some, crime.

In the face of the myriad problems before us, not just a changing climate, the question needs to be asked: have we and are we caring for creation and are we caring for each other?

If we cared enough then would we not be working harder on a proper responses to the threats we face?

The scientific consensus is that without incredibly ambitious and rapid decarbonisation, we face severe environmental degradations that will cost lives, will displace people from their homes, will impoverish communities, and will so badly degrade ecosystems, that they will take many many decades to recover.

Scientists from the IPCC tell us that it is not too late – we still can stabilise the climate.  And we can do so at a level that, whilst still dangerous, is short of catastrophic consequences.

Which means that it is the vulnerable among us, young, old and those in need, who will suffer the most.  Despite them having contributed the least to the problems we face.

This is what a climate emergency is.  

To declare it is simply to waken us to the need to take actions which will be based around cherishing the earth and caring for others.   Whether we have or have not done these things in the past, no longer matters.

My hope is that our Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan, as provided for at Synod 2019, will declare a climate emergency.

I believe we need to do that, for the drivers of this problem are getting worse, not better.

Despite New Zealand’s commitment to the 2016 Paris Agreement and our Zero Carbon Amendment Bill, our emissions of fossil-fuel derived carbon, are increasing.   New Zealand’s gross emissions increase 2016 – 2017 (the latest year for which data is available) was 2.2%.  Even worse, the net increase, that is after reductions from land use change (mainly forestry) are accounted for, was 4.8%.

If we continue increasing net emissions at this rate, the task of limiting warming to less than 1.5°C, will become impossible to achieve.

We people of faith must decide the responses to climate change that we will support. 

To me, that response must be transformative, and it must impact our energy, transportation, food, water and waste systems, as well as our buildings and infrastructure.  

Which is where the good in our community response to climate change comes in.  

I gave thanks that we are now doing things that will make a difference to the future my grandchildren will live in, and their children and grandchildren.  Plastic straws are being targeted, as are burping cattle and sheep, and replacing private car use with public transport.

We are seeing more community gardens like the one we have at St Andrews Pukekohe.  They’ll bring down the food miles that non-local foods have.  As well as re-connecting people with where their food comes from – the soil in the earth.  That’s a good thing in itself.  Science is only now starting to show that getting our hands down and dirty in the soil, is beneficial to our well being.

Add a worm farm to the food garden, as well as a compost, and the emissions from green waste going to landfill will come down.  As well as showing us how to rebuild the soils degraded by so many years of abuse from inorganic farming and growing practices.

Add a rain water harvesting system and the emissions from the municipal water supply will come down.  As well as your waste water charges…

These are all things we will introduce to the parish sustainability champions that were provided for at Synod.  My hope is that they will be part of the effort to shape community around our response to climate change as written in to the Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan.

Also consider the social benefits of getting people back to an understanding of where their food comes from.  And what goes in to it.  

Our Friends of the Garden scheme running along side the St Andrews food garden has given my wife and I, and others, many good friends.

Yes, these changes are good changes, and they are making a difference.  Is that enough of a difference though?

We must also face up to the root driver of the issues we face – the economic system underlying our society, but that will come later.   Those changes will not come about easily.  But they will come – in an evolutionary way, rather than by revolution.  

Change we must, if we are to meet the challenge.  For business as usual, even in a cloak of green, will not be sufficient.

Which leads me to the better aspects of shaping community in a changing climate, the ones that will make a bigger difference.

So many environmentalists and humanists have long advocated for reduced energy use by changing production to what people need rather than what they want as defined by the marketing of what corporations in rich countries sell to enrich their bottom lines.

So, to our food garden we’ll add other, local, food gardens, that will become a network of food gardens and eventually, a community food hub, where, instead of food going to waste, we’ll bring it in to the hub and make it available in food parcels to those in need as well as to our regular customers.  That food will be fresh, locally grown, seasonal and organic, which means that it will be more nutritious and therefore, healthier.  Might it be that food will actually be our medicine?

And rather than just giving food away, we’ll offer our Grow Your Own Food course to recipients of food parcels.  That’s about teaching them how to fish… sort of…

I want to see this concept developed into a social enterprise – Franklin Kai – that’ll bring people together in to community centred on food production, water conservation and waste elimination.  

That’s a better future to aim for is it not?

But shaping community does not stop there – how does a garden tools repair cafe sound?  A future that recycles and reuses the tools and appliances that are presently dumped and a future that calls out to men to get in to community to help make the circular economy a reality.  Of all the missional activities in our church, men are catered for insufficiently…

And we will bring them and others further in to our community with a Time Banking service where, in return for people’s service, whether in the food garden, the op shop or the repair cafe, they’ll collect time credits that can be donated, turned in to cash, or used by having someone else with a debit balance to come and do some work for them.

If this all sounds a bit utopian – wait there’s more…

Imagine another social enterprise – Anglican Community Energy, or ACE for short,  that makes electricity available to those in need at a price 25% cheaper than current retail rates.  The supply will come from those with sufficient wealth to afford the capital cost of roof-top solar, and they will receive a price 33% higher than they presently get from the large electricity generators.  Is that not a win win?  Actually, its a win-win-win, because ACE, the social enterprise, will make a profit for distribution to local community service organisations.

There is so much more that we could do when we localise community.  

Which to me, is the best thing about our response to climate change – shaping communities in to a local economy focused on local people and the environment.

Not only will shaping communities in these ways help to mitigate the drivers of global warming, it will also provide a foundation from which climate change adaptation measures are implemented and it will do so in a framework that ensures social justice in the transition. 

The core of our christian theology is the important understanding that creation is not there because of its value to us.  God did not create the earth’s resources because they have a value to humans – for some resources, that will become had (a value to humans) in our lifetime   Until we collectively understand this, we will not solve the myriad problems before us.

I hope you get that I feel strongly about the issues that led me to be here today.  Some think I am a dreamer.  But these things I talked about are all possible.  None of them are new ideas.  None of them are unachievable.  Together, they will lead us down a different path.  A path that addresses the much deeper malaise affecting humanity.   

Given the catastrophic consequences of climate change we are already experiencing, it may seem perverse for me to consciously focus on extracting positive outcomes from the inevitable. To me, doing that means that we will avoid the worst of the consequences.

It is the ability to care that shapes strong, resilient communities and just democracies.  To realise these human outcomes, we must first honour God more through our actions as well as our words.

May I commend to you and your Ministry Units, the work going on today to develop a Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan.  That work is being done by a group of committed individuals and I invite you to join us.  I see this process as a means to shaping our communities.

Thank you.

To declare a Climate Emergency?

Who can doubt that we are facing a Climate Emergency?

Declaring it acknowledges that we are living in a time that represents a grave and urgent threat to the global environment, to ecology and to humanity.  Both today’s and future generations. 

What does it mean to declare a climate emergency?

Our Christian values call us to care for each other and to cherish the Earth.

The question needs to be asked: have we and are we caring for creation and for each other?

The scientific consensus is that without incredibly ambitious and rapid decarbonisation, we face severe environmental degradations that will cost lives, will displace people from their homes, will impoverish communities, and will so badly degrade ecosystems, that they will take many many decades to recover.

It is the vulnerable among us, young, old and those in need, who will suffer the most despite them having contributed the least to the problems we face.

Scientists tell us that we can still stabilise the climate.  We can do so at a level that, whilst still dangerous, is short of catastrophic consequences.

This is what a climate emergency is.  To declare it is to waken us to take the actions we need to take, to cherish the earth and to care for others, even if we may not have in the past.

The problem is getting worse, not better

Despite New Zealand’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and our Zero Carbon Amendment Bill, the problem caused by emissions of fossil-fuel derived carbon, is getting worse.   New Zealand’s gross emissions increase 2016 – 2017 (the latest year for which data is available) was 2.2%.  Even worse, the net increase, that is after reductions from land use change (mainly forestry) are accounted for, was 4.8%.  

If we continue increasing net emissions at this rate, the task of limiting warming to less than 1.5°C, will become impossible to achieve.

People of faith must decide their responses to the emergency we face.

People of faith must now decide the response to climate change that we will support. That response needs to be guided by four conditions.  

Our response must be urgent and ambitious.  We are well past the time for talking about the issues.  To me, this requires a mobilisation similar to past wartime mobilisations.

Our response must be transformative and impact our energy, transportation, food, water and waste systems, as well as our buildings and infrastructure.  And then there is our economic system to re-build.   All must change if we are to meet the challenge.  Business as usual, even in a cloak of green, will not be sufficient.

Our response must exclude climate engineering as a response.  The technologies behind these approaches are in their early stages of development, are unproven at scale, carry significant risks and uncertainty and hold the potential for severe unintended consequences.  The precautionary principle must apply here.

Our response must care for those most vulnerable to the climate emergency, and invest heavily in our communities.  We must provide for the workers displaced from traditional jobs by investing in re-training and ensuring an adequate income to all.

Can declaring a Climate Emergency make a real difference?

The science is very clear. A massive effort is urgently required to reverse global warming and protect humanity and the natural world from collapse. We can argue by how much we think the world will collapse around us, but collapse to some degree it will.  It already is.

Does our Anglican Church have a role to play in preventing this collapse?   I believe so.  And in doing so, our Church would join many other churches and organisations around the world in telling the truth about the climate – that this is an emergency.

As people of faith, we must recognise the moral responsibility we hold to get the world on track to a liveable future where everyone can thrive, instead of simply surviving.   And having recognised that, we must then take action to make it happen.   The challenge for humanity is unprecedented and the consequences of inaction so dire, that we need to start immediately. 

Do we support declaring a Climate Emergency at all levels of government – from our central government to local councils and organisations like the Anglican Church?  What do you think?

Auckland Diocesan Synod 2019

Synod 2019 starts next week and St Andrews Pukekohe is represented in four of the eight Motions to be presented.

Jan Wallace is seconding two Motions, one on getting the Seasons program operating in more parishes, the other on pushing the Diocese to do more around Climate Change Actions.

Vicky Mee is also seconding two motions, one on the Diocese taking a stance on improving housing for the elderly, the other on the preparation of a Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan.
For me, I am moving the Motion for Council to prepare a Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan and had a hand in writing the Climate Change Action Motion.  These are subjects that are important to me.

So why would we want the Diocese to prepare plans around climate change?

To me, there are two prime reasons.  

One is about resilience in the wider Anglican community.  Even though we do not yet have a firm idea of their form, significant climate-induced changes are coming and if no one is planning to meet the challenges of those changes, then we will have failed our Church community.  

The other is about social justice, the justice of the burden of climate change being carried by those who have contributed the least to the drivers of global warming that have led to climate change.

Is there a role for our Church to play in these two aspects?  What do you think?

—-
Image from aucklandanglican.org.nz

ANGLICAN SOCIAL JUSTICE GROUP Submission on the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill

_________________________________________________________

15 July 2019

Submission on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

To: the Committee Secretariat, 
Environment Select Committee
Parliament Buildings 
Wellington 6160

From: The Anglican Diocese of Auckland Social Justice Group of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand  and Polynesia.

We DO wish to speak to this Bill if the Select Committee comes to Auckland.
Contact Person: David Hall

Our interest in this Bill is because we, as the Social Justice Group of the Tikanga-Pakeha Diocese of Auckland, are committed to the five-fold Mission Statement of the Anglican Communion and in particular “seek to transform unjust structures of society “and “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. 

 (I) To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom;
(ii) To teach, baptise and nurture new believers;
(iii) To respond to human needs by loving service;
(iv) To seek to transform unjust structures of society; 
(v) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation & sustain & renew the life of the earth 

In addition, the Global Anglican Communion at a meeting of its highest governance body, the Anglican Consultative Council  (ACC) in Hong Kong in April 2019 passed the following motion on Climate Change:

1. recognises that there is a global climate emergency
2. affirms that the Fifth Mark of Mission is clear, ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’, but that it only becomes a living testament to our faith when it is pursued in an integrated way across all five Marks of Mission
3. calls the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion to use a day during the Season of Creation, for a day of public repentance
4. requests every Member Church to develop an action plan, and resources, for sustainable living at individual, parish, diocesan and provincial level; including, but not limited to, policies and procedures to minimise waste, increase use of renewable energies, and incorporate creation care into liturgical practice
5. requests each Member Church to prepare a Lenten Fast for Creation
6. encourages the Lambeth Conference 2020 to set aside a time of repentance for the climate and environmental crisis
7. encourages Lambeth Conference 2020 participants to utilise carbon offset arrangements in their travel plans 
8. encourages each Member Church to hold a strategic planning conference on the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change, ensuring the involvement of Indigenous, young, and women’s voices, and to report back to ACC18
9. asks Member Churches to identify environmental and climate-related threats in their context and to develop or adapt existing tools on disaster preparedness and mitigation.

1. General Comments in support of the Bill:

We support this Bill as a first step to addressing the potential disaster that awaits us as a nation, and as the world, if we do nothing and continue to pour more and more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We are pleased that the Government has decided to use the 1.5 degrees C as the target rather than 2 degrees. But we are aware that even a 1.5-degree rise will have an adverse impact on our country and the world by 2050 and an even more adverse impact by the end of the century. The long-term aim of New Zealand and the world must be to reduce the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, not just stop the increase.

2. Functions of the Climate Change Commission

We overall support the functions of the Climate Change Commission as detailed in the Bill. It would be inappropriate and potentially harmful for the Commission to have an executive power. Its roll is advisory. We strongly support the requirement in clause 5K 4 that any advised the Commission gives to the Minister must be publicly available although we would ask that the word “immediately” be added between “available” and “after”. This should also apply to subsequent clauses requiring the publication of information by the Commission or the Minister,

We also suggest that the likely effects of all types of recommendation include the impact of not acting.

Clause 5R 1 gives the Minister 12 months to respond to any recommendation of the Commission. In view of the urgency for action this is far too long a period for governments to prevaricate. We suggest the period be reduced to 3 months maximum.

Clause 5ZA requires publication of emissions budgets after consultation with all political parties in the House of Representatives but puts no time limit on the response from political parties. We recommend that a time limit of 2 months be added and also a requirement that if a political party fails to agree to a particular budget the nature and reasons for their disagreement be made public.

Clause 5XL allow Ministers to issue guidance to departments but fails to require a department to follow the guidance. We suggest that the issue is so important that if the Minister issues guidance to a department then the department should be required to follow that guidance.

3. Separate targets for Carbon Dioxide and Methane.

Whilst we understand the reasons for having separate targets for Carbon Dioxide and Methane, this does raise some concerns:

  • The target of zero net emissions of Carbon Dioxide by 2050 is in line with recommendations from the IPCC reports and the Paris Agreement however we strongly recommend that an addition target be added for 2030  that 50% of the reductions needed to reach the zero emissions target be achieved.  This will be a very valuable monitor of progress towards the Zero emissions target. If all the emission reduction happens in the last few years of the period, it is very likely that the 1.5degree rise will be exceeded.
  • We note the inclusion of a target for methane reduction by 2030 of 10% but are concerned about the wide range of the target for 2050 of 24% to 47% by 2050. The very wide range of this target is of concern as we would have thought a more specific target should be set. 
  • We are also concerned that the base for methane is 2017 emissions. New Zealand has seen a very fast rise in methane emissions over the last 30 years which needs to be reversed. Methane in the atmosphere has an impact on Climate Change for a shorter time than other Greenhouse Gases, maybe as short as 25 years, but it still contributes very significantly to global warming and needs to be addresses quickly.

4. Contrasts between the Explanatory Note and the wording of the Bill.

There are a number of statements in the Introduction to the Bill that are either not mentioned in the Bill itself or are different including

  • The first paragraph of the Note states that the aim is to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels yet for all gases except Methane the reference point is 1990 and for methane 2017. This implies that there was not temperature rise caused by these gases from the late 1700s until 1990.  
  • Paragraph 2 of the Note says the “overarching purpose represents………just mentioned as factors that the Commission must take into account when making recommendations to the Minister. Climate Change will have much greater impact on the poor both worldwide as well as in New Zealand, the impact of not acting will be very much to the disadvantaged of the poor. Furthermore, the rich 1% have contributed significantly more to Climate Change and will continue to do so. They also gain, at least in the short term, from not acting on Climate Change.
  • In the first paragraph of the Introduction it is indicated that “The overarching purpose represents a balance of the guiding principles agreed by Cabinet to frame the development of climate change policy: leadership at home and abroad; a productive, sustainable, and climate-resilient economy; and a just and inclusive society”, however there is no mention of a just and inclusive society anywhere in the Bill. We believe that it is vital that this be included as an overarching purpose of the Commission. Furthermore, we recognize that Climate Change is an intergenerational justice issue and provision needs to be made for the voice of young people. who will be most affected by Climate Change, to be heard and listened too.  

5. Beyond 2050

Even if, as a world community, we are successful in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050 that will not be the end of the crisis. The science indicates that there will be significant negative impacts on life on our planet after a 1.5 degree rise. 

We suggest that there be provisions in the Bill to continue the work of emissions reduction particularly as it is possible that even if a “zero carbon” situation is achieved by 2050 there is the possibility of further global warming beyond 1.5 degrees.

Thank you for considering our submission and we look forward ot the opportunity of sharing our concerns in person on this issue that is vital to life on our planet.

David Hall

Auckland Anglican Diocese Social Justice Group

Anglicans CAN submission on the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill

Submission to the Environment Select Committee on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill 2019

Anglican Climate Action Network
Contact person: Dr. Richard Milne

Summary of recommendations
  • That the purpose of the Zero Carbon Act be clearly stated in the Act.
  • That the proposed Climate Change Commission be expanded to include at least one Māori person and two persons under 30 years of age, one male and one female. 
  • That the Climate Change Commission sets targets based on cumulative greenhouse gas emissions rather than annual or 5-yearly emissions.
  • That the Bill strengthens its targets for biogenic methane emissions, considering the need for a fair and just transition from present agricultural methods to low emissions agriculture.
  • That the Climate Change Commission be tasked to set a limit on the carbon emissions that can be compensated through the emissions trading scheme.
  • That the Bill includes a provision which requires the Climate Change Commission to provide advice to the Government on how emissions-reduction and adaptation policies can best ensure that the burden of adjustment is shared fairly and that the extractive industries, agriculture and forestry and least advantaged citizens are assisted in practical ways to adjust. 
  • That the Minister be given 3 months rather than 12 months to respond to any recommendation of the Climate Change Commission (clause 5R1). 
  • That emissions budgets be published within 3 months of consultation with all political parties, and that any reasons for disagreement be published (clause 5ZA).
  • That government departments be required to follow the recommendations of the Minister (clause 5XL).

Who we are

The Auckland Anglican Climate Action Network is formally acknowledged and resourced by the Anglican diocese of Auckland to work towards a carbon neutral New Zealand. To this end, since 2006 we have worked towards divestment of church resources from the fossil fuel industry; provided education on climate change and sustainable living at parish level; conducted audits of church buildings (energy/water/waste/food production and consumption); advocated for more efficient use of clergy vehicles including electric cars; developed community gardens; and made connections with other Christian churches with similar intentions. 

In addition, the Global Anglican Communion at a meeting of its highest governance body, the Anglican Consultative Council, in Hong Kong in April 2019 passed the following motion on Climate Change (abbreviated):

recognises that there is a global climate emergency

requests every Member Church to develop an action plan, and resources, for sustainable living at individual, parish, diocesan and provincial level; including, but not limited to, policies and procedures to minimise waste, increase use of renewable energies, and incorporate creation care into liturgical practice

encourages each Member Church to hold a strategic planning conference on the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change, ensuring the involvement of Indigenous, young, and women’s voices, and to report back to ACC18

asks Member Churches to identify environmental and climate-related threats in their context and to develop or adapt existing tools on disaster preparedness and mitigation

We accept the very strong scientific evidence that progressive increases in mean surface temperatures (‘global warming’), resulting in major changes to the Earth’s climate and ecosystem, are caused largely by burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and progressive deforestation in Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil, China, New Zealand and elsewhere. Therefore, we believe that the emphasis of the Bill should be on transitioning to a low or zero carbon economy as rapidly as possible, and sequestration of carbon through reforestation and other means.

Endorsement

The Anglican Climate Action Network endorses the proposed Zero Carbon Bill with an architecture for emissions reductions in New Zealand, with strengthening (see below). We support the global goal to limit warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels and the signal of solidarity with Pacific Island Nations that are already suffering from rising sea levels, thought to be a consequence of melting of the glaciers and polar ice caps and expansion of warming oceans. We also endorse the formation of an independent advisory Climate Change Commission, operating under the principles of social justice, intergenerational justice and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Matters for the Select Committee to consider. 

Recommendation: that the purpose of the Zero Carbon Act be clearly stated in the Act.

“The purpose of the Climate Change (Zero Carbon) Amendment 2019 Act is to enable Aotearoa New Zealand to contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5°C in accordance with the IPCC 1.5 degrees report (2018).”

  • We acknowledge that, without similar actions in other countries, reductions in carbon emissions in New Zealand will make little or no measurable difference to the global mean atmospheric temperature or the local climate. However, for moral reasons and because of New Zealand’s commitment to the Paris Accord, this fact does not provide an excuse to have weak ambitions around reducing our carbon emissions.
  • New Zealand is in a unique position geographically and strategically, being a relatively wealthy country located on the Pacific rim, which can take a moral lead over other developed countries in reducing carbon emissions for the common good of the Earth and all its inhabitants.
  • it is very clear that the future cost of weak emissions policies will be born largely by those individuals who were born after about 1970. Reducing carbon emissions therefore is a matter of intergenerational justice.
  • It is also clear that the future cost of weak emissions policies will selectively disadvantage the poorest sectors of our community, who cannot afford to buy themselves out of trouble (e.g. by relocating away from the coast or adjusting to increases in food prices brought about by flood- or drought-induced food insecurity). This is a matter of social justice.

Composition of the Climate Change Commission

Recommendation: that the proposed Climate Change Commission be expanded to include at least one Māori person and two persons under 30 years of age, one male and one female. 

In order to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori cultural values, and the potential impact of carbon reduction policies on Māori, it is important that at least one Māori person be represented on the Commission.

We recommend that the proposed Climate Change Commission be expanded to include two persons under 30 years of age, preferably one male and one female, to be nominated by one or other of the organisations of young people that are making submissions on the ZCB (such as Generation Zero and 350.org).

Speaking as parents and grandparents, we are aware that many thoughtful young people are deeply concerned about their future and need to be reassured that their Government is taking strong steps to mitigate climate change and to demonstrate moral leadership to the rest of the world. Their concern has been evident in protests and school strikes, and in formation of strong NGOs dedicated to action on climate change. Collectively, these young people hold a lot of wisdom as well as passion, and this needs to be explicitly recognised by direct participation in the Climate Change Commission. 

Emissions targets

Recommendation: that the Climate Change Commission sets targets based on cumulative greenhouse gas emissions rather than annual or 5-yearly emissions.

While the Bill declares support for a 1.5°C warming cap (above pre-industrial levels), the targets are not consistent with this goal. 

The key issue is what our cumulative emissions will be over the next 30+ years. A fast reduction path over the next 10-15 years followed by a slower reduction path over the subsequent 15-20 years will deliver much lower cumulative emissions than a slow reduction path in the near term followed by a rapid, probably panic-driven steep reduction path later. 

The IPCC 1.5°C report suggests that to have a 50% chance of staying within the 1.5°C warming limit (with little or no overshoot) will require global CO2 emissions to fall by about 45% compared to 2010 levels by 2030. The Bill therefore must commit to a reduction of this magnitude by 2030.

Given NZ’s large cumulative emissions to date and our current high per capita emissions (both of long-lived gases and GHG emissions overall), together with our relatively high GDP per capita, there is a very strong case, based on well-established principles of distributive justice, for NZ to commit to a faster reduction in long-lived GHG gases than the global average (i.e. of 45%). Aside from this, a 50% chance of avoiding more than 1.5°C warming entails a very high risk of failing and heading towards global climate catastrophe.

Biogenic methane emissions

Recommendation: that the Bill strengthens its targets for biogenic methane emissions, considering the need for a fair and just transition from present agricultural methods to low emissions agriculture.

The Bill in its present form has very weak targets for reduction of biogenic methane emissions. We acknowledge the impact on the farming community of having stronger targets for methane emissions and we acknowledge the scientific argument that biomethane is short lived and is in a stable equilibrium and therefore does not contribute directly to growth in annual carbon emissions or further global warming. 

However, any methane in the atmosphere contributes to global warming, regardless of its origin. Warming of the Arctic Circle is thawing the permafrost and thereby releasing methane, leading to positive feedback (i.e. increased warming leads to more methane which leads to increased warming). Ultimately, this could lead to dangerous tipping points and atmospheric temperatures that increase beyond the level that humanity can survive. Therefore, we believe that it is imperative that all nations reduce methane from all sources. In New Zealand, this requires much stronger targets than the Bill allows for currently. We submit that the Climate Change Commission should research this issue immediately and recommend a much stronger methane emissions pathway, finding ways to compensate the agricultural sector, especially dairy farming. 

The emissions trading scheme

Recommendation: that the Climate Change Commission be tasked to set a limit on the carbon emissions that can be compensated through the emissions trading scheme.

We are concerned that the emissions trading scheme can provide an excuse for failing to reduce carbon emissions directly. In this respect, it is like the mediaeval system of buying indulgences to compensate for bad behavior. Therefore, we believe that there should be a limit to the quantity of carbon emissions that can be traded.

On a just and inclusive society

Recommendation: that the Bill includes a provision which requires the Climate Change Commission to provide advice to the Government on how emissions-reduction and adaptation policies can best ensure that the burden of adjustment is shared fairly and that the extractive industries, agriculture and forestry and least advantaged citizens are assisted in practical ways to adjust. 

The Paris Agreement acknowledges that climate change is a common concern of humankind and that negotiating parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights. These include the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations; also, the right to development, gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.

The Explanatory notes of the Bill begin with an overarching purpose which includes ‘a just and inclusive society.’ However, this provision, which is also used extensively in the Regulatory Impact Statement, is not used in the Bill. Instead there is a requirement to consult affected communities, and 

  • (a) take account of economic, social, health, environmental, ecological, and cultural effects of climate change, including effects on iwi and Māori
  • (b) take account of the distribution of the effects of climate change across society, taking particular account of vulnerable groups or sectors(5ZQ4) 

Therefore, equity considerations need to be strengthened in the New Zealand bill. In particular, New Zealand needs to find ways to share the burden of reducing the size of ruminant herds; also providing employment and income support policies for changes in work and for retraining, with particular forecasting of training needs for renewable-energy industries and low-emission agriculture. 

Adaptation

Recommendation: that the Climate Change Commission be tasked to provide advice to the government on adaptation of society and of the economy to the predicted increase in extremes of temperature, drought, fires, flooding, fires, sea level rise and other outcomes of global warming.

The need for adaptation will become more evident as global atmospheric and oceanic temperatures keep rising. We submit that the most urgent task for the proposed Climate Change Commission is to advise on mitigation will in order to meet our international commitments; and a less urgent but equally important task is to advise on adaptation.

Specific recommendations

  1. Clause 5R1 of the Bill gives the Minister 12 months to respond to any recommendation of the Climate Change Commission. In view of the urgency for action this is far too long a period for governments to prevaricate. We recommend that the period be reduced to 3 months maximum.
  2. Clause 5ZA requires publication of emissions budgets after consultation with all political parties in the House of Representatives but puts no time limit on the response from political parties. We recommend that a time limit of 3 months be added and also a requirement that if a political party fails to agree a particular budget, the nature and reasons for their disagreement be made public.
  3. Clause 5XL allow Ministers to issue guidance to departments but fails to require a department to follow the guidance. We recommend that the issue is so important that if the Minister issues guidance to a department then the department should be required to follow that guidance.

Signed:

 Dr. Richard Milne (Co-Convenor)
Dr. Nicola Hoggard-Creegan (Co-Convenor)

On behalf of:

Dr. Bobbi Laing
Mr. Lane Hannah
Rev’d Jim Hunt
Mr. Rod Oram

Personal submission on the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill

This is my personal submission on the Zero Carbon Amendment (ZCA) Bill. Social Justice figures large in it, as does the shortfall between ambition and what is required to meet the Paris 1.5° C goal. But the main thrust of my submission is around the improper and incorrect framing as agricultural emissions being a 48% driver of New Zealand emissions.

Submission on the The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill (ZCA Bill)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the ZCA Bill.  This submission is a personal one, in the name of W John Allen.   I want to be heard in person at a hearing considering submissions.

Bill is opposed

Whilst the intentions of the ZCA Bill are applauded, I believe that, as written, it will not achieve its purposes and is therefore opposed on these grounds:-

  • Part 1: it provides no basis for ensuring social justice in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions
  • Part 2: it’s goal of contributing to the global effort to limit global warming to 1.5° C1 is not achievable as the Bill is written and is inconsistent with the aims of the IPCC SR15 report
  • Part 3: the framework provided under the Bill is predicated on a falsity and thus mitigation policies, targets and in particular, social justice aspects, will remain neither clear nor stable when those falsities are corrected:-
    1. The Bill does not recognise a fundamental aspect of the science around climate change.  That is, that the single cause of global warming is the unbalancing of nature’s carbon cycle.
    2. CO2 targets are set on a net basis, meaning that forestry offsets accrue to fossil CO2 emissions.  However, the CH4 target is set on a gross basis, meaning that the CO2 sinks that generate that CH4 (pasture grasses and fodder), are excluded.
    3. A further distinction between biogenic and fossil methane is required:
      1. to ensure justice and equity for ruminant farmers
      2. fossil methane must be reduced to zero in the shortest timescale possible.
      3. biogenic methane emissions are declining or stable, and so do not contribute to warming as much as many want it to. 
      4. if forced methane reductions are the means to relieve pressure on the reduction rate of fossil CO2 emissions, then ruminant farmers must be paid a price that reflects their lost revenues
    4. Contrary to the assertion that the Bill seeks to strike a balance between flexibility and prescription in NZ’s long term transition, it is very prescriptive around methane emissions.

The Explanatory Note to the ZCA Bill announces its purpose as providing a “… framework by which New Zealand can develop and implement clear and stable climate change policies that contribute to the global effort under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.  And goes on to argue that the overarching purpose “represents a balance of the guiding principles … to frame the development of climate change policy: leadership at home and abroad; a productive, sustainable, and climate-resilient economy; and a just and inclusive society.”

As argued below, the framework will be neither stable nor clear in the long term, because it  maintains business-as-usual, and thus is not balanced, and is counter-productive, unsustainable, unjust and exclusive.

The ZCA Bill will not solve the problem before us even while we give ourselves the illusion that we are in process to solving it.  Hence I cannot support it.

Part 1: Social Justice provisions

The elephant in the room of climate social justice is that people with high discretionary incomes contribute much more to global emissions than those without.  This is true both across international borders and within this country.  

A 2014 report by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research2 quantified this difference in New Zealand as a near four-fold inequality: Decile 1 -> 9.48 T CO2e pp compared with 35.67 T CO2e pp for Decile 10.  So it follows that the costs of both mitigation and adaptation actions must fall more on the rich than on the poor.

The ZCA Bill does not include specific provisions to protect those who have a reduced ability to cope with the costs of mitigation and adaptation actions.

The only reference to ensuring social justice within the ZCA Bill as written, is in the adaptation section (5ZQ(4) which provides for “the distribution of the effects of climate change across society, taking particular account of vulnerable groups or sectors: “.  This is just words and words do not offer protection to those who need it.

Further, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is seen as the key tool in meeting emissions budgets and achieving the 2050 goal.  It will therefore, add to the cost of living for all New Zealanders.  However, there is no provision in the ZCA Bill to return ETS revenues to the poor or at-risk communities as a social justice measure.  It is therefore, a regressive provision, and will likely result in even greater economic inequalities as the poor will end up paying a disproportionately higher percentage of their income on ETS costs, than the rich will pay.

The experience requirements of the Climate Commissioners will preclude those who do not identify with the rich or influential or politically connected people and so may not select people with practical experience of being vulnerable.  Therefore, the voice of those needing economic protection will not be heard by government.

recommendations
  1. Include Social Justice provisions within the mitigation and adaptation sections of the ZCA Bill.
  2. Include provisions for ETS revenues to be returned to the people as a part of those Social Justice provisions.
  3. Add to the mandate of the Climate Commission, the monitoring of the justness and fairness of climate actions.
  4. Change the selection criteria for Commission members to include those with practical experience of being vulnerable.

NOTE: The ETS was retained as New Zealand’s key tool for meeting emissions budgets on the basis that it was too difficult to develop a new system.  A new carbon tax based system is well justified when considering social justice matters and the regressive nature of the ETS.  I would like to propose a new system, one that combines a consumption-based personal/business carbon budget (T CO2e/year) with a declining carbon cap (T CO2e) and an increasing carbon tax ($/T CO2e) charged on local production and imports, but not exports (to protect export receipts).  Manipulating the carbon tax rate (up) and the carbon budget (down) would be the primary means of controlling consumption emissions.   Products that incur a carbon tax will have the tax added at the point of sale with the collected tax being refunded annually up to the value of the cap.   Such a system would be progressive – those spending within their cap will not incur additional costs but those spending above it will pay that amount of the carbon tax that exceeds the product of their carbon budget (T CO2e/year) multiplied by the carbon tax ($/T CO2e).

Part 2: Consistency with the IPCC SR15 Report

The explanatory notes to the ZCA Bill argue for consistency with the goals of the IPCC SR15 report.   As a principle, this is agreed with but is not consistently applied in the ZCA Bill.  The IPCC SR153 report:

  • warns that limiting warming below or close to 1.5 °C , requires net emissions to decrease by around 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 (para C.1).  The first aspect of this warning is not included in the ZCA Bill.
  • argues for 
    • “deep reductions in emissions of methane” of at least 35% by 2050, relative to 2010 (para C.1.2).  Note that this is a reference to methane from all sources and that on a global scale, fossil methane emissions are forecast to be around 44%4 of total anthropogenic methane.
    • Figure SPM.3b of the IPCC SR15 report records the interquartile range from all model pathways with no or limited overshoot, for the reduction of “agricultural”methane by between 24% to 47% from 2010 levels at 2050.   
    • The report specifically excludes these data from necessarily being used to set national emissions reduction strategies (Figure SPM.3b: “These pathways illustrate relative global differences in mitigation strategies, but do not represent central estimates, national strategies, and do not indicate requirements.”).  
    • Contrary to this qualification, and an opinion expressed by the NZAGRC5“While this range can serve as a reference point, it does not in itself prescribe a specific target for methane emissions reduction by any individual country. A national target necessarily depends on national value judgements around what is an appropriate contribution by New Zealand and the economic cost of reducing emissions… 
    • the ZCA Bill seeks to enshrine this 24%-47% range in legislation.  This appears to be a politically motivated target, without value judgements and so is also not consistent with the IPCC SR15 report. 
  • argues that “all pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) on the order of 100–1000 GtCO2 over the 21st century.”   Carbon sequestration actions are not mentioned in the ZCA Bill which is then, not consistent with the PICC SR15 report.

Thus the ZCA Bill is inconsistent with the IPCC SR15 report on at least four counts:

  1. No inclusion of an interim (2030) CO2 reduction target.
  2. Focuses on agricultural methane (page 4).  Elsewhere in the ZCA Bill, the focus is on biogenic methane, so the one use of agricultural methane demonstrates and inherent bias against agriculture in the formulation of the Bill.
  3. the ZCA target for methane reduction of 24%-47% by 2050 is a consequence in modelling work and goes against IPCC expectations of it not being used as an emissions reduction target.
  4. Carbon Dioxide Removal technology is not included at all.
recommendations

Amend the ZCA Bill to be consistent with the IPCC SR15 report by:

  1. including a 2030 emissions reduction target of a 45% reduction below 2010 levels.  This equates to a 34% reduction below 1990 levels and would replace our existing 2030 goal of an 11% reduction below 1990.
  2. amend all references to “agricultural methane” to “biogenic methane”
  3. The biogenic methane reduction target of 10% to 2030 can be exceeded with a focus on agricultural manure management (4.3% of total CH4), waste management (11.7% of total CH4)  and Energy (2.6% of CH4 total) (all data from Table 10s3 of MfE 2017 GHG Inventory)
  4. Delete the biogenic methane reduction target of 24% to 47% (from 2010 levels at 2050) from the ZCA Bill and allow the Climate Commission to develop a 2050 target once impacts of the 10% reduction (to 2030) are better understood and once progress on the IPCC emissions reduction pathways is clear.
  5. Add Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) targets to the ZCA Bill.  In support of this, I have used biochar for three years to make our Earth Day events carbon negative.  Whilst Biochar is a valid and effective carbon sequestration technology, it is not getting government support for its development.  Part of the reason for this is the manufacturing cost of biochar makes it uneconomic compared to ETS values.  Biochar production costs will not come down to approach ETS values until its production technologies are studied and developed.
    1. This requires that Biochar as a CDR technology be brought in to the ETS.

Chart 1 below shows that methane from all sources is essentially static and so is not contributing to further warming to any significant extent.  It also shows the accumulated emissions of various gases since 1990.  Methane, on a CO2eq basis, has the lowest accumulated emissions than any of the GHG gases and so contributes the least to global warming in terms of Global Warming Potential.  The decline in forestry sinks however, has made the second largest contribution to New Zealand’s emissions profile.

Part 3: Framing of the drivers of global warming

The present framing of our carbon emissions is counter-productive to actually reducing emissions.  This framing presents agriculture as being responsible for 48% of national emissions (data from 2017 GHG Inventory) with the consequence that mitigation actions are widely viewed as something for the agricultural sector to address.

This framing ignores a number of relevant points.  One is that 100% of the methane emissions are derived from carbon already within the carbon cycle.  Another is that enteric methane is a part of the natural world and thus has a role to play in global environments.

A reframing would recognise that there is but a single driver of global warming and were the issues we face framed in terms of that single driver, the solution to the predicament we now face, would be the focus of this Bill.  Instead, the Bill focuses on maintaining and protecting the economic system, that led to our problems.

That single driver is the unbalancing of nature’s carbon cycle. That balance has been so grossly upset, that it is now beyond nature’s capacity to restore it for perhaps centuries.    Science is clear on two things: that increasing green house gas concentrations in the atmosphere, leads to the greenhouse effect and thus, to global warming; and that it is human activities that caused that increase in gas concentrations.

The two human activities that are are the primary drivers of global warming are: 

  1. increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere through the mining and burning of fossil fuels. (releasing previously sequestered fossil CO2 and fossil CH4). 
  2. the removal of global carbon sinks – forests – that leave more gases in the atmosphere and so are equivalent to new emissions

If global warming was framed as a consequence of these two drivers, then we would deal with fossil fuel use and with deforestation.  Instead, many see agricultural emissions, at 48% of New Zealand’s total emissions, as the primary cause.  The problem with this is that it gives many the reason to not address the two actual primary causes.

The chart below gives the lie to this framing.  This shows New Zealand’s cumulative emissions growth (by gas) since 1990.  CO2 has contributed more than five times that of CH4 (CH4 as CO2equivalent).  It also shows the extent that forestry removals have declined since 1990.  On the basis that removing forestry sinks is equivalent to increasing CO2 emissions, then the LULUCF sector is the second largest contributor to the increase in NZ’s emissions since 1990 (3.6 times more than the contribution from CH4).

Chart 1: Where has the increase in emissions has come from?
Not methane to a significant amount compared to fossil carbon and forestry harvesting.

In using the term net-zero emissions, the ZCA Bill implicitly promotes offsetting the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use and ignores the impact of forestry on our emissions profile.   It also excludes the offsetting of CH4 emissions and more importantly, ignores the carbon consumed by ruminants as it cycles through pasture forages and the atmosphere via ruminant’s guts.

It is clear that rapidly reducing CH4 concentrations has a big impact on global warming and will enable a more orderly transition away from fossil fuels.  There are two aspects to this observation.  One is that ruminant farmers ought be paid for reducing CH4 emissions below the steady state (and by corollary, pay for increasing emissions above the steady state.  Second is a consideration of whether biogenic or fossil methane has caused global warming, or whether rising carbon dioxide levels is leading to the release of previously sequestered methane that would not have otherwise been released.

Changing this framing would mean a number of things:
  1. We would focus on what the world needs – a gross-zero carbon future in which new-to-the-atmosphere carbon emissions are eliminated.   A low-carbon, reduced-carbon or net-zero carbon future still releases new-to-the-atmosphere fossil carbon and so is not solving the underlying problem. 
  2. We would not look to ruminant farmers to solve our problem in the short term, by giving us breathing space to address fossil fuel emissions.
  3. I notice that no-one is suggesting that foresters must cut back on their forest harvesting work as a climate mitigation effort.  If foresters delayed harvesting by some number of years, then income from those forests would be delayed but not sacrificed (unlike the permanent loss of income to ruminant farmers who de-stock).   This would go a long way to helping the world to avoid increasing emissions thru to 2050.  The attached Cumulative Growth in CO2eq chart shows a major reduction in forest harvesting in the 2008 GFC, so do it foresters can.
  4. Carbon offsetting would be stopped and forestry plantings would then be a Carbon Dioxide Removal tech.
Pay ruminant farmers to reduce methane emissions

It has been suggested6 that there is a “main opportunity” to reduce livestock numbers as a means to reducing emissions significantly.  This implies an expectation that ruminant farmers will reduce stocking rates.  There is some merit in such an imposition.  However, if implemented, this must be fair and equitable to farmers. but there are no such provision for fairness nor equity written in to the ZCA Bill.  Further, the emissions reduction opportunity available from foresters is even more significant than that from ruminant farmers but with revenue impacts.

As a matter of interest, the average New Zealand dairy farmer grosses around $2,400 per milking cow per year (372 Kg MS data from Dairy NZ x Fonterra price of $6.40/Kg MS May 2019).  The ETS value of a cow’s enteric fermentation emissions (83.16 kg CH4/head/yr) plus emissions from  manure management (7.70 kg CH4/head/yr) is valued at around $56 (at an ETS price of $25/T CO2eq).  Paying farmers only the annual ETS value of their saved emissions is not at all fair and equitable compared to the earning forgone through de-stocking.

As another matter of interest, (the calculations have not been attempted) requiring foresters to delay harvesting forests will have a similar impact (of giving a quick reduction in warming impacts) as requiring farmers to de-stock.  Except that foresters will suffer only a delay in their earnings whereas ruminant farmers will suffer a permanent loss of earnings.

REMEDY
  1. That the ZCA Bill establish a fair and just calculation for the lost opportunity cost for ruminant farmers to de-stock as a global warming mitigation action.
  2. That the ZCA Bill establish a fair and just calculation for the lost opportunity cost for foresters to delay harvesting forests as a global warming mitigation action.
  3. That the ZCA Bill recognise and account for the atmospheric carbon embodied in the pasture grasses that ruminants consume.

——

References:

1 Part 1, clause 4(aa)
2 p17, Greenhouse Gas Emissions in NZ: A Preliminary Consumption-Based Analysis. April 2014, Motu Working Paper 14-05
3 https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf
4 https://www.globalmethane.org/documents/gmi-mitigation-factsheet.pdf
5 https://www.nzagrc.org.nz/knowledge,listing,593,scientific-aspects-of-new-zealands-2050-emission-targets.html
6 Mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas emissions: Strategies for meeting NZ’s goals, July 2018. Chief Science Advisor

Why planting forests is a carbon reduction folly

Planting trees to offset our carbon emissions is a strategy explicitly written in to the Zero Carbon Bill as a global warming mitigation action.  Is that an effective and efficient means to mitigating the drivers of climate change?

There has been some discussion in the media as to how reliable forests actually are as a long term carbon sequestration tech. These discussions have ranged from the impacts that forest fires have on sequestration rates (California have seen a lot of sequestered carbon being burned back to CO2), to the integrity of carbon offset forest agents actually doing what they are paid to do. There is however, a more compelling argument against purchasing carbon offsets for our emissions.

The carbon footprint of a return flight from Auckland to London Heathrow for two.

The Sustainable Anglicans’ Carbon Footprint Calculator was used to help answer these questions. Let’s examine this issue by looking at the unexplored implications of a return flight for two from Auckland to London. 

Calculating the total carbon emissions from the flight alone yields nearly 7 Tonnes of CO2e (see “By the numbers” box).

For those who prefer travelling first class, their emissions are more than trebled to 21 T CO2e.

For some perspective on what that tonnage means, the average total consumption-based emissions per person has been calculated at around 10 T CO2eq1.  So each person on that return flight to London is burning between one third  and 100% of the NZ yearly average!  

That’s a lot of carbon for a leisure trip and to make us feel better about it, most airlines, including Air New Zealand, offer a carbon offset scheme2.

The price from different carbon offsetting companies to offset these emissions can vary a lot.  Air NZ for example, quote NZD$ 114.64 under their FlyNeutral scheme.   I am going to go with the NZ ETS cost at $25/T CO2e, so the offsetting cost would be $173.27, around 50% more than AirNZ’s quote.

In Air NZ’s words, “In simple terms, offsetting one tonne of carbon means there will be one less tonne of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there would otherwise have been.”  The reality is quite different as the series of charts below shows.

The first slide (0 stems planted) depicts the unmitigated 7 T of emissions as a flat line for the 30 years of the chart.  The fact is that today’s CO2 emissions are present in the atmosphere for centuries and contribute to global warming whilst there.

Planting seedling trees will remove those emissions and slide 2 (30 stems planted) shows how long it takes to do so for 30 seedlings of a variety of forest types.  All data comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries Carbon Lookup Tables 

If Exotic hardwood trees are planted, then the 7 T COe emitted in that 2019 return flight will be fully offset by 2029.  Planting indigenous trees will take until 2047 to achieve the same.

Many will, like me, think that 10 years to offset a single return flight is simply too long.  So how many trees need to be planted to achieve the offset in say five years? 

Slide 3 (100 stems planted) shows that it takes one hundred exotic hardwood or pine trees to offset 7 T CO2e over five years.  Natives, planted at the densities assumed in the MPI tables, will take 13 years until 2033. 

If you want to do this offsetting with natives, that’ll take more than 500 trees to be planted (Slide 4 – 500 stems planted), and will require between one and one half hectares of land to offset emissions from a single return flight.

Some will think that is an effective and efficient means of offsetting carbon emissions.  Until you look at the numbers.

In 2018, Air NZ alone, carried over 1.2 million passengers to America and Europe.  If each of their passengers purchased emissions offsets, then around 600 million trees would need to be planted.  That’s more than the additional trees the Billion Trees program would plant (around half of the program’s billion trees3 are trees already expected to be planted as part of the commercial industry’s normal replanting schedule).  All for around 3% of our carbon emissions.

But that is for just one year.  What if we want to travel to London each and every year (if not us, then someone else will do)?

Slide 5 (500 trees planted) shows that of those 500 trees, only exotic hardwoods and pinus radiata would ever sequester the carbon from annual return flights to London.   Natives trees would not.

Slide 6 (250 trees planted) makes clear the folly of planting forests to offset carbon emissions: any plantings of less 250 trees would not, over the 30 years to 2050, offset the emissions from one couple flying return trips from Auckland to London every year. How much land do we need to have to offset flight emissions?


1 https://www.airmilescalculator.com/distance/akl-to-lhr/

2 https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/sustainability-flyneutral-faqs

3 https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/31695/send

A Climate Emergency?

So, Auckland Council have declared a “Climate Emergency”.

In the words of Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Community committee, this declaration is “a call to action for Council to take seriously, its role in climate change.”  She went on to say that Council needs to “… make sure that all policies we set and budgets we set, are set with a climate change lens in mind.”

That is signalling a clear intention to take action.  But it’s not actually taking action is it?

If the emergency were say, seismic readings indicating an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption, then for sure, Civil Defence would be activated and we would see real actions aimed at protecting Auckland’s population and property.

To be fair to Council, they are taking some actions around climate change.  They have drafted a plan – the Auckland Climate Action Plan (ACAP) – that will go out to public consultation in July/August.  They adopted the Auckland Plan and Unitary Plans adopted in 2018.  Then they have plans in development around: Strategic Asset Management; Measuring Asset Performance; establishing a Landslide remediation fund; profiling spatial dimension community asset risks (flooding); a Natural Hazards Risk Management Action Plan; a Natural Hazards Research Plan and plans for Coastal Compartment Management.

They have implemented a Live Lightly programme, a Sustainable Schools Plan and a Waste Management & Minimisation Plan. 

The current state of Council’s Climate Change mitigation and adaptation actions is an impressive list of plans but contains little in the way of what is needed – actual climate mitigation actions.

Some people will leap to Auckland Council’s defence and say that I am being unfair, that the thinking and planning work needs to be done before actions are implemented.  They are right, that desktop work does need to be done.  But.

Actually, action is required to mitigate the drivers of global warming.
(excerpt from Auckland Council report “Climate Change Risks in Auckland”

Can we afford to wait to see if these plans and intentions translate to an actual reduction in Auckland’s emissions?  If the emergency were say, seismic readings indicating an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption, then for sure, Civil Defence would be activated and we would see real actions aimed at protecting.

Perhaps Council see no hope for mitigation actions having an impact worthy of going for.  That seems so in the framing of this header in their risk assessment report.

This may be why their report Climate Change Risks in Auckland focuses more on adaptation and less on mitigation.  Perhaps that too is unfair on Council, for the report is a risk assessment and as they say in the report, “Understanding the climate change risks and impacts on vulnerability for Auckland is imperative to both mitigate and adapt to climate change and to inform planning and decision making.”  

If it leads to a new climate change lens, where the word “URGENT” is writ large across it, then perhaps we will do what needs to be done – to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Actually, taking mitigation actions is not that difficult.  As we have experienced in many of the St Andrews events and projects this past year or three:

  • Our Earth Day events have been carbon negative – we have sequestered more atmospheric CO2 than was emitted in the running of the events plus that emitted by all the people attending them.
  • Our communal food garden has
    • provided food-miles-free food
    • not required any artificial fertilisers
    • used no town-supply water even given the particularly dry summer we just had
    • reduced wastes going to landfill with kitchen waste from parish events going to the worm farm plus garden waste going to the compost
    • provide an opportunity for local people to gather as Friends of St Andrew’s Food Garden
  • Six “Grow Your Own Food” courses have taught many people how to increase their self-resilience.

These are all real climate actions that any parish can implement. For advice on how your parish can do similar things, call the Sustainability Fieldworker, John, on 021 46 36 86.

Climate Action Q&A #5

and this Little Piggy went Wee Wee Wee, all the way home.

Q: Little Piggy’s home is in Wellington. Do you think it is better for Little Piggy to go there by car, plane or train?

——

Which means of transport has the least impact on climate change.

A: Driving a petrol car, Little Piggy would put 127 Kg Carbon Dioxide* in to the atmosphere. That is a lot more than flying (71 kg**). Taking the bus would be better, (44 Kg***) and the train better again (25 Kg****).

But driving a battery electric vehicle is the best for cherishing our earth – only 15 Kg of carbon dioxide*****.

Something to remember when you think about buying a new electric vehicle – there is a lot of carbon embedded in the car before you drive it out of the showroom. How many kilometres of do you need to drive before the embedded carbon is recovered in savings per kilometre? This is called the carbon payback distance.

For a Nissan Leaf, that is 8,000 Km – less than a year’s driving for most of us. A Tesla however, has a carbon payback period of around 35,000 Km – perhaps 3 – 4 years of driving.


Based on MfE emissions factor (EF) data and:
* Road distance Auckland – Wellington is 639 km, EF (petrol) = 0.1984 KG CO2/Km
** Air distance Auckland – Wellington is 480 km, EF (petrol) = 0.1474 KG CO2/Km
*** Bus distance Auckland – Wellington is 666 km, EF (petrol) = 0.066 KG CO2/Km
**** Train distance Auckland – Wellington is 682 km, EF (petrol) = 0.036 KG CO2/Km
***** Road distance Auckland – Wellington is 639 km, EF (battery EV) = 0.024 KG CO2/Km


This series of posts is based around a resource prepared by Anglicans CAN for an Expo organised by Community Networks Franklin

keep reading for more about this Anglicans CAN climate action