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Feedback: Kyoto Protocol

The Editor,

Kyoto Protocol

Congratulations to the Government for making policy commitments, albeit small, towards ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to diminish green house emissions. Green emissions are leading to global warming with potentially disastrous climate changes and increasing frequency of severe storms in mid latitudes. New Zealand is particularly vulnerable, with most economic activity being near exposed coasts.

Dramatic changes are occurring. Down in Antarctica, a giant ice shelf that was at least 12,000 years old and 70 stories thick fractured into ice cubes in the space of five weeks, and photos figured prominently in many print media. It is another message from the world's cold regions that profound things are happening.

It is of great concern and embarrassment that editors of major newspapers such as the Dominion, can remain ill informed, supporting the dinosaur attitudes of some big business, Federated Farmers and National Party.

New Zealand as one of the most inefficient users of energy in the world, needs Government intervention to move us away from dependence on road transport and export of primary commodities. This is a long-term challenge for a nation that sees itself as dependent on exports carried vast distances by cheap fossil fuels.

The economy in fact is very vulnerable to increased costs of energy, with Maui gas field due to run out in 5 years time, and only relatively small finds available to replace it. Non OPEC conventional oil sources are past their mid point of depletion, and with an increasing global dependence on middle east oil, a major oil shock is imminent.

The United States is already moving to get more direct control of oil producing countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Iraq, and access to Caspian sea oil reserves through Afghanistan.

Most other countries are putting more radical measures into place to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels. China's overall carbon dioxide emissions fell by 7.3 percent between 1996 and 2000, and its methane emissions declined by 2.2 percent between 1997 and 2000, with major investment in new technologies, and renewable energy sources such as wind power. US$3.27 bilion is being invested in wind power in Brazil, in spite of its relatively light wind environment.

New Zealand's overall carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and industrial process sectors increased by 22 percent between 1990 and 2000, up from 20 percent the previous decade.

The findings contradict your and the U.S. administration's argument against the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, that the treaty lacks binding commitments for developing countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions.

Global investment in wind turbines has increased with generating capacity jumping 31% in 2001 - yet in NZ, investment has dwindled with Maui gas still being burnt to produce electricity, in spite of its imminent depletion. In Great Britain homeowners willing to switch to solar power are in line for new "green grants" from the government - Europe as a whole has stabilised green house emissions.

The Kyoto treaty will give a huge boost to renewable energy and clean technologies. It is about time that we got our head out of the oil sands, and discovered the enormous economic benefits of investment in alternative solar technologies.

Paul Bruce

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