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Scientist Suggests Kyoto Unnecessary

08 May 2002

Recent scientific findings suggest that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol may not be necessary, according to University of Auckland climate scientist Dr Chris de Freitas.

Addressing a meeting of Federated Farmers in Auckland today, Dr de Freitas, an expert reviewer of the 2001 UN IPCC's report on climate change and editor of the International science journal Climate Research, explained that agriculture, the backbone of the New Zealand economy, is responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. More than half of New Zealand's total emissions come from this sector. And of all non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, 65 percent are agricultural methane emissions from farm livestock.

Scientists have known for some time that the rate at which methane is emitted into the atmosphere has been falling steadily. The recent good news according to Dr de Freitas is that the resulting concentration of methane in the atmosphere has been falling even faster, so much so that now the amount in the atmosphere is actually decreasing.

Unlike carbon dioxide, methane in the atmosphere decomposes rapidly - within about 10 years - so that the atmospheric concentration depends on a constant source of supply. This supply is dramatically decreasing even without the inevitable economic pain of Kyoto.


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