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Green Party hysterical and ill-informed on Kyoto decision

Terry Dunleavy
NZ Climate Science Coalition

For immediate release:

The New Zealand

Climate Science Coalition

15 November 2012

Green Party hysterical and ill-informed on Kyoto decision

The “hysterical and ill-informed rants” in Parliament by Green Party MPs following the Government’s decision not to recommit to the Kyoto Protocol have been criticized by the chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, Hon Barry Brill.

“The use of emotive terms like ‘ecocide’ and scaremongering claims of detriment to our children and grandchildren is over-the-top rhetoric which has become typical of Green Party reaction to all climate-related issues. The Government’s decision to back the mainstream negotiating track has nothing whatever to do with jeopardising children or being ‘clean’ or ‘pure’. It’s simply a decision that makes practical sense, said Mr Brill.

As long expected, the Government has announced that future climate change commitments will be made through the UN’s negotiating track, rather than the alternative Kyoto track sponsored by the EU.

Mr Brill said that the astonishing reaction by Opposition parties reveals a complete lack of understanding of the issues and options:

“Labour’s Moana Mackey blurted: ‘This is a day of shame for New Zealand... It is damaging to the important 100% Pure brand and business growth and puts the future of our children in jeopardy.’

“Green’s Kennedy Graham said the Government was withdrawing from global efforts to fight climate change and used the term 'ecocide'. Ora Taiau (purporting to speak for all New Zealand doctors) criticised the timing ‘just weeks out from Doha’, called the decision ‘inexcusable’ and predicted damage to ‘our clean green brand’ .

Mr Brill said the facts are as follows:

• The Government has no intention of withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol;

• The Kyoto commitments affecting Schedule B participants (“rich countries”) will finally conclude on 31 December 2012;

• The Durban platform calls for a new international treaty to be agreed by December 2015 and to come into force in 2020. This negotiating track aims to cover at least 85% of all emissions;

• The EU has unilaterally declared its intention to observe a “second commitment” under Kyoto, without disclosing details. No non-European country has expressed any interest in joining – except for Australia (subject to conditions). Collectively, participants would account for less than 15% of global emissions;

• Kyoto is a Euro-centric creation. North Sea gas came ashore in 1991, displacing most coal-fired electricity in Western Europe. In the East, huge Soviet-era industries collapsed in 1991-93. It is no surprise that the EU wants to carry forward the 1990 benchmark year created by Kyoto;

• All Kyoto commitments initially came from European countries plus Russia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand. The US Senate voted 95-0 against joining. Canada formally withdrew last year. Japan and Russia announced pre-Durban that they would not join any extension;

• Kyoto has not been effective in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. During the past decade, the USA (a non-member) has reduced emissions at nearly double the average European rate;

• New Zealand negotiators (Groser, Macey, etc) have developed influence over recent years and need to stay where the action is;

• Australia is a special case. After joining Kyoto 10 years late, it has adopted a disastrous carbon tax at A$23/tonne whilst international prices are about one-tenth this level. The political way out is to align with the EU market in 2015 – and this objective trumps all other considerations.

Mr Brill said that one positive contribution New Zealand could make the current international debate on climate issues would be to switch our climate science research resources away from computer modelling based on as yet unproven hypothesis that emissions of carbon dioxide cause dangerous global warming to studying the effects of the major greenhouse gas, water vapour (including clouds). Such a study has become more and more relevant in view of the observed reality that Earth’s climate has been stable now for the last 16 years, in spite of a continued increase in carbon dioxide in its atmosphere to a level now of around 0.039% (390 ppm).


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