A few hours ago, John Key announced the Government’s emission reduction target for Copenhagen. In a nutshell it ain't good. And with all due respect to the Government, we are accepting it as no more than an opening gambit.
In terms of where New Zealand needs to be and where today's announcement puts us, it's a bit like the NZ Government has thrown a dart and not even struck the dartboard.
If we were to grade John Key over this, he'd get a D. "Doesn't grasp the science, didn't understand the economics, and used the wrong model for the job. Must try harder’
The target announced by National is highly conditional. It says it’ll aim for 10-20% emissions reductions IF (and note, there’s are a lot of ifs) the following conditions are met:
• the global agreement sets the world on a pathway to limit temperature rise to not more than 2°C;
• developed countries make comparable efforts to those of New Zealand;
• advanced and major emitting developing countries take action fully commensurate with their respective capabilities;
• there is an effective set of rules for land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); and
• there is full recourse to a broad and efficient international carbon market.
These conditions are highly stringent; essentially they're saying they'll commit to nothing until others commit, making us virtually the only developed country in the negotiations without an unconditional target to speak of. And by not even getting to the lower rung of what scientists say is necessary to keep warming to below 2 degrees, the Government is putting the onus on to other countries (both developed and developing) do more to make up for our shortfall. Are they kidding? This issue is hard enough for each country without having to pick up the slack for others. The Government cannot expect its emission reduction target range to go down well internationally.
The fact is NZ needs to do a lot more than 10-20% to achieve stablisation below 2°C warming. So to include the 2 degree goal in its target announcement and say that it's committed to it is disingenious.
Climate Minister Nick Smith said “the target balanced economic opportunities with environmental responsibilities.” But it's hard to take him seriously on economics when they've completley cooked the books. Right througout the debate, they've used shonky figures and irrelevent data. The Infometrics/ NZIER modelling used to decide on a target has been widely described as being the wrong tool for the job, a view borne out by a highly critical report released today by Dr Hugh Saddler.
So Game On. For Sign On this marks an important step in the journey, but it's far from the end. We have four months for John Key to realise that 40% is necessary, right and fair. More than 90,000 Kiwis have joined the Sign On campaign and helped to get this first target on the table; now frankly the only way is up.