I'm Gareth, the new Climate Campaigner here at Greenpeace. Yesterday with the rest of the climate team out of the office working hard I got to do my first media interview as a Greenpeace representative which was great fun and all very exciting but on one of the most complex issues I’ve had to speak on.
Climate Change Minister Nick Smith had just released a press release on the 2009 Net Position Report - an annual report complied by various Governmental bodies showing our projected balance of Kyoto units – essentially how good or bad we’re doing at keeping our Kyoto obligations. The report showed that New Zealand is now expected to exceed its Kyoto target by 9.6 million tonnes – a surplus worth an estimated $241 million. The results were in contrast to 2008 which projected a deficit of 21.7 million tonnes (an estimated cost of $546 million).
Greenpeace of course had to make a comment because while it looks like good news this definitely wasn’t a victory for Smith or a result of good Government policy. The main reasons for the projected decline in net emissions was the collapse in diary prices meaning that land conversions have declined, more carbon stored in our Kyoto forests (the chopping of smaller trees was due to the penalties around the ETS) and, oh a drought helped too.
Clearly this wasn’t a victory it was merely an accident caused by external events. The key thing I wanted to point out was that our emissions were overall 23% above our Kyoto obligations and that emissions from transport, electricity and industrial activity were still way above New Zealand doing its bit to avoid catastrophic climate change. That’s why we’re the fifth worst in the developed world for contributing to climate change on a per person level. I tried to keep the focus on going further than Kyoto, stabilizing and reducing our emissions by 40% by 2020 which is what scientists are saying is needed.
I had to crash read some pretty dense reports in less than an hour and try and cut through the spin in Smiths press release. I think I did alright though I wished I’d also mentioned a Poll that showed strong support (67%) for New Zealand voting for a new international agreement under which each significant emitting country agrees to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. Kiwis are keen to do their bit and the next step is for them to tell Key where New Zealand stands on climate change. I’ll make sure I say that next interview.