Submission to 2050 Emissions Target “Consultation”

Here is my submission to the 2050 Emissions Reduction Target Consultation, as invited by the Minister for Climate Change Issues, the Hon Dr Nick Smith, in his position paper Gazetting New Zealand’s 2050 Emissions Target, published last month. The central argument is a challenge to the Minister and his department to show us the evidence of a dangerous human influence on the global temperature. For without that, there is no need to “fight climate change” and they have no right to tax us. They have already raised the prices of petrol and electricity by their ETS scheme. This submission also available as a pdf (50KB).

Nick Smith

I operate a blog, the Climate Conversation Group, whose well-informed readers over the past four years have had thousands of conversations about climate, climate changes, their causes and likely effects. We oppose the Minister’s intention to gazette the country’s 2050 target reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These are our objections to the gazetting.

Noting that 39 years remain in which to achieve these so-called “reductions”, the gazetting strikes us as primarily a marketing exercise rather than a sincere attempt to influence the climate. The Government’s intention to achieve mere public relations purposes is confirmed when the Minister denies even the possibility of influencing the climate and in the same breath talks instead about our reputation.

New Zealand alone cannot have much impact on global climate change… As a trading nation, New Zealand depends on its international reputation and its strong clean and green image.

Who is to say whether the natural course of New Zealand’s emissions during the next 39 years will be upwards or downwards? It could be that the emission levels specified here will at some time in the future be achieved only by increasing our emissions. Who is to say what technological innovations will improve our ability to generate energy without GHG emissions? What if we embrace nuclear power generation? What if the climate cools? Nobody knows what will happen over the next 39 years. However, since 1992 our emissions have already risen about 30% (matching our population growth) and right now, reducing emissions to 50% of 1992 would remove a huge 65% chunk of our industrial and agricultural output, an unacceptable sacrifice which the government should be ashamed to suggest. Just to maintain our image!

Expensive form of moral support

No references are given to justify the claimed “international agreement” that future global temperature increases should be held to 2°C or less, nor is the treaty document named in which New Zealand signed up to such an agreement, nor is the Hansard or Gazette record cited in which our government ratified such a treaty.

No references are given for believing that the measures taken by all nations will achieve the stated restriction in future global temperature rise. Yet without that belief, why should we offer what appears to be merely an expensive form of moral support?

There has been little consultation on this plan to “fight climate change” and no public debate. Anyone trying to raise scientific matters with Nick Smith in his promotional meetings has been answered with platitudes and obstruction. His minders quickly ignore the raised hands of those who ask awkward questions. Last month, with perhaps six weeks to go (but all of 39 years to achieve the cuts), the Minister hurried us up by claiming: “Your view on gazetting New Zealand’s 2050 emissions reduction target is important to the Government.” Note the Minister does not invite us to comment on the emission reductions themselves. Why not? Could there be a more cynical expression of not caring what we think?

Central statement banal, ambiguous, evidence-free

We get the impression that the international process of “fighting climate change” is out of control, and that the proper representatives of New Zealand stand helpless before the independent and politically correct efforts of a plethora of public servants and NGO do-gooders, who promulgate measures and commit the country to programmes willy-nilly, not because there is evidence these things will achieve a good result and are affordable, but because they fit their prejudices and agendas so they sound like a good idea.

The Minister’s position paper Gazetting New Zealand’s 2050 Emissions Target opens with the statement:

Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that climate change is happening, and humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases are very likely the cause.

This two-part statement is significant, because the subsequent assertions and the very reason for the gazetting depend on it. But it is banal, ambiguous, evidence-free and leads the Minister to an unsound conclusion.

First, we’re sure that the Minister and his department will agree that a modern, highly-educated populace such as ours hardly requires “multiple lines of evidence” for this banality. The climate changes? That is as self-evident as the sun going missing at sunset.

Reductions must be justified or abandoned

The second clause, after the comma, is ambiguous; it could be saying that “multiple lines” of evidence indicate our emissions are the cause of climate change, or it could mean that the Minister simply suspects our emissions are the cause. Certainly, the presence of the words “very likely” destroys our confidence in the truth of either reading. The words express doubt while avoiding commitment to a definite meaning.

If it is only his suspicion that humanity’s actions cause climate change, then his decision to gazette reductions in our country’s emissions must be re-examined and either justified on other grounds or abandoned.

But, if the second clause claims instead that “multiple lines of scientific evidence” show our GHG emissions cause climate change, then that reading gives rise to quite different considerations.

Because it is a matter of no controversy among climate scientists that human activities alter the climate. On a small scale, some warming or cooling is commonly associated with land use change, such as planting a forest, or cutting down a forest. Replacing vegetation with buildings and extensive paved areas causes changes in local temperature and precipitation. Surely there are wider regional and even global effects from these activities?

More CO2 will warm less and less

If there are, they have yet to be detected. After the expenditure of some $US50 billion in climate research over the last 20 to 30 years, we have yet to detect a human signal in the global temperature data. There is an absence of evidence of any human effect on warming, much less that the effect might be dangerous.

So much for land use. As far as our GHG emissions are concerned, there is evidence that they increase the temperature a little. But the warming effect of carbon dioxide is a reducing one, meaning that as its level increases, more and more CO2 is required to produce a unit of warming. More and more CO2 will not warm the planet more and more, but less and less.

As a matter of fact, there is no evidence in any published, peer-reviewed, scientific paper that human emissions have caused or will in the future cause dangerous warming of the climate.

No better time to release evidence

If the Minister or the department knows of such evidence, they should release it now. There is no better time. If the Minister knows of such evidence but fails to release it, he palpably endangers the public welfare. If the Minister does not know of such evidence, he palpably misleads the public of New Zealand.

There are three possibilities concerning the evidence and the good Minister. The evidence either exists or it doesn’t (remember, he claims it does). So, first, he might keep it from us, which would be preventing us from saving ourselves.

Second, if the evidence doesn’t exist, he might still claim to have good reasons to reduce our productive capacity (through a carbon tax or forcing a reduction of emissions) and therefore reduce our standard of living, which would be misleading or even fraudulent.

Contrary to oath of office

In either case, he would act contrary to the oath of office as an Executive Counsellor, wherein he undertook to give his best counsel to the Governor-General “for the good management of the affairs of New Zealand.”

Either case would embroil him and his Government in unsavoury and unprecedented allegations of ministerial misconduct. If no evidence of dangerous human warming exists, the conclusion that our GHG emissions should be reduced is unsound.

So, in his position paper the Minister claimed evidence of a dangerous human influence on the global temperature, yet, in several years of searching, the Climate Conversation Group has found no evidence; he should reveal it now or abandon the gazetting. That is the third possibility.

It’s easy: just cite the paper

All he needs to do is cite the paper containing the evidence. He should not cite the IPCC Assessment Reports, since what could they credibly assert that was not already in a peer-reviewed paper?

The paper giving evidence of a dangerous human influence on the global temperature contains, we’re sure the Minister will agree, evidence vital to substantiate this proposed gazetting. Indeed, it is the only evidence which could possibly justify the gazetting.

Why not?

Members of the Climate Conversation Group cannot imagine the gazetting proposal going forward without such evidence and equally we cannot imagine any reason not to mention what the evidence is.

And without evidence, why should we suffer any restrictions?

Richard Treadgold
Climate Conversation Group
27 February, 2011

Visits: 620

48 Thoughts on “Submission to 2050 Emissions Target “Consultation”

  1. Huub Bakker on 27/02/2011 at 8:58 pm said:

    Oh, well done Richard. A good analysis of the Minister’s document and critque of his reasoning. I, for one, would be happy to sign my name to this document.

    I wonder if this could lead to a potential High Court action in the same way as for NIWA? It seems that a case addressing his failure of due care might be a match winner. Sadly, only by such drastic measures can the truth be forced out into the open.

    • Thanks, Huub.

      Another law suit is a tantalising prospect, now you raise it. We’d need funds and lots of legal help, but I’ll get some advice first and let you know…

  2. Clarence on 28/02/2011 at 2:48 am said:

    The unratified non-treaty promise to keep the world’s temperature from rising by 2.0°C is a masterpiece of weaselly words.

    If the IPCC is right, this target could be difficult to achieve. All the “hidden heat” that so worries the NZ Royal Society might pop out in the next year or so – while current politicians are still in office.

    But if the IPCC are wrong, avoiding 2°C of warming will be a breeze.

    Thinking about this, UN members decided unanimously that they were happy to stick their necks out.

    • That’s right! I’ve never seen the absence of proper legal form questioned, yet it underpins or undermines all that the government does. Doesn’t anyone care any more? Oh, yes, there was a letter a few days ago from some prominent legal minds about the presumptuous legislation concerning the Christchurch emergency. Very prompt they were, with that crisis. However, climate-fighting measures being put in place for 40 years don’t concern them. Work that one out! Maybe if we told them, they would get interested? Where’s the list of signatories?

  3. Alexander K on 28/02/2011 at 6:54 am said:

    Excellent, Richard. If many scientific theorists are correct, a couple of degrees of beneficial warming may be a while arriving as we may have to wait a decade or two for the other half of this current flat/cooling climate cycle to depart. Any politician who trumpets the notion that Man can tinker with the climactic hot and cold taps is in rubber room territory. Power and money are the items to keep an eye on, all else is a diversionary tactic. .
    Check out WUWT to see sceptical analysis of shonky ‘Nature’ papers hitting the streets of London in the Daily Telegraph. Truth is at last becoming available in the MSM!

  4. Andy on 28/02/2011 at 8:07 am said:

    If the government think that Green policies will make them popular, they should look to Ireland.

    The general election that has just happened there has lost the Irish Greens all of their six seats.

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 28/02/2011 at 8:19 am said:

    Multiple lines of vagaries masquerading as scientific evidence will always show that climate change is happening to someone that has abandoned critical thinking and consideration of alternatives.

    Logic is lost on such people unfortunately..

  6. val majkus on 28/02/2011 at 1:17 pm said:

    Good letter Richard – no doubt you’ll receive platitudes in reply
    I received a letter from my local Senator after the Qld floods and I replied to her
    ‘Thank you for your e mail; I am a bit unimpressed with your representation; I wrote to you when Malcolm Turnbull was the Leader of the Opposition saying I would never vote for any party who voted for a ETS and got back this spiel about how we had to ‘save the world from global warming’
    I wrote back to you saying that was not good enough and sending up to date peer reviewed paper links which questioned the AGW alarmist warmings
    I have not heard from you since, that was about 2 years ago’
    I went on for a bit on how she could make herself relevant to my concerns and received this spiel back ‘There is a continuing and urgent need to act globally to reduce the damaging effects of Climate Change. You apparently do not hold this view, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.’
    I’ve now sent her another letter asking ‘So do you agree with Gillard’s bleatings that a carbon tax is inevitable?’
    She is a Liberal Senator but in Aust Liberals don’t have to toe the party line and I think she is one of the then 2 Liberal Senators who crossed the floor when the ETS bill was introduced into the Senate
    I’m suspecting I’ll get back a spiel on how … There is a continuing and urgent need to act globally to reduce the damaging effects of Climate Change

  7. Andy on 28/02/2011 at 1:48 pm said:

    Maybe the government could run through some scenarios on how we could reduce emissions by 50% and continue to maintain a healthy and vibrant economy.

    Even if there is “an urgent need to reduce emissions”, I’d really like to see how it is possible.

    I could tell Nick Smith that he “urgently needs to lose 50% of his body weight”.One would imagine that this is an unlikely scenario, even if he spent a year in a concentration camp.

  8. G.S. Williams on 28/02/2011 at 4:49 pm said:

    It appears that DR Nick Smith is behaving more and more as an idiot with his “Emissions Taxing Scam”. One wonders what is his doctorate is? Political “Science”?
    If so, where is the science. He’s just an ordinary politician, really.
    He seems to think that he’s a scientist because his PHD is called a ‘Science”.
    I’m not a scientist, but I’m inclined to say the neither is Nick Smith, although his PHD is called a “Science”.
    One wonders when he is going to realise that he knows nothing of Climate Science.

    G.S. Williams

    • Andy on 28/02/2011 at 5:01 pm said:

      Nick Smith has a 1st class honours in Civil Engineering from Canterbury University, and did his PhD in landslides.

  9. G.S. Williams on 28/02/2011 at 4:52 pm said:

    Just another thought!! Is this another case of “Bovine Excreta”?

  10. QuentinF on 28/02/2011 at 6:30 pm said:

    King Canute Smith. I rest my case!

  11. Richard C (NZ) on 01/03/2011 at 9:05 am said:

    Carbon Taxes Force IT Changes

    Data centers and IT operations across Australia and New Zealand will soon need to face a heavy overhaul and upgrade, in order to address the possibility of a new carbon tax.

    At the Kickstart Forum held over the weekend in Queensland, representatives of IT companies in Australia and New Zealand indicated that the possibility of carbon taxes is causing a reevaluation of the operation and planning of datacenter.

  12. val majkus on 01/03/2011 at 1:02 pm said:

    in respect to the proposed carbon tax in Aust Prof Carter has an article in Quadrant Online today
    well worth a read
    (final para)
    In the interest of good governance and sound environmental stewardship, I urge readers to reject this costly, inefficient, ineffectual, inequitable and unnecessary tax.

    Of relevance also to New Zealanders

    • Andy on 01/03/2011 at 1:15 pm said:

      Carter writes
      rather than frittering away scarce public resources on uneconomic eco-bling like windmills and solar farms.

      eco-bling . What a great expression!

      BTW, I recommend Bob Carter’s book “Counter Consensus”. It is very readable.

    • I love eco-bling.

  13. Andy on 01/03/2011 at 1:09 pm said:

    Interesting to see Renowden’s submission for zero emissions by 2050. No mention of how this might be achieved.

    There is a simple reason for this.

    It can’t

    • QuentinF on 01/03/2011 at 5:34 pm said:

      Zero emissions is physically impossible. I would guess the Ruapehu will erupt again sometime before 2050 in its average 45 year cycle there by blowing ALL CO2 emissions by poor kiwis into insignificance! It has been shown that Pinutubo emitted more CO2 that ALL the human emissions in history! Tell the likes of stupid Nick, Gillard and the rest to get a life! Yes lets have the (geo)phyiicaly impossible.

    • Ah! Interesting comment, Quentin.

      It has been shown that Mt Pinatubo emitted more CO2 than ALL the human emissions in history!

      Do you have a reference for this?

    • QuentinF on 02/03/2011 at 12:10 pm said:

      I will look for it. Possibly on a link from Iceagenow.

    • QuentinF on 02/03/2011 at 12:42 pm said:

      It may be not quite right (i looked through Icecap) but If I find it Ill post it. But the point is made though! CO2 doesnt matter! Alexander yes great comment on White Island.

    • Yes, please post it if you find it; I’m still looking for authoritative figures on volcanic emissions. I appreciate your sentiment about the point having been made, Quentin, but without an authority to support it, the statement has no persuasive force.

      Of course, I agree that CO2 doesn’t matter in connection with global warming!


  14. val majkus on 01/03/2011 at 3:43 pm said:

    Andy, I think you’d have to all stop breathing wouldn’t you?

    • Andy on 01/03/2011 at 4:18 pm said:

      According to Freeman Dyson’s wiki page, planting a trillion trees wold remove all the CO2 from the atmosphere. Of course, this wouldn’t actually happen, but it gives a theoretical figure to work with.

      Dyson is someone who is interesting me at the moment. Since I studied maths at university, I really should have been more aware of his work.

      I find his comment on wiki interesting.

      Dyson is well-aware that his “heresy” on global warming has been strongly criticized. In reply, he notes that “[m]y objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have

      How true.

  15. Alexander K on 02/03/2011 at 3:52 am said:

    Little White Island is chuffing out CO2 on a daily basis – is the Hon Dr Smith about to plug this and other volcanoes with some devilishly inventive Kiwi-with-Tiger-Moth-and-number-8-wire scheme.. Damn! Sorry, I forgot that all natural sources of CO2 are producing GOOD CO2, only us evil humans produce BAD CO2.
    Smith’s statements would be funny if he wasn’t one of the lunatics in charge of the asylum.

  16. Andy on 02/03/2011 at 3:02 pm said:

    WUWT has a post up on methane emissions.

    Of relevance to NZ

    We might be, in the future, able to measure all the methane from a cow,

    Imagine what a great advance to civilisation that would be

  17. Andy on 03/03/2011 at 9:58 am said:

    I am just reading Roger Pielke Jnr’s “The Climate Fix”

    It occurs to me(from the book) that this 50% by 2050 figure is lifted straight from the Copenhagen agreement that wasn’t

    I don’t see much evidence of reasoned thought on how this target would apply to the NZ situation, which is so different to the rest of the world.

  18. Bruce of Newcastle on 03/03/2011 at 12:54 pm said:

    Well done Richard!

    I’ve just reread Spencer & Braswell 2010, which is pretty chunky, and I have to say the data convinces me. That says 2XCO2 is about 0.6 C, which is backed up by Lindzen and others. To squeeze out 2 C of warming using CO2 you’d have to increase CO2 concentration by a factor of 10. Which is just not going to happen, period.

    • QuentinF on 03/03/2011 at 2:18 pm said:

      No one has come up with ANY principle of thermodynamics that show that CO2 has ANY affect on the atmospheric temperature at all. No ‘greenhouse effect’ has been proven form fundamental thermodynamic principles in any form. Radiative balance is unphysical. The so called 33C is wrong number from a miscalculation of the Stephan-Boltzmann Law. (this is only a small part of it)
      Why isnt this result more widely published?..IPCC corruption, very big money and politics of the AGW bandwagon which means that no govt paid physicist is likely publish anything on it.

    • Bruce of Newcastle on 03/03/2011 at 3:05 pm said:

      CO2 does have an effect, if only because of the mass in the atmosphere. More mass, more absorption of energy and reradiation. Venus is not cold.

      However, relying on book thermodynamics to calculate CO2’s net effect is the problem with the GCM’s. They overestimate the real world feedback effects related to CO2 and underestimate the solar effects (which also have feedbacks associated with them).

      What is different with the paper I mention is it doesn’t deal with thermodynamics at all. It just measures the sensitivity directly without any need to explain why it occurs. Because sensitivity is low (in terms of 2XCO2 value) it means we don’t have to worry, and taxes like the ETS are unnecessary (and actually fraudulent based on the data). Therefore we can forget about panic and settle down to a nice long reasoned argument about the thermodynamics at leisure, since the empirical data says we have plenty of time and nothing to worry about. Except being taxed by credulous pollies.

  19. Quentin F on 03/03/2011 at 9:42 pm said:

    Beg to differ. Venus has a surface pressure of about 50 bar! (50 earth atm) the temp at the 1 bar level in Venus’s atmosphere is not too much different than earth. Venus is also 20 millioin miles closer to the Sun therefore experiences a higher ir flux. If I find it ill dig up the reference to this. CO2 is NOT why Venus is very hot, this is used often as an example. Also the opposite on Mars too same CO2. The feedback models you refer to are un physical.
    Whoever thinks they are real should show from principles of real physics.
    I have a ref to the German paper on this in a previous posting.
    I agree about taxes being totally unnecessary.

    • Bruce of Newcastle on 04/03/2011 at 12:20 pm said:

      Quentin – I think we are in 99.9% agreement. I think CO2 sensitivity is very small, you think it is zero. Basically same thing in the real world. We aren’t going to fry no matter how much our respective climate ministers jump up and down and scream about it.

      WUWT has a post on a new paper which finds CO2 sensitivity at 0.45 C, which fits pretty well with both Spencer & Braswell 2010 (0.6 C) and Lindzen & Choi 2009 (0.5 C).

    • QuentinF on 04/03/2011 at 5:29 pm said:

      Ill check thanks Bruce

  20. Andy on 04/03/2011 at 9:52 am said:

    Whilst discussions of science are interesting, it matters not one iota to our ruling elite. In this Orwellian world where cold is warm, black is white, and up is down, they will still find ways to tax us even if the science of AGW is completely disproven.

    This issue is not about the science.

    • Andy on 04/03/2011 at 2:48 pm said:

      Autonomous Mind writes of the “2050 Pathways” project released in the UK.

      The global juggernaut of relentless propaganda marches on, regardless of science.

    • Mike Jowsey on 04/03/2011 at 6:54 pm said:

      Andy – great to see you are undaunted by Gaia’s rumblings hereabouts and you are posting herein most productively. Clearly the earthquake hasn’t cut your power or damaged your infrastructure too much. Me neither, thankfully, but my time to blog is severely curtailed by pressing matters of client business relocations, server reconfigurations and restores, and telecomms relocations. It’s all a lot of hard fun. Like, 12-18 hrs a day.

      One thing I must say, a good earthquake with a huge death toll (by NZ standards) and the associated changes in the fabric of the community certainly puts “Global Warming” in its proper context. Like, get REAL.

    • Andy on 05/03/2011 at 9:48 am said:

      Good to hear that you survived the quake Mike. It’s been a long road touching base with everyone you know.

      You are right about priorities. If you polled the average person in Christchurch’s Eastern Suburbs about climate change right now, you would get some very strange looks I suspect

  21. QuentinF on 04/03/2011 at 6:54 pm said:

    Just to prove that noone realy has any grip on the real complex atmospheric systems that drive the climate and the cause this goody from Joseph D’Aleo in Icecap
    Claims of warm this = cold that, cold this = warm that ad continuum, only proving NO link with CO2!

  22. Richard C (NZ) on 05/03/2011 at 2:52 pm said:

    What happens if the results of the following experiment throw a spanner in the man-made climate change works? Will the ETS be repealed?

    CLOUD – Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets

    Cosmic rays and cloud formation

    CLOUD is an experiment that uses a cloud chamber to study the possible link between galactic cosmic rays and cloud formation. Based at the Proton Synchrotron at CERN, this is the first time a high-energy physics accelerator has been used to study atmospheric and climate science; the results could greatly modify our understanding of clouds and climate.

    Cosmic rays are charged particles that bombard the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space. Studies suggest they may have an influence on the amount of cloud cover through the formation of new aerosols (tiny particles suspended in the air that seed cloud droplets). This is supported by satellite measurements, which show a possible correlation between cosmic-ray intensity and the amount of low cloud cover. Clouds exert a strong influence on the Earth’s energy balance; changes of only a few per cent have an important effect on the climate. Understanding the underlying microphysics in controlled laboratory conditions is a key to unravelling the connection between cosmic rays and clouds.

    See also: Cosmic Rays and Climate, Jasper Kirkby, 2008.

  23. Robin Pittwood on 05/03/2011 at 9:18 pm said:

    Thank you Richard,

    There was a recent survey by Family First. It was of course nearly all about family/moral issues, but there was one question about our ETS.

    They asked should our ETS be scrapped.
    53% strongly agreed and 14% agreed.
    19% were neutral or unsure.
    10% strongly disagreed and 4% disagreed.
    The survey received about 2400 responses.

    Maybe Nick Smith needs to know that the ETS is only supported by 14% of his voters.
    67% don’t want it!


  24. Robin Pittwood on 05/03/2011 at 9:35 pm said:

    I made a post at my blog (kiwithinker) of the ETS question:

    And Family First have a pdf of the whole survey at:


  25. Keep up the good work. This is what the ETS means for Palmerston North

    • Andy on 07/03/2011 at 5:53 pm said:

      I hadn’t realised that the windfarm had been approved for Palmerston North.
      This is truly terrible news.

      These bastards will pay.

    • Andy on 07/03/2011 at 6:27 pm said:

      From Paul’s blog as linked above

      Draft Report and Decision on the Turitea Wind Farm Proposal – Extension of Time for Making Comments on the Draft Report

      In accordance with the directions in the Memorandum from the Board, comments on the Draft Report and Decision are to be received by 5pm on 12 May 2011

      The idea that they could build a windfarm so close to town, on a fault line, is just unbelievable.

    • Yes, and those problems are just added to the main weakness of any wind farm proposal, anywhere — it cannot add to the security of power supply, because it must have an equal amount of generation always standing by for when the wind blows too strongly or not at all.

      Faulty dreams constructed on an illusion.

      I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: the only good purpose for a windmill is for digging a large hole that you don’t need immediately. Anything else is too important to trust to a windmill.

    • Andy on 07/03/2011 at 7:18 pm said:

      John Etherington’s book “The Wind Farm Scam” is a good read.
      Although some of the arguments are UK specific (such as the Renewables Obligations), much of it makes sense for NZ too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation