Instead of permitting offshore exploration for oil and
gas, New Zealand should be extending its lead in renewables and
assisting other countries to adopt the same, University of
Otago Energy Studies director Assoc Prof Bob Lloyd says.
''We really need to start moving quickly,'' he said
A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) shows global emissions of greenhouse gases had risen
to unheard-of levels, despite a growing number of policies to
reduce climate change.
Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in
each of the three previous decades, the report said.
''There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous
interference with the climate system, we need to move away
from business as usual,'' report co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer,
of Germany, said.
Prof Lloyd said the urgency of attending to climate change
mitigation could not be overstated because unless the rapidly
increasing current world CO2 emissions curve was turned, the
IPCC report suggested the world was on the way to a climate
regime with temperature increases from between 3.7degC and
''There is no way that mitigation can be effective unless we
get buy-in by all countries of the world. The atmosphere does
not care if the emissions come from New Zealand or India or
any other specific nation.''
New Zealand was known as a reasonably aggressive negotiator
as it tried to do the right thing for the country, he said.
Government negotiators had been trying to advance the economy
by avoiding the short-term financial costs of agreeing to
''But that self-interested point of view is not getting us
anywhere. The only way to solve the problem is for all
countries to take their fair share of emissions cuts.''
New Zealand was better placed than nearly all countries in
the world, with a particularly high proportion of its
electricity supply already coming from renewable sources
including hydro, geothermal and wind, he said.
''There is no excuse. To get global buy-in New Zealand must
act as a global leader in emissions reductions not a selfish
The big problem was storage of renewables but combined with
hydro, which had its own storage, New Zealand had
considerable advantages, he said.
The report's estimation of the global cost as less than 1% of
the world's gross domestic product (GDP) was rather
''optimistic'' as his own research had shown it would be more
likely to cost up to 10% of GDP, Prof Lloyd said.
However people needed to look past the short-term costs to
the longer-term gains.
''In the longer term, we'll be better off. There won't be the
droughts or the dispossessed people.''
He believed the consequences of climate change would swamp
any economic gains made in the short term.
Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser said the
report's findings told him New Zealand was on the right track
in pressing for a binding international agreement on
emissions beyond 2020 that was genuinely global in its scope
and flexible, catering for countries' individual
circumstances and allowing them to play to their strengths.
''New Zealand is doing its fair share on climate change,
taking into account our unique national circumstances, both
to restrict our own emissions and support the global efforts
needed to make the cuts that will limit warming.''
New Zealand had made an unconditional promise to take
responsibility for its own emissions, with a target of 5%
below 1990 levels by 2020.