Theories of climate change were challenged during an
Environment Court appeal hearing for Meridian Energy's proposed
$2 billion Project Hayes wind farm yesterday.
As a witness for appellant Roch Sullivan, climate scientist
Prof Christopher de Freitas was questioned on his evidence,
which had been contested in the evidence of other climate
witnesses called in the hearing.
Prof Freitas, of the University of Auckland, said there was
no evidence to suggest carbon dioxide was the major driver of
"Climate is not responding to greenhouse gases in the way we
thought it might. If increasing carbon dioxide is in fact
increasing climate change, its impact is smaller than natural
"People are being misled by people making money out of this,"
Prof de Freitas said.
He said mild warming of the climate was beneficial,
especially in a country such as New Zealand, which had a
prominent agricultural industry.
"One could argue that carbon dioxide is quite beneficial.
There may be benefits of wind farming that I may not be aware
of, but there is no data to show benefits in terms of
mitigating potential dangerous changes in climate by
offsetting carbon dioxide," he said.
Prof de Freitas said the Kyoto Protocol was a "politically
and economically motivated instrument to deal with a
"I don't think anyone will benefit one way or another by
adhering to it. It's not a well-formulated treaty . . . the
so-called or claimed environmental benefits, I am not aware
of," he said.
Prof de Freitas was questioned by Meridian Energy lawyer Hugh
Rennie QC, about an article published in The New Zealand
Herald in 2004, in which Prof de Freitas expressed his
thoughts on wind power, the Kyoto Protocol, and climate
"You refer to New Zealand's need to meet its commitments to
the Kyoto Protocol [in the article].
"Would you accept that any selection of generation which
avoids the emission of substances controlled by that protocol
is beneficial to New Zealand?" Mr Rennie asked Prof de