The New Zealand government is putting plans in place to plant 100 million trees…
Planting trees. Such an elegant move on the part of the recently elected Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. This brings to mind Renew the Earths first initiative back in the 70’s, when it was known as Renew America, planting trees! Tina Hobson was our president then. She was directed by President Carter to equalize pay for women who worked in the Government and later was director of the Department of Energy.
So things come round in a circle. This doesn’t mean that no progress has been made. We come round with more information and more results and this informs better decision making in the future. It is exciting to see that tree planting is being embraced in the present. Confirming the vital importance of the natural carbon dioxide absorption of trees ( a carbon sink). And, of course their exhalation of oxygen which we find so useful. Prime Minister Ardern is making good use of confirmed science. She wants to make New Zealand 100% renewable energy electric. As she asserts,” I don’t need to be influenced on climate change.”
There are challenging problems ahead for her, but New Zealand has already ratified the Kyoto protocols for green house gas, GHG, emissions and is well on the way toward energy independence and balance. Unlike other signers of the Kyoto agreement New Zealand depends heavily on agriculture which contributes to almost 50% of emissions from methane of ruminant animals and nitrous oxide from fertilizer and animal waste. Only 42% of emissions are produced by transport. A percentage which is usually the highest one in other developed nations. With this in mind John Whitehead, back in 2007 as Secretary of Treasury, when choosing “cap and trade” instead of a “carbon tax” as the basis for New Zealand’s emissions scheme, chose to incorporate it in phases. He did not include agriculture in the initial phase. Now, however, Prime Minister Ardern will be deciding how agriculture’s carbon dioxide and other emissions will be capped and regulated. I have a feeling they are in good hands. New Zealand’s proud agricultural heritage will continue under even better circumstances.
Unchecked GHG emissions, according to the 2006 Stern Review, predict impacts that could cost as much as 20% reduction in GDP per head, now and in the future. This assertion is now about 12 years old. Climate change is a global problem requiring collective global actions and solutions. It can be characterized as a “tragedy of the commons”. The “commons”, in this case, being the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb GHG emissions. The damage these gases cause is left out of market pricing in the present resulting in payment deferred to future generations. “New Zealand’s action on the World stage can make a difference… and the Worlds perception of (this action) can have very real consequences…” John Whitehead, 2007.