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Ye Olde fart news

Opinion Piece

Sandra Faulkner, after recently being elected as a representative to our local council, and in her post-election foray into the public discourse, chose to spin a Federated Farmers’ position.

No surprises really, just a clarification that if we were looking for some independent thought we might have been smart not to bet the house on it.

What’s the problem, you ask?

For starters, a lot of the constituents of the Taruheru-Patutahi ward will undoubtedly desire a broader representation of the issues within their district, but I’d also imagined that she might have more thoroughly acquainted herself with the issues around methane before singing so heartily from the Feds’ playbook.

Mentioning scientific references to support the Feds’ climate change response, one would expect that they be articles that alert us to New Zealand’s unique emissions profile. Which is that we have a considerably higher proportion of our greenhouse gas (GHG) warming issues coming from sheep and cows than the global average.

Sandra claims that methane is not a major problem for New Zealand. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) report tells us that from 1840 to 2016, NZ-origin methane accounted for around twice the entire warming effect of fossil fuel emissions from New Zealand. Fossil fuels have overtaken methane as the primary GHG risk and need urgent attention, including weaning Fonterra — the second-highest user after the steel mill — off coal-burning.

Sandra says “as clear as night follows day” that methane levels in equilibrium are just dandy. They’re not. The PCE report says that if NZ-sourced methane levels were to stay constant until 2100 it would produce 27-39 percent additional warming. That will clearly stretch her daylight-saving to extents beyond mere curtain-fading.

Understating methane’s considerable effects is evidently a disingenuous Fed tactic.

New Zealand is renowned for its leadership in complex policy problems such as this, and we need to continue to develop and implement a better model than currently exists. Presenting us with vested-interest PR spin might be politics as usual, but thankfully won’t find the support of a broader public or the boffins who inform us and guide us forward.

Donald Robson