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To: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister) and Hon Grant Robertson (Minister of Finance)
Let’s spend the $1 billion a year on actually reducing emissions please
The Government has recently announced a commitment to halve net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is a great start.
However, two-thirds of this will be through buying carbon credits at the cost of roughly $1 billion per year . It has to be done every year because if our emissions don’t drop we will still need to buy the credits. Instead of spending $1 billion on offsetting carbon emissions, can we please spend the money on actual emissions reduction projects here in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Why is this important?
Overseas carbon credits have proven to be a dodgy and unreliable way to reduce emissions (at its simplest, if we all paid another country to reduce emissions for us then no one would reduce emissions). Most developed countries and businesses have chosen to buy carbon credits rather than actually reduce their emissions. Even carbon credit schemes run by the UN have had problems .
In 2030 we will be paying $1 billion a year for carbon credits. Most likely this would be through tree planting in the Pacific. While trees are great, there are so many much cooler things we could do with $1 billion a year focused on climate action.
--We could buy over a hundred thousand E bikes, or hundreds of thousands of regular bikes, so that every household has access to the option of cycling.
--Or we could purchase 60,000 Nissan Leaf EVs for use in the public sector, or a smaller number of slightly more expensive EVs, to help the government actually meet its target for EVs in the public sector.
--Or we could subsidize regenerative farming in Aotearoa so farmers are paid to make the transition which is needed (seeing as we’re signing an international agreement to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 this would seem an obvious move).
--Or we could use a tiny fraction of this $1 billion per year to help transition schools and the public service away from burning coal for heating. (The Government recently invested $55 million to fund 90 schools to switch to clean heating. So, part of the $1 billion would easily help the other hundreds of schools still burning fossil fuels for heating and probably the rest of the public sector ).
--Or we could use that $1 billion a year for free public transport. (The free public transport during the first lockdown in 2020 cost $110 million. $1 billion a year would actually be quite close to covering the costs ).
--Or, we could do a whole combination of these things every year with the billions and billions we wouldn’t be spending on carbon credits every year.
These things are way more useful than paying an international company to "plant trees" for us!
This is because they would actually lead to a reduction in emissions.
I love trees. They’re great. But let’s spend this money on reducing emissions here, please, rather than planting trees in someone else’s country.
To learn more about the complex and confusing double-think behind carbon trading you can read these articles:
Henry Cooke from Stuff gives a basic explanation about the recent climate commitment and the complicated accounting of carbon credits https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/300442463/climate-change-target-nowhere-near-as-ambitious-as-it-sounds
Or, for a longer and more detailed description, you can read this piece by Umair Irfan at Vox https://www.vox.com/2020/2/27/20994118/carbon-offset-climate-change-net-zero-neutral-emissions