Patrick wrote last month about Greater Auckland’s submission on a draft report by the Productivity Commission: “Low-Emissions Economy”. Our full submission is available here.

We looked at three chapters of the report – Land Use, Transport, and The Built Environment. Patrick’s post focused on The Built Environment. This chapter is a discussion of buildings and urban form, and their potential to contribute to lower emissions. The Productivity Commission was sceptical of this having much impact. And they’re correct up to a point, in the sense that many of the buildings we’ll have in 50 years have already been built. But there’s definitely potential for change at the margins – we outlined a growing swing to intensification in Auckland, for example – and through things like energy-saving retrofits.

The “Land Use” chapter is about non-urban land. It focuses on different types of agriculture, which have different levels of emissions, and also looks at forestry – an emissions sink. Here’s what we had to say:

Our comments on the Land Use chapter are brief, although we agree that agriculture is a very significant source of emissions and is a critically important avenue for emissions reduction. We agree with the Productivity Commission’s findings and recommendations on this, and if anything feel that some of the key conclusions should be more prominent and expressed more plainly (e.g. in the Overview).

Under the current situation, agriculture is excluded from the ETS. This means that:

The industry is being subsidised by the rest of New Zealand, for any situation where we as a country are responsible for paying something for our emissions (e.g. under the 2008-2012 Kyoto commitment period).

Farmers have distorted incentives. They lack incentives to reduce emissions while continuing to produce the same kind of goods (e.g. dairy products). Just as importantly, farmers lack incentives to change the type of goods they produce (e.g. from dairy products to beef or forestry). This second point is rarely given the attention it deserves, and industry lobby groups obviously have an incentive to downplay it, or not to talk about it at all!

Brian Fallow summarises these issues in just one, very clearly written New Zealand Herald column. We quote this in parts below:

“The line of argument [from agricultural lobby groups] goes like this: the world needs milk, or meat, or steel, or aluminium, or whatever. Producing those things inevitably generates emissions, whether they arise from ruminants’ digestion or in the process of prising metals from their oxides.

But all of this amounts to a case for some level, even a high one, of free allocation. It is not an argument for treating pastoral farming differently from other EITE sectors, that is, to have an exposure at the margin to a carbon price that will incentivise further gains in emissions efficiency without putting them out of business.

However, a price on agricultural emissions is not just about influencing how existing farms are managed, but also decisions about land use. New Zealand might be better off with fewer cattle and more pigs, for example. They are not ruminants and they taste good too.

In the end, New Zealand is internationally accountable for all of its emissions. If those who profit from half of those emissions entirely escape that cost, the rest of us bear it”.

We agree with these points and strongly support the Productivity Commission’s conclusions that agriculture should be brought inside the ETS, so that farmers face the same incentives as other emitters. This can be supported by an allocation of free credits which abates over time, as the Commission suggests, although we note that this amounts to an ongoing subsidy to the sector.

The part about changing land use is important. Maybe it’s hard to drop the emissions from a dairy cow, but dairy farms don’t have to be dairy farms forever. Land can be converted between different types of farming, or even reforested. In the last 30 years, large areas of land have changed use; the Productivity Commission make the point that if land use continues to change at similar speeds, but in a more low-emissions direction, then it will make a big impact on our emissions.

Here’s an interesting comparison of typical emissions per hectare for different types of land use:

New Zealand doesn’t have very accurate data on land use change over the last few decades, but fortunately we’re quite good at counting animals, shown below:

Lastly, here’s what our submission said about the Transport chapter:

We agree with the Commission’s focus on transport as a major source of emissions and as one of the fastest-growing sources in the last 25 years. Furthermore, we agree that:

“In addition to producing GHG emissions, the use of road vehicles has led to several other costs not fully borne by the user (section 11.8). External costs from road transport include traffic congestion, air pollution from harmful exhaust gases (eg, carbon monoxide), noise pollution, and road fatalities and injuries.” p285

There is a lot of excellent work in the Transport chapter. We agree that a “feebate” system should be investigated, to the extent that consumers undervalue future fuel economy savings. However, some caution is required as a feebate system depends on accurate data. The gap between lab-tested and on-road fuel economy is large and seems to be growing; manufacturers have become adept at designing their vehicles to do well in the tests, and some have intentionally falsified data. Iain McGlinchy at the Ministry of Transport has presented on this. One European study found that “actual fuel consumption and data stated by manufacturers differ by almost 75%” and “15% of all UK vehicles have been manipulated”. As such, feebates should be determined based on on-road performance data wherever possible.

We agree with all transport recommendations, except for “the Government should provide financial support for charging infrastructure projects to support the uptake of EVs [electric vehicles]. Support should be limited to specific gaps in the charging network that are not commercially attractive to the private sector (eg, charging stations in lowly populated regions)”. We do not believe this is a priority in the short term.

The Productivity Commission’s six recommendations from the Transport chapter are:

  1. The Government should introduce CO2 emissions standards for light vehicles entering the New Zealand fleet, subject to detailed consideration of design options (for example, including or excluding small traders).
  2. The Government should introduce a price feebate scheme for vehicles entering the fleet, subject to identifying the most suitable design features for the New Zealand context. The feebate scheme should replace the existing road-user charge exemptions for light EVs.
  3. The Government should provide financial support for charging infrastructure projects to support the uptake of EVs. Support should be limited to specific gaps in the charging network that are not commercially attractive to the private sector (eg, charging stations in lowly populated regions).
  4. The Government should encourage government agencies where practical to procure low-emission vehicles.
  5. The Government should take steps to amend the pricing system for transport so that a greater share of the external costs associated with private vehicle use are internalised. For example, Government should work with councils to enable and encourage the use of road pricing tools to reduce congestion and emissions in main urban centres.
  6. The Government should make emissions reductions a stronger strategic focus in transport investment. This should include changes to the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport to broaden its scope to cover the whole land transport system and make the transition to a low-emissions economy a strategic priority.

At a New Zealand-wide level, the Commission assumes that electric vehicles (rather than public and active transport) are the main opportunity for reducing transport emissions. “Modelling from Concept Consulting estimates that an increase in the number of per person public transport trips (by 30%), cycling trips (by 30%) and walking trips (by 100%) over the next 20 years would achieve approximately a 1% reduction in private vehicle emissions”.

This is what Patrick was a bit frustrated about in his previous post: the Productivity Commission might be technically correct, but they’re certainly not articulating the potential for transformative change. Fortunately, they do acknowledge that public and active modes have lots of other benefits besides emissions reduction (e.g. they help to moderate congestion in our cities, and cycling is great for health).

Overall, the Productivity Commission has done a good job with the parts of its report that we looked at. The report has lots of interesting background and analysis, but what it boils down to is a series of (mostly good) recommendations.

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  1. If you’re so worried about emissions, why are you so pro immigration (especially from developing countries)??
    Immigration results in more emissions from NZ (both from increased numbers but also increased congestion), it also increases nett global emissions as people from developing countries tend to live up their lives when they move to a developed country (buy big cars, houses etc).
    One of the main reasons why our transport emissions have increased the past decade has been because of the huge increase in population from immigration.

    1. That’s pretty offensive. You could just as easily say “if you’re so worried about emissions, why are you pro people having babies?” The need to reduce global emissions doesn’t mean we should block people from wanting to move to NZ in search of a better life. And nor should we block lower income countries from being able to develop and improve their standard of living, even if that means upwards pressure on emissions. The developed world has had a free ride for the last couple of hundred years, and the reality is that the developed world is going to have to make the biggest emissions cuts – it’s only fair.

      Plus, what you’re saying doesn’t even really make sense. Half of NZ’s emissions are from agriculture. Migration isn’t going to affect that; sure, everyone who lives here creates emissions, but the more people we have, the lower our emissions per capita would be – assuming no change in agriculture. So we’re actually more able to pay our way in terms of emissions, because we can spread it over a larger population.

      1. It is not offensive. We have a duty to the people who already live here. We don’t have any duty to people who don’t. It is legitimate to debate immigration policy and the effects immigration has had on house prices, congestion and carbon, not to mention the impact immigration has had on holding down the real wage thereby increasing poverty.
        As for the impact of agriculture has it increased or decreased since 1990? We have lost 30 million sheep and gained some cows.

        1. Jeez, “we don’t have a duty” to people who don’t already live here. They’re still people, what’s wrong with you?

          It’s not legitimate to debate immigration policy without an agreement that there is some duty to the people who are affected by it.

        2. I do actually agree that “We have a duty to the people who already live here. We don’t have any duty to people who don’t” – notwithstanding humanitarian obligations i.e. refugees and so on.

          Agriculture emissions have risen since 1990, but you can look up the stats on that one.

          I agree that we can debate immigration policy and the impacts of immigration on all those things; what I find offensive is the implication that NZ should cut immigration simply because immigrants, like everyone else, contribute to emissions. And the implication that we should specifically cut immigration from developing countries because those immigrants are likely to have higher emissions in NZ than in their home countries (because their standard of living improves).

        3. We have a duty to people who don’t live here, John, because our history and economy is intricately entwined with everyone’s on the planet. Resource and human exploitation has benefited some and punished others. The luck of our birth doesn’t excuse us from recognising that power play, reductionism, industrialism and resource exploitation has benefited us while others suffer poverty, environmental degradation, war and competition for resources.

        4. I think it is wrong to suggest immigrants coming here will increase carbon emissions, wrong in fact, but I don’t find the idea offensive, just incorrect. Emissions are increasing because of urbanisation and the migration to cities. I also agree we need to do what we can for refugees but I totally disagree with the idea that we should set our immigration policy in order to suit the wishes of potential immigrants. If it were my choice I would aim for no net population increase until we have sorted housing for the people who live in our country. You can’t limit the number of children people want to have and you can’t control how many people stay in NZ rather than emigrate but you can control the inflow so that is what we should do to increase the welfare of the people we do owe a duty to. No net increase would allow us to increase housing while allowing wages to increase. As a result we could expect the cost of housing as a proportion of wages to fall. Nothing offensive about that at all.

        5. Thanks Heidi, I was agreeing with miffy as far as immigration policy goes (i.e. in setting those policies, the government can do what it thinks is in the best interests of people already living in NZ; it doesn’t owe a duty to the people who are wanting to immigrate, until it decides that they can do so).

          I agree with you that we have wider duties to people who don’t live here as well – I agree with everything you’ve said actually!

        6. miffy and John, thanks for clarification. Immigration is such a complex topic. I hope that the people who have more right to be determining who enters NZ than I do will consider the needs of refugees first. I also hope that the people who have made money by exploiting environment and people are given lowest priority. Maybe AKLDUDE and I could find some common ground on that one.

        7. Agriculture emissions are up 4146 kilo tonnes of CO2 equivalent from 1990 to 2016. The energy sector is up 7523 kt and forestry and landuse changes increased 6766 kt. Livestock havent had much effect increasing from 27458kt to 29021kt. The big change is the increase in NO2 due to nitrogen fertiliser on intensive dairy.

        8. Agree. I don’t find it offensive either. We don’t have a duty to other countries or their inhabitants. Only in the context of being a good neighbor state and a nation in the global community and abiding by international agreements.

          If you as an individual feel that you need to help strangers from other countries, that’s great, good for you. For the last four years I have traveled over seas to 3rd world countries to help where I can as well as give money directly to locals working there. But I do it as an individual and don’t advocate that the government should be doing that.
          Sure, we can help out in time of need, but we have enough problems locally and the government is elected to serve the best interests of the voters. Not to serve people in other countries.

          However, immigration affecting our emissions is nonsense. I don’t find it offensive as much as it is silly. Our emissions are a drop in the bucket and changing that now will have little impact on the catastrophic environmental issues that will hit us in the decades to come.

  2. John,
    One point the Productivity commission made on Transport related emissions was due to the “lock in” effect of Fossil Fuel new powered vehicles, we have about 8 or so years to get serious changes in our vehicle fleet makeup underway.

    Because the fleet we have on the roads in the late 2020’s will primarily determine the amount of CO2 emissions for the next 20 years [to 2050] due to the average age of the NZ vehicle fleet and how long we are keeping vehicles. Think how many late 1990’s dungers [or older!] from Japan are running round the roads now – well they’re 20+ years old. Then imagine what sort of emissions profiles they have compared to a similar 2018 vehicle? Chalk and cheese for sure. Thats what 20 years of “lock in” looks like.

    These required changes don’t just include the “simple” fix of more EVs, they include vehicle emission testing/enforcement regimes both for new imported vehicles and for existing vehicles already here. In part to prevent overseas manufacturers from dumping vehicles here in NZ they can’t sell elsewhere [something that will become a major issue in time]. And also to get the worst polluters off the road.

    Studies overseas have shown that something like the worst maintained15% of vehicles cause 85% of the pollution. So it makes sense to weed out the 15% for some quick and big wins because you can get a long way quickly by doing so.

    Australia is waking up to this issue too. Its potentially a big one for both countries.
    Europe might be awash with dirty diesels or all sizes thanks to the likes of VW and co fiddling the books.

    But those vehicles would be perfectly acceptable to import and run on our roads right now. And may well do so for the next 20+ years. Regardless of much shit they put into the air. ‘Cos the manufacturer says their “Euro 5, 6 or whatever” compliant we take them at their word. Stupid us.

    We are also stupid if we think oil will remain low priced forever – it won’t. So we may have a future oil shock or two to come, that may help the CO2 emissions short term but vehicles still gotta be driven.
    But if we (say) did the WWII equivalent of “converting all the cars from petrol to run on coal gas”, that would make things a lot worse, very quickly by the CO2 emissions from coal negating much of the benefits.
    And desparate times with high oil prices will see expedient solutions come to the fore. You wait.

    Its better if we don’t leave ourselves that open to the mercy of the markets and decide and implement our own courses to where we want to get to – for a change.

    Thats what the commission is getting at. Right now we don’t even have proper discussions on this.
    We need to be having them. We didn’t do so in the past and got away with it. We won’t in the future.

    One recent bit of interesting news is that scientists studying the role of black carbon (charcoal) in carbon sequestration show that this is a powerful and overlooked method of capturing and storing carbon in the environment and oceans for thousands of years.

    This means that growing trees, harvesting and keeping the carbon they captured intact is not only do-able but has been happening for a very long time. So the usual argument about not planting tress because what you do to them afterwards simply releases the CO2 back out has a partial answer. That nature has already been using this behind our backs.

    1. There’s huge potential to aid nature to sequester carbon, Greg. Not just in black carbon but in soils. That’s where about half of anthropocentric atmospheric carbon comes from – our poor treatment of soil. And we can reverse it. Trouble is, it’s a low-tech solution, so the corporates don’t like it.

      1. Agreed, but even for soils that wash away, the carbon they contain is sequestered and locked away for 1,000’s of years. So by factoring in/accounting for the soil and carbons in it better we may find that we can achieve “provable” a zero carbon situation far easier than many assume.

        And its not just accounting tricks here – the carbon cycle is a natural part of the planet. We just need to better leverage the existing methods already used by nature, to lower and keep the carbon out of the atmosphere for long enough for nature to do its job of sequestering it.

        It is true that poor soil management contributes to an awful lot of environmental problems, not just CO2 emissions. But that is not a recent discovery.
        That message has been around for 50 or more years. Yet we still ignore it.

        Yes corporates probably take some blame for this. but a lot of it is that we simply don’t count the externalities properly. If we did, many of the problems we have today with intensive Dairy farming and other “modern” farming practises causing issues simply wouldn’t have got a look in to start with.

        And most of those changes in farming and other practises were/are recent, so we can change course and do them differently if we as a country really want to.

        1. Yes. We just have to work quickly; and work on biodiversity at the same time. I don’t think the oceans can sustain the attack of acidification, over-fishing, plastic, pollution, and the killing of reef, coastal and estuarine systems by being buried by eroded sediment.

    2. “the worst maintained15% of vehicles cause 85% of the pollution” – that would be pollutants like small solid particles and NOx, not greenhouse gas emissions – but of course it’s still in NZ’s interest to get stricter on those pollutants.

      I agree that action is needed on emissions standards etc for vehicles entering the fleet, but GA doesn’t have any specific expertise on that. We did say that a feebate system is a good idea, as the Commission says. That means you’re not just giving away multi-thousand-dollar subsidies to EV buyers, for example – you’re subsidising the fuel efficient cars but penalising the inefficient ones.

      The other point I was trying to highlight is that consumers worldwide have actually been sold a crock in terms of how fuel efficient new cars are – there are huge differences between the lab test results and how they measure up on the road.

      1. The government has been saying feebate, feebate, feebate, James Shaw said it again on the radio this morning. I’m pretty sure it’s coming. The other main idea, a fleet emission standard on imported vehicles, would be harder to execute as there are so many small importers. Easier just to crank up the feebate levels until you get the result you want.

        1. The Government says feebate. because its proven to work. Its in place in France now.
          [They call it a Bonus-Malus scheme, but its the same thing].

          The issue of the many smaller importers was discussed by the ProdCom with several options mentioned. including some kind of exemption.

          However, for ongoing vehicle recall and overall simpler NZ Inc vehicle fleet management, I think the import system overall has to be modified to make it harder to import just any old thing/weed out the smaller back yard importers from the mix. By imposing similar sets of rules on everyone. You up the ante and the small guys either get with the program or get out.

          Otherwise we just left a huge backdoor for continuing of importing other countries CO2 problems via crappy old cars.

          For emission testing of second hand imports, thats best done in Japan or the source country anyway – we don’t want to ship cars here to find they don’t comply. And I am sure that a regime of emission testing in Japan without adding more than a few % to the import price is easy to achieve. And if we’re importing such low value vehicles that a couple of hundred dollars of tests make it uneconomic to import, we probably shouldn’t import it anyway whether we test it or not. As it obviously has not much life left in it.

          And with a feebate scheme, reliant of emission testing result, that means you have to have “proof” of the actual emissions a vehicle has [whether new or second hand]. Having a recent test for a vehicle will ensure you pay a lower feebate – offsetting the money you spent getting the emission test done at the very least.

      2. John, those 15% also do include large CO and CO2 emitters.
        [the actual study here found its 90% from 25% but you can see how the bottom quartile is the one you should definitely target first].

        Because those cars engines are really inefficient – and usually badly tuned/maintained.

        So one old dunger [diesel or petrol] thats never been tuned or maintained for 20 years?
        Yes ifs going to emit a hell of a lot of everything bad – CO2 included.

        Get one of those off the road for good [or at worst, replaced one for one with a modern fuel efficient equivalent] and you’ve achieved a major reduction from just 1 single car right there.

        Rinse and repeat even 10,000 or 100,000 times, and thats a big step up from the “do nothing” approach to date.

        At the same time we need to ensure that we prevent these newer replacements adding to the problem too. With proper tests and the feebate scheme, whereby all vehicles pay or are rewarded based on their lifetime pollution emission potential.

        As a first step we should be emissions testing all second hand imports to stop the “15%” from Japan infecting our fleet. Then we start testing the fleet we already have to weed out the existing 15%.

    3. I wonder, if we somehow forced a switched to bio diesel/ethanol, how that would affect our emissions as a nation. We would be mostly neutral because we take out what we put back into the air. Except for the fertilizer we use to grow the feedstocks I suppose. It would also help our balance of trade significantly. Brazil has done it for the most part why not us? Sure there are problems, but if you are talking about emissions, better to grow our own fuel, than to import fossil fuel.

      1. I don’t know. We have been addicted to energy from accumulated fossil carbon for so long, I don’t think we should pretend we can support that addiction with annual photosynthesis. However, there’s probably a place for some, as long as people aren’t starving while we’re growing fuel to live a life of luxury.

        What I do know is that you don’t need to use fertiliser to grow bio-fuels.

  3. The Productivity Commission’s 3rd recommendation for the transport sector seems to have been straight from GA – well done, if so.

    “Modelling from Concept Consulting estimates that an increase in the number of per person public transport trips (by 30%), cycling trips (by 30%) and walking trips (by 100%) over the next 20 years would achieve approximately a 1% reduction in private vehicle emissions”

    What? Is this against a steady background growth in person-trips assumed as per models such as ART3? And which assume the expected growth in person-trips is just a given instead of acknowledging that historical growth in person-trips is actually due to the road capacity expansion?

    This is utter crap, and completely ignores the possibility we have to reduce carbon emissions through vkt reduction. I guess I have to get a copy of this modelling and see what assumptions they made. Anyone done so already?

    1. Heidi, well said but probably not with enough emphasis. In the case of Auckland historical figures show this to be complete and utter crap. I went back to the AT Annual Report of 2012 and found that PT ridership was 71 million. The increase until now has been almost exactly 30%. Over the time frame to 2016 fuel use has increased (and hence emissions) from 1516 million litres to 1667 million litres (Auckland Sustainability Report). How does the modelling predict a 1% reduction when the evidence is that it has been more than. a 10% increase given the same parameter?

      Like you I would like to see the modelling?

      I am also interested to find where Chapter 3 is in the Productivity Commission draft because this is where they apparently concluded that ev’s are the answer rather than any other form of movement.

      1. taka-ite
        There are quite a few supplementary white papers produced for ProdCom which provide a lot of the background analysis they used in the main report. They’re on the ProdCom website as well.

        The main report links to them in the footnotes, but you do have to a bit of digging to verify the source conclusions matches the main report.

        in general their thinking around EVs is sound. But while it might be a headline catching recommendation, its but one of many they make on transport.

        So don’t assume just because the Herald or Stuff screams something as gospel that’s what the ProdCom actually said or that it was the only thing it said/reocmmended.

  4. IMHO we should just start at the solutions too much ceremony and expense is being devoted to carbon credits and planning and other related bullshit.
    Firstly methane is a short term gas so similar amounts are being generated now as ten years ago so there is no increase in warming. So I buy into the argument and have submitted option two to stabilise methane emissions from agriculture however not from fossil fuels production.
    The next thing is we need the animals to get the soil fertility Heidi is completely right the answer lies in increasing soil carbon. There is nothing like continuous cropping to burn up the soil carbon into carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxides need to be decreased by using less urea and providing night shelter for dairy cows so effluent and dairy shed effluent can be treated. We should move towards banning water soluble phosphate fertilisers for pastoral farming and replace them with phosphate rock or dicalcic suerphosphate however they will still be required for cropping and horticulture. If we farm right we can sequester carbon in soils rather than oxidise it to produce carbon dioxide.
    .The other thing is a most of the hill country is not suitable for cropping or horticulture. So large scale cropping and feeding the crops to pigs or chickens is just out of the question.We will just have to live with the nitrous oxide emitted from the cows urine patch. These patches are the equivalent of adding 1000 kgm of nitrogen per hectare to the soil. A normal application would be 125 kgm of nitrogen but we should just rely on the clover plant to produce the nitrogen.The other thing the more nitrogen (Urine) the animal eats the more urine the animal pisses.Makes sense when you think about it.
    So next forestry slash we should just require forestry companies to remove all of this too the nearest stock pile which should be located next to a rail head if possible. The material can be used to power the boilers in the nations industry or it can be turned into firewood wood pallets etc. I see it was reported on Newsroom today that Synlai is installing a 5mw electric boiler. This is fantastic news as it sets the standard for steam raising in industry. Golden Bay cement is using 50 percent forestry waste to power its kilns.
    Next thing is to go hard out on renewable electrical generation. Geothermal is the best base load electricity on the planet and we have potential to have even more. Wind may suffer as the climate change forecast is for long periods of stable weather and short intense storm events. This will decrease wind generation. However solar energy is just so easy and we will need heaps of electricity for the transport fleet. Watch Elons Musks videos promoting his electric semi tractor unit on You tube even if you cant stand his stilted speech to understand how electric transport is about to change. I don’t know what will happen but if transport contracts are won by using electric trucks expect rapid change.
    Electric buses and trains seem so logical and just like solar seem to be so simple compared to the internal combustion industry. But there will be billions of lithium cells needed which is good for economy of scale manufacturing. I expect the wont be made in New Zealand. Lastly if we can replace all fossil fuel cars trucks and buses with electrics then we save about $5 billion and it wont matter if Methanix goes all though I think we should retain the steel mill and the aluminium smelter.
    Well that just about covers it but I should mention home and commercial composting and biogas production using green waste and animal manures also the tree planting but we are onto that.

    1. The Golden Bay cement production using forestry waste is interesting, given the energy requirements of that industry. Have you looked into restoration agriculture, Royce? We’d do better not using water soluble phosphate fertiliser in horticulture either. Far better to work with growing the soil in a mainly perennial mixed system where the agriculture and horticulture can complement each other. Water soluble fertilisers are ruining soil faster than any short-term “improved productivity” can warrant.

      The international carbon credit accounting not giving recognition to improved carbon sequestration for an activity that remains in the same land use category does make it all bullshit. It doesn’t reward those who find better ways of doing what they do. For NZ, it means we have to go above and beyond not only our own EFTS but also international accounting practices.

      1. You will find many family farms in the Hawkes Bay who have being using Di Calcic phosphate for generations who absolutely swear by it. They also argue that water soluble superphosphate makes their animals sick. So if it makes the animals sick you can imagine it will make people sick as well. So yes water soluble phosphates should probably not be used in horticulture as well. However this is where I see regional composting sites coming into play so Horticulture has an alternative. If you look at some of the composts you can buy at Mitre ten you will see some that have a NPK rating but not added chemicals. That is the sort of material which we could produce on a large scale for all types of farming the bio char could be added to produce a hybrid product. Remember the more carbon (Humus) in the soil the better it will absorb water when it rains and it will retain more moisture during the droughts. So less floods and droughts. It will also absorb and retain more nutrients. So yes nitrogen instead of being released into the atmosphere as nitrous oxides or ammonia or leached into the ground water or the streams will be retained in the soil where it can be used by the plants to grow.
        And yes restorative agriculture is the planets big hope imagine if the deserts could be restored into pasture. You can see Alan Savorys you tube videos showing just this.You need to control the animals though it is no good having a goat or sheep standing there eating any blade of grass the minute its dares to poke its head out of the ground. Thats how the middle east got to were it is today.But you need the animals though to build the fertility. After a few years of grazing the fertility builds like money in the bank you cash in by planting a crop.

        1. Have you read “Call of the Reed Warbler”, Royce? A beautiful account of Australia’s amazing farmers who have quietly put Alan Savory’s theories to work on that fragile continent. Also covers the application of work by Stan Parsons, Elaine Ingham and many others.

          I also found Mark Shepard’s book “Restorative Agriculture” quite inspiring, and of course Joel Salatin is very entertaining if you can put aside his redneck views on some things.

    2. Royce you completely miss moving away from animal farming altogether. NZ farmers will have a real wakeup call over meat and milk analogues that are having just as good a taste, better pricing, but with a much better back story on animal cruelty (well lack of it), from local water pollution (aquifers as well as rivers, streams and lakes) and from global climate change pollution. We need to convert out dairy farms to avocado and tree nut farms, to arable crops like beans of all descriptions, our hill country grazing to forestry and anywhere remotely near a waterway to perpetual native forest IMHO.

      1. We shouldn’t turn completely away from animals on farms, though. All ecosystems involve animals, it’s just the balance we’ve got wrong. Animals can be part of farms even if it’s just through the farmer providing habitat for the wild birds so they can control pests and bring nutrients to the farm. Many of the waste products of horticulture are best consumed by animals. They can be composted but the cycling of resources through as many layers of an ecosystem before the compost cycle results in the most productivity and fertility.

        I agree with the general land-uses you list, and would add that the forestry should be selectively felled native forestry. The only arable cropping I think is suitable is that on contour amongst perennials to prevent erosion. I’m experimenting with pigeon pea at the moment, as one of several perennial legumes we could be growing.

  5. I see Greg has mentioned bio char well if we can get all the forestry slash together in regional stockpiles then we can look at that. Similarly I could imagine composting plants being setup to handle green and manures as well on the same sites. Maybe it would require Govt subsidies or Shane Jones regional funds to get things rolling. I suppose carbon credits but I don’t imagine they will provide anything useful but who knows.

    1. Bio char doesn’t need such centralised planning. I listened to an interesting talk by two researchers (Waikato and Massey, respectively) at a Tree Crops conference, and there are benefits to bio char made at different scales (meaning different temperatures, different feed diameters, different materials, different burners meaning different oxygen profiles.) At one extreme, the carbon can be very stable, but less useful as a soil amendment. At the other end it is less stable (although in the decades still considerable) and more useful as a soil amendment.

      This means biochar at a farm level, and at a community level within suburbs is absolutely viable, alongside biochar at a more industrial scale. And of course, that’s what we’re seeing; communities and farmers taking the job on themselves as a really positive thing they can be doing. I make it myself in a very easy way, and along with growing perennials and burying wood, it contributes to the huge soil building I am doing.

  6. Greater Auckland I think you are wrong saying its not a priority to extend the network of fast chargers into low population areas. Here in Nelson, one of the main reasons people buy a fossil car is so they can drive to Christchurch once every 6 months. So there is another ICE vehicle locked into our fleet for another 20 years. However if there were fast chargers through remoter places like the Lewis pass more people would buy pure EV’s even though they only need to use those far flung fast chargers rarely.

    1. I’d be more comfortable that if some one chooses to drive to Christchurch that there is a road pricing mechanism so they pay the cost of the carbon emissions. I have no problem at all if the government then decides to use some of that money to install fast chargers along the way.

      Next time you see you friend tell him that s/he would be better of economically to sell the car and fly to Christchurch every six months.

  7. John, the GA submission was well written but underwhelming regarding the fundamental position that GA argues i.e. that many of Auckland’s transport issues can be solved by greater use of public transport As you say, “At a New Zealand-wide level, the Commission assumes that electric vehicles (rather than public and active transport) are the main opportunity for reducing transport emissions.” I felt that the GA submission should have distanced itself more from this position.

    I admit that I am somewhat confused by their fifth recommendation to introduce road pricing to reduce congestion. Where do they imagine that the displaced motorists will head to? If their some sort of implicit recognition that people may have to catch the bus , but they can’t bring themselves to say it?

    Will GA also submit through the have your say process?

    1. Valid points, and thanks for the honesty! I agree it wasn’t a great submission, but despite not having much time to put it together we thought it was better to make one than not (we didn’t manage to submit on the Zero Carbon Bill, which would have been good to do as well).

      We’re going a bit outside our comfort zone from talking about everyday/ long term Auckland issues, which we know very well, to looking at major aggregate NZ-wide emissions cuts in the next 30 years. It’s an issue we do care about, but we’ve only got some of the pieces. I did my thesis on electric vehicles a few years back, so I’m familiar with them and with their potential to cut vehicle emissions drastically (in NZ at least). However, they’re expensive and it will take many years for them to make up a big share of the vehicle fleet, under ‘business as usual’. Plus, they only tackle one of the issues with cars – emissions. They don’t help congested cities to function any better.

      Actually, figuring those things out was what led me to become interested in public transport and this blog – I came into it backwards, from emissions, to EVs, to public transport. Because public and active modes address a whole suite of issues, from emissions to health to congestion to equal employment access.

      With hindsight, especially given Heidi’s and your comments above, we should have questioned the Commission’s modelling on this – certainly Auckland Council has set itself higher goals for public/ active mode uplift, and there’s no reason why other cities can’t do the same. However, given the way the Commission works, and the stage we were submitting at (we’d missed an earlier stage, long story), our submission was basically a quick read through relevant sections of the report, and checking to see if we agreed with the “recommendations” to government.

      Most of our focus with submissions is on the ones that are more closely linked to (public) transport – route changes and the New Network, patronage targets, funding brackets, overall vision, delivery. We’re probably better off spending our time on those things rather than the kind of inquiry here – but we will do it from time to time, and next time around we’ll try to take these comments on board and put a bit more into it 🙂

      1. John, it’s great that GA put in a submission, and volunteers can only do as much as they can do. Well done.

        The even better news is that submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill are due on the 19th July, so GA can indeed put in a more comprehensive submission. I’ve put off looking at it properly because I’m working on a few big projects at the moment, but I hope there will be a chance to get into the nitty gritty of transport emissions in it.

        Oh boy, anyone else exhausted on the submission front? 🙂

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