Robert McLachlan

Robert McLachlan FRSNZ is Distinguished Professor in Applied Mathematics at Massey University and is an advocate for stronger action on climate change.

NZ introduces groundbreaking zero carbon bill, including targets for agricultural methane - Planetary Ecology

May 09, 2019

New Zealand’s long-awaited zero carbon bill will create sweeping changes to the management of emissions, setting a global benchmark with ambitious reduction targets for all major greenhouse gases. The bill includes two separate targets – one for the long-lived greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and another target specifically for biogenic methane, produced by livestock and landfill waste. Launching the bill, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: Carbon dioxide is the most important thing we need to tackle – that’s why we’ve taken a net zero carbon approach. Agriculture is incredibly important to New Zealand, but it also needs to be part of the solution. That is why we have listened to the science and also heard the industry and created a specific target for biogenic methane. The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill will: Create a … Read More

A long time between drinks: Mercury will build the Turitea wind farm - Planetary Ecology

May 02, 2019

We know what we have to do to beat climate change: electrify everything, and stop investing in things that burn fossil fuels. In New Zealand, that has been hard to do. Thirty years of climate policy have left us with only two main tools: the Emissions Trading Scheme, and an ‘aspirational’ target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025. The ETS has failed to reduce emissions. Although the carbon price has now risen to $25/tonne, and a 50% discount for large emitters gradually unwound, the price is not high enough to have an effect. It’s adding 5c/l to petrol, and in theory it’s adding 2.5c/kWh to coal-powered electricity and (and 1.25c/kWh to gas). Gas peakers, which can be turned on every evening when the spot price is high, are still being used and even built. The short story of new electricity … Read More

Farms, forests, and fossil fuels - Planetary Ecology

Mar 28, 2019

That’s the title of the new report from Simon Upton, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. In a pattern we’ve become used to, James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change, immediately released a statement to say that the report’s main recommendation – that forests not be allowed to offset fossil emissions – was not on the table. But the same day on the radio, the interviewer Guyon Espiner appeared to put Shaw on the spot: Espiner: [Apart from the Emissions Trading Scheme and the Zero Carbon Bill] What are you doing to bring down emissions? Shaw: Well, I mean, there are things right across the economy that we’re doing… Espiner: Just name a couple of big ones Shaw: OK, we stopped new exploration of offshore oil and gas… Espiner: The advice was that that wasn’t going to … Read More