Planetary Ecology

A New Zealand household emissions calculator

Robert McLachlan Jul 05, 2019

The New Zealand company Enviro-Mark Solutions, a spinoff from the Crown Research Institute Landcare, is a global pioneer is greenhouse certification. Founded in 2001, they now have hundreds of clients in seventeen countries. Their most popular certification, CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement And Reduction Scheme) audits companies’ emissions and their emissions reduction plans – typically reductions of at least a … Read More

100% renewable electricity: A classic kiwi stoush in the making

Robert McLachlan Jul 01, 2019

There’s an old joke set variously in Maine, in Scotland, and probably in any number of other places, about some city folks asking directions from an elderly local. After several lengthy, confusing false starts at directions, the local finally concludes, “You know, you really shouldn’t be starting from here.” This, to me, is the central joke of climate change mitigation. Read More

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The tragedy of climate change

Robert McLachlan Jun 06, 2019

Why is there pollution? Why is there an ecological crisis and why has it been so hard to deal with? There is certainly no shortage of culprits – people have blamed neoliberalism, capitalism, consumerism, economic growth, overpopulation, evil corporations, greed. But underneath all the many aspects of this difficult problem lies one fundamental phenomenon: the Tragedy of the Commons. This states … Read More

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Green electricity: Is it for real?

Robert McLachlan May 26, 2019

Stop flying, cut out red meat, switch to an electric car or, better yet, a bike.  Newspapers and websites are full of stories of people who have made the switch to a low-emission lifestyle. The stories are inspiring, to me anyway, and they are definitely newsworthy. But, at least judging from the online comments (‘Not gonna happen!’), they can be … Read More

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

Robert McLachlan 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. Read More

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

Robert McLachlan 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 … Read More

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Farms, forests, and fossil fuels

Robert McLachlan 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 … Read More