Counting the cost of reducing emissions

If you think that the ongoing international negotiations about how to deal with climate change are a waste of time and won’t cost you anything, think again. While not all aspects of the issue are important, some have the potential to hit us hard in the pocket. Others have the potential to deliver economic gains. This article looks at the long term (to 2050) economic implications for New Zealand of three issues: how different greenhouse gases are converted into carbon dioxide equivalents, global participation in international agreements to reduce emissions, and the inclusion of agriculture in international agreements.

Biofuel basics

As oil prices once again reach levels last seen before the global financial crisis, we are reminded that the long term trend is upwards. Consequently we can expect to see a number of changes in transportation over the coming decades – more fuel efficient vehicles, greater use of public transport, a shift to hybrid or plug-in electric cars, and fuel switching from oil products to biofuels.

What price conservation?

The idea of user-pays conservation is untenable to many people. However, access to New Zealand’s conservation estate already includes a level of user-pays. Tourism operators pay concessions to access Department of Conservation (DOC) land, which they recover by charging their customers. Trampers pay for the use of DOC huts and camp sites, although these facilities are often heavily subsidised from the public purse. But the majority of trampers, hunters, mountain bikers, and other eco-tourists or adventure seekers do not pay directly for the use of the conservation estate.

Congested Thinking about Congestion Charging

The Dominion Post of Friday 18 April had a front page article on congestion charging for the Wellington region at peak commuting times. Congestion charges have much theoretical merit, but the conditions under which they deliver are beneficial are not that easy to assess. As I read through the article I became progressively more concerned about the proposed scheme. Let’s start by looking at those aspects of the proposed scheme that really are complete rubbish.