Submission to the Select Committee from Alan S, February 2009


A Practical Submission on Emissions Trading from the Coal Face
February 2009
The objective of this submission is multi-layered as follows:
  1. Emissions Trading should be abandoned because carbon dioxide is influenced by temperature not the other way round. The science on this is very clear. I refer the committee to all the scientific evidence contained at
  2. If the select committee disagrees, then agriculture should be removed from Kyoto and therefore from emissions trading.
  3. If the select committee disagrees, then kiwifruit should be removed from emissions trading.
  4. If the select committee disagrees, then the basis of calculating emissions for the kiwifruit industry must be changed to give offset for trees (shelter belts, native trees, bush, avocado trees), and scientific research should be undertaken to give proper credit to deciduous plants.
  5. If the select committee disagrees, then the basis of measuring emissions should be changed from an industry level to individual orchards, otherwise the emission trading is no more than a tax because there is nothing an individual orchardist can do to change the liability. I note that Australia has decided that it would not be practical to measure emissions directly in the agricultural sector.
  6. If the select committee disagrees, then the government should underwrite the costs of emissions trading. When anthropogenic global warming is found to be the huge scam that it is, then the government should make up all the losses of people and organisations forced to part with money based on government laws and regulations.
I am an orchardist growing kiwifruit and avocados in the Bay of Plenty. I moved from Auckland to be closer to, and be part of, the real life of nature. The only information, from Zespri, that I have received about emission trading is that I might have to pay $15,000 for emissions rights for the kiwifruit. I cannot find out more detail without paying a “Suit” to look at my orchard, and in any case this would be a waste of time and money because emissions (if there are any) are calculated at an industry level so there is nothing I can do about it.
Abandon Kyoto and Emissions Trading Altogether
The science is perfectly clear and incontrovertible - changes in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere are caused by changes in temperature. This is the simple inconvenient truth. This means that people will run around trying to reduce CO2 while the temperature does what it was always going to do and CO2 will still follow. CO2 concentrations, if they increase, ARE THE RESULT OF WARMING NOT THE CAUSE. I invite members of the committee to read the science at
IPCC scientists have identified carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. This may be true in the cities where there is very little plant life to absorb and use it. But for country folk, CO2 is an essential gas for the survival of living things on the planet. Humans are exhaling it all the time and according to IPCC would be polluters – surely everyone needs an annual licence to breathe? If you believe IPCC, this is an inescapable conclusion. What began as a study to determine whether burning fossil fuels was detrimental to the planet has now morphed into a study of CO2. 
Remove Agriculture from Emissions Trading
When the previous NZ government signed up to Kyoto, two things were promoted to the public and to me. The country was going to make a billion dollars. And secondly we would therefore be able to sign up for agricultural emissions under Kyoto when most other countries did not. The government got it wrong and the country has to pay a billion dollars not earn a billion. In all equity, if the government got it wrong they should pay. The government included agriculture in Kyoto without thinking the issue through for its effect on us when our country is one of the food baskets of the world. Surely the mistakes of the Labour led government should not have to be paid for by farmers/orchardists.
Our European friends have decided to re-introduce export subsidies. New Zealand has decided, via including agriculture in Kyoto, to penalise exporters. One has to draw the conclusion that New Zealand does not want to export but Europe does. I would like to see the models of our economy without agricultural exports. Would we be better off than Zimbabwe which also killed its agricultural base?  
Remove Kiwifruit from Emissions Trading
I have heard that my orchard is bad because I use fertiliser. Kiwifruit vines are deciduous, and deciduous is not a good thing because it is not a carbon sink. The largest part of my crop is exported which I understand to be a bad thing. The fruit needs to be coolstored, a bad thing, but surely this will be punished separately by the increasing price of electricity. My orchard has a lot of trees making up north/south and east/west shelter belts, has avocado trees, pine trees and over a hectare of bush. Apparently these are good, but I am not allowed to claim the benefit because they existed prior to 1990 – at the same time as the kiwifruit vines were planted actually so I would have thought the vines would not count either. But no, these are the rules.
I think I have become a “Scammee”.   Who will get my $15,000? Why is my orchard penalised the same as one which uses artificial shelter belts? Will my money save the planet and is the planet at risk anyway? What can I do to reduce emissions and do I emit anything anyway compared to what I used to emit in Auckland? And even if I could reduce emissions it looks like I would not save any money because the assessment of cost is to be at a higher structural level than my orchard - namely Zespri, the exporter of my kiwifruit. Emissions trading is even worse than an income tax because the latter does not have to be paid if I have no income.
Promote further Scientific Study into Shelter trees and Deciduous Plants
I refer back to our trees and bush. We have one tree for every two vines, but the trees themselves are about 4 times than the height of the vines. The bush area is more than 10% of the land area of our orchard. But rules say that neither of these count because of some problem with forests and a date agreed of 1990. I bet our orchard is carbon neutral, and the problem is with the rules. So we are to be punished not for being emitters, but because of the rules. If we were to try to avoid the $15,000, it strikes me that the only way of doing it when we are carbon neutral (by my gut feel) on the orchard is to have the rules changed, hence this submission.
In addition, scientists must have decided it is too hard to measure the benefit to the environment of deciduous plants. When our part of the world welcomes spring, the buds on our vines burst with leaf and they absorb CO2. This carries on during the summer and autumn at the time temperatures are high. The leaves eventually drop but at the same time as the temperature drops so the greenhouse effects are minimised. This is part of the problem, the annual measure of carbon when it should be measured daily. This must be too hard for scientists to do because nature is infinitely more complex than scientists can understand. So deciduous plants are ignored in the calculations for emission trading.
In addition, our shelter trees and bush exist for different reasons than would be found in the forestry industry. Are scientists not clever enough to differentiate that our shelter trees are not going to be harvested for timber? Should we not be paid the equivalent of what might be paid to Brazilian landowners who agree not to clear jungle? 
Change the Basis for Assessing Kiwifruit Emissions from the Industry to Individual Orchards
I would have thought with all my clean green practices, my offsetting carbon sinks and the benefits of my deciduous plants, the home vegetable gardens throughout the country would emit more CO2 than the entire kiwifruit industry. If we are not going to assess vegetable gardens, on what basis does the government decide what size will be pinged? People breathe, absorb oxygen and exhale a large amount of CO2. Should we charge everybody an emissions tax, kind of like a licence to breathe just as I am being asked to have a licence to grow things?
The difficulty is there is nothing I can do to influence the amount I have to pay. So the cost is not an incentive for me to reduce emissions, it is merely a tax. So I recommend that the orchard itself is assessed. But then if the committee was to recommend a move toward individual orchards, bear in my mind the Australian conclusion that the costs of measuring individual agricultural blocks would be prohibitive. So my submission that individual orchards be assessed is a bit spurious because NZ is likely to come to the same conclusion as Australia – it’s not practical. 
If the select committee, and then parliament, will let me keep my $15,000, I can also take off the burden of guilt from my shoulders caused by growing things. Deciduous is good not bad – thank goodness I can carry on enjoying Lake Hayes in the autumn. Fertiliser is OK as well (strictly controlled of course to minimise run off) but it allows me and the country to grow more food at a cheaper cost. I am no longer aggrieved about the unfairness of not counting my trees and bush based on when they were planted. CO2 is OK as well; life on the planet would not survive without it. I can carry on breathing without a licence and enjoy my fizzy drinks without worrying about the escaping CO2.
I liken Anthropogenic Global Warming to a religion. There are believers and non-believers. A religion is able to tithe its adherents and those who are not adherents do not have to contribute. So I invite all adherents of AGW to stump up my $15,000 and feel good because they are saving the planet and I can carry on growing what I grow but only at the mercy of market forces. 
There are various laws in business which require anyone promoting an investment to issue a prospectus and there are all kinds of requirements and penalties associated with untrue and misleading statements. These are designed to protect investors who part with their money on the basis of what they are told. I am a businessman and a grower and find it hard to believe that science is in worse shape than business as far as morals and ethics are concerned. In business, people like Gore, Mann and all the IPCC scientists could be taken to court over any claims they make which were false and misleading and cause people, like myself, financial loss. In relation to my $15,000, I have no such rights. Which brings me to my next suggestion. If the government legislates that I must pay my money to goodness knows who, surely the government can underwrite my payment. If the whole shebang is a scam, I get my money back from the government. Or are the government not that sure about it all?
The whole mess keeps rolling on. There is to be a conference in Wellington next March, costing $2,000 per person, to learn about Emissions Trading. The blurb shows industrial chimneys belching smoke. I don't think the photo was taken in NZ, but more importantly there are no pictures of the calm and placid orchard where I live. The question to be asked at the conference is whether this country should aim for carbon neutrality when of course this is a silly question because the earth only has so much carbon, it will always be neutral. Presenters and participants will include unions, lawyers, representatives of the Tourist Industry, Local Bodies, Lawyers (3 of them), Manufacturers, Exporters, University representatives and last but not least emission traders. All of them squabbling over my $15,000 and the rest of the country's cost of emissions. I close my observations by reminding everyone that the emissions trading scheme was designed by Enron, God rest its soul if it ever had one. 

Alan S