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Jim Salinger on Kiwis, carbon and climate

Posted in Reflections On Science on November 29th, 2012.

In a New Zealand Herald opinion article, Prof Jim Salinger, Visiting Professor at Stanford University, California, asks NZ not to ‘welch on its global obligations’ regarding climate commitments.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Time NZ played its climate change part, even if it’s small

As I sit in my autumn perch in California I ponder why I should pay taxes to the New Zealand Government. My contribution is so small (less than 0.02 per cent) that it is insignificant, so why should I bother?

Today I learned that New Zealand has received two ‘‘Fossil of the Day’’ awards on the first day of international climate talks in Doha, Qatar, issued by the Climate Action Network (CAN) to countries that ‘‘performed badly’’ in the climate change negotiations.

New Zealand, unlike Australia, has decided not to put its target into the second commitment period of the Kyoto agreement, citing ‘‘spurious grounds when the reality is that it is just a massive display of irresponsibility’’, according to CAN.

More alarming to observers in the United States is that the New Zealand Government has completely misread American public opinion. Minister Tim Groser notes ‘‘there is zero possibility of the US joining Kyoto, so I think we’re in the right space’’. However, Dr Jon Krosnick of Stanford University has found that in 2010 and 2012 two-thirds of Americans wanted the Government to take specific actions to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Although President Barack Obama may not be able to ratify Kyoto through Congress, carbon dioxide has been ruled a pollutant by the US Supreme Court so the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

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