Greg Plowman: Climate change ideas generate more issues than they solve

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I have concerns over the Government's energy and climate change policies.

The Government has a policy to develop only renewable sources of energy. This seems noble from a "climate change" point of view.

These renewable sources of energy include wind farms, hydro plants and geothermal generation. Everything else such as tidal power is still pie in the sky stuff.

Wind farms do not provide constant reliable energy so can only make up a small amount of the total generation. One of my concerns is that this will mean more pressure to build hydroelectric dams.

These hydro projects are extremely destructive for the local environment.

For example, the dam proposed by Meridian Energy for the Mokihinui River on the South Island's West Coast would flood a river valley and swamp large amounts of native bush.

It would destroy the habitat of endangered birds such as the blue duck.

Also, rivers such as the Mokihinui are extensively used for recreation by local communities.

Dams are being proposed by power companies on many other rivers as well.

But the number of rivers is finite and eventually there will be no more rivers to dam.

Energy conservation and encouraging local individual generation is important.

Why is it not compulsory to put solar water systems on new houses?

Why can't individuals who generate their own electricity sell it back on the grid?

Why aren't power companies required by law to engage in energy conservation measures with their customers?

The corporate "for profit" model of generation encourages power companies to sell as much electricity as they can.

If there is extra demand, they somehow have the right to pick a river and put a dam on it.

The more electricity used the better as that means more profit for power-generating state-owned enterprises and dividends for the Government.

The sources of energy that are reliable and proven in New Zealand to provide base load generation that could be further developed are geothermal generation and coal.

New Zealand has an abundance of geothermal energy and coal. It does not have an abundance of natural gas.

It seems crazy to me to go around damming more rivers, building wind farms on every ridge line, or risk importing gas because of supply concerns for powering gas-fired power stations.

If it is okay for China to build 50 more coal-fired stations a year then why can't we build one or two more? This will not make a shred of difference to global warming since we produce only 0.2 per cent of the world's CO2. It will provide reliable energy.

The other issue that is of concern to me is the Kyoto protocol and the Emissions Trading Scheme.

This is a scam. I cannot understand why there is not more public anger about this.

The science behind global warming is uncertain. There is no evidence that the scheme will have any effect on the world's climate.

Consumers will end up paying for the Emissions Trading Scheme as costs are passed on from businesses and farmers who will want to maintain their profit margins.

This money will then be given, through Kyoto, to low-growth economies in Eastern Europe whose CO2 emissions have not increased as much since 1990. Middle men such as carbon traders will take their cut.

People are already struggling with the cost of living without the increased costs that this ridiculous bill will generate.

Even if the money was collected it would be better used to build light rail or fund solar water heaters on state houses in New Zealand.

Apart from being able to say we are doing our bit in the battle against climate change, letting a few Greenpeace supporters sleep better at night and keeping onside with the Europeans, I can't see any benefit to this bill.

People are not going to drive less, eat less food or use less electricity. It will just cost more to do so. A one-off $112 rebate is a joke.

We should not be a world leader on climate change. We are a small isolated country at the bottom of the world.

The Europeans are the only ones to have a limited cap and trade system. Shouldn't we wait and see how this and other systems work and what impact they have before climbing on board?

It is unclear why the Labour Government is ramming this through before the election with so little debate and with so many changes from the minor parties.

The Emissions Trading Scheme and the nonsense about renewable energy will not make any difference to the world's climate even if the theories from the UN international panel on climate change are 100 per cent correct.

What they will do is damage this country physically and economically.

* Greg Plowman is a resident of Onehunga, Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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