Friday, February 22, 2013

Climate change: Locked out

Its official: New Zealand will be locked out of the international carbon market in retaliation for our refusal to sign up for Kyoto's Second Commitment period:

In December, the COP 18 meeting voted to exclude New Zealand, Canada and Japan from access to the units after all three countries said they would not sign up to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

At the time, Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser described commentary by Carbon News and others that the decision would exclude New Zealand from international markets as “ill-informed”, saying that New Zealand emitters would continue to have access to them until the end of 2015.

But now officials in the New Zealand Emissions Unit Register have confirmed that New Zealand will be barred from trading in almost all Kyoto credits generated under the second commitment period, New Zealand's specialist carbon market information service, Carbon News, reports today.

“As of 1 January, 2013, only countries that have taken an emission limitation and reduction commitment under the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period (2013-19) may trade in CP2 Kyoto units,” a statement on the registry website says.

Unmentioned: the fate of our expected CP1 Assigned Amount Surplus. This is currently expected to amount to 35 million tons, but thanks to the lockout we won't be able to sell any of it. Given the crash in global carbon prices, that's not exactly a great loss - but it will be if they recover.

Reading the background documents on FYI, the government's clear aims were to avoid commitment while retaining access to the international carbon market. In that context, the lockout can only be viewed as a major foreign policy failure. And judging from the lack of the passive voice in the documents (particularly here [PDF]), that failure should be owned fairly and squarely by Tim Groser.