Feed-in Tarriffs and The Greens Party


So election year is hear and in less than 2 months the political fate of New Zealand will be decided for the next 3 years. With Greenhouse / Global warming , Kyoto and the global call for positive action on sustainability, I would have thought that The Green Party would have had the perfect opportunity to become a dominant force.

In several parts of the USA there are government subsidies and interest free loans on the purchase and installations of solar panels for domestic use. New Zealand has major problems with power. This year the lakes which are used to generate hydro electricity in the South Island were close to empty and given that this has been a recurring situation, it is only a matter of time before we start having enforced power cuts.

The government has been quick to sign the Kyoto Protocol which apparently gives us a sustainability debt which we will have to pay to other countries. In my humble opinion this is stupid, not the least because countries including our Australian cobbers and the USA have not signed. But more so because we would be far better using those funds, taxpayers dollars, to do better things at home, such as interest free subsidies for urban water tanks for drinking water and solar panels on our homes to generate water to heat it. Surely that would make better sense?

When I started to research this, I found that South Australia is enforcing a concept that they got from the NZ Green Party which is a Feed-in-Tarriff. I’m amazed that I had never heard of it! I’m not sure if that reflects more poorly on me for not knowing or on the Greens for not being more vocal about it. Anyway, rather than providing subsidies and interest free finance, which I feel we should still enforce, this concept requires the power companies to purchase excess power from consumers who have solar power in their homes, at a price higher than they pay to the commercial grid.

If we are in for some serious problems as a consequence of global warming, rising sea lavels, increased pollution in lakes and rivers, exacerbated by increasing water temperature, how is it that the Greens do not feature high on the political radar. I suspect that a lot of it is driven by their perception as tree huggers, driving sooty diesel vans who used ot be extremely vocal, but just didn’t seem like us, the average Joe Public. They don’t fit the mould of the ordinary politician, perhaps because they represent only one (important) facet of life on planet Earth today. They haven’t convinced us that we need them, which is a shame, because they may have some great ideas that we dn’t know about. Maybe they need to make some changes to the way they present themselves.

So here’s the problem. I can’t afford to spend between $30,000 for water heating and $100,000 for generate power to my home equivalent to what I get off the grid today. But if I could borrow the money interest free and pay for it from savings as well as selling excess back into the grid I’d be keen.

Advertisements

New Zealand Carbon Taxes and Carbon Trading


I sometimes wonder about this country. First of all we told the world that we were clean and green and carbon friendly, so we signed the Kyoto Protocol as a sign of good faith. Our government likes to set a good example and we are very PC (politically correct) so we led the way. Of course we noted that countries like the United States, China and other major polluters didn’t sign, possibly because they uderstood the implications better than our politicians did. I believe even Australia didn’t join the party.

Then we started looking inward and understanding the implications and in the last year we have seen dramatic changes in the way we look at ourselves, much of it very good. Business and consumers have been given lots of opportunities to measure their carbon footprint and look at ways that we can recycle and in other ways try to become carbon neutral.

I understand that one of the Agreements we have signed allows us to only have to worry about the increase in carbon emissions since 1999. Now I’m not a specialist in this area and not so much interested in the finer details. I’m happy wherever possible to do my bit as a consumer and in business. I have been recycling and separating paper waste, plastic, metals and glass from my household waste and do the same in the office wherever practicable.

I was surprised to learn recently that even though as a country we are separating waste into various categories much of it is still dumped and not recycled, but that’s another story.

I don’t have a major issue with carbon trading within business in our country, for those who wish to partake, but for many small businesses that it is a problem, yet another compliance issue that makes it difficult for businesses to focus on generating revenue and hopefully profit. This has the potential to damage many industries in New Zealand.

What really bugs me though is that even though we have loads of native bush and domestic forestry and are largely an agrcicultural nation, we will apparently still have to buy carbon credits from other countries who have a better carbon footprint. I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with this if it applied to the entire developed world, but when giant countries who have huge large scale industrialisation and generate mass pollution, greenhouse gases etc don’t and don’t have to participate, this situation is unfair.

I accept that the world can’t go on as it is and that the future landscape for our children and grandchildren looks bleak. I accept that we have to take responsibility and I believe that most New Zealanders do. Even industry such as the Comalco aluminium smelter in Invercargill which could close down due to the proposed carbon taxes claims to be the greenest of the 200 off smelters around the world. If they close due to our governments obsession of being the best example in the world, they will take away 3,000 direct and indirect jobs which in an area of only around 50,000 people could be enough to close the city down economically.

The government want us to pay carbon tax on our petrol which is already up at the highest level it has ever been per litre, as well as adding regional taxes to pay for roading developments, public transport improvements, when traditionally the taxes we pay in this area go to the consolidated fund to be used on whatever they deem important. Fortunately there is a moratorium on this for 2 years, I wonder if there is any relevance to this being an election year. Then instead of using those taxes to improve our country’s carbon footprint, we have to buy tax credits from other countries and then on top of that again, they will want us to spend even more money on trying to become carbon neutral.

All of this in a climate (pardon the pun) where house prices are higher than they have ever been, food prices are going through the roof, interest rates are high, in short the cost of living is far exceding the average income earners pay increases and businesses in the finance industry are falling over. I could go on, but if you live here you know what I am talking about. We don’t have enough money to support our stretched resources in health and many children are going to school without breakfast in our working class areas.

So for all of that, instead of taking carbon taxes and investing them in our own country to improve our sustainability, our government wants to send the money to other countries. I applaud the government for drawing our attention to the environment, to our responsibility to its health and to future generations. But surely the money would be better spent at home? If the rules are not the same and enforcable for the whole developed world, then lets make our home a better place and set the example. We can’t afford to give money to other countries who are ‘greener’ than us, because it sets a good example. Let’s tidy up our own back yard and become sustainable and then say to China and the USA and anyone else that isn’t doing their bit, ‘follow our example’.

Carbon Emission savings and Mapping Technologies


This is from my blog at GeoSmart Maps Ltd in Auckland where I am gainfully employed in Business Development.

We’re helping you reduce your carbon footprint The movement towards reducing carbon emissions is growing daily and New Zealand’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in practical terms means that it is going to be high on the roadmap for New Zealand businesses and government. The data we are collecting and providing in our products and services is helping people in simple and practical ways to reduce their vehicle kilometers driven on NZ roads.

With the high cost of petrol and the expectation that it will continue to increase, there are already incentives to reduce the distances we drive in our cars. With more and more evidence of global warming and our commitment to doing what we can to reduce carbon emmissions, especially from our motor vehicles, GeoSmart is doing its part to help.

Many of our products and solutions involve data which can help people travel from A to B more efficiently. For example:

  • Car Navigation is an obvious one. I frequently hear stories of people without navigation in their cars getting lost and driving much further than they should be. Add this to the well warn stories of ‘men don’t ask directions’ and ‘women can’t read maps’ which is proven to be true over and over again and the fact that quality portable navigation devices are now available for under NZ$500 at retail, their is no excuse for this anymore. Add up how many extra km you drive due to error or being lost and especially for business people, these devices will pay for themselves in no time flat. What about all the thousands of Mums and Dads taking their kids to away games on the weekends?
  • Fleet Management. Vehicle tracking solutions combined with our Route Optimisation web services can have a rapid impact on reduced travel with the bonus of increased productivity, reduced maintenance costs, fuel costs, and as a good corporate citizen, reduced fuel emissions.
  • Directions for web mapping. One of the API’s that GeoSmart offers with SmartFIND Web Mapping is the ability to generate printable driving directions from A to B based on the fastest route. There are now hundreds of web sites in NZ using this service. The most well known is of course http://www.wises.co.nz. Going a step further, sites like http://www.aamaps.co.nz allow you to create and print an entire itinerary with turn by turn instructions to take with you in the car. These are no also used i n a number of call centres around the country to provide directions to people on the road.
  • Vodafone Live does the same on your mobile phone so you never have an excuse that you didn’t have access to the Internet. Need your nearest ATM or petrol station, just tell your phone where you are and you will receive turn by turn directions and a route map on your phone.
  • For those who don’t have a problem reading maps, GeoSmart generates map books for Wises as well as the NZ Automobile Association which gives away a HUGE number of maps to members. Of course you do have to use them, but again, why not save your money as well as care for your environment.
  • Doesn’t apply to you? That’s wonderful, but be honest, I’m sure you will recall a time recently where you drove further than you could have.

There have been discussions in the media recently that a Carbon Tax might be applied as a petrol surcharge. Do you need any more incentive for an investment in time by getting directions from one of our client services or buying yourself a car navigation device? Then how about doing it to do your bit to protect our planet? Many people think “I’m just one person, what can I do?” If we all do the same, it will make a difference. It’s nice to be part of a company that is helping to make that difference.