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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A war of errorism to justify terrorism - Reports of errors in US database

Alt Tv/Fleet FM Breakfast News Comment
A war of errorism to justify terrorism - Reports of errors in US database
The United States terrorist database being used by New Zealand spies has come under serious fire for being error-prone and likely to cause innocent people to be detained by American authorities. The Security Intelligence Service has announced it signed a new information-sharing deal with the US under which it gains access to a US terrorist database. The agency said the deal would enhance national security "by improving our ability to identify individuals with links to terrorism before they are granted or denied entry to the border". But concerns about the accuracy of information and the use to which it could be put have been raised by a US Justice Department audit report on the US Terrorist Screen Centre (TSC). A US Justice Department audit published last month says management by the TSC "continues to have significant weaknesses" producing a high error rate and a slow response to complaints. The Washington Post reports that, in an examination of a sample of 105 records, auditors found that 38 per cent contained errors that had not been detected. My God, how can the NZ SIS rely on a system from America with a 38% undetected error rate and use that as a reason to arrest people or turn them down from entering NZ. With stupidity like this it is no wonder NZers are rightfully incredulous towards any suggestion of terrorism, which is why the ‘terror’ arrests currently under scrutiny are creating so much stress and anger, we don’t want to be frightened into doing stupid things based on information handed to us by America, perhaps the activist community could do their bit by not giving the Police an excuse to push for those powers. I’d suggest not running around wearing balaclavas with AK-47s and inviting in stand over men for criminal gangs who attempt to buy grenade launchers to start a war that will kill lots of white people would probably be a good start.


At 30/10/07 11:16 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...




At 30/10/07 12:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Zealand International Review, May-June 2004 v29 i3 pp. 6-10

New Zealand and the Kyoto Protocol: ideals, interests and politics

Jian Yang
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2004 New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
The Labour-led government's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol was based on not only its environmental ideals and a strong sense of responsibility as a global citizen but also economic and political feasibility. The government emphasized economic benefits to New Zealand in ratifying the Protocol, on the one hand, and made efforts to protect the competitiveness of New Zealand business on the other. Politically, it addressed most of business and union concerns and its policy had no immediate strong impact on the well-being of voters. Labour's retreat from the controversial flatulence levy also demonstrated its political realism in dealing with powerful political forces over environmental issues.
* * *
The Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997, committed developed countries to cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, by an average of 5.2 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.
While business groups argued that New Zealand's ratification of the Protocol should be conditioned on its major trading partners' ratification, the Labour-led government wanted ratification sooner rather than later. It was undeterred by the reluctance of the United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to sign the Protocol. 'We must lead by example', said Prime Minister Helen Clark. Pete Hodgson, Minister of Energy and Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, noted that the Protocol was the only mechanism in sight offering any kind of start at all. He stressed that 'It has taken 10 years for the protocol to become a ratifiable mechanism. Too much time has been wasted already.'
The Labour-led government's commitment to the Protocol may well be based on its environmental ideals and a strong sense of responsibility to protect our wanning globe. It is in line with Labour's more or less idealistic approach to international issues, especially its sensitivity to being seen as a good global citizen. However, environmental policy-makers have to take economic implications into account. Indeed, strategic environmental policies are often based on the notion that economic and environmental needs are fundamentally compatible, hence the phrase 'sustainable economic development'. In addition, environmental policies cannot be politics-free. It is observed that 'In democratically governed countries, long-term planning, on which strategic environmental policy development is based, does not fit well with dominant political rationality, which is based on relatively short election-cycles.' (1)
This article attempts to highlight the conflicts of interests and politics in the making of New Zealand's policy towards the Kyoto Protocol.
Business concerns
The most comprehensive arguments against New Zealand's early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol were presented in a report prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) in February 2001 for the Climate Change Pan Industry Group, a coalition of business groups opposed to early ratification. The report concluded that the Protocol imposed heavier burdens on New Zealand than on other developed countries due to factors peculiar to the New Zealand economy. These included the fact that sheep and cattle belching methane were the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand. No economically or technologically viable metals of reducing those emissions existed. In New Zealand, carbon dioxide accounts for around 39 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, methane for around 44 per cent and nitrous oxide around 16 per cent. When expressed by economic sector, emissions from agriculture account for 55 per cent of gross emissions and fuel combustion and industrial processes for 41 per cent.
The report pointed out that the New Zealand economy was relatively emissions-intensive. Transport represents an unusually high proportion of energy consumption in New Zealand, about 40 per cent as against 25 per cent in Australia, the United States and Britain, or under 20 per cent in Canada and Japan. In terms of electricity generation in New Zealand, about 65 per cent came from hydro-plant ha 1998 while coal accounted for about 5 per cent and gas for 20 per cent. Hydro-generation involves no greenhouse gas emissions. But its proportion is expected to fall in New Zealand. The report noted that coal's share was estimated to grow to 14 per cent in 2020, while the shares of gas and hydro generation would drop to 15 per cent and 52 per cent respectively. This contrasts with Europe, where the switch from coal to gas is making electricity less emissions-intensive. (2)
The NZIER echoed business groups' concerns over New Zealand's international competitiveness. Fonterra, New Zealand's largest company owned by 13,000 New Zealand dairy farmers, argued in its 2001 submission to the government that Kyoto obligations could undermine New Zealand's competitive advantage as the lowest-cost milk producer. Of the next cheapest producers--Australia and Argentina--the former has refused to ratify" Kyoto while the latter has no Kyoto obligations, at least in the first Kyoto commitment period of 2008-12. (3)
Government's calculation
The government had its own research reports. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry commissioned the Australian research agency Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), which had done work for John Howard's government, to assess Kyoto's implications for the New Zealand economy. According to ABARE's November 2001 report, implementing the Protocol would shave up to 0.26 per cent off New Zealand's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. But the six scenarios considered by the ABARE all showed that gross national product (GNP) would be up to 0.52 per cent higher than business as usual (no climate change policies implemented in any country) projections. The key factor here is that the Protocol provides tradable emission rights and credits for forestry and crops that absorb carbon dioxide. GNP, which is equal to GDP plus foreign income transfers, would be boosted by international sales of carbon sink credits. (4) ABARE's more comprehensive report in the following month was also largely positive.
The availability of carbon sink credits was one of the government's key arguments for ratifying the Protocol. Although only carbon dioxide in 'Kyoto forests'--forests planted after 1990--is eligible for credits, (5) Hodgson believed that New Zealand was well positioned to gain from them. He guessed that payments could be anywhere between $1 billion and $6 billion. 'We earn more than we spend, what's the problem?', asked Hodgson.
What is more, Hodgson pointed out that climate change policy was an exercise in risk management, not accountancy. The short-term costs of action on climate change could be roughly estimated, but the costs of doing nothing, while undoubtedly large, were virtually impossible to quantify. Hodgson argued all along that New Zealand had more to lose from global warming than other developed countries. The consequences of projected climate change would include 'increasing temperatures to the point where there would be increased droughts on the cast coast, increased rainfall on the west coast, increased storm events and increased biosecurity risks [of incursions of pests and diseases].'
Further advantages
The advantages of ratifying the Protocol were further explained in the National Interest Analysis (NIA) that the government issued in February 2002. The NIA emphasised that delaying ratification would seriously undermine New Zealand's influence and negotiating position without any obvious benefit. The Protocol would still enter into force, and New Zealand would still have binding targets.
While noting some possible disadvantages, such as negative influences on economic growth, incomes, jobs, investment, and exporting or import-competing firms' competitiveness, the NIA stressed that ratifying the Protocol had a number of advantages, including
* contributing to reducing the long-term risks of climate change for New Zealand's climate-dependent economy and ecosystems;
* allowing New Zealand to influence the future shape of the Protocol, including the extent of, and rules for, future emissions reduction and limitation commitments;
* allowing New Zealand to make a gradual transition towards becoming a low-emitting economy, rather than causing a sudden adjustment if action is delayed;
* maintaining New Zealand's credentials in other areas of bilateral and multilateral negotiations and diplomacy as a country that is honest, constructive and reliable;
* maintaining New Zealand's 'clean, green' image in the eyes of overseas markets and consumers;
* enabling the country to cash in on the credits arising from the carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere by the 'Kyoto forests'. (6)
'The overall economic impact is estimated to be of net benefit to New Zealand,' said Helen Clark. Hodgson claimed that the reasons for New Zealand ratifying the Protocol were 'sufficiently straightforward to be almost a no-brainer.... We need Kyoto, more than Kyoto needs us.'
Preferred package
While arguing for New Zealand's ratification of the Protocol, the government made substantial efforts to address the concerns of the business circle. It agreed that reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases had to be balanced against the need to avoid 'carbon leakage'--that is, avoid policies that would drive industries with high emissions to non-Kyoto countries.
In April 2002, the government released its preferred policy package on climate change for discussion. Helen Clark was confident that the package was pragmatic and would be welcomed by reasonable people.

I think it would be a most unreasonable
person who said that all
due care had not been taken....
The Government always had in
mind a preferred policy position
which was consistent with economic
growth and development
and meeting Kyoto commitments.
We don't see the two in contradiction.

Indeed, the government went a long way in meeting the demands of business, so much so that the long-awaited policy was believed to have 'a deep sugar coating around a small pill'. (7) Business got most of what it had wanted. Gas and coal prices were estimated to rise for industrial users by up to 24 and 44 per cent respectively. But large emitters whose competitiveness would be jeopardized--what the package called 'competitiveness-at-risk firms'--would be able to negotiate their own agreements.
Key driver
With regard to agriculture, the package noted that agriculture remained a key economic driver for New Zealand. It also acknowledged that farmers currently had no clear way of reducing methane and nitrous oxide other than through reducing stock numbers and that measuring and monitoring methane and nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions from on farm agriculture was technically very difficult. The agricultural sector therefore would be exempted from any price measures in the first commitment period provided the sector was willing to invest in research to identify options for reducing agricultural emissions.
For households, the impact was likely to be limited. A carbon tax and the subsequent rise of electricity prices would cost households $5 a week and the tax would not come into effect for at least five years. (8)
The Cabinet substantially confirmed the preferred policy package with some refinements in October 2002. Then, in November 2002, Parliament passed the Climate Change Response Act, which confirmed the government's framework for domestic climate change policies. This paved the way for New Zealand to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Labour and the Greens supported the legislation, with a total of 61 votes. National, New Zealand First, ACT and United Future, with 56 votes, opposed it. Although supportive of the measure, the Progressive Coalition was not in the House to vote.
On 10 December 2002, New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Interest groups
That Parliament passed the Climate Change Response Act with a vote of 61-56 highlighted the political nature of the issue. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, the government faced strong pressure from business and, naturally, opposition parties. Bill English, the then leader of the main opposition party, the National Party, said the government had put the cart before the horse in separating the question of whether to ratify from the detailed policy design or careful analysis of the costs and benefits. National and ACT praised Australian Prime Minister John Howard for deciding not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Most business groups were opposed to New Zealand's early ratification of the Protocol. A leading group was the Greenhouse Policy Coalition (GPC). Set up in 1996, the GPC is made up of a large and diverse range of New Zealand industry and sector groups covering the cement and concrete industry, aluminium, steel, methanol production, the forestry sector including pulp and paper, the coal industry, the oil industry as well as the general manufacturing sector. The members of the coalition represent about 14 per cent of GDP but account for a third of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions. (9) The GPC tried successfully to convince the government that they should be able to negotiate their own deals to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Another group was the Climate Change Pan Industry Group which commissioned the NZIER to produce the above-mentioned gloomy report. The group was formed because of 'rising concerns' about the direction of government policy. It represents a diverse range of companies and organisations in the primary, industrial, commercial and energy sectors, including the GPC, Business New Zealand, Forest Industries Council, Petroleum Exploration Association of New Zealand, Road Transport Forum, and Building Industry Federation. (10)
Among other business groups that were vocal in opposing New Zealand's early ratification of Kyoto were Federated Farmers and the Business Roundtable.
Public concerns
Concerns about ratification were also evident during a two-month public consultation and submission period between 18 October and 21 December 2001. Around 550 submissions regarding ratification and the development of policy options for meeting Kyoto obligations were received. A significant number of submitters expressed support for a delay in ratifying the Protocol. Only a minority of submitters supported immediate ratification, although those opposed to ratification altogether were also a minority. (11)
However these submissions did not seem to represent the wider New Zealand public. A public survey carried out on 19-20 January 2002 showed that 47 per cent of the respondents favoured the government 'signing up' to the Protocol, 6 per cent were opposed and 42 per cent 'need to know more'.(12)
Some business groups were also broadly supportive of the government's position on Kyoto, including the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD). The Council is a coalition of over 40 of New Zealand's leading businesses, including Metro Water, Shell NZ, Telecom NZ, Toyota NZ, Tranz Rail, TrustPower, Vector, Vodafone NZ, and Waste Management NZ. Interestingly, Fonterra and BP Oil NZ are members of both the GPC and the NZBCSD. (13)
The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions generally supported a sustainable development framework but stressed that there must be a 'just transition' for workers, their families and their communities when there were sound environmental reasons for phasing out certain types of production or economic activity, (14)
Supportive stance
A more supportive business organisation was Tourism New Zealand. Commenting on the government's carbon tax in its preferred policy package, Tourism New Zealand chairman Wally Stone said that New Zealand should not under-estimate the value of its clean green image overseas when considering the tax:

The clean green image is a tag that
visitors have given us.... We
shouldn't forget what that image
contributes to the economy. It
helps our agricultural sector with
primary products overseas. (15)

Naturally, the strongest supporters of New Zealand's early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol were environmental groups, such as the Environmental Defence Society, the Climate Defence Network and the Environmental and Conservation Organisations (ECO) of New Zealand. ECO, founded in 1971, is a non-profit network of 70 organisations with a concern for conservation and the environment. Its membership includes large international groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, national groups including Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand and the National Council of Women, as well as small local groups such as Kapiti Environmental Action and Save the Otago Peninsula.

For environmentalists, the Labourled government compromised too much with business. They were disappointed with the government's preferred policy package. The Green Party accused the government of putting industrial growth first and the global climate second. The Climate Defence Network called it a cop-out: 'Pollution as normal, with a bit of window dressing.' To the ECO, the policy package was 'a big sell-out of the future, the environment and the people of the Pacific states, whose homelands will be at risk from rising sea levels.'
Methane problem
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the obligations of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are not gas-specific; that is, the percentage reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not tied directly to any one gas. This is what New Zealand bargained for, since it would save its economic pillar, agriculture, from being singled out for any specific international targets. As mentioned earlier, agriculture accounts for about 55 per cent of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of methane from belching cows and sheep and the rest in the form of nitrous oxide wafting up from soils. The second highest agricultural contributor in the organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is Ireland with 24 per cent.
The Labour-led government from the very beginning intended to shelter New Zealand farmers from any major impact of Kyoto ratification. It repeatedly ruled out the imposition of a Kyoto Protocol-inspired 'flatulence tax' on methane-emitting livestock. Commenting on the prospect of the government driving enough dairy farmers 'to the wall that methane emissions dropped', Pete Hodgson said bluntly:

If you were to do that, you would
have an ex-industry and also an ex-Government;
it is not a very likely
prospect. In fact it is not a prospect.

However, it appears that the government had always had the idea of asking farmers to fund most research on reducing methane and nitrous dioxide. In June 2003, the government proposed a flatulence levy on farmers' livestock for that purpose. The levy could cost a typical family farmer up to $300 a year. Larger corporate farmers could pay up to $10,000. Sheep would be levied at 9 cents each and cows at up to 72 cents. Deer and goat farmers would also be levied. The $8.4 million collected each year would top up the $4.7 million a year that government already invested in research on agricultural emissions.
Farmer resistance
Farmers were not willing to pay. They argued that it was unfair for the government to 'effectively hijack' the hundreds of millions of dollars which farm foresters could have expected to earn from carbon credits. The government remained adamant. Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said in mid-July 2003 that 'The issue now is not whether there will be a levy--that decision has already been made. It is how it will be collected, who will administer it and how it will be spent.' The government even threatened to legislate to enforce the payment if necessary.
In the government's view, the levy was reasonable. Farmers had been exempted from the full costs of Kyoto. The emission charge to an average New Zealand pastoral farmer could have been up to $40,000. If agriculture had to pay the full cost of its emissions, the bill would be up to $925 million a year from 2008. As for farm foresters' forest sink credits that the government retained, the government noted, firstly, that by retaining sink credits the government would be able to shield farmers from the cost of farm emissions. To that extent the credits would be used to enable special treatment for farming. Secondly, forest sinks were not an excuse for avoiding action to reduce emissions at their source. Farmers needed to take some responsibility for addressing their industry's greenhouse gas emissions. As Jim Sutton said:

New Zealand's biggest contributor
to this global crisis is our pastoral
farming sector which emits more
than half of New Zealand's greenhouse
gases. It would be totally inappropriate
for that sector which
enjoys an average taxable income
of over $106,000 per taxpayer to
escape scot-free any responsibility
for tacking this problem.

Farmers did not budge. In late August 2003, 1500 farmers rallied in Invercargill against the flatulence levy. Perhaps more importantly, most voters were not supportive of the government on the issue. An opinion poll in August found that 80 per cent of those surveyed opposed the levy. Even among Labour voters, seven out of ten sided with farmers. (16)
Rising anger
Opposition parties cashed in on rising farmer anger. National leader Bill English called on farmers to keep the pressure on to force the government to abandon the policy. ACT launched a month-long 'Fight the Fart Tax' nationwide tour in mid-August 2003.
In early September 2003, the government made a Final push. It warned that the agriculture industry had a few weeks to come up with proposals to voluntarily fund agricultural greenhouse gas research before the government pressed ahead with legislation for a flatulence levy. Federated Farmers insisted that farmers would never pay a 'fart tax'. It presented a petition signed by 64,136 people protesting the proposed levy.
In mid-October 2003, the government finally found a compromise, a virtual back-down over its flatulence levy. An agricultural industry group, the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, put forward a new research plan which would strengthen the research the government required to meet its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. The consortium had already been researching methane reduction methods for more than a year with backing from Fonterra, Dairy Insight, DEEResearch, Meat New Zealand, Wrightsons and the state-owned AgResearch institute. The episode ended as the government said the new plan should be sufficient to avoid the need for a statutory levy on farmers.
(1.) Tom Buhrs and Robert V. Bartlett, 'Strategic Thinking and the Environment: Planning the Future in New Zealand', Environmental Politics, vol 6, no 2 (1997), p.86.
(2.) New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, The Kyoto Protocol: Issues for New Zealand's Participation, Feb 2001.
(3.) Brian Fallow, 'Waiting for Kyoto: Why Business Feels Jittery', NZ Herald, 15 Feb 2002.
(4.) ABARE, Economic Outcomes of the Kyoto Protocol for New Zealand, Nov 2001.
(5.) Alasdair Thompson, 'Ratifying Kyoto Protocol Early Is No Bargain', NZ Herald, 3 Dec 2001.
(6.) New Zealand Climate Change Project, National Interest Analysis, 13 Feb 2002.
(7.) Brian Fallow, 'Kyoto Policy "A Big Sellout"', NZ Herald, 1 Jun 2002.
(8.) Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Climate Change: The Government's Preferred Policy Package, Apr 2002.
(9.) Brian Fallow, 'Let's Not Panic about Global Warming Policy', NZ Herald, 6 Apr 2001 (see also www.gpcnz.co.nz/).
(10.) Scoop, 'New Zealand: Pan Industry Grouping Formed to Handle Kyoto', 23 Nov 2001 (www.climateark.org/articles/2001/4th/panindgr.htm).
(11.) New Zealand Climate Change Project, National Interest Analysis.
(12.) Ibid.
(13.) For more information, visit the websites of the two groups: www.gpcnz.co.nz/ and www.nzbcsd.org.nz/.
(14.) 'Submission of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions on the National Interest Analysis on the Kyoto Protocol', 11 Mar 2002 (www.union.org.nz/pubtications/subs_%20kyoto.pdf).
(15.) NZPA, 'New Zealand Must Protect Image, Says Tourism NZ', NZ Herald, 1 May 2002.
(16.) Liana Dann, 'Hodgson Backs Down on Fart Tax', ibid, 17 Oct 2(R)3.

At 30/10/07 2:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you just post the link?


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