Saturday, April 14, 2018

Barry Brill: A Third Broadcasting Standards Complaint Against TVNZ This Year

Almost daily, the New Zealand news media serve up “doomed planet” reports that have no foundation whatever in the international scientific literature. Newsrooms seem to live in a groupthink bubble where reality comprises the fevered nightmares of climate change activists. The resulting constant drip of green propaganda has serious long-term effects on attitudes of the decision-makers in our community.

Worldwide, the most relentless climate propagandists are Government-owned broadcasters – BBC, ABC, TVNZ, etc. That is why I have earlier lodged two complaints to One News and appealed both to the Broadcasting Standards Authority here and here.

Yesterday’s immediate ban on future hydrocarbon exploration is an extreme event, which PM Ardern wants the world to regard as HER “nuclear moment” – on the eve of the London CHOGM. TVNZ presented this policy bombshell as merely a justified cut in “rising greenhouse emissions”, which is a necessary consequence of the Paris Agreement. This led me to file my third complaint in as many months:

The Complaints Committee,
Television New Zealand

One News: 12 April : Oil & Gas Exploration Ban

Both news readers in this programme claimed that the purpose of the Governments’ ban on new offshore exploration for oil and gas was to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions and was necessary because New Zealand signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Simon Dallow/Andrea Vance said the ban comes as “new figures out today show that emissions are almost 20% above 1990 levels”.

As statements of fact, these claims were seriously inaccurate. If intended to be a summary of the relevant events, the claims were heavily biased and unbalanced.

The facts are:

1. The ban will not cut New Zealand’s emissions. Hydrocarbon exploration does not generate greenhouse gas emissions (any more than most industries). In the medium term there will be no change. In the long term, transporting imports of oil and LNG will create more emissions than local extraction.

2. The Business New Zealand Energy Council is quoted by the Herald: “There will be no overall reduction in global emissions and potentially an increase in emissions as a result of this ban as global exploration from places with lower environmental standards fills the gap left by our reduced output.” This is undoubtedly true.

3. There is nothing in the Paris Climate Agreement that could require New Zealand or any other country to cease exploration for oil and gas. No other developed country has done so, with the sole exception of France (which has no real prospects anyway). It seems the Prime Minister is determined to create a second “nuclear moment”, to grab the world’s attention (before CHOGM).

4. The reason for the ban given by Prime Minister Ardern was not to cut emissions but that the transition to a zero-carbon economy "must start somewhere” and she wanted to avoid future “abrupt shocks to communities” (Herald).

5. The references to “new figures” related to the Update on New Zealand’s 2020 Net Positionpublished by the Ministry for the Environment. Far from expressing concern about high emissions, the update reported that “New Zealand is projected to meet its unconditional 2020 emissions reduction target with a surplus of 92.4 units”.

The overall effect of the story presented by One News was that the Government ban was a necessary result of the Paris Agreement and was uncontroversial except that the oil industry said it would cost thousands of jobs. That is a highly distorted version of the day’s events and reactions.

1. The Opposition leader called the decision a “wrecking ball” and vowed to reverse it if the National Party is returned to power in 2020. That creates great uncertainty amongst both international investors and affected communities.

2. The Shadow Ministers for Energy and Climate Change described the government's decision as “economic vandalism” that would “ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high paying jobs and $2.5 billion for the economy”.... “This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.

3. There was no prior consultation with the industry and the decision runs counter to the government’s pre-election platform. An industry spokesman said it showed the government had “a fundamental misunderstanding of the industry”. The ban came as a total surprise to not only the Opposition, but to both the gas industry and the Taranaki region. As a Herald reporter comments: “What is lamentable is the apparent level of consultation.” The ban takes effect immediately and is not subject to select committee or other deliberation.

4. Many billions of dollars of future Government royalties are sacrificed by the ban. Royalties of about $500 million per year are received currently and this figure could expand exponentially if a major hydrocarbon field were to be discovered. The gap will have to be made up by taxes.

5. Most North Island heavy industry relies upon long-term gas supplies, and the Marsden Point oil refinery back-loads condensate. The ban also affects the electricity industry which will increasingly rely upon gas for both dry years and back-up to intermittent wind supplies.

6. The Prime Minister wrongly contended that “The whole world is moving in this direction.” New Zealand is one of the 29 member countries of the International Energy Agency, whose World Energy Outlook 2017 predicts a continually rising trajectory of global oil demand to 15 billion barrels/day in 2040. Quotes from the report: “The world’s consumers are not yet ready to say goodbye to the era of oil... Natural gas use rises by 45% to 2040; with more limited room to expand in the power sector, industrial demand becomes the largest area for growth”.

7. The decision will make headline news around the world. As the Greenpeace head, Russell Norman, is quoted as saying: “By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation. New Zealand has stood up to one of the most powerful industries in the world.”

None of these major controversies were explored or even mentioned by One News. The audience was led to believe that this was a routine environmental decision which was driven by the Paris Agreement, and affected almost nobody outside of Taranaki.

The programme seriously breaches Standards 8 and 9 of the Broadcasting Standards.

Barry Brill

Barry Brill OBE JP LL.M(Hons) M.ComLaw is a former MP and Minister of Energy, Petrocorp director, and chair of the Gas Council, Power NZ, ESANZ, and EMCO. He is presently the Chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.


Roger Dewhurst said...

This means the end of the miberal industry in NZ too. Simply now more mining/extractive licences will be issued. The mineral explorers will simply pack their bags and go. Ratepayers in Northland, Southland and perhaps elsewhere who have been persuaded to fund airborne magnetic and gamma spectrometry can kiss their money goodbye.
Roger Dewhurst
Hatfields Beach

Glenn G said...

If the alternatives are so good why would you need to ban any further exploration because the market forces would take their natural path & everyone wouldn't want oil & gas because the alternatives would sooo much better. Unfortunately that is not the case. Take gasoline engines as an example that all the clever scientist type experts in europe had written off in favour of diesel engines ( diesel engines put out 4 times the noxious gases that the average petrol engine at the time did so what was going on in tiny little minds ). They have since figured out that they were wrong so now they have abandoned the whole diesel thing for hybrid electric petrol combos. There are actually some clever scientists out there that have got their shit together & are designing petrol engines that can run far leaner than anything before ( Mazda have developed one such engine that they have been working on for some 20 years that has about 30% more torque, uses a shitload less petrol & once it is in a vehicle will be far less harmful on the environment over the life of the vehicle. apparently the whole life cost of a Prius ( once you account for the cost of the subsidies, power used to charge it & cost of getting rid of it along with the batteries ) is worse than the whole life cost of a Range Rover, who would have thought !!!

Alan said...

Well said, Barry. RNZ together with most media in this country act as a well oiled propaganda machine for the government. These organisations are adept at disseminating the alternative truth relating in particular to climate change, our history ( treaty of Waitangi) and other topical issues. There is virtually no investigative journalism and, I suspect, that most letters to the editor expressing views widely held but contrary to the alernative truth will not be published.

mike said...

Have the 'greenies' thought where the electricity will come from for the electric cars?