Windfarm foes deny climate change

10:43, Jan 29 2009

Wind farms have no environmental benefits because carbon emissions are actually a good thing, a climate expert said in the Project Hayes hearing.

Dr Chris de Freitas, of Auckland University, appeared in the Queenstown Environment Court yesterday to give evidence for Roch Sullivan, who is opposing Meridian Energy's Project Hayes wind farm in Central Otago.

The climate change sceptic said building wind farms would be of "no consequence" as carbon emissions had very little effect on the climate.

"If carbon dioxide is a feature causing climate change it is smaller than the natural variables," he said.

"Moderate warming is hugely beneficial especially for a place like New Zealand that is agriculturally based."

Climate variations in New Zealand have not coincided with carbon emissions rises and temperatures would only increase by one degree celsius in the next century, contrary to "climate alarmist" views, he said.


Dr de Freitas has previously argued against wind energy and urged the New Zealand Government to consider "clean coal".

Meridian had argued that Project Hayes is part of a new renewable power supply and meeting New Zealand's obligation to cut carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Dr de Freitas dismissed the Kyoto protocol as a political rather than scientific agreement.

He also said climate change evidence previously presented by a Meridian expert "appealed to authority rather than gave evidence".

Dr de Freitas' method faced intense scrutiny by Meridian lawyer Hugh Rennie, QC, who questioned his scientific assumptions.

Mr Rennie asked why he had used NIWA data from 2004, when it had since altered the presentation of data in a way to reflect the impact of climate change more prominently.

Dr de Freitas dismissed the changes as "jiggery-pokery", without explanation.

He also accused Mr Rennie of playing "legal gymnastics" to trick him into a position he did not wish to take. The hearing continues today.



The Southland Times