Physics Professor reveals 'main event' of global warming

Physics Professor reveals 'main event' of global warming

Climate change is a leading point of discussion when it comes to legislation around farming and business's greenhouse gas emissions and how New Zealand can be as green as possible.

University of Canterbury Physics Professor David Frame is a leading expert in climate change science and sat down with REX host Dom George to unravel the complexities of greenhouse gases, emissions rights allocation, and the global warming policy. 

With a primary focus on methane, he demystified the process of global warming and explained that while methane does have a warming effect on the earth, it is considerably smaller and shorter-lived compared to the significant and lasting impact of CO2 emissions. 

"CO2 is absolutely the main event," he said. 

Professor Frame further differentiated between fossil methane and biogenic methane. Fossil methane adds to the problem as it introduces carbon from geological reservoirs into the atmosphere. In contrast, biogenic methane, like that from agriculture, starts as CO2 gets transformed into methane through photosynthesis and animal digestion, and eventually breaks down back into CO2, thus maintaining a closed cycle. 

Turning to New Zealand's unique approach to managing emissions, Frame appreciated the country's differentiated strategies for CO2 and methane. However, he also acknowledged the international pressure, particularly from the EU, for New Zealand to reduce emissions, and criticised this hypocrisy.

"Countries like Germany and the UK...lead the world in per capita contributions to warming." 

Professor Frame advocated for a pragmatic approach to climate change, urging consideration of both immediate and long-term impacts. He also stressed the importance of continuous dialogue and a balanced global effort.

"There's no point in New Zealand farmers cutting emissions if demand stays exactly the same and all that happens is less efficient farmers take up that slack. That's a global bad." 

Listen to the full chat between Professor David Frame and Dominic George above.

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