Groser on Kyoto

December 4th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Highlighting a rift between the rich countries and emerging economies like China, New Zealand’s climate change minister has staunchly defended his government’s decision to drop out of the emissions pact for developed nations, saying it’s an outdated and insufficient response to global warming.

First of all, we are not dropping out. The commitment period was for 2008 to 2012. That ends in 27 days. Our commitment was to have net greenhouse gas emissions during those five years less than our emissions in 1990. We will achieve that target (due to foresty offsets).

Some (not all) Kyoto signatories are voluntarily making a binding post 2012 commitment. These countries represent 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. The NZ position is we will agree to a further binding commitment – but it needs to include the major emitters.

Any deal which does not include China, US and India is near worthless in an environmental sense.

Now there is an argument that those countries responsible for 15% of the emissions should show moral leadership and agree to further binding commitments, as this will cause the rest of the emitting countries to be shamed or encouraged or forced into making their own reduction commitments.

That is a reasonable argument. Except for one thing. It has been tried and failed. That is what the first commitment period was about. The arguments for Kyoto were not that it would make an impact on global emissions and temperatures (the impact is minor and almost non-existent) but that it would lead to more comprehensive deal with all countries.

It didn’t. China and India and others refused any sort of binding commitment. So I just do not accept that a Kyoto 2 will lead to China and India (and the US) agreeing to GGE reductions. In fact I think it will achieve the opposite.

Countries should hold out for a comprehensive all (bar the most minor) countries agreement. Anything less will be ineffectual.

Kyoto second commitment period

November 12th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has defended the Government’s decision not to sign on for the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol, saying the country is playing its part in combating climate change.

The climate change treaty’s first commitment period expires at the end of the year and New Zealand expects to slightly exceed its target.

The treaty aims to curb international greenhouse gas emissions through binding national commitments but some countries have questioned its effectiveness.

Oh Kyoto is almost totally ineffective. The first commitment period excluded the major emitters and the second period would cover at best 15% of total emissions.

I support an international agreement to reduce emissions, but any agreement without China, India and the United States is worthless.

Here;s what the impact of Kyoto on global temperatures would be:

The first scenario looked at what would happen if, after the protocol expires, the Annex B countries continued to abide by Kyoto’s limits but did not make any new commitments to further cut emissions for the rest of the century.

This “constant compliance” scenario would shave 0.11 to 0.21 degrees Celsius (0.20–0.38 degrees Fahrenheit) off global average temperatures by 2100. Stated another way, instead of heating up by 2.5°C (4.5°F), a midpoint in the range of projections of global warming, Earth would warm approximately 6% less.

So after 100 years the increase in global temperatures may be 0.2 degrees less. It’s ridiculous.

Again, any credible agreement needs the big emitters in there, The top 10 emitters are:

  1. China 16.4%
  2. US 15.7%
  3. Brazil 6.5%
  4. Indonesia 4.6%
  5. Russia 4.6%
  6. India 4.3%
  7. Japan 3.2%
  8. Germany 2.3%
  9. Canada 1.9%
  10. UK 1.6%

Now the only countries in that top 10 who are in Kyoto are Japan, Germany and the UK.  NZ by the way is at 0.2%.


Not quitting

October 28th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The SST headline and lead para:

 New Zealand may quit Kyoto

New Zealand has been tipped to quit the Kyoto Protocol, designed to cut global emissions.

Nonsense. NZ is, as I understand it, fully committed to its Kyoto obligations.

The issue is that those obligations are for the five year period 2008 – 2012, which ends in 10 weeks time. But to suggest that NZ is quitting, is just inaccurate.

Government officials next month travel to Doha in Qatar for the latest round of negotiations on the treaty, but with less than four weeks before the summit, acting Climate Change Minister Simon Bridges says the Government has “not made a decision” on its commitment.

“My understanding is that decisions have yet to be made on that matter,” he said.

But the actions of participants in the carbon market, and market signs, suggest the Government is preparing to walk away.

There is nothing to walk away from! There is not international agreement on post 2012 targets.

There is growing speculation the Government’s silence is because it could save face internationally by waiting for big players like China and the US to refuse to sign up to the second Kyoto round, before following suit.

Of course, as it would be economic and environmental madness to have an agreement without them (or India).

But not unilaterally agreeing to a future binding commitment, is vastly different to walking away from a current commitment. If reporters can not understand this, then here’s an analogy.

If I lend you $1,000 and you agree to pay me back $200 a year, and then after five years you have paid me back, are you walking away from your commitment if you don’t keep giving me money in the future?

But OM Financial carbon broker Nigel Brunnel thinks New Zealand will sign up to new commitments in Doha, but then delay ratifying them. That could buy time to pursue aligning with a group of Asia-Pacific partners, and adopting voluntary emissions targets outside of Kyoto.

That fits into two of the Government’s climate-change themes, New Zealand doing its share, and not damaging competitiveness by enforcing heavy carbon payments on businesses when trading partners like the US and China do not.

Because of that, about 85 per cent of world carbon emissions are not covered by international reduction agreements, and it is said in government circles that China’s emissions increase daily by New Zealand’s entire annual carbon output.

It is simple. Any agreement which doesn’t include binding targets by China is worthless in an environmental sense.

Kyoto Costs

November 12th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

An article by Brian Fallow covers issues around the proposed ETS:

Taxpayers will be stuck with 84 per cent of the bill for meeting New Zealand’s obligation under the Kyoto Protocol, while farmers and large industrial emitters get hefty subsidies, according to a report out today.

The report on the Government’s planned changes to the emissions trading scheme by the Sustainability Council’s executive director Simon Terry and economist Geoff Bertram says farmers will be subsidised to the tune of $1.1 billion by the end of 2012, while large emitters get nearly $500 million.

Sounds awful doesn’t it. Certain bloggers rant on about how people are getting paid to pollute etc, But the situation is far more complex than slogans.

Kyoto requires New Zealand to take financial responsibility for any increase in its emissions over 1990 levels during the five years from 2008 to 2012 inclusive. Current estimates are that we will exceed that target by 76 million tonnes, which would cost $2.3 billion (at the carbon price of $30 a tonne the report assumes).

At present we actually (as at 2009) have net emissions that are 10 million less than our 1990 levels – thanks to forestry plantings.  Also the current price of carbon is $20.35 a tonne, not $30. So the projections for 2008 to 2012 are some way from the current situation.

Changes to the ETS being considered by a parliamentary select committee lighten the burden on “trade-exposed” sectors, including farming, which account for around two-thirds of the country’s emissions, to protect their competitiveness when most of the world has yet to impose a price on carbon emissions.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said the Government was providing allocations of free emissions units more generously for those emitters because they were trade-exposed.

“It has nothing to do with favouring big over small,” he said.

And this is key. Making trade exposed industries pay straight away the full cost of carbon will merely see them lose production to other countries. And those other countries will often be more carbon intensive. So the net effect is bad for the environment and bad for our economy.

When No Right Turn thunders on about subsidising polluters, he is actually calling for something that will lead to increased carbon emissions.

Dr Smith said it was misleading to talk about subsidies to farmers on the basis that they are not paying for their emissions during Kyoto’s first commitment period (2008 to 2012).

“No country … is imposing a cost on their agriculture industry in the first commitment period. We are likely to be the first in 2015.”

Again this is where the purists just have no idea. They want us to tax (through the ETS) our farmers, in advance of any inclusion of agriculture by any other country. Again if we do what they want, then it is a lose-lose – bad for our economy and bad for the environment.

What should be NZ’s 2020 emissions target

July 7th, 2009 at 10:48 am by David Farrar

The Government is consulting on what should be New Zealand’s 2020 target for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

I know some think there should not be any reduction, as the science is doubted. But the reality is there will be a target, unless we want to risk losing trade access. And in case you think this is unlikely, I quote Colin James today:

Mr Key demurred. He asked the Feds if keeping agriculture out of the ETS would actually serve farmers’ interests. What if New Zealand got a poor reputation abroad on climate change and consumers, retail chains and governments put up barriers to New Zealand products?

(He had a point. The ETS bill which passed the United States House of Representatives on June 26 included provision for tariffs on imports from countries deemed backsliders on climate change.)

This is pretty significant. The US legislation includes such protectionist measures, and I have little doubt Europe will. NZ is far too small to survive if our trade access is blocked.

So what is a reasonable target for 2020? 1990 is the base year everyone measures against. Our Kyoto target was to keep emissions at 1990 level. They actually grew 22% to 2007, but were mainly offset by increased forestry plantings. And out 2050 target is a 50% reduction by 2050.

On a purely linear calculation, based on an ETS taking effect from 2010, the annual reduction needed is from 122% – 50%/40 years = 72%/40 years = 1.8% a year. Hence emissions in 2020 on a linear basis would be 18% less than the 122% we are at, or 104%. In other words if we manage to reduce emissions to 1990 labels by 2020, we would be on track (on a linear basis) to have a 50% reduction by 2050.

Aiming to return to 1990 levels is what Obama is aiming for by 2020. Canada is aiming for 3% below 1990 and Australia 4% below 1990 (unless there is a major international agreement in which case more). The EU is going for a 20% reduction.

The Greens are calling for a reduction of at least 30% by 2020. This is sheer madness. With agriculture making up half our emissions – the only way we’d reduce by that amount in just over a decade is by a huge reduction in agricultural output. You think the current recession is bad – just wait until the Green recession. They are basically saying we go from 122% to 70% or less in just ten years.

Personally I think we should go close to Australia. Say a unilateral reduction of 5%, but greater reductions if there is an international agreement and even greater if China, India and Brazil agree to limit emissions. Those three countries are now responsible for close to 30% of global emissions (the EU is only 13% and US 18%) and since 1990 have had emissions growth respectively of 121%, 80% and 55%.

Kyoto deficit now a surplus

April 15th, 2009 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

Wow, National has been in office over six months, and it has already solved climate change. Nick Smith announced today that previous Kyoto deficit (which had been getting as high as $1 billion) is now a Kyoto surplus of $240 million. We can all relax now – the world has been saved.

Okay I am being sarcastic, but the change in forecast shows how much uncertainty there is – even counting the level of greenhouse gases is no simple thing.

We are now forecast to be 9.6 million tonnes under our Kyoto target of 1990 levels of net emissions. So what has happened?

The 2007/08 drought and better information on carbon captured in forests. I always said we should simply shoot one in ten cows, but instead a drought is just as good it seems. Now here is an interesting idea – global warming is predicted to cause more droughts, which will lower our carbon emissions – so maybe it is self correcting?

Now the figures may be a bit dodgy, as they are done by the Ministry for the Environment. They are being checked, rechecked and audited.

But whatever the figures really are, even the possibility of a surplus completely undermines Labour’s claim that its Emissions Trading Scheme was about “who pays New Zealand’s deficit?”

The truth is that Labour’s ETS was always about one of the biggest illicit tax grabs in New Zealand’s history.

According to David Parker himself  (see attached document letter-from-minister-re-revenue-and-cpr-30-may-20081 which a friendly Kiwiblog reader dropped me) Labour always knew that it would receive a $21 billion windfall from households and firms. Colin Espiner wrote about this before the election but it never really took off as a story because everyone was distracted by Winston Peters and the election.

The $21 billion windfall was why Michael Cullen was so keen on the ETS – he could raid our wallets by $21 billion without us even noticing. It was taxation by stealth at its worst. This is also why Cullen was so willing to pay billions in policy concessions to New Zealand First and the Greens – it was nothing compared with the $21 billion he knew was on its way.

National has always promised to make the ETS fiscally neutral but here’s the problem. Cullen designed the scheme to take money from households and firms and deliver it to him – how can you modify it to turn a $21 billion tax grab into a fiscally-neutral scheme? Or even one that hands the $241 million back to the public?

It is looking more and more likely that a carbon tax is the superior way to go, as the Greens originally proposed.

Tim Groser on Climate Change

March 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald has an interesting Q&A with Tim Groser on climate change. Some extracts:

With the Kyoto Protocol due to expire in 2012, what are the biggest obstacles to developing a new treaty?

The number one issue is participation. Countries that have obligations under Kyoto account for less than 30 per cent of global emissions and that number is falling. It does not include developing countries or the United States.

It seems likely the United States will join the next agreement when negotiations begin in Copenhagen in December. Does that leave developing countries as the biggest challenge?

I don’t think you can separate the issue of the United States joining from developing countries joining. Everyone expects developing countries will do less than developed countries, but they must do something or we are wasting our time.

Kyoto is very flawed. By 2050 it would reduce average global temperatures by only 0.07 of one degree. The sucessor must include all major emitters.

Couldn’t other countries argue it is just as difficult for them to reduce emissions as it is for us to cut agriculture emissions, for example countries that rely on electricity from coal?

Agriculture is in a special category. There are solutions to the generation of electricity from coal but there are no ways to reduce enteric methane. There are a series of interesting ideas in a lab, but nothing that is commercially available.

Which is why we should be careful not to start taxing farmers for the emissions, when there is little they can do about them except shoot every tenth cow.

Should agriculture emissions be completely exempt?

No. New Zealanders want to do their fair share. We argue that all countries must look at what practical potential they have to reduce greenhouse gases.

Any other big issues for New Zealand?

Forestry. The rules negotiated at Kyoto assume all carbon from trees is released as soon as you cut the trees down and that is not necessarily true. Kyoto also penalises people who want to cut down forests and plant them in a different place.

New Zealand wants to transfer more of its forestry to marginal hill country and under the current rules that will cost a lot of money.

Yes the rules should allow you to offset forests without penalty. This allows land to be used for the purpose it is most fit for.

Questions on Kyoto

December 27th, 2008 at 9:10 am by David Farrar

Charles Finny has some questions on Kyoto. They are not questions about the basic science that if emissions increase, temperatures will increase. It is about the details behind Kyoto:

Several aspects of the Kyoto Protocol really annoy me.  For a start how can we solve this problem if major emitting economies have not taken on any obligations?  It looks as though the US will take on commitments to whatever replaces Kyoto but there seems no chance off China, India and Brazil etc taking on commitments.

If China and Inida especially do not come on board, it is all a waste of time and money. China has replaced the US as the world’s biggest emitter.

Why is there such inconsistency over points of obligation?  Why are consumers held responsible to the release of GHGs from oil, gas and coal and not the producing countries, when the country that cuts down a tree is held responsible for emitting the full amount of carbon stored in that tree from the time that it is cut down?  An importing country faces the full liability for emissions from gas, oil and coal, but exporting country faces the full liability for wood.  And why does the exporting country face the full liability for its agricultural emissions as opposed to the country that is going to actually consume the product that was produced as a result of all those emissions having been made?  So New Zealand imports oil from country x and bears the full costs of releasing the GHGs from burning that oil in New Zealand.  We export meat to country x, but also face the full cost of producing all the GHGs released while producing this meat.

Kyoto was a very flawed response to climate change. Even if fully implemented, it will only lower average mean temperature by 0.07 degrees by 2050.

Charles also raises some fascinating points over stock and methane. Would be good to see a point by point response to his questions by someone who can.

Helen’s legacy

November 18th, 2008 at 12:33 pm by David Farrar

The UN has just published the 2006 greenhouse gas data. It will be another two years for us to see the full impact of Helen’s legacy of total rhetoric and no action. But here are how different countries compare between 1999 and 2006.

Helen talked of reducing net emissions to zero. Kyoto is about getting them back to 1990 levels. But surely Helen managed to at least keep them constant? Nope. From 1999 to 2006, this is the net increase (including offsetting with land use and forests) for various countries:

  1. Sweden -61.8%
  2. Norway -31.8%
  3. Estonia -23.4%
  4. Monaco -21.4%
  5. Finland -9.2%
  6. France -6.3%
  7. Belgium -5.3%
  8. Hungary -4.6%
  9. Slovakia -4.5%
  10. Poland -4.3%
  11. Denmark -3.4%
  12. Netherlands -3.2%
  13. United Kingdom -2.6%
  14. Germany -2.0%
  15. European Community -0.9%
  16. Portugal 0.9%
  17. Japan 0.9%
  18. United States 0.9%
  19. Italy 2.7%
  20. Ireland 3.0%
  21. Liechtenstein 3.9%
  22. Iceland 5.3%
  23. Bulgaria 6.2%
  24. Greece 7.0%
  25. Australia 8.2%
  26. Czech Republic 8.6%
  27. Switzerland 8.8%
  28. Canada 11.0%
  29. New Zealand 12.0%
  30. Spain 18.0%
  31. Turkey 33.3%

Only two industrialised countries (excluding those who are below their Kyoto targets) have a worse record than New Zealand under Helen Clark.

We are also at 33% over our 1990 Kyoto target. The US is only 14% over, and Australia 7% over. The United Kingdom is 16% under.

If Labour try to claim any sort of moral high ground on climate change, just remember these facts. Helen Clark’s record was one of the worst in the world on carbon emissions.

Government fucking up our showers

October 9th, 2008 at 8:45 am by David Farrar

The Plumbing Distributors Association of New Zealand has sent me this PR:

“Having a great shower will be a thing of the past”.
The Plumbing Distributors Association of New Zealand (PDANZ) is very concerned with the Department of Building and Housing’s proposed changes to the flow rates of showers and the effect it will have on New Zealanders.

In the “NZBC H1 Compliance Document for hot water systems and HVAC systems” the DBH propose to have maximum shower flows of 6 litres a minute for gas and electric water heaters when a house is bigger than 150m2. A house with mains pressure water and a quality showerhead would be using 16-19 litres a minute. That is a good quality shower. Under the DBH’s proposal the shower would need to be restricted back to only allow 6 litres per minute. To understand what your shower would be like, knock your shower mixer back by 2/3rds. The small amount of water dribbling out would be what the DBH call a “comfortable and effective shower”. The PDANZ believe this is not acceptable. Having a good quality shower should not be compromised in the name of Kyoto Protocol. Where do we draw the line?

First they came for our light bulbs, and then they came for our showers!!

Is there no limit to nanny state?

A new Kyoto total

May 5th, 2008 at 5:09 pm by David Farrar

Treasury has done their monthly update of our Kyoto liability and the huge cheque Pete Hodgson promised has now tipped over the $1 billion liability mark for the first time.

Quick, give Helen another medal.

NZIER on Emission Trading Scheme

April 30th, 2008 at 5:29 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Institute of Economic Research has done a report on the impact of the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme. The report is 77 pages long. For those who don’t read the whole thing, here are some key points:

  • The ETS will reduce GDP by $900 million by 2012
  • The average household will have $600 less spending
  • A reduction in employment equivalent to 22,000 jobs
  • By 2025, GDP will be $5.9 billion less than without an ETS
  • The average household will have $3,000 less by 2025
  • Hourly wages will be $2.30 an hour less by 2025 than they would be without an ETS
  • The ETS will reduce emissions by 5% less than merely funding emissions reductions directly
  • The ETS may be bad for the climate as some NZ production will become uncompetitive and shift to countries where their increase in emissions will be greater than if they stayed in New Zealand. This is known as “leakage”
  • The ETS will see by 2025 a 12.9% reduction in dairy farming, a 41% drop in diary land prices and a 6.6% reduction in sheep and beef farming.
  • As the decline in pastoral production in NZ will lead to greater pastoral production elsewhere, the increas in carbon emissions will be 3 million tonnes – around 25% of the reductions from the total ETS.
  • Southland and Northland would be most affected by the ETS with a 3% drop in GDP, with Auckland and Wellington less affected.
  • Paying for emissions reduction out of general taxation would be cheaper and more effective.

So they are not saying we should not be in Kyoto. They are saying the ETS, as proposed, will cost us more than alternative ways of meeting our Kyoto obligations. And also leakage due to industry relocating to non Kyoto countries will actually be worse for the environment than the alternative of direct funding of emissions reductions.

So one can say slow down with the ETS and don’t rush it into law just because of the election, without being a climate changer “denier” or “sceptic”. This is about how best to meet the Kyoto obligation, and it seems apparent there is a lot more work needed to be sure we have the right model. What will be interesting is what model Australia adopt as there could be considerable merit in harmonising between the two countries.

Salem Witch Trials

April 2nd, 2008 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner, Political Editor at The Press, has blogged on an amusing Hollow Man song, but more pointedly on the TVNZ beatup last night, which I blogged on this morning.

Colin takes a similiar view to myself:

On another issue, is anyone else puzzled by TVNZ’s lead story last night? Two National MPs, Lockwood Smith and Maurice Williamson, allegedly don’t “believe” in climate change. What? Quelle horreur! Have them arrested at once! Surely this is a hanging offence now in this country?

For a start, I’d be amazed if the Right-leaning and ultra-dry, cynical and conservative Locky or Maurice did accept the science behind climate change. Not that TVNZ had any proof of this, besides the pair’s refusal to state on the record that they were “believers”.

It has been going around the traps that both MPs have made scoffing noises at a couple of private gatherings about climate change. But so what? Both told TVNZ they accepted and supported National’s party policy, which is that climate change is a real and present danger. So what’s the problem here? I’d be staggered if all 48 National MPs did accept climate change. After all, Key himself is a relatively recent convert.

David Parker, the Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues, has put out a braying release this morning taunting National for having a couple of MPs with the temerity to suggest his portfolio is not as important as he would think. He should be careful. I’d be equally staggered if every MP in the Labour Party accepted climate change either. In fact, I can think of a couple of names off the top of my head who I’m pretty sure think it’s a load of bunk.

Isn’t it interesting the religious overtones that have crept into this debate? We talk about “believing” in climate change, and having “converted” to it. It’s like a new branch of Scientology.

Personally I accept the weight of scientific opinion that the planet is warming, and that human activity is at least partly responsible. I am, however, unclear as to whether the efforts being made to date to mitigate this are anything more than political tokenism and window-dressing.

I also defend the right of Lockwood Smith and Maurice Williamson to remain dubious about it. I just wish they’d have the guts to say it in public.

Salem witch trials, anyone?

Colin has been blogging for a while now and he is often forthright in putting forward blunt opinions on how he sees things. That’s the whole point of blogging.

What is somewhat noteworthy on this issue, is that the journalist who fronted the TVNZ story is One New Political Editor, Guyon Espiner,. As many know, Guyon and Colin are brothers. Now I don’t point this out to embarrass or cause hassles for either of them. I respect both Espiners for the jobs they do (while reserving the right to criticise on individual stories).

I just think it is a healthy sign that the sibling relationship didn’t stop Colin from stating his disagreement with the TVNZ story. And that is not to suggest that he has done so in the past – it is just the first time I can recall a fairly direct (albeit unnamed) criticism in such a situation.

On the same topic The Greens made some fair and useful points:

Labour’s attacks on John Key and various National MPs for not believing in climate change are interesting, but ultimately a bit of a sideshow. It doesn’t matter whether Cullen and his team believe in climate change or not if their actions are not doing anything to address the problem. Believing is a relatively easy step to take given there is a global scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is caused by humans.

Cullen and Clark can talk about sustainability and carbon neutrality as much as they like, but they are currently responsible for an increase in coal mining, dairy conversions and carbon emissions. Greenpeace says that their own target for the acceptable level of global warming is not low enough. On this issue Labour’s record is not significantly different than National’s.

Indeed. The percentage increase (which Kyoto is based on) of greenhouse gas emissions for NZ under Clark has been higher than for the US under Bush and Australia under Howard.

Flexible Land Use Alliance gets support

February 29th, 2008 at 9:15 am by David Farrar

The Flexible Land Use Alliance launched itself yesterday, and seems to have won support for one of its proposals from parties ranging from The Greens to National.

The Flexible Land Use Alliance consists of Blakely Pacific Ltd, Carter Holt Harvey Ltd, Fonterra Co-operate Group Ltd, Forest Enterprises Ltd, Landcorp Farming Ltd, the New Zealand Forest Owners Association Inc., PF Olsen Ltd and Wairakei Pastoral Ltd. I found it very interesting that an SOE is amongst the members – but that is good – they should be able to advocate for sensible policy, so long as they do so openly.

The issue is the deforestation liability on pre-1990 forests.  It has already led to massive deforestation prior to its implementation, and the group has pointed out that it may lock up to 200,000 hectares of land into forestry when it would be more economic to use it for other purposes.

Their preferred position is to exempt pre-1990 forests, but that has been dismissed by the Government (and National) as viable. However their backup option appears to have gathered remarkable support – the Greens, NZ First, United Future and ACT have all backed the backup option of offsetting – which will allow owners to convert a pre-1990 forest to other uses, so long as they plant an equivalent amount of forest elsewhere.

This means that the environmental benefits are much the same, yet the locking up of land in a potentially economically inefficient manner is minimised.

Jim Anderton appears to be taking a sensibly pragmatic approach to the proposal:

Forestry Minister Jim Anderton said the concept had been considered already and the conclusion was that the disadvantages outweighed the benefits.

But the Government was happy to look at it again, have the proposal evaluated and discuss it with stakeholders, he said.

One of the things which third term Governments often do, is dismiss any proposal on the grounds they know best, and have already considered it. Anderton’s response could be a template for other Ministers – don’t dismiss out of hand, say you’ll evaluate it again and are open to discussions.

Of course with National appearing to also favour the proposal (“the idea … has merit), it may already have 61 votes in the House, regardless of the Government. But if Labour/Progressive also back it, then one may have near total support for it.  Maori Party are not quoted as to their position, but Maori interests are amongst the Alliance members and they cite the current policy as being a Treaty breach, so I suspect the Maori Party will also be supportive.