News galore on the ETS

Firstly I note that David Parker has responded to the claim that the Government could make up to $80 billion from the Emissions Trading Scheme:

By 2030, when farmers and the smokestack sector would also be paying for 100 per cent of their emissions, and with a carbon price of $100 to $200 a tonne, the Government would make an extra $5 billion to $10 billion a year.

In effect that represented a substantial change to the tax system, which should be debated up-front and not introduced as the unintended consequence of an environmental bill.

A spokeswoman for Minister said that if such a scenario was emerging, changes would be made during the scheme’s five-yearly reviews.

Now let us think about it. Parker is aying if the makes too much money for the Government, they would change it. You mean, like if one had say $40 billion of surpluses over half a decade, you would reduce taxes? Yeah Right. If the ETS does turn into a cash cow for the Government, who really think they would ever give any of it back?

John Armstrong looks at rhetoric and reality:

As it is, Clark’s confirmation this week of that delay raises questions aplenty about Labour’s rhetoric surrounding carbon neutrality – which requires as much carbon be extracted from the atmosphere as is being pumped into it – and the Government’s actual record. …

The rhetoric had New Zealand becoming the first country which functions on a truly sustainable basis – “not by sacrificing our living standards, but by being smart and determined”.

Such language offers the illusion that meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved relatively painlessly without changing lifestyles. It is a nonsense, of course. But it is politically appetising nonsense, nonetheless.

This is the part which I have most objected to. The dishonest con job that one can simply cut carbon emissions and not have it done in a painful way.  The pain may be a necessary sacrifice if emissions need to be capped and reduced, but don’t try and con people that you can be carbon neutral and have the same standard of living.

Armstrong concludes:

What was going to be a major plank of Labour’s re-election campaign is now gathering dust – just like the “Champions of the Earth” award now sitting on some shelf in the Prime Minister’s office.

Indeed.

Fran O’Sullivan meanwhile has a way forward:

But by delaying the transport sector’s entry to 2011, Clark basically creates a problem for the next Government to address.

If the international economy is still sour there will be no political incentive to deal with the real problem, which is how to get New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions down to a sustainable basis.

The odds are that the next Government will face similar consumer fears when it comes to the entry of stationary energy into the emissions trading scheme in 2010.

This suggests that Labour and National – which will be the key drivers for New Zealand’s political future – should be talking.

If there is too little time to get a sensible outcome from the legislation before the election the two parties should agree to roll it over for the future Parliament to decide.

That will give New Zealand time to assess Australia’s forthcoming scheme and make sure that the Kiwi scheme stays compatible with our future economic competitiveness.

I think it would be madness to have the Select Committee report back on a NZ scheme, when by waiting just a month or two longer we can see details of the Australian scheme.

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