There is one certainty in the global warming debate: the problem of climate change is not one that will be solved by an overnight fix, writes The Dominion Post. That’s why it is absurd that Labour believed it needed to stitch together a series of backroom deals and then pull out all the stops to rush through an emissions trading scheme in the final few days of Parliament before the election.
Especially as Labour had delayed the entrance into the scheme of major sectors anyway.
That comes at a cost. Labour is proposing 785 amendments to the scheme – which will not begin to be implemented till 2010 – as it completes its gallop through Parliament. Those amendments are a symptom of the complexity of the scheme. It is ridiculous to believe that they will receive the careful consideration they should before they are written into law, and in a scheme where the devil will be in the detail, that is dangerous.
Fonterra have already identified one mistake that will cost it $13 million a year. The Government has agreed they are mistakes, but those clauses of the ETS Bill have already been agreed to and can not now be amended without special leave.
There is no question that Labour is well-intentioned. Despite that, the legislation is part of a strategy that remains deeply flawed. It risks concentrating on the accountancy of who ends up picking up the bill for carbon emissions, rather than on reducing those emissions.
Guess how much emissions will be reduced by 2012 under the ETS? Anyone care to guess?
The reality is that the scheme, designed to meet New Zealand’s Kyoto protocol commitment, will end up increasing the prices that consumers pay for all manner of things, and damage the economy, without necessarily doing anything about reducing the amount of carbon emitted in New Zealand.
The impact on emissions by the end of the Kyoto 1st commitment period will be minimal.
The New Zealand scheme needs to be seen in that context. New Zealand is responsible for about 0.2 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile Chinese emissions are growing at a prodigious rate – according to some projections, by 2.3 billion tonnes in the next five years, far in excess of what the West is supposed to save under the Kyoto protocol.
The world will gain little fron New Zealand’s rush, but New Zealand risks losing a lot through a flawed scheme.
Unless China and India join in, the impact of the rest of the world reducing emissions will be nil.