Climate Commission must release economic modelling data

Kate MacNamara at NZ Herald reports:

At the end of January New Zealand’s newly formed Climate Change Commission dropped a draft report of seismic proportions.

The suite of proposals aims to sideline the main mechanism for reducing and offsetting New Zealand’s man-made carbon emissions until now, the Emissions Trading Scheme. It would declare peak meat and dairy (our most valuable exports) and reduce livestock numbers from here.

And through a range of policy sticks, carrots and bans, it would have the Government reach into our living rooms and our driver’s seats, dictating everything from how we heat our homes to how we get to work, in a slew of new, invasive, but surprisingly inexpensive ways.

Their proposals would see the largest changes to the NZ economy in recent times. They are of huge importance and significance.

Last week a coalition of over a dozen New Zealand business and industry groups – including heavyweight exporters DairyNZ and the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, mining group Straterra, the Motor Industry Association, the New Zealand Initiative, and BusinessNZ – penned a formal letter to Rod Carr, chair of the Climate Change Commission.

“We are pleased that the commission has, in response to requests, begun to release the models and underlying data that supports the commission’s findings,” it said.

“However, to constructively contribute submissions so that the commission is as well-informed as possible, we must be able to thoroughly review and comment on data and models which will influence major decisions about the future of our economy and society.”

“Given the delay in the release of crucial modelling data (not all of which is out yet),” the letter asked for an extension of the March 14th deadline for submissions by at least two weeks.

It’s a considerable failure that the commission neglected to release this data three weeks ago, along with the draft report. And the drip-feed of information, less than three weeks from the submission deadline, now threatens to reduce the window of public consultation to theatre.

It is hard to over-emphasise how vital it is their full model and data is released. There are many organisations with economic expertise who need to be able to access that data, so they can do their own modelling to help their submissions. Also to check the robustness of what has been proposed.

Without the release of the model and data, the submission process is basically a sham and window dressing.

There will be no chance of getting widespread political and business buy-in, if stakeholders can’t access this data.

All of this government rewiring of life to meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets is hardly going to cost us a penny: just under 1 per cent of the GDP we would otherwise reach in 2050. That’s considerably less than the 5 to 8 per cent of GDP estimated by NZIER in 2019.

Every economic I have talked to is highly sceptical of that 1% of GDP calculation. This is another reason the underlying data must be released.

The Green Party have been long-time champions of open data and open government. Nandor Tanczos and Gareth Hughes have done excellent work in the past in this area. They need to make sure this applies to their own portfolio of climate change. If James Shaw doesn’t agree to extend the timetable so there is time to release the model/s, consider them and submit, then it will turn very messy.

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