Signals are beginning to emerge (from the 5th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change & Business conference in Melbourne this week) that the “harmonisation” of New Zealand’s emission reduction policy framework may take longer than expected (or feared). Following a breakfast with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong, both ministers were reported to be playing up the difficulties of linking the two schemes. The Stuff report quotes Wong:
“The first step for both of our governments is to get our legislation in place, to get our trading schemes in place,” Ms Wong told reporters. “The second point is this — we are doing the work to explore options for harmonisation. There is obviously a lot more work that needs to be done.”
Smith was equally cautious:
“That is why the two governments are in a pretty common space in saying we are going to start these two schemes separately but in time it is our ambition to bring them closer together.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that businesses on both sides of the Tasman are urging their governments to get a move on.
“You don’t shift significant billions of dollars of investment on the basis of what’s likely to happen,” said Barry Harris, director of milk supply for Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter and a pillar of the New Zealand economy. “The financial consequences of reacting to the wrong signals are absolutely massive,” he told the conference.
In NZ, Labour’s climate spokesman Charles Chauvel today warned that softening up the current ETS arrangements to match Australian proposals could cost taxpayers up to $200m a year. But perhaps the most telling statement to emerge this week is this line form Nick Smith’s speech to the Melbourne conference:
It is just unrealistic to continue to pretend we are, or can be, world leaders in reducing emissions.
To some, that may be admirable pragmatism. To me, it demonstrates a catastrophic lack of vision and a failure to rise to a challenge. If Smith wants no part of leadership, he should resign his cabinet post immediately.