Gathering nuts in May: The Business Roundtable and the Toxic Avenger

by Doug Mackie on May 3, 2011

Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report this morning suggested that ousted ACT party leader and climate denialist Rodney Hide may be given some bauble of office at the Business Roundtable. But is he qualified? Can Rodney be the auctioneer to sell off Christchurch? Can Rodney’s ‘toxic’ brand fit with that of the BRT when it comes to climate change? You might very well think it does.

Submissions have just closed for the 2011 Review of the Emissions Trading Scheme. (This review was built into the 2002 Act to prepare for the 2012 end of the Kyoto commitment period). Counting the 2008 Select Committee , the 2009 Review Select Committee , and the 2009 Review of the review Select Committee , this is the 4th time in 3 years that the overall ETS has been looked at (plus a couple of Select Committees looking at components of the ETS: eg Forestry ). If they keep asking the question again and again maybe they will get the answer they want.

As usual I have had a good look at who has said what. In this post I had intended to look at Act’s submission but with the coup their position will probably change (for the worse). In the submission dated 6 April 2011, ACT says:

Firstly, while we accept that in a laboratory where all other conditions are kept the same an increase in carbon dioxide in the air leads to an increase in temperatures, we do not believe that the science is settled in favour of harmful anthropogenic global warming.

Instead I shall look at the Business Roundtable. In their submission, dated 6 April 2011, the BRT says:

We note and acknowledge that the Panel is not to focus on:

  • whether New Zealand should be taking action on climate change,
  • whether an ETS is the most appropriate response.

However, to provide context for the comments that follow, we would record that our position on these issues at the time the government was taking decisions was:

  • that New Zealand should not take additional action in advance of our major trading partners, and
  • that while a market mechanism is generally superior to regulation, a carbon tax…is superior to a trading scheme…

Actually, that isn’t quite the thrust of what the BRT said then. The position of the BRT ‘at the time the government was taking decisions’, was articulated in the BRT submissions to review Select Committee and the Review of the review Select Committee. Gareth has already covered the antics of the BRT, even rarking up Roger Kerr, here, here, and here. So I don’t have an awful lot of new comments to make apart from to point out their current revisionism.

Official government documents acknowledge that moderate warming (say of the order of 2ºC) in New Zealand would have net benefits in terms of health, energy consumption, agriculture, tourism and other factors for many decades.

That’s OK then. Does that mean we might get more warming than 2 deg C ‘after many decades’? But we can just turn the temperature down then, can’t we? And is warming the only problem we are facing?

It does not make sense to ask current generations to make large sacrifices in the interests of future, likely much richer, generations; nor is it in the interests of future generations for current generations to make material sacrifices of potential economic growth and bequeath them a lower capital stock for little or no discernible reduction in the global warming risk.

Quite. If there is one thing I hate, it is the thought of under bequeathment of capital stock.

Then the same again in the Review of the review:

2.2….Particular points policy makers should bear in mind include the absence of any global warming for nearly a decade (contrary to model predictions); the fact that increasing CO2 emissions have a progressively lower impact on temperatures; and the likelihood that any warming in New Zealand will be below global temperature increases, and at moderate levels could be beneficial for many decades.

Remarkable: a triple play of Bob Carter’s deathless‘ no warming since 1998′, ‘band saturation’, and ‘I’m alright Jack’. Looks like the BRT have found the fatal flaws in our claims. Not. Does the of  ignorance of Rodney Hide complement the deception of the BRT? Yes. Toxic Rodney and the BRT deserve each other. What does it say that the BRT thinks the input of a man who brings the support of 3.65% of the population with him will improve their profile?

I’m not a business or economics expert but part of being an informed citizen is learning what sources are trustworthy. A good start is to see what a source says about something you do know about. For example, whenever I consider buying a travel guide book, I look to see what the versions for places I have been say.

Since the BRT is being deliberately misleading about something I do know a little about — climate change science — I conclude that the Business Roundtable is untrustworthy and deceptive about the things, like business and economics, that I don’t know so much about. And that means Rodney Hide will fit right in.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Wrathall May 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm
Dappledwater May 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Steve, that’s the best comment you’ve ever submitted here.

R2D2 May 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm

“this is the 4th time in 3 years that the overall ETS has been looked at (plus a couple of Select Committees looking at components of the ETS: eg Forestry )”

2008: ETS bill passed – select committee
2009: Special Review
2009: Amendment bill – abbreviated select committee
2010: Forestry and ag regulations (not a select committee)
2011: Post-Kyoto review

I count 4 years! And only one real review. The current one is look at much narrower considerations, basically should we keep current timeframes, do we need new rules post Kyoto.

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