It’s deja vu all over again: NZ consultation on climate target set up to be a farce

NZemissionsconsult.jpgAt the end of last week, with the deadline1 for submissions on a post-2020 target for New Zealand emissions rapidly approaching, the Ministry for the Environment released a second set of economic cost estimates for various emissions targets. These cost estimates are substantially lower, the Ministry admits, than the costs in the consultation document issued by the MfE on May 7th. As it happens, neither the Infometrics modelling used in the consultation document or the newly-published Landcare Research is terribly helpful when considering policy options, as I shall discuss later, but for the time being consider the usefulness of a “consultation” process where the following is true:

  • Announce a four week consultation period on May 7, starting then, to conclude four weeks later.
  • Publish a consultation document that plays up the costs of action and plays down the costs of inaction — calculated by Treasury to be up to $52bn.
  • Conduct a rushed series of consultation meetings around the country to which no ministers front up.
  • Release the economic modelling relied on for the cost estimates in the consultation document 10 days after the process begins, well after the consultation meetings have started.
  • Release a second economic modelling report showing costs to be less than the original document presents just over a week before submissions close.

If that’s not a prescription for a Mickey Mouse consultation process that’s designed to pay only lip service to public concern, a disgraceful political sham that should have officials — who are expected to be resolutely non-partisan and to serve the public interest — hanging their heads in shame, then I’m a maker of fine Low Country cheeses.

But it gets worse. An examination of the economic modelling commissioned by the MfE shows that the whole process was set up to exaggerate the costs of cutting New Zealand’s emissions.

Continue reading “It’s deja vu all over again: NZ consultation on climate target set up to be a farce”

  1. Submissions close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 3 June 2015. []

Self-interested, myopic hot-air

AtomHeartMother.jpgNew Zealand’s farming leadership have not distinguished themselves in the debate about climate policy. Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson has called for NZ to set no target for emissions reductions and for agriculture to be excluded from the emissions trading scheme, and former vice-president Frank Brenmuhl is still ruminating on the need for more debate on basics:

Political expediency has ensured the scientific debate has been reduced to a battle between believers and deniers.

No prizes for guessing Brenmuhl’s position… It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to point to an excellent analysis of agriculture’s role in the ETS by Adolf Stroombergen at Infometrics. He is scathing of Federated Farmers:

Once again we hear Federated Farmers bleating about the potential burden placed on them by an emissions trading scheme, proclaiming that farmers are doing all they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence any carbon charge on agriculture would be pointless. Rubbish.

Stroombergen doesn’t mince his words:

Arguing that agriculture should not be part of this mechanism has as much merit as arguing that it should not pay ACC premiums linked to its accident rate, or that it should not face fines for polluting waterways.

Merit has seldom been a key feature of Federated Farmer’s arguments about emissions policy, but Stroombergen notes that:

The self-interested myopic hot air from some in the agricultural sector has fortunately been given little credence.

Perhaps Nicholson and Brenmuhl haven’t got the ear of the right people in the National Party. We should all be grateful for that.