Twas the night before… the ETS

Tomorrow morning, a large chunk of New Zealand’s much debated Emissions Trading Scheme comes into effect. Forestry’s already been in it for two years, but July 1st is the day that the liquid fuels and electricity generation sectors start to have to account for their emissions, and it’s the first day that consumers might see a change in fuel and electricity prices that can be blamed on the ETS. Last week’s National Business Review had a pretty good overview of the state of play here. The scheme has also come in for some robust criticism in a new book, The Carbon Challenge, by Sustainability Council executive director Simon Terry and VUW economist Geoff Bertram (of which more in another post soon, I hope).

Federated Farmers have been out protesting in force — even though agriculture gets a free pass until 2015, and then gets 90% of its emissions “grandfathered” (effectively free). A few weeks ago Farmers Weekly editor Tim Fulton popped in for a cuppa and interviewed me about my views on climate change, agriculture and the ETS for an article that appeared a couple of weeks ago. Most of what I said won’t be news to Hot Topic readers, but I thought it worth passing on my thoughts on agriculture and the ETS to a wider audience:

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Rudd and Key on islands future

pacific Following my earlier post on Oxfam’s Pacific Islands paper I’ve come across an interesting report  in the National Business Review on New Zealand and Australian responses in climate change discussions at the Pacific Islands Forum. 
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Time to worry: NBR editor lacks insight on climate change

nevil-gibson.jpg Relax everybody, NBR editor Nevil Gibson has conducted extensive research (read the Wall Street Journal), and discovered that we really don’t need to worry about climate change any more. In an astonishing “editor’s insight” this week, headed No worries: Climate change debate goes nowhere fast, he writes:

In the past year or so since you last worried about it, the climate change debate has moved on. In fact, it is in danger of extinction as the scientific “consensus” disappears and international agencies and governments backpedal on draconian measures to stamp out use of carbon.

Gibson repeats some of the arguments used by a WSJ columnist to support this view, including mention of the shonky (and repeatedly debunked) “700 scientist” list promoted by Senate denier James Inhofe, and then quotes the WSJ verbatim:

Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Oh really? This is counterfactual, an invention, an ideologically-inspired attempt to mislead, misdirect and misinform, and I’m being polite. The peer-reviewed research, as handily summarised in the Copenhagen synthesis report so extensively covered at Hot Topic (and see also RealClimate), shows that far from being debunked, “doomsday scenarios” are looking more likely than ever. Worse, if the business world that Gibson seeks to inform believes what he writes, then doomsday scenarios will be assured.

New Zealand’s business community does not need ideologically-inspired excuses for inaction, it needs clear-sighted assessment of the real risks (and opportunities) that climate change brings. Sadly, Nevil Gibson prefers to repeat nonsense from US ideologues. If that’s the quality of the “insight” he offers, then perhaps the NBR needs a new editor.