How fast shall we drive over the cliff? NZ’s ETS watered down (again)

How fast shall we drive over the cliffSimon Johnson looks at the Government’s amendments to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and concludes we are arguing about what gear to drive in as we speed towards the cliff. The Government has kindly given us the opportunity to make a submission about how fast fast we should go over the emissions cliff. Time to fasten your seatbelts.

Back in July, Tim Groser announced more watering-down of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). About a week ago, on 23 August 2012, Groser introduced the amending legislation – the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. Consistent with previous emissions trading scheme legislation, the bill will be fully and rationally considered by Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee in an insultingly short period of time – ten working days. The closing date for public submissions is Monday, 10 September 2012.

What does this ETS amending bill do?

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Moon-walking with due legal process to a very hot place – Neil Armstrong, coal mining & global warming


On the same day as the death of Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to step onto the Moon, became public, the NZ High Court moonwalked its way to an off-the-world moment. It decided that greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are off-limits in the planning for an open cast coal mine. That’s as just as ‘out of this world’ as denying that the Moon landings ever happened, argues Simon Johnson.

On Saturday, two bits of news struck home to me very strongly. The first was the death of moon-landing astronaut Neil Armstrong. The second was the High Court decision that open-cast coal mines and global warming are legally and jurisdictionally unrelated in the Resource Management Act.

The moon landing in 1969 I remember very well. As a seven year old, I listened attentively to the ‘one small step’ broadcast. The whole class was silent under the spell of our teacher’s scratchy transistor radio. It’s one of my most strongly held memories of those days. I guess that reflects quite well on that class of seven year olds. They stopped playing bullrush, sniffing with colds, and fighting over lunches to listen attentively to the unfolding of one of humanity’s most historic moments.

While I was still fondly remembering the Moon landing, the next news item struck.

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Zombie ETS infects RMA with climate insanity

Simon Johnson/aka Mr February argues that the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme has become living-dead “zombie” legislation that infects other statutes with its own virulent climate change insanity. The example is a recent decision by the Environment Court that it can’t consider climate change impacts of coal mining as described by James Hansen in the Forest and Bird appeal of the resource consents for the opencast ‘Escarpment’ coal mine.

The other week I watched the zombie genre film 28 Weeks Later. The turning point in the film came when British actor Robert Carlyle kissed his wife and was instantly infected with the ‘Rage Virus’, which of course meant he had to turn into a homicidal-virus spreading-living-dead zombie who would then infect the rest of the surviving population of post-Rage Virus London. A great zombie movie moment!

For me, another much less amusing zombie moment, was last week’s news from TVNZ, Radio NZ, the Otago Daily Times, and the Dominion Post, that the Environment Court had declared that climate change effects from coal mining will not be considered in Forest and Bird’s appeal of the consents granted for the Escarpment Mine Project, an opencast coal mine on the ecologically sensitive Denniston Plateau.

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Stern talking (but not Nick)

At the UNFCCC Climate Change talks currently under way in Bonn the US Envoy Todd Stern has unequivocally announced the role the US will be playing in the time ahead.  It is an extraordinary transformation. The hopes raised by Obama still look strong.

Some extracts follow. First, the opening remarks:

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Telling porkies to Parliament

NZETS.jpgThe Emissions Trading Scheme Review committee has released the first batch of submissions it has received — those made by organisations and individuals who have already made their presentations to the committee. There are some heavy hitters in there: from New Zealand’s science and policy community there’s the Climate Change Centre (a joint venture between the University of Canterbury and Victoria University of Wellington, plus all the Crown Research Institutes – from NIWA to AgResearch), VUW’s Climate Change Research Institute, and GNS Science, and from the world of commerce, we have the Business Roundtable‘s “evidence”. Why the quote marks? Because the Roundtable’s submission is a fact-free farrago of nonsense.

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