John Key has announced that National will not support the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation in its current form [Stuff]. When the select committee reports back to parliament next month, National will vote against a second reading. The reactions are as you might expect: from praise at Kiwiblog to righteous indignation at No Right Turn. Hot Topic (for what it’s worth) is disappointed that climate policy is effectively becoming a political football. Key’s move doesn’t mean that the ETS is dead, but it does radically change the political landscape on climate issues. Helen Clark is insisting the ETS will proceed, but she will now need to ensure that the Greens and Maori Party are on side, and rustle up some votes from New Zealand First and/or United Future. Good luck with that.
It appears National, despite their fine words about being committed to emissions trading and firm action on emissions reductions, have made the crude political calculation that in the general clamour being raised by submitters on the ETS they can keep both their business constituency happy and lessen problems with the remaining sceptics in their ranks (and in a future support arrangement with ACT) by delaying the introduction of a scheme. Note the speed with which the climate cranks have been rushing out supporting press releases. I hope Key realises that he’ll need a long spoon to sup with that lot.
Delaying action on climate change is now an election issue. If National form the next government, it doesn’t take much of a crystal ball to see that substantive action will likely be years away as officials return to the drawing board for a third time. Those who aren’t bald already could be forgiven for tearing their hair out.