The big emitters’ carefully co-ordinated campaign against the proposed NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is having a big week. Following on from last week’s Castalia report, the Greenhouse Policy Coalition and the Major Electricity Users Group are now claiming that a survey shows the ETS will have big economic impacts [Herald , NBR]:
The relatively small survey of 32 firms, which includes some meat companies, pulp and paper mills, iron, steel, shipping, cement, dairy, mining and supermarkets shows that a carbon price of $30/tonne will cost those firms $241 million in increased direct energy costs, result in deferred investment of $1.5 billion, put at risk over 2000 existing jobs and 425 new jobs had planned investment gone ahead.
The survey cunningly ignores the government’s proposal to grandfather emissions in most sectors, presumably so that it could paint the worst possible picture of economic impacts.
Forgive me if I consider that a survey conducted by a lobby group, based on a tiny response and dubious methodology, that just happens to show exactly what the lobby group wants it show, is meaningless. But from the GPC’s perspective, any noise is presumably good noise. Which is about all that can be said for a column by Alasdair Thompson of the Employers and Manufacturers Association in the Herald. Fodder for the spin machine. Even Westpac got in the act, claiming that a carbon price would put inflationary pressure on the Reserve Bank, on equally flimsy grounds. And by some strange coincidence, the Business Roundtable just happens to have shipped notorious British sceptic Nigel Lawson over from the UK to sing for his supper on Thursday. No guesses about the tune Nigel will bellow… (I’ll be posting about Lawson later this week). Fortunately, Rod Oram’s around to demonstrate (in his Sunday Star Times column at the weekend) that there are plenty of businesses who don’t need a weatherman (or climate scientist) to know which way the wind is blowing.
All this PR activity is about framing the debate. If the big emitters can ignore the climate imperative and international consequences of our actions and spin this as about economics and prosperity and jobs, they presumably hope to be able to get the scheme watered down or delayed. Tactically, it may be about trying to separate National from its early acceptance of the ETS proposals. Can Key and Smith resist the siren call of corporates with deep pockets?