In any case it represents further delay and uncertainty to follow the three years wasted as the previous Government failed to muster the parliamentary numbers for a carbon tax, and the three more as it designed and finally passed an emissions trading scheme. Act’s proposed terms of reference, perhaps deliberately, are a recipe for interminable further delay and uncertainty.
On the other, we have former ACT MP Muriel Newman explaining her thinking in the NBR:
First, the move to pass legislation to delay the implementation of the emissions trading scheme and to repeal the ban on thermal electricity generation is sensible.
Second, while the plan to hold a select committee inquiry is a good step in the right direction, it is crucial that it allows the opportunity for a wider debate on the scientific evidence in support of, or against, the existence of anthropogenic global warming. The review must also, as a priority, hold a proper investigation in the way that the Kyoto Protocol deals with agriculture.
Fallow’s not impressed:
The committee should hear competing views on the science from internationally respected sources, it says. Apparently the careful processes of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, endorsed by the United States National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society and all the other guardians of the scientific method, are not good enough.
A few New Zealand MPs are more likely to get to the bottom of it.
But not in ACT-world1. Newman’s apparently convinced – based on a piece of over-the-top lobbying by the Greenhouse Policy Coalition’s Catherine Beard – that the world’s moving away from carbon controls:
[â€¦] the future of the EU climate change initiative looks increasingly shaky. Add to that (the) view increasingly held by developed countries that India and China (which is expected to double emissions over the next 20 years) must also agree to cut emissions if there is going to be any further global agreements, and the whole climate change edifice looks to be on the brink of collapse.
She seems to have forgotten that other recent election – but Fallow reminds us of the new reality:
â€¦it is worth noting in that context that US President-elect Barack Obama, who supports an emissions trading approach (like Europe and Australia), yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to set aggressive targets for fighting climate change. He has promised “strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them by an additional 80 per cent by 2050”.
That is a more ambitious target than National’s 50 per cent by 2050.
Two worlds are in collision. The real world, where people know we have a problem, and are doing something about it, and the strange nether world2 of ACT politicians and their fellow travellers, where saying something often enough makes it true. Fallow’s piece nicely sums up the issues we now confront, and the problems a rapid coalition deal has delivered to large sections of our economy. Rod Oram in the Sunday Star Times expresses the frustration felt outside Federated Farmers and the Greenhouse Policy Coalition:
Potentially, the MPs could go right back to first principles on climate change science. At a minimum, all carbon reduction mechanisms are back on the table including a carbon tax.
This is not what National promised in the campaign. It said the ETS would start but be quickly amended. This would have allowed forest owners to start developing and selling credits. No wonder they are furious about the U-turn and about the cancellation of imminent new investment in forests. They and the rest of the economy now have to live with massive uncertainty created by the government.
The government says it still hopes to complete the review and get amended mechanisms in place by September so carbon can be priced into electricity generation from January 2010, as planned. But this is optimistic. The government will be besieged by lobbyists seeking to relitigate every single aspect of the legislation.
So once again short-term politics have killed a sensible response to climate change. No wonder our greenhouse gas emissions rose 25.7% from 1990 to 2006, the sixth biggest increase among developed countries, the UN reported last week. Meanwhile, the EU’s fell 2.2% and the UK’s 15%.
Our shiny new National prime minister simply doesn’t get this issue. Climate policy is not central to his thought – it can be traded, swapped for an illusion of government stability. It doesn’t really matter. The bad news, Mr Key, is that your ignorance and bad political management make you look a fool on the international stage upon which you are so keen to stride. That’s bad for you – but it’s worse for New Zealand.
1: Lest anyone think I’m going soft on Newman’s “science”, she repeats the “cooling since 1998” lie (dealt with superbly by Prof Barry Brook in this new post at Brave New Climate), demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of the Kyoto Protocol (the same misunderstanding as Hide, by a strange coincidence) and then gets the agricultural methane issue completely wrong.
2: aka La-la Land