Don’t worry Kyoto (National’s Only Looking Out For Its Friends)

The New Zealand government has announced that the country will not join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (CP2), but will instead make voluntary commitments within the Kyoto framework [Herald, NBR]. Climate change minister Tim Groser presented this move as:

…aligning [NZ’s] climate change efforts with developed and developing countries which collectively are responsible for 85% of global emissions. This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies.

To put it another way, New Zealand has chosen to abandon the 36 countries already signed up for CP2 — which runs from 2013 to 2020 — and instead aligns itself with the world’s worst polluters. Ironically, Groser rejected CP2 on the same day that Australia, only recently equipped with a meaningful carbon emission reduction scheme, announced it would sign up. The move completes the National-led government’s programme of gutting and dismembering the climate policies it inherited from the last Labour-led government when it took power in 2008.

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Things are gonna change (the morning after)

On the morning after I was more interested in the rugby than agonising over the entrails of Saturday night’s election result, but today it’s worth traversing what new Zealand’s new political landscape might bring for climate policy. For the wider picture, I recommend Russell Brown’s take at Hard News and Gordon Campbell’s at Scoop; they summarise the politics of the situation nicely.

The big question, of course, is to what extent Rodney Hide’s ACT contingent – guaranteed a coalition deal, with Hide in cabinet – can persuade prime minister designate John Key to modify National’s policy on the Emissions Trading Scheme (keeping it, but watering it down even further).

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Take care the road you choose

vote1.pngNow that one election’s out of the way, (a good result: Obama’s committed to 80 percent reductions by 2050) time to focus on what’s happening in New Zealand. I’ve promised several times to offer an analysis of the major parties offerings on climate change and emissions reductions, but I’ve been pre-empted by a very useful summary by Vote for the Environment (a joint effort by Eco and Greenpeace). They set up an “ideal” set of environment policies, and then surveyed the parties and scored their answers. The results are pretty close to my impression of the state of the parties…

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No matter who you vote for the government always gets in

We have an election date – November 8th – and an Emissions Trading Scheme on the statute books. The next eight weeks are going to be fascinating, probably messy, and certainly noisy. Hot Topic will be watching the campaigns, focussing on what the parties have to say about climate change, climate policy and the ETS. More when the campaigns get into gear.

Meanwhile, this weekend’s edition of RNZ National’s Focus on Politics (stream, download) looks at what might be in store for the ETS after the election. National insist they’ll be able to get amending legislation in place within nine months (Nick Smith sounded intent on saving Fonterra money…), David Parker reckons they’ll struggle. But will they get the chance?

Good weekend reading: No Right Turn’s take on the true cost to the NZ economy of reasonable emissions targets. I really must get my thoughts on targets onto the blog soon – but there’s much afoot in the Arctic (and I have a vineyard to finish pruning).

Tangled up in blue

NZETS.jpgJohn 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.