The other side of the world

Imagine this: the country’s leading business organisation — noted for its robust espousal of free markets and business freedom — takes the government to task for not doing enough, fast enough to get emissions on a downward path. So it releases four roadmaps, for the power, industrial, energy and transport sectors designed to deliver emissions reductions of 30% by 2020 (overview here). Fantastic, eh? Sadly, it’s not happening here. The organisation in question is the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI told Business Green:

“Achieving all of this in the ambitious timeframe that has been set will require massive investment of private capital, much of it from abroad,” he said. “But this will only be forthcoming if there is certainty about the direction of government policy, a robust price for carbon, a clear planning and regulatory structure, the right regime for tax and intellectual property, and the skills that will be needed to bring all this new kit to market.”

The contrast with the situation in Godzone could not be more stark. A couple of months ago, Carbon News reported on a draft of Business NZ‘s submission to the ETS Review committee:

New Zealand needs to stop ETS implementation until the rest of the world decides what it is doing, avoiding imposing an emission prices ahead of the rest of the world

We have the most “punitive” ETS in the world (all sectors and all-gases)

The Government will raise more revenue than needed to meet the actual cost of paying for any excess emissions commitment under Kyoto

The ETS is “rushed” (even though it has now been nearly 15 years since the Kyoto commitment was made and nothing major, except the ETS, has been done in response)

Agriculture will suffer if the ETS covers that sector’s gases before others in the world do so.

Couple that with the nonsense contained in the Business Roundtable’s ETS Review submission, and a clear picture emerges. The core of the New Zealand business world just doesn’t understand the climate problem — or have any real ideas for dealing with it. There are good guys in the business world — most notably the Business Council for Sustainable Development — but they struggle to be heard amongst the cacophony from the big emitters and their representatives.

Time for our business leaders to start living in the real world, not in some fantasy where their actions have no consequences, climate change is someone else’s problem, and taxpayers pay all their bills. But I’m not holding my breath.

[KT Tunstall]

4 thoughts on “The other side of the world”

  1. The difference is the attitude to climate policy, the British government has a subsidy, standards and financial incentive approach (carrot) while the NZ government has tax approach (stick).

    Both organisations don’t really care about global warming they are just looking out for their stakeholders.

    (Although the EU has an emissions trading scheme this covers about 40% of GHG. All other Kyoto reductions will come by domestic policy which is often big government driven, energy standards, retrofitting houses, incentives for better farming practices etc are all good for big business.)

  2. I don’t think your characterisation of the climate policies of NZ and the UK are accurate — nor is your assertion that the governments “don’t care” about global warming. I’m sure they do — but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in thrall to the biggest stakeholders.

    The regulatory side of emissions reduction is just common sense: it deals with the stuff that markets find hard. Interesting you should characterise efficiency standards as “big government”.

  3. I try to keep a post brief but you never seem to understand it so I will expand.

    I said ‘both organizations’, not many people would refer too governments as organisations, I meant Business Round Table and Confederation of British Industry, neither one cares more than than the other about global warming, the difference is that BRT’s stakeholder’s stand to lose from the NZ gov response to global warming, while the CBI’s can gain from UK response.

    I didn’t actually say efficiency standards are big government. I said EU nations domestic climate policy is often big government. I have to watch you Gareth, you are very sneaky.

    EU ETS covers 40% of GHG’s. All other Kyoto obligations are met through domestic policy. Obviously there are a few dozen countries in the EU and all have different domestic policy,

    The UK government plans to ensure all British homes are insulated by 2020, and provide £400m of funding to low carbon technologies over the next three years amongst other things.

    My point isn’t that the programs are bad, only that the CBI has a motive for supporting them, while the BRT has no motive for supporting the ETS.

    The CBI actually would like more government investment. Maybe the CBI has seen Obama announce a record 3.5T dollar budget and want some of the ‘green investment’ action in the UK.

    So the point of my original post is that the premise of the article is wrong. The basis of your article from my observation is that BRT should be more like the CBI.

    However I think that both organisations are equal in that they are lobby groups working for their stakeholders. The only difference is the climate they operate in. The following is from the BRT website and seems an honest statement:

    “Working on over 80 policy issues that directly affect business at any given time, the CBI is second-to-none at achieving wins for business. Members can use the CBI to reinforce their own efforts to bring about change in the legislative and regulatory framework within which they must operate.”

    Goal are plainly “achieving wins for business’s”, not anything to do with social / environmental sustainability.

  4. The central point that the CBI “gets” and the BRT doesn’t is that business doesn’t work in a vacuum. Environmental externalities can (and will) have huge impacts on both the ways that business is done, and the types of business that will be successful. The BRT’s position is primarily ideological (shown by its espousal of Lawson and Lomborg), while the CBI’s is practical.

    I won’t deny that the two organisations are operating in a different “climate” (sorry): if you read my book, you’ll note that one of the factors that motivated me to embark on Hot Topic was the realisation that the debate in Europe had moved on to solutions, while in NZ whole sectors were denying any substantial problem. That’s still the BRT position, and it does nobody any favours, least of all BRT’s members and supporters.

Leave a Reply