When raging inflation and high debt requires the government to spend every cent wisely, its Emissions Reduction Plan falls short:
National supports the Government’s emissions budgets and emissions targets but is concerned that today’s Emissions Reduction Plan is a poor use of taxpayers’ money, says Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon says.
“We support the goal of reducing emissions in the economy, but see little evidence that this Government will be able to deliver.
“Too much of the new spending will go to corporate welfare and more working groups.
“The Government is proposing to give hundreds of millions of dollars to companies for investments they should be making anyway.
“We expect those companies to be cutting their emissions without help from taxpayers. A significant part of the Government’s plan looks like a corporate carbon bailout.
“There are elements of the plan that we welcome, including investment in research to reduce agriculture emissions and in expanding options for carbons sinks including native forests and blue carbon.
“However, much of the plan lacks the details we would expect to see after more than two years of work.
“This plan is classic Labour. In the middle of a cost of living crisis, Grant Robertson’s big idea is to spend millions of dollars for more consultants, more working groups, and poorly focused initiatives, with no real milestones for success.
“It is disappointing to see poor quality spending and corporate welfare at a time when New Zealanders’ back pockets are hurting and they want assurance their money is being carefully spent.
“Today’s plan will only add to the perception that this Government talks a big game but does not deliver – whether for the climate or housing or mental health or anything else.”
The Taxpayers’ Union makes a similar point about misspending:
James Shaw is exploiting the commentariat’s failure to understand the Emissions Trading Scheme in order to justify costly middle class welfare and handouts for big business, says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke.
On cash for clunkers:
“This is brazen middle class welfare dressed up as climate action,” says Mr Houlbrooke. “Giving a fat cash enticement for New Zealanders to switch to electric vehicles is unlikely to benefit poorer households, who will not be in the market for an electric vehicle (even a subsidised one). In fact, scrapping used cars will drive up costs for the poor due to reduced supply in the used market.”
“When this policy was tried in the US, it mainly ended up subsidising purchases that would have happened anyway.”
On corporate welfare:
“Shaw has announced he’s sloshing another $650 million into the ‘decarbonising industry’ corporate welfare fund. This is the pot of money that has seen millions handed over to the likes of Silver Fern Farms, ANZCO, and DB Breweries so that they can upgrade their heating systems. Smaller competitors never seem to get a look in. Regardless, as we have previously pointed out, the funding is redundant: based on the Government’s own numbers, big businesses already have a strong enough incentive to replace boilers and avoid ETS levies.”
Handouts from the GIDI fund so far can be browsed here: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3.
On the elephant in the room:
“The vast majority of interventions announced today will fail to reduce emissions. That’s because, outside of agriculture, New Zealand’s emissions are capped and traded under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Interventions to force down emissions in say, transport, merely free up carbon credits to be burnt in other sectors.”
“As the United Nations’ IPCC put it: if a cap-and- trade system has a sufficiently stringent cap then other policies such as renewable subsidies have no further impact on total greenhouse emissions. Why does James Shaw think he knows better than the UN’s international climate experts? Of course, simply using the ETS to efficiently reduce emissions would make for fewer announcements and fewer photo-ops with schoolkids, cycleways, and electric vehicles.”
Once again the government shows it doesn’t understand the ETS and the waterbed effect of reductions of emissions in one area allowing increases in another for no net improvement.
However, there is some good in the Emissions Reduction Plan:
Federated Farmers is pleased the government has recognised solutions to agricultural emissions lie in new technologies and tools, and is stepping up investment on that front.
“Nitrate and methane inhibitors, gene editing, animals bred for their lower methane ‘burping’ – they’re the kind of advances that will enable New Zealand’s farming sector to continue to perform for the nation’s economy while maintaining our world-leading meat and dairy carbon footprint,” Feds President and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.
It will be important to understand how the proposed new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions fits with existing bodies such as the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Pastoral GHG Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the international bodies New Zealand partners with, such as the Global Research Alliance.
“New Zealand farmers have been funding millions of dollars into greenhouse gas mitigation tools since 2003 via the PGGRC,” Andrew said.
Do we need another organisation when all of these are already doing good work?
It will also be crucial that our regulatory framework is worked on at the same time as acceleration of research and commercialisation of these tools “so that when they’re ready, we can get on with using them.
“At present there is no category to register feed inhibitors for use on our farms, for example,” Andrew said.
“And Feds again make the point we’ve made many times previously – serious investigation and society-wide discussion is needed on the role genetic technologies – particular gene editing – can play in the thorny environmental issues confronting us. Feds supports giving food producers and consumers the choice with gene editing technology.
“If we are not open to all solutions, we risk losing our world-leading emissions footprint as other countries embrace the innovation we are ignoring.”
Andrew said those who continue to claim the answer lies in just cutting fertiliser and going totally organic need to look at what has just happened in Sri Lanka. “That’s the short-sighted path that nation’s government pursued and now they’re in a food and economic crisis they’re desperate to reverse and get back to where they were.”
That short-sighted path is the one that
Greenpeace has dubbed the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan an ‘Omissions Ridiculous Plan’, for its failure to address New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – the dairy industry.
Lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose says, “Intensive dairying is the number one cause of climate pollution in Aotearoa, so it’s absolutely staggering to see that the Emissions Reduction Plan fails to include policy that would reduce cow numbers or phase out the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that drives emissions.””This Emissions Reduction plan is not credible because it fails to deal with the dirty great cow in the room – New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – intensive dairy,” says Rose.
Where’s the evidence that cows are the number one cause of climate pollution. Does Redpeace understand the difference between methane and CO2?
Despite initial Climate Commission recommendations that New Zealand needed to reduce the livestock herd and area farmed, the Government has not included these policies in the plan. Other nations have been taking such steps, including the Netherlands which plans to cut the herd by 30% by 2030.
The Netherlands aren’t nearly as efficient at producing milk as we are, nor is dairying such a big part of their economy.
The Government’s projections show the ERP will reduce agricultural emissions by as little as 0.33 Mt CO2e over the 2022-2025 period which is less than 1% of the industry’s projected emissions.
The ERP’s approach to agriculture relies heavily on industry self-regulation – through He Waka Eke Noa – which is also expected to reduce emissions by only 1%.
“Instead of just cutting cow numbers, the Government is relying on industry promises, hypothetical, and unproven techno-fixes to agricultural emissions, and the freshwater reforms that the dairy industry is undermining at every step,” says Rose.
The Emissions Reduction Plan gifts $710 million to the agricultural industry – a quarter of the entire Climate Emergency Response Fund which it has not contributed towards.
“Despite the climate emergency, industrial dairy has yet again been given a free pass that now comes with a huge subsidy from the rest of New Zealand.
“This is a kick in the guts for New Zealanders who are effectively subsidising the intensive dairy industry due to the industry’s exemption from the ETS.
“To truly deal with the climate crisis the Government needs a far better plan than they have produced today. A plan that cuts cow numbers, phases out synthetic fertiliser and drives the transition to more plant-based regenerative organic farming,” says Rose.
Can Redpeace present any reputable science backing their prescription as being both better for the environment and sustainable?
How expensive does Redpeace want food to become?
How much a reduction in export income and consequent reduction in living standards does Redpeace think is acceptable?
The organisation probably hasn’t considered those questions and wouldn’t be interested in the answers.
The diatribe above shows, it simply hates cows, doesn’t care that fewer cows here would lead to more cows elsewhere, where production is much less efficient, and has no idea that the high social and economic costs of its policy would do little for emissions here and lead to an increase globally.