Popular politics leading to bad policy

I don’t know whether the climate is changing, if it is whether or not it is because of human activity and if it is how much we can do to turn it around.

 

Regardless of that, we only have one world and we have a responsibility to look after it and it concerns me that some of the responses to the threat of climate change are going to do more harm than good environmentally, economically and socially.

 

The Kyoto Protocol is part of the problem because it encourages developed countries to export problems to the developing world.

 

We cause more harm to the environment it we don’t burn coal here but sell it to India or China where it is burned more dirtily; we don’t sustainably log native trees but import timber from clear-felled rain forests in Asia and Latin America; we don’t dump plastic which does reduce the amount of rubbish dumped in landfills but also uses fossil fuels to send it to China where the recycling process causes gross air and water pollution and serious health problems for workers.

 

The NZIER says the Emissions Trading Scheme which is under consideration in parliament will cause more pain than necessary and the Sustainability Council reckons it will impose costs of $4 billion over five years on households, small businesses and the transport industry. The Council reckons farming should shoulder more of the burden but food prices have already gone up by nearly 30% and Federated Farmers president Charlie Pedersen said that there is a very real risk farming for carbon credits will overtake farming to feed the world.

 

Growing crops for bio-fuel rather than food is fuelling steep increases in the price of crops and meat and there are very really doubts over whether the energy produced exceeds that needed to produce it.

 

Emotion beats facts and the emotion has been on the side of climate change. That has led to politicians accepting the need to adopt policies to combat the problem, whether or not they will help. But once more people realise that action based on emotion is imposing economic, social and environmental costs which outweigh any of the benefits the politicians might find that the Kyoto Protocol and emissions trading lose their popularity.

 

The challenge then will be to find policies which really do safeguard the environment with out imposing unreasonable social and economic costs.

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