One of the many criticisms about the rushed legislation to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme is that we are outpacing our trading partners.
Eric Roy, quoted in a column by Steve Braunias in the Sunday Start Times (not on-line) put it this way:
Climate change, he said, was like a nudist club where every other nation was a member but New Zealand was the only country taking its clothes off.
The Dominion Post uses less colourful language:
The Government should have opted for a more measured approach, linked to what other nations do. It should have sought to build a political consensus for an enduring system, and National should have been a more willing participant in that.
There is no question that Labour is well-intentioned. Despite that, the legislation is part of a strategy that remains deeply flawed. It risks concentrating on the accountancy of who ends up picking up the bill for carbon emissions, rather than on reducing those emissions. The debate over what sort of assigned amount units – a form of Kyoto carbon credit – can be used to balance the books is a symptom of that. So too is the decision to pay an average of $112 a household as a one-off compensation for the expected increase in the cost of power.
The reality is that the scheme, designed to meet New Zealand’s Kyoto protocol commitment, will end up increasing the prices that consumers pay for all manner of things, and damage the economy, without necessarily doing anything about reducing the amount of carbon emitted in New Zealand.
The high economic and social costs might have been justified if the ETS was going to have a positive impact on the environment but it won’t.
The money and energy which would be better spent on research will be wasted on bureaucracy, consultants and traders.
There will be no decrease in global emissions as a result of our scheme and there may even be an increase if production is exported.
To extend Eric’s metaphor, the ETS will turn us in to a naked emperor. It will strip our economic and social fabric without providing any environmental benefit to cover us.