Australia dealys ETS, Select Committee deliberates in NZ

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced his government’s Emissions Trading Scheme will be delayed a year.

Back here, the Select Committee reviewing our ETS has started hearing submissions.

Federated Farmers have asked for the scheme to be scrapped or substantially altered.

“The road to economic hell will be paved by an ill conceived ETS, because New Zealand doesn’t need the ETS to meet its Kyoto obligations,” said Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

Federated Farmers favours repeal of the ETS and non-punitive policy measures to transition New Zealand to a low-carbon economy. The Federation’s interim solutions put to the Select Committee include:

  • New Government-funded forest plantings via land leasing regimes, land purchases or other viable partnership arrangements. This will not just develop new permanent forestry sinks but also generate employment opportunities. This concept was also put to the Prime Minister’s Job Summit held earlier in the year;
  • A low-level carbon charge set at a rate that recovers just enough revenue to account for any emissions deficit;
  • Government purchasing the cheapest Kyoto emissions units available to meet New Zealand’s future liabilities, until the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012;
  • Lead internationally by advocating for each country to allocate a percentage of GDP towards climate change initiatives; and potentially,
  • Non-compliance, akin to the Canadian Government’s approach since 2005.

Feds’ other option was a substantial rewrite of the ETS to exclude primary food production and introduce economic tests.

“The primary production of food has no place in any emissions trading scheme,” Mr Nicolson continued.

“Precedent for this comes from Denmark. The Danish Government in March moved to specifically exclude the primary production of food from its Kyoto response.

Meat & Wool NZ and the Meat Industry Assocation  also want a rethink of the scheme.

They say including livestock in the scheme when no other country does puts farming at a signifincant risk and would have severe financial, social and environmental impacts.

They are using two case studies to show the affect the scheme would have. One of these is Southland farmers Julie and David Marshall:

Mr Marshall said the cost of paying for his emissions would equate to an extra $43,000 a year from about 2017 onwards.

The alternative would be to plant enough trees to offset his carbon footprint but, because of the unsuitable growing conditions near the coast, he would have to plant enough pine to cover half his 247ha property, he said.

MIA chair Bill Falconer said:

New Zealand’s 15,000 commercial sheep and beef farmers and about 80 processing plants collectively generated export earnings of $6.8 billion a year, which was in jeopardy under the current legislation.

“We could only contemplate an ETS for livestock if it properly incentives farmers to use proven mitigation technologies but leaves them no worse off compared to their overseas competitors,” he said.

The ETS is about politics and bureaucracy not the environment.

It is irrseponsible to impose significant costs on primary industry with the consequent social and economic impacts of that when there will be no environmental gain and possibly an increase in emissions.

There is no point in reducing emissions here if it will only lead to an increase somewhere else. We’ve signed the Kyoto Protocal but that doesn’t mean we have to sabotage our economy with an ETS which far exceeds what other countries are contemplating.

New Zealand and the environment would be better off if the energy and money going into the ETS was diverted to research  instead.

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