ETS better than carbon tax

November 30, 2009

An emissions trading scheme is a better option for New Zealand than a carbon tax, Environment Minister Nick Smith told a National Party Bluegreen forum at Totara on Saturday.

He said an ETS is better able to recognise forests which play a critical role in offsetting emissions and in our economy; it’s better able to recognise limits rather than just setting a price as a tax would; and it keeps us in step with most of our major trading partners. Europe and the United States already have an ETS and, in spite of the debate going on across the Tasman now, Australia is likely to have one soon.

He likened an ETS to the quota management system for fisheries. Companies will be able to buy and sell carbon units in the same way they buy and sell fishing quota.

The government had been very mindful of the problem of carbon leakage when designing the scheme.

It would be easy to reduce emissions if a company moved its production somewhere else but that wouldn’t do anything for global emissions. If for example Holcim moved cement production to China, New Zealand’s emissions would go down but it’s likely global emission would increase because environmental standards wouldn’t be as high there as here.

“That would have done nothing for the environment and would costs New Zealanders’ jobs,” he said.

Dr Smith also stressed that the ETS was not an excuse for the government to take money from people.

“This is not a cash cow for the government to profit from. The scheme is fiscally neutral . . . foresters will gain, other people will pay, but it’s fiscally neutral for the government.

Agriculture produces about 6% of emissions in Britain and 14% in Australia but it accounts for around 50% of emissions in New Zealand.

“Every country under Kyoto has to cover for agriculture but when it’s minor the government covers. In New Zealand where it’s 50% of our emissions doesn’t have that choice.”

However, he said that emissions per kilo of milk fat and lamb had been reducing by 1% a year over the last 10 years.

Around 90% of the increase in emissions have been from developed countries but in the next 30 years 97% of the increase will be from developing countries.

“Even if developed countries stop all emissions, climate change will increase because of the developing countries.”

Most developing countries have a high proportion of emissions from agriculture, for example in Uruguay it’s 80%. The Global Alliance to support research will enable developed countries to share research with developing ones to help them reduce emissions.

Dr Smith acknowledged that most farmers were unhappy with the prospect of an ETS but not doing anything would endanger trade.

“Agriculture is an export industry and we trade on the basis of being clean and green. We can’t compete on the basis of being the cheapest.

“We are not going to be a leader but we can’t be a lagger because other countries will not allow access if we aren’t carrying our fair share of the burden of climate change.”

National’s Dunedin list MP, Michael Woodhouse, also stressed the risk to trade from doing nothing.

“Even if you don’t believe in global warming, consumers in our markets do and we will face barriers to our produce if we aren’t seen to be doing something,” he said.

Of all the information I’ve heard on the whole global warming issue that’s the most compelling.

Regardless of the science, the politics and emotion demand action.

November 30 in history

November 30, 2009

On November 30:

1554 Philip Sidney, English courtier, soldier, and writer, was born.

1667 Jonathan Swift, Irish writer and satirist, was born.


1786  Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, promulgated a penal reform making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty.

1810  Oliver Winchester, American gunsmith, was born.

1872 The first-ever international football match took place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.

1835 Mark Twain, American writer, was born.

1874 Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel laureate,was born.

1886 The Folies Bergère staged its first revue.

1934 The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman became the first to officially exceed 100mph.

1936  The Crystal Palace, London. was destroyed by fire.
1940  Lucille Ball married Desi Arnaz.
1949 the first National government was elected in New Zealand, led by Sidney Holland.

Election of first National government

1953 June Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born.

1955  Billy Idol (born William Michael Albert Broad), British musician, was born.

1965 Ben Stiller, American actor, was born.

In the black and white image, Stiller is facing the camera. He has his right arm crossed in front of him and left hand raised to his chin, with the pointer finer right below his lips. He is wearing a black suit.

 1966 Barbados became independent

1967 The People’s Republic of South Yemen becomes independent.

Flag Coat of arms

1995 Official end of Operation Desert Storm.

2005  John Sentamu became the first black archbishop in the Church of England with his enthronement as the 97th Archbishop of York.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Cannonball Rag

November 29, 2009

Merle Travis would have been 92 today.

The only song of his I recognised when searching YouTube was Sixteen Tons, but I liked Cannonball Rag more.

The C word

November 29, 2009

The first signs of Christmas approaching seem to happen earlier and earlier each year.

The sight of tinsel and sound of carols in October, or even September, used to irritate me now I just ignore them until very late November.

That coincides with the first Sunday of advent which is plenty early enough to start thinking about Christmas for me.

It’s still too soon to get a tree or put up decorations but one of our family traditions is an advent wreath.

We light the first candles on the first Sunday and one more on subsequent Sundays until Christmas day when all five are lit.

Whether or not you are a Christian, it is much better to ponder on hope, faith, joy, love and Christmas itself, which each of the candles signify, than the many other less inspiring meanings attached to the C word now.

Jonell from Jonell’s Florists, makes the wreath for us.

Although she’s been doing them for years now, every one has been different and all have been beautiful.

Green practices can make business sense

November 29, 2009

Economic growth and good environmental policy go hand in hand, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said in opening yesterday’s National Party Bluegreen forum at Totara.

Her message was reinforced by by party’s Dunedin list MP, Michael Woodhouse, who said what’s good for the environment can be good for business.

“Green” businesses are often regarded as alternative. But Michael said there are a lot of opportunities for any business to do things in a more sustainable way.

He managed Mercy Hospital before entering politics and said changing from diesel to LPG for had not only reduced the costs of heating the hospital, it had reduced cleaning bills because the diesel had created a fine soot.

“Good business processes and practices can improve the environmental footprint and the bottom line,” he said.

Confession of a fair weather fan

November 29, 2009

I’ve barely glanced at a rugby game all year.

I still didn’t watch the All Balcks vs France test properly.

But my farmer was watching it so I was aware of what was happening in the background.

And now they’re not just winning but winning well ( 39 -12 with three mintues to go), I’m interested.

Recycling aspirin for hangover of over consumption

November 29, 2009

Recycling is not always good for the environment.

This was the message from Marion Shore of the Waitaki Resource Recovery Centre to a National Party Bluegreen Environment forum at Totara yesterday. 

She was speaking on waste minimisation and said that recycling is like aspirin to treat the hangover of over consumption.

“Most recycling reduces the quality of material being recycled over time. . . Recycling doesn’t make it environmentally benign,” she said.

It is much better to reduce what we use and re-use what we can. 

Product and packaging design plays an important role in waste minimisation.  For example, electronic goods from Korea are packed in rice husks when they’re exported to Europe and once they’re no longer needed they are turned into bricks.Ms Shore said some “green” practices weren’t necessarily as good for the environment. Low energy bulbs used less energy than the old ones but the old ones could be disposed of in landfills without the risks of mercury contamination.

“Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury which needs to be disposed of carefully. It’s much better to turn off lights we don’t need,” she said.

Her message resonated with me because she cut through the greenwash to the facts. Recycling makes some people feel better because they’re “doing something” for the environment. But the something they’re doing is not always a good thing and never better than reducing and reusing.

This is one of the reasons I was so irritated by supermarkets charging a green tax on plastic bags which are almost always reused when they use unnecessary packaging which is almost always dumped as soon as the shopper gets home.

Ms Shore conlcuded by saying there is no planet B.

She’s right which means we have to look after the one we’ve got – but that requires differentiating between really good green practices and greenwash.

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