No point taxing what you can’t change

The government has always made it clear agriculture wouldn’t be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme unless our competitors did it too.

None of them have any intention of doing so in the near future and Climate Change Minister Nick Smith has given a very clear message that it’s unlikely we will either:

New Zealand farmers are unlikely to be brought into the emissions trading scheme in 2015 unless scientific advances are made in reducing animal emissions and our trading partners make giant strides in putting a price on carbon, the Government says.

Speaking at the Federated Farmers National Council yesterday, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith noted the Government had already said it would not proceed with the inclusion of agriculture and other sectors until it sees comparable progress from other countries.

Including agriculture here when it’s not done anywhere else will make our produce less competitive. It won’t make any improvement to global emissions and may even make them worse if production drops here and increases in other places where it is less efficient.

The requirement for scientific advances before agriculture is included is also important.

The point of emissions taxes is to change behaviour.

Science has not yet come up with anything which will help to reduce agricultural emissions so there’s no point taxing them.

This doesn’t mean New Zealand is doing nothing to fulfil it’s Kyoto commitments. The Global Research Alliance, which was a New Zealand initiative at the Copenhagen conference last year, is attracting praise and investment from around the world.

28 Responses to No point taxing what you can’t change

  1. Farmer Baby Boomer says:

    Obviously this good but the ETS is still imposing costs on our economy for no good reason.
    There is evidence that there was much more CO2 in the atmosphere at earlier times in the earth’s history.
    And it is illogical that there are credits for growing trees when both need CO2 to grow.


  2. Farmer Baby Boomer says:

    Sorry senior moment!
    Last sentence should read – ” And it is illogical that there credits for growing trees and not for growing grass when both need CO2 to grow.


  3. robertguyton says:

    Is this your comedy post for today Ele?


  4. robertguyton says:

    “Science has not yet come up with anything which will help to reduce agricultural emissions so there’s no point taxing them.”

    Commonsense has though.
    With regard science and emissions – wasn’t research and development into reducing emissions from ruminants supposed to be the great contribution New Zealand was to make to the international community?
    Key certainly trumpeted such claims post-Copenhagen. Hot air? Again?
    Nothing emerging from the nitrous oxide inhibiting preparations that are being used and trialled around the country Ele?
    We’d been led to believe that they were a positive step foward, a responsible response from farmers to the emmissions their activities produce.
    Nothing happening there?
    Same must go for the extractive coal industry then I suppose.
    Carbon Capture undo-able now is it? We’ll surge ahead with that too, because ‘if we don’t, someone else will’?
    Full steam ahead lads! There’s money to be had!


  5. homepaddock says:

    The Global Research Alliance which was NZ’s initiative is doing good work but the research from there and the others you mention isn’t at the stage it can be used on farms yet.

    It takes a long time to get from the lab or trial plots to practical application.


  6. JC says:

    “Full steam ahead lads! There’s money to be had!”

    Good idea. The evidence is that democratic, rich and diversified economies have better environmental profiles than poorer ones.



  7. robertguyton says:

    “No point in taxing what you can’t change”
    Is that going to be the way Key delivers the message to New Zealanders?
    “Too hard, can’t be done, so we won’t”
    What about the poor mugs (us) who are paying for the rest of National’s ETS?
    We’re being suckered by Key.
    You’re being suckered by Key.
    Key’s “Meh – too hard. Let those drivers continue to swill it down then cause carnage on the roads. Change is too hard”.


  8. homepaddock says:

    It’s not too hard, can’t be done. It’s that there’s no point doing something which won’t have a positive outcome and may have a negative one.


  9. robertguyton says:

    “It’s that there’s no point doing something which won’t have a positive outcome and may have a negative one.”

    Lowering the levels of blood alcohol?
    How so?


  10. JC says:

    RG, 5 out of 10 posts from you of inanity.

    Are you trying to “flood” the blog to drown out any message you don’t like? Thats an old trick from the days of the Newsgroups.



  11. robertguyton says:

    JC, no. It would be far easier to ignore posts like this one and comments like yours (I can do both, you only have to ask) but contrary to your view that my comments are inane, I believe they have substance. That you can’t detect any in them doesn’t surprise me but if you’d like to take one of the points I’ve made and describe just how it is inane, I’d get an idea of whether the problem is mine or yours.


  12. david winter says:

    The point of emissions taxes is to change behaviour.

    Science has not yet come up with anything which will help to reduce agricultural emissions so there’s no point taxing them.

    Yes on the first sentence, not so much on the second.

    It might be true that there isn’t much a farm can do to limit its footprint (apart from farm less intensively) but agriculutre doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    One of the behaviours a stronger ETS would aim to change is land use, at the moment there is a margin at which land is not profitable to farm but can yield returns from forestry. By subsidizing the price of carbon for one industry we are artificially moving that margin and having more land farmed and less forested that would otherwise be the case.

    That’s not to stay farmers should bare the full cost of their industry tomorrow, just that we have to understand the full impact of the policy as it stands.


  13. Andrei says:

    FFS David the science is as bogus as <a href=""Ichthyomancy and of less value as a predictive tool.

    All the crap and it is utter crap is just an excuse to grow government and to line the pockets of their cronies at the expense of those who produce the real wealth.

    And it is an utter distortion to say farmers are subsidized because the thieves steal less from them than the thieves bogus calculations claim is due.

    The only reason for changing land use is to increase real productivity.

    We are a nation of dolts for going along with this garbage.


  14. Sally says:

    Would you please tell the readers why forests aren’t liable for their nitrous oxide emissions?

    By the way, global warming is a theory not a fact.


  15. david winter says:


    I didn’t write the NZ ETS, but I imagine forestry doesn’t pay for its N20 since those emissions come from the Nitrogen cycle. Plants take up Nitrogen as they grow, when they rot the N20 is released and (as long as the forest continues to grow) that is made up for by more Nitrogen being taken up. (In the case of the Nitrogen cycle it’s a little more complex than tha, because bacteria sit between the gas and the tree.). Forests might actually be Nitrogen sinks.

    Agricultural emissions come from fertilizer, which is made using the Haber process and is external to the Nitrogen cycle.


  16. robertguyton says:

    And the reason why pasture isn’t ’emissions neutral’ must be for the same reason – the application of Haber-produced urea.


  17. Tired Farmer says:

    David & Robert
    As probably the majority of sheep farmers use very little or no urea where do they fit into the equation?


  18. david winter says:


    As I understand it, the emissions charge is paid by the producer/importer for fertliser and passed on to the user. So if you don’t use it, you won’t pay for it.


  19. Andrei says:

    We all pay for this stupidity David one way or another – except for those who are making money from this scam and the third rate scientists who get grant money to perpetuate it it.

    Have you read Edward Lorenz’ (a first tier scientist) seminal paper “Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow”?

    That paper in itself demonstrates that the bold claims being made for global warming are to coin a phrase unsustainable.


  20. david winter says:


    I really have no interest of going 12 rounds of this. Here’s what I will say.

    I’ve not read Lorenz’s paper, but am familiar enough with chaos and the like. Scientist has a pretty standard way of trying to understand models when mathematical solutions don’t exist (or are so hard to calculate as it make no difference), they run simulations thousands upon thousands of times and instead of relying on estimating the one true value try an understand the probability distribution associated with the effects being studied. In many ways this is preferable to other methods, as we can include the uncertain inherent in any prediction in the model.

    Obviously there are lots of *ahem* tricks involved in properly modelling any system worth studying, but the idea that you use models to predict the future is not controversial in any field except climatology. I wonder why that is?


  21. Andrei says:

    Obviously there are lots of *ahem* tricks involved in properly modelling any system worth studying, but the idea that you use models to predict the future is not controversial in any field except climatology. I wonder why that is?

    The models which are non controversial are simpler bt many orders of magnitude than climate ones, thats why.

    And your *ahem* tricks need to be effectively infinite in number to model the earths atmosphere.

    As for using monte carlo methods the problem is that the vast majority of possible models are essentially boring and are thus discarded – and by a process of unnatural selection the warming ones have been kept to feed into the process.

    In engineering models are used all the time and they are simple compared to modeling the climate.

    And every engineer worth his salt understands the models breakdown and looses sleep trying to make sure that what he is building does not lead to an engineering catastrophe as a result.

    And engineering catastrophes do occasionally occur.

    Ships capsize or breakup, bridges collapse and aircraft engines self destruct in midair to use an example from recent days.

    You can piddle around with “climate models” to your hearts content, it will mean less than nothing if Wyoming explodes, which it will someday and which quite likely would lead to the extinction of mankind if we are still around when it does.

    I’m not loosing any sleep over that though, I have far more immediate concerns


  22. robertguyton says:

    Tired Farmer – better by far.


  23. robertguyton says:

    Just as the ‘high-end’ organic farmers do.


  24. david winter says:


    All I can say is, if all the contrarian side has to sell is doubt then I’m not buying.

    We can never predict the future absolute certainty, but until someone can tell me how pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere won’t push climate out of whack I’m going to keep saying we should cut down on emissions.


  25. Sally says:

    “We can never predict the future absolute certainty,…”

    An absolutely nothing statement!


  26. robertguyton says:

    I totally knew you were going to say that Sally!!


  27. robertguyton says:

    But your joke is ‘absolutely nothing’ right?
    ‘Nothing’ is ‘absolute’ and the qualifier is redundant. Apologies for early morning fog.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: