Aussies put ETS on hold


The Australian government has put its Emissions Trading Scheme on hold.

A parliamentary committee has been asked to inquire into the effectiveness of emissions trading as a means to reduce carbon pollution.

How very sensible.

Whether or not the climate is changing there is no point inflicting an expensive exercise on people and businesses if it’s not going to reduce carbon pollution.

Hat Tip: Dear John

Irish producers seek taxpayer support


Irish producers are calling for taxpayers to subsidise a sterling equalisation support scheme  to compensate them for the fall in the value of the pound which has reduced their returns from exports to Britain.

This comes just days after the European Union agreed to resume subsidies  on butter, cheese and milk powder which Alf Grumble thinks requries a less diplomatic approach  than the initial response from New Zealand.

Subsidies blunt market signals and will prolong the slump in prices because they’ll send artificial signals to maintain or boost production in the face of falling demand and they’ll also threaten free trade negotiations.

Both of these will harm our exporters and the wider economy.

EU resumes ag subsidies


The European Union decision to resume export subsidies on butter, cheese and milk powder which were suspended a couple of years ago is a blow to free trade hopes and our dairy industry.

The world milk price has fallen steeply in recent months, the EU is already subsidising butter storeage and the new subsidies will encourage further supply which is unrelated to demand.

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Agriculture Minister David Carter say it’s a negative signal when so much effort is going in to reducing protection.

Groser said this makes completion of DOHA negotiations even more urgent and Dear John says the prohibition of these subsidies should be the number one goal of current WTO negotiations.

New Zealand farmers were brought kicking and screaming into producing without subsidies in the 1980s. The pain at the time was intense but farmers are more efficient and more secure now than we ever could be with subsidies.

This message has still to get through to producers, manufacturers and politicians in other parts of the world and  everyone is paying the price of unsustainable production because of that.

Halfdone blog rankings


Scrubone at Something Should Go Here Maybe Later has compiled the Half Done November blog stats the top 20 of which are:

HD Rank Blog Last Tumeke Rank Alexa Alexa NZ Authority HD Score
1 Kiwiblog #1 62615 99 252 2
2 Whale Oil Beef Hooked #7 134113 276 93 40
3 The Standard #2 199522 268 111 48
4 Public Address #3 216349 794 174 99
5 Not PC #6 239877 538 95 136
6 No Minister #4 237322 433 64 161
7 Policy Blog: Chris Trotter & Matthew Hooton #10 202188 717 60 242
8 The Hive #5 241742 602 54 269
9 New Zealand Conservative #23 359340 557 52 385
10 Homepaddock #17 358477 763 68 402
11 Tumeke! #12 436170 807 73 482
12 Dim Post #13 355942 544 39 496
13 Cactus Kate #14 347784 806 46 609
14 New Zeal #16 414241 4467 215 861
15 Poneke’s Weblog #18 527522 1575 86 966
16 Roar Prawn #11 386652 861 32 1040
17 The Inquiring Mind #15 438737 1262 50 1107
18 Frogblog #8 94021 208 118 1326
19 Something should go here, maybe later. #34 811342 1529 66 1880
20 No Right Turn #9 907936 3070 129 2161

The blogosphere had some comings and goings in November – Roarprawn took a holiday, but has returned; Matthew Hooton and Chris Trotter left Policyblog but the latter moved to Bowalley Road, Anti-Dismal and The Hive closed and there have been two newcomers: Dear John and The Bull Pen.

I suspect Homepaddock’s 10th spot on the Half Done rankings is a lot higher than the Tumeke! rankings which Tim Selwyn is compiling now because I’ve noticed a fall in visitors and comments since the election.

Apropos of that in November:

* I wrote 226 posts.

* Received 14,414 visitors, including the most on any one day (1,160 on November 4th because of a post about the Melbourne Cup photo finish which must have shown up  high on Google searches).

* Had 378 comments, the most on a single post was 14 on November 10 about the blue wash being bad for democracy.

Red & green tape costly


Farmers will welcome John Key’s confirmation that our delegation to talks on climate change later this month will seek special treatment for agriculture.

But the Green Party reckons this could threaten our exports.

Mr Key said negotiators in Poznan, Poland, would argue aggressively for any targets on greenhouse gas emissions for New Zealand to take account of the significant contribution farming played in the economy.

The industry accounts for half of New Zealand’s carbon emissions. But Greens co-leader Russel Norman said the stance would undermine international efforts to reduce emissions and could threaten farm exports as other countries focused on high-emitting industries.

But as Federated President Don Nicolson found at the International Federation of Agricultural Producers: 

They too asked us why New Zealand is going down this track when Kyoto doesn’t ask for it, doesn’t require it and doesn’t expect it.  They are shocked and concerned. 

Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO, Charles Finny, confirms this in his blog Dear John with a post entitled Greens Speaking Rubbish:

One of the great myths that was put around in the last year of so is that if we don’t lead the world and have a scheme that applies to all sectors and all gases we will be threatening our agricultural exports.  We know for a fact that this is not the case.  Indeed some European Governments were arguing against us applying our scheme to agriculture on the grounds that this was too ambitious.  All that Europe was wanting was for New Zealand to have a scheme similar to Europe’s.  Europes scheme does not apply to the agriculture sector.  We also know that the rules that were negotiated for the Kyoto Protocol were far from perfect.  It is to be expected that countries will try and improve these rules.  The previous Government was very active in this space also – on land use and forestry in particular.

The sensible thing when the rules are wrong is to work to change them. The ETS as it stands would have a significant detrimental economic and social impact while doing little if anything for the environment, in fact if emitting industries are pushed off-shore it will make it worse.

If the Greens want to worry about something they could turn their attention to the  red and green tape  which is strangling food production, and is particularly problematic in the devloping world.

Environmental regulations and red tape are having a major impact on food production and security the world over despite international recognition of the precarious food supply situation, according to the head of a global farm lobby group.

Zambian dairy and cropping farmer, and president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), Ajay Vashee, told the National Press Club yesterday that farmers were increasingly being asked not just to produce food, but provide a range of ecological services to society.

He said though that this was having an impact, particularly in developing countries, on food production and the ability of those nations to trade because often they could not afford those services meaning trade would flow to other, mostly developed, nations. . .

. . . Mr Vashee said the push for ecological services and environmental regulation was particularly affecting developing countries who wanted to participate in trade.

He said environmental regulations were being pushed by developed nations which have the disposable income to dedicate to the environment.

“By virtue of having these policy requirements it is becoming a challenge for farmers in developing countries to meet these kinds of requirements.”

Mr Vashee said farmers must be rewarded for these non-food ecosystem services and it should not be taken for granted that farmers bear such costs on their own.

He said carbon markets should be appropriately designed so that farmers can be part of the solution.

Sustainability is supposed to have the economy, society and environment in balance but the ETS and other initiatives which hamper production with green and red tape create an imbalance. The people who pay the highest cost for this are poorer people and the poorest of these are in the developing world.

The new government’s review of the ETS and attempts to get special treatment are not an abdication of environmental responsibility they are a sensible attempt to make improvements to bad policy.

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