The Bill which will introduce the Emissions Trading Scheme passed it’s second reading with 63 votes in support and 56 against.
Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and the Progressive party voted for it. National, United Future, Act, the Maori Party, Gordon Copeland and Phillip Field opposed it.
The Maori Party media release on the Bill makes interesting reading:
We remain strong in our belief that, fundamentally, the ETS is still just an Emissions Trading Scheme, when what is required is an Emissions Reduction Programme,” said Co-leader Tariana Turia.
“A 2% reduction in emissions over ten years is simply fiddling while Rome burns. The time for scheming is over. Now is the time for a programme of action,” said Mrs Turia.
“A real Emissions Reduction Programme will require significant changes in our lifestyle, but the alternative, of doing almost nothing, will be a lot worse,” she said.
Doing something is not always better than doing nothing – this something will sabotage the economy for little or no environmental gain
“A sound programme would be comprehensive, covering all industries and all gases. The government’s scheme is on the right track in that respect.
“But a scheme worth supporting would also be fair to all industries and consumers, and transparent, so everyone can see how the costs and credits have been allocated,” she said.
“Pollution is a cost of business that should be identified at source, and that business must be held responsible. Any cost they pass on to consumers will at least encourage environmentally responsible choices. The principle must be that polluters pay, because the purpose of the programme is to cut emissions.
But there’s no point in levying what is effectively a tax on primary production when science has yet to come up with much in the way of effective ways to counter emissions.
“Instead we have deferred liability and masses of free credits going to the biggest industries and the worst polluters for years to come. This negates any incentive for them to make changes. This is not ‘polluter pays’ – it’s ‘pay the polluters’,” said Mrs Turia.
“Credits to assist export-exposed industries to adjust to the new regime should be allocated on the basis of need – not by blanket donations and exemptions to huge corporate lobbyists.
“Those free credits could be invested by the government in speeding up energy savings and moving to renewable sources, in building resilient and sustainable communities, and supporting poor and vulnerable people who will be worst affected by the social and economic upheaval,” said Mrs Turia.
“The government is not willing to fully explain the disastrous consequences of doing so little to save the planet, for fear of a voter backlash. We have to know the truth, so we can make the tough decisions that are needed right now.
Of course there would be a voter backlash if it was understood that the ETS will impose such huge costs for little or no gain.
“We are told the Green Party and NZ First have signed up to it. I predict that the concessions won by them will seem like a mere thirty pieces of silver, once the full impacts of climate change start to be felt,” she said.
“We maintain our original position – that we need a radical rethink of the whole approach. This scheme represents a failure of leadership.
“The need to make drastic changes to curb greenhouse gas emissions is what defines this moment in our history. We have no time to lose. The common interest must prevail in the pursuit of environmental justice, and social and cultural wellbeing,” said Mrs Turia.
Regardless of the science, the politics requires action. Good leadership would have achieved cross party consensus which balanced costs and benefits. But bulldozing through this legislation will do economic and social harm with little or no environmental good to show for it.
Hat tip: The Hive