Saturday, October 27, 2007

Climate change: the cost of abandoning Kyoto

Earlier in the week, the New Zealand Institute suggested that New Zealand "slow down" on climate change by unilaterally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. It suggested this as a means of avoiding the assumedly high costs of compliance, and it assumed that abandoning our international obligations would be costless (and not just because it puts no value on mana). But they're wrong. The European Union - a major export market - is openly considering imposing border taxes on countries which refuse to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. And France has just thrown its support behind this policy:

France has thrown its support behind a European Commission idea to tax environment polluters and also urged Brussels to consider EU levies for imports from non-Kyoto countries, such as the US and Australia.


[Mr Sarkozy] urged European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, present at the speakers' podium, to discuss in the next six months the implications of "unfair competition" by firms outside the EU which do not have to abide by strict European standards on CO2 emissions.

So, if we try and dump our costs on others, we will end up paying them anyway, plus penalty fees. And as an added bonus, we'll also get to see "food miles" style campaigns against our exports, arguing that environmentally conscious EU citizens shouldn't buy goods from or holiday in environmental cheats who refuse to do their bit in combatting a real and pressing global environmental problem. The upshot is that rather than pressing for withdrawal, our farmers and exporters should be pushing for us to conspicuously adhere to Kyoto - because otherwise they will be paying the price.