Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Climate change: reopening Motunui

The Taranaki Herald Daily News reports that Methanex is planning to reopen its Motunui methanol plant. The plant will manufacture up to 900,000 tons of methanol a year, which by my calculations (based on the figures in the 2006 National Inventory Report appendices) would add 705,000 T CO2-e to our annual emissions. It's a small fraction of our total - around 0.1% - but it will still need to be covered by the purchase of carbon credits. And as Methanex is likely to be in and out before industrial emissions are brought into the ETS in 2010, the taxpayer is likely to be left holding the bag, to the tune of $10.5 (if you believe Treasury's figures) to $21 (if you use realistic ones) million per year. That's a lot of hip operations we'll be forgoing to effectively subsidise a multinational corporation's profits.

This is simply unacceptable. I take it as axiomatic that companies should pay the full cost of their activities, rather than being allowed to externalise them and dump them on the rest of society. Unfortunately, thanks to the government's previous failure to implement policy, its slow schedule for implementing the ETS, and its utter refusal to allow the RMA to be used as a stopgap measure in the meantime, that is exactly what Methanex will be allowed to do.