Monday, May 19, 2008

Climate change: a disaster for New Zealand

That is the only way to describe National's decision today that they will not support the government's Emissions Trading Scheme. Having sat on our hands for the past fifteen years and repeatedly failed to implement policy, we now seem set to ensure that the situation continues. As a result, emissions will continue to rise, and we will face an even larger bill to meet our Kyoto obligations.

This is not the move of a sensible, responsible party ready to be government. Instead, it is the move of a party which continues to cling to climate change denial and pander to polluters, which does not give a damn about the environment, and which imposes costs on ordinary New Zealanders in order to enrich its donors and cronies. We will all pay for this, while the polluters laugh all the way to the bank.

Labour's only option now to pass the bill is to try and cobble together an arrangement with the Greens and NZ First. That will be difficult, if not impossible given the parties' respective red lines. But they have to try. While any party could be forgiven for saying "fuck this", dumping the whole problem in National's lap, and then regurgitating their attacks on rising emissions and increased liabilities, we simply can't afford for that to happen. Climate change is already costing us, both in terms of shifting weather patterns and in liabilities under Kyoto. The latter are already at $1 billion, and without the ETS' financial curb on deforestation, that number can basically be expected to double (and that's before any increase in the price of carbon). So, if the bill doesn't pass, National will have cost us a billion dollars - $225 for every man, woman, and child in New Zealand. Thanks, John.