Sunday, November 16, 2008

Climate change: back to square one

National's confidence and supply agreement with ACT is now online [PDF]. And it includes some very bad news for climate change policy:

National agrees to a review by a special select committee of Parliament of the current Emissions Trading Scheme legislation and any amendments or alternatives to it, including carbon taxes, in the light of current economic circumstances and steps now being undertaken by similar nations.

National further agrees to pass forthwith an amendment to the ETS legislation delaying its implementation, repealing the thermal generation ban and making any other necessary interim adjustments until the select committee review is completed.

(Emphasis added)

Looking at the terms of reference, they're going right back to the start, including "hear[ing] competing views on the scientific aspects of climate change" and looking at whether we should do anything about it anyway (and of course float the idea of a carbon tax to further delay things). In other words, repeat the entire policy process of the past fifteen years (which has included several select committee investigations, as well as a national interest analysis [PDF]), only in a more politicised context, with a politically-dictated outcome on the science. After fifteen years, we're right back to square one.

Meanwhile, energy and industrial emissions - which were going to be covered by the ETS from January 1 next year 2010 - will be free to rise, and polluters will continue to be allowed to externalise the cost of their pollution. And we will be picking up the tab for all of it. Thanks, National!