Thursday, November 27, 2008

Climate change: sinking in

The sheer stupidity of the National-led government's plans to delay the ETS to allow for Rodney Hide's denialist grandstanding seem to be sinking in. The Herald, the Listener, the Independent (offline), Rod Oram, and Vernon Small in the Dominion Post all make the point that it has increased business uncertainty and stripped us of our mana and "clean and green" credentials. The immediate focus is on the UK's decision to increase a departure tax (a crude proxy for the carbon tax or emissions trading regime on international aviation fuel forbidden by international law), but we have a bigger problem lurking on the horizon. Next week, representatives from around the world will meet in Poznan, Poland for the UNFCCC / Kyoto Protocol COP 14 / MOP 4 which will hopefully establish a solid framework for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. New Zealand will be there, pushing for our interests: a low target for ourselves (because we're "clean and green"), the exclusion of agriculture, the continued inclusion of forest sinks, and some accommodation for plantation forestry (including wood used in construction as a long-lasting offset). Our ability to push that agenda depends on our mana and our "clean and green" image. And John Key and Rodney Hide have just blown that out of the water.

To put it bluntly, nobody is going to want to listen to a country which is refusing to act, and nobody is going to want to listen to a country which is questioning the fundamental science. They will simply shut us out and work around us, and as a result our interests will not be considered. Looking at how regressive those interests are, that's not actually a bad thing for the global climate. But it will be a bad thing for New Zealand. And the blame for that can be clearly laid at the feet of John Key and Rodney Hide.