Friday, August 28, 2009

Climate change: Still delayed

Another day, and thanks to the Maori Party, there is still no report-back on the shape of the ETS. The reason for the Maori Party's discomfort is obvious: they voted against the ETS last year because it was too weak, and the changes National seems to want - notably a closed market and price cap - would be hugely disadvantageous to Maori, who have extensive forestry interests. It would also devalue several recent Treaty settlements, opening the door for their renegotiation. But having crawled into bed with the government, the screws are now on them to support it. According to Stuff, National has just delayed its response to the Foreshore and Seabed report, though it denies the decision is connected to the current wrangling. And if you believe that, there's some beer ads you should look at...

But what if the Maori party refuses to sell out its core constituency for the sake of the rich? Labour has already made clear what it thinks of the government's proposals, and the Greens are hardly likely to vote for an ETS weaker than the one they only grudgingly supported last year, which leaves ACT, the party of climate change denial. Which doesn't look like a good prospect either. Which means that if the government sticks to its plan, it will not have a majority to pass its preferred amendments.

National will try and spin this as a disaster for the environment. But remember, we already have an ETS, which looks to be far stronger than anything National is offering. The best thing for the climate, and for New Zealand, is to let it continue unchanged.