Monday, November 23, 2009

Climate change: Amendments

The government is scheduled to announce a deal with the Maori Party this afternoon, giving it the numbers to pass its gutted ETS into law. While we're waiting for that, I think its worth looking at the amendments the opposition have put up on the bill so far:

SOP 89 (Russel Norman) omits clause 23 of the bill, which limits the amount of information on allocations published by the Emissions Register - thus allowing massive subsidies to be given out in secret.

SOP 90 (Russel Norman) requires the registry to publish every year the number of units allocated for free to each industry or sector. This avengement was recommended by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

SOP 91 (Jeanette Fitzsimons) requires the government to give reasons for any free allocation (also recommended by the PCE).

SOP 92 (Kennedy Graham) requires the government to review and justify allocations to each industry or activity individually, rather than as a whole (again, this was recommended by the PCE).

SOP 94 (Charles Chauvel) was proposed by the Business Council for Sustainable Development (before they were muzzled by their funders). It sets both medium and long-term targets for emissions reductions in law, and establishes an Advisory Committee on Climate Change as an independent Crown Entity with the goal of advising on climate change policy and on target-setting.

SOP 95 (Charles Chauvel) removes the 50% discount during the 2010 - 2012 "transitional period", and raises the price cap from $25 to $100, turning it into a true safety-valve rather than a day-to-day subsidy.

SOP 96 (Charles Chauvel) puts a cap on free allocation to industrial and agricultural emitters, based on 2005 emissions. It makes no change to phase-out rates (I understand that there are other amendments for that, but they haven't hit the web yet).

SOP 97 (Charles Chauvel) imposes full transparency on free allocations and safeguards against corruption by requiring every allocation to be published and requiring any applicant to declare any donations made to political parties in the past year.

These are good changes, which address major flaws in the government's legislation. Unfortunately, with the Maori Party bought off with pork for its major backers, they're unlikely to stand a snowball's chance in hell.