Monday, November 23, 2009

Climate change: Not a porkfest

National and the Maori Party have reached a deal on the ETS - and its not the pork-fest expected. According to the list of agreed measures, the core of the deal is:

  • an extra $24 million for the home insulation scheme, targeted specifically at low-income homes. EECA will be asked to work closely with iwi in delivery of this programme - something they should arguably be doing anyway.
  • a Treaty clause in the ETS legislation, with a specific requirement to consult on forestry, fishing, and agricultural allocations, as well as any decision to change the point of obligation for agriculture, and on future targets.
  • A side-deal [PDF] with Ngai Tahu and four other iwi to prevent them suing over bad faith in their Treaty settlements, in which they will get a 70-year lease on 35,000 hectares of DoC land and 100 percent of any carbon credits earned for the period of the lease. This isn't as generous as it sounds. After all, the whole point of forest "credits" is that they aren't - they're borrowing, not income, and every credit "earned" must be repaid when the trees are cut down. So, if they engage in forestry, their net carbon earnings will be zero (and taking carbon at the end of it means leaving the more valuable trees behind).
  • Two members of the iwi leadership group will get an all-expenses-paid junket to Copenhagen, courtesy of the taxpayer.
  • Non-preferential iwi involvement in Doc's program to encourage afforestation on crown land.
  • Consultation on complementary measures.
Only two of these are really "pork" - and one is technically valueless (or rather, the only value is the lease, not the carbon). As for the rest, its perfectly acceptable. The down-side however is that the party has agreed to vote in lock-step with the government on the rest of the bill [PDF], including "all procedural motions and SOP's advanced by other parties". Which means those other amendments which would fix the scheme are dead in the water. So, when our taxes rise or our public services are cut to pay for the massive subsidies to polluters in the scheme, we'll have the Maori Party to thank for it.