Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Environmental priorities

The NZIER has a report [PDF] out today suggesting that we have our environmental priorities all wrong, and that we should be focussing on biodiversity protection and air quality rather than emissions reduction. How do they reach this conclusion? By arbitrarily assigning the atmosphere a low value, and claiming that we have "negligible" control over it. Which is correct if you look at the global atmosphere, but absolutely false if you look at our contribution to it. But remember, this is the organisation which produced the infamous strapped chicken report which used the worst case scenario for climate change costs, and then did not consider forestry, our most effective means of emissions reduction, all to provide ammunition for the government to do nothing. So please forgive me for taking their "analysis" with a pinch of salt.

But beyond the obvious flaws, there's also a bigger one: that they treat this as an "either-or" choice: either we deal with air quality (which BTW the government refuses to do) or we reduce emissions. Its not - its "both-and". Believe it or not, our government can walk and chew gum (and deal with multiple problems, environmental or otherwise) at the same time. Unlike, apparently, the NZIER's economists.