Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Climate change: A pathway to failure

Earlier in the week the International Energy Agency released its assessment of New Zealand energy policy (offline). The media - based on the online executive summary [PDF] - reported the review as "mixed". The IEA praised our use of renewable energy, but had some damning criticism of National's new energy and energy efficiency strategies, basically saying that they set goals without any concrete measures to achieve them.

But it gets worse. Buried in the report was some damning criticism of the ETS as well:

Charles Chauvel, Labour's Environment Spokesperson, says that in a study released on Monday, the Paris-based IEA concludes:

- Keeping a fixed carbon price at current levels (NZ$25/tonne) will fail to phase-out the use of carbon-intensive coal in electricity generation by 2021;

- the current design of the ETS means that NZ will probably not meet its domestic targets of a 10-20 per cent emission cut under 1990 levels by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2050.

As Chauvel points out, these are both changes introduced by National. And what it means is that rather than being a mechanism to reduce emissions, National's ETS has become a pathway to failure. Sure, we knew this all along, but its nice to have it confirmed. Faced with the greatest environmental challenge humanity has ever faced, National's response is to spin and pretend it is doing something, while letting business as usual - the problem - continue. Just like they did with the recession (and look how well that's worked out!)

I expect better from our government. I expect honesty and action. And so should you.