Thursday, September 15, 2011

Climate change: Gutting the ETS again

One of National's first actions after coming to power was to gut the ETS, by granting enormous (and unaffordable) polluter subsidies. The result is a scheme which is massively overallocated, and which provides active incentives for more pollution rather than less. Now, National wants to weaken it further, delaying the full entry of the energy, industrial and transport sectors, and extending pollution subsidies for even longer. This is being spun as reducing the cost on households, but lets be clear: it is about protecting polluters, not us. We'll still be paying for that pollution, but we'll be doing it through higher taxes (or, given that this is National, reduced public health services) rather than higher petrol prices. As for the principle of "polluter pays", it will instead be "pay polluters". And as for our "20% by 2020" target, we'll be statutorily committing to fail to meet it.

This is exactly what I expected would happen when National appointed a bunch of farmers to its strapped-chicken review panel. However, its still disappointing. Climate change is a real problem, and it demands a real solution. Instead, its being used as an excuse to provide pork to National's mates in the pollution industry. And if that's how its going to work, we should just scrap the entire ETS and pursue a regulatory solution instead.