Monday, November 07, 2011

Labour on the environment

Labour released a package of environmental policies over the weekend, covering climate change, conservation, and the environment. So, how do they stack up? IMHO, pretty well for a major party.

On climate change [PDF], Labour would bring agriculture into to the ETS in 2013, though with a 90% pollution subsidy with an unclear phase-out rate. They'd also direct Solid Energy to give up its lignite plans, and make sure that any lignite mining and processing did not receive pollution subsidies. Finally, they're signalling a change in foreign policy, promising to take "a leading role" in international climate change negotiations. That might not survive contact with MFAT, but at least the intention is there.

On Conservation [PDF], they'd establish a marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands, expand a few national parks, strengthen Schedule 4, and protect wild rivers. All pretty mainstream and as expected.

On the environment [PDF], they'll review and strengthen oil spill preparedness, ban deep sea drilling without proper safeguards, and conduct an immediate investigation into fracking. However, they're not planning on rolling back National's RMA "reforms", and are instead promising to promulgate further National Policy Statements (which are a fairly weak regulatory tool, but better than nothing).

Meanwhile, looking at National's website, they're not even bothering to list these issues anymore. They don't have an environment, conservation or climate change policy; the closest they have is a "resource management" policy, the title of which tells you everything you need to know about their approach to these issues, and which is actually about further reducing public input and allowing developers and polluters to trample over the rest of us. These issues - the most important to New Zealanders, according to a recent 3 News poll - aren't even an afterthought to them anymore. Instead, they're things to be ignored, so that their rich mates can make more money at the expense of the rest of us.