Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Climate change: Good news on the ETS

One of the first things National did on coming to power was to gut the Emissions Trading Scheme, increasing and extending subsidies to polluters. And for the last tow years, they've bene trying to gut it even more, appointing a strapped-chicken review panel of farmers to make patsy recommendations for even more subsidies. But now that its finally at the crunch stage of passing legislation through the House, the wheels have fallen off, with both United Future and the Maori party apparently withdrawing support.

The reason for this is pretty obvious: National's extended pollution subsidy programme was simply too much. Meanwhile, their refusal to prohibit the use of foreign "hot air" credits was looking to undermine the very forestry industry we rely on to meet our targets. Neither is sensible, and even Peter Dunne could see it.

The failure of the bill is good news for our environment, in that it will prevent things from becoming actively worse. But we need a real ETS, not one that subsidises pollution. We need one with a sharp legislated decrease in credits, to drive innovation and emissions reductions. And we need one with allocation by auction, rather than free permits, so that the revenue flows to the public rather than polluters. With low carbon prices, we could do all of those things now, without causing the threatened economic devastation, and set in place a strong framework for the future. But somehow, I don't think that that's what National is thinking of.

Update: Looks like Labour spoke too soon - Peter Dunne has announced he will support the bill. So, his vote will be instrumental in undermining our environment and handing further billions to polluters. Thanks, Peter!