Thursday, April 28, 2016

Climate change: The PCE on the ETS again

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has published the second part of her submission on the Emissions Trading Scheme - this time looking at long term changes. There's some proposals around advice and how policy is developed (the PCE suggests an independent agency to report on climate change issues. The PCE is exactly such an agency), but there's also some very topical advice on free allocation and the laundering of dodgy credits.

On free allocation (which saw New Zealand Steel apparently rort us for $4 million in 2014), the PCE recommends that it be phased out, with a clear pathway to doing so. They don't talk about timelines, but originally all free allocation was supposed to be gone by 2030. Given that business has already profited substantially from this, I think a shorter timeframe is justified; ten years ought to be long enough to prevent any short-term shocks (and also short enough to limit the damage from sabotage by a future National government).

On credit laundering, the PCE is clear that this was both fraudulent and is unnecessarily postponing necessary domestic emissions cuts (and tree planting). Her solution however isn't the immediate cancellation of the profits of fraud, but merely a commitment not to use them post-2020. Its a weak and morally compromised position that does her office no credit.

sadly, I expect National will ignore even that weak advice. As the Herald notes, they're simply not interested in climate change. While their denier faction is now publicly silent, they still prevent the government from taking any real action on our most pressing environmental problem. So, we'll have to wait for a change of government in 2017 or 2020 before we see any of this implemented.