Tuesday, December 15, 2020

BIM day

The government has proactively released its Briefings to Incoming Ministers (BIMs), so like every other politics geek in Aotearoa, I've spent the morning skimming them. And there's some interesting stuff buried in there. For example:

  • Despite Andrew Little's pre-election "promise" to rewrite the Official Information Act, this isn't part of Ministry of Justice's agenda, with only a brief mention that a review could be considered (MoJ BIM, p 9). There's a commitment to consider a review in the government's OGP national action plan, but I guess they've just decided not to bother.
  • The main climate change BIM doesn't include any actual detail, as that will be in a sector-specific briefing (which can be OIA'd, and should eventually show up here). But there's one from MFAT which highlights the government's desire to "meet" our Paris targets by using foreign "credits" rather than actual emissions reductions, and thinks somehow that Aotearoa can be a "champion" for the UK's initiatives at COP26 next year, as if we have any credibility on this issue (we don't). There's also an A3 from MBIE which reminds us that despite all the government's talk of action in February and May, we're not actually getting budgets and a reduction plan until late next year.
  • Meanwhile, the Transport BIM has bad news: they've been too optimistic in their projections of road transport emissions, which they now expect to keep climbing after 2024. They are also stressing the urgency of action to get policies and reduction sin place in time for the 2030 Paris target, and pushing an ambitious Clean Car Standard and feebates as a first step (EECA is pushing a similar line). There's also a section on cycling and micro-mobility which they say has "latent demand" and a huge amount of potential to reduce traffic and emissions. But apparently local bodies aren't taking up available funding at the moment.
  • The Forestry BIM meanwhile talks up the potential of trees to soak up carbon, and think that expected afforestation will be able to soak up 26% - 51% of projected 2050 emissions. But that's based on ludicrously low carbon prices ($60 in 2050? It's $38 ATM, and will hit $50 early next year after the cap rises. Which incidentally means we're likely to blow our carbon budget before it is legally even set, as the cost-containment reserve activates to ensure the market doesn't work properly). There's also a report on the billion trees program: 258 million trees have been planted, suggesting we're capable of meeting the target. Except that the money runs out in June, and who knows if the new Minister will want to continue Shane Jones' pet project? (its also a dodgy target, and most of it is BAU. I'd like to see a target which is additional, not normal activity).
And that's just the immediate stuff I've noticed in areas I'm highly interested in. And now I need to work out what to OIA to fill in the gaps...