Friday, December 16, 2022

Climate Change: Labour is on the side of polluters

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is Aotearoa's major policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While Labour improved it with the Zero Carbon Act, their changes around price controls - which undermine the purpose of the ETS by trying to stop carbon prices from rising - have resulted in a fundamentally broken market, with polluters deliberately triggering the "cost containment reserve" (CCR) to get the government to flood the market with additional credits, on the basis that they'll be worth more later. This is costing us a billion dollars a year, while allowing millions of tons of extra pollution which would not otherwise occur.

Back in July, the Climate Change Commission recommended fixing this, reducing auction volumes to use up the stockpile polluters had built up, while raising the CCR trigger price so that it only triggered if the market hit truly absurd prices. At the time, I said that this would make a difference, and so be a real test for the government. We were going to see whose side Labour is really on: the planets, or the polluters'.

Well, Cabinet finally made a decision on this, and now we know: its the polluters:

Cabinet papers show the Government has gone against the advice of both the independent Climate Change Commission and Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Shaw recommended following the commission’s advice and letting the price of carbon rise – and stopping pumping extra credits into the market so frequently. That would have given big polluters more incentive to rein in planet-heating emissions, as heat waves, floods and droughts keep worsening.

Instead, Cabinet has chosen to allow only small, inflation-linked price rises.

But its worse than that, because they're also not cutting the auction volume, while handing over more free credits to polluters. Which makes yesterday's projections of a small but useful cut in emissions by 2035 a bit of a joke: the government has just ensured that won't happen.

As for Labour's "nuclear-free moment", and it's "climate emergency", they were both lies. This government is deliberately trying to keep emissions high. They're just climate criminals, hostis humani generis. And we need to vote them out on their arses next election, and replace them with a government who will actually confront our biggest problem, rather than desperately trying to preserve the rotten, polluting status quo.