I honestly cannot see the point of the Zero Carbon Bill. For a country that produces 0.17% of global emissions, and whose farmers are the most efficient and productive in the world, it just makes no sense. Why hamstring our economy for a rate of emissions that would make no difference even if they were eradicated altogether?
Unfortunately, the eco-warriors in the Green party do not see things that way, as you might expect. But thankfully, they may find themselves alone this time.
The Government’s plan to make farmers pay for their emissions is on shaky ground after Labour, the Greens, and NZ First have failed to agree on proposals.
A draft scheme went to the environment, energy and climate cabinet committee, but failed to make it through after ministers could not agree on it.
It has now stalled at the cabinet committee stage, while ministers work to agree on a plan.
Well, how about that? I cannot deny feeling relieved, but what I hate about this inept government is the time and money that is wasted putting draft bills together, only to have their coalition partners throw a spanner in the works. They behave as if money grows on trees when, actually, it grows on taxpayers.
The news comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave the keynote address to a climate change action summit at the United Nations in New York.
Well, it was only a 3-minute speech, and she can always claim she knew nothing – she is good at that.
Agriculture has been exempt from the emissions trading scheme (ETS) since it was created in 2008. The exemption is controversial as agriculture is New Zealand’s largest emitter, responsible for nearly half of total emissions.
It does not seem right, however, to make life more expensive for food producers, especially as our economy is so dependent on them. Most other countries, such as the EU, have significant subsidies for their farmers, but we don’t. Ours stand on their own in every way.
Senior ministers are concerned that the Government is facing an agricultural revolt as farmers grapple with a raft of stringent new regulations on water quality and environmental degradation announced by Environment Minister David Parker.
There is concern within the Government that it may have burnt through its political capital with farmers, leaving it limited scope to pursue other measures that would add cost to agriculture.
There is no suggestion at this stage that scheme is dead in the water. Back tracking on introducing agriculture to the ETS would be a significant backdown for the Government, which had promised it would finally bring an end to the exemption.
It might be dead in the water or watered down so much that it will be both unrecognisable and unpalatable to Green supporters. Time will tell, but let us just say that it is not exactly plain sailing at the moment… for the Greens, that is.
The deal that was eventually struck between the Greens, Labour and NZ First was that agriculture would be brought into the scheme if the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) recommended it.
But NZ First managed to negotiate a sweetheart deal for the sector, meaning that whatever recommendation was made, agriculture would only pay for 5 per cent of the total cost of emissions.
Advice drawn up by the Government found this would add a charge of $0.01c per kg of milk solid, 0.01c per kg of beef, $0.03c per kg of sheep meat, and $0.04c per kg of venison at the current ETS prices.
The ICCC finally reported back in July, recommending that farmers should enter the scheme under a special “levy and rebate” scheme.
The recommendations were shopped around farmers at a series of roadshows which ended on August 13. After that the policy was refined and sent to cabinet committee.
Some details of the scheme were agreed to last week, but there are still enough outstanding problems for the scheme not to progress beyond committee stage.
This all sounds okay, but don’t forget David Parker’s water schemes and also the debacle that is Fonterra at the moment. The government cannot be blamed for Fonterra, but the last thing they want to do is to anger farmers even further. Most New Zealanders support the agricultural sector. We know we would be considerably poorer as a country without it.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw hopes the bill will pass with the support of the National Party, who supported it at first reading.STUFF
Not on your life. James Shaw demonstrates both political naivety and climate stupidity if he thinks National will support this bill when his own coalition partners will not. He really does live in a parallel universe, doesn’t he?
What a slap in the face for the Greens. But, to quote the late Windsor Davies…
Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.