A closer look: National’s Energy Strategy

Written By: - Date published: 12:25 pm, July 24th, 2010 - 9 comments
Categories: energy - Tags: ,

No Right Turn had an interesting post on National’s Energy Strategy or more correctly a general lack of it yesterday. Reproduced with permission.

Yesterday the government released its Draft New Zealand Energy Strategy [PDF] for consultation. So, how does it compare with Labour’s 2007 version? The difference is easy to spot. Labour’s energy strategy was about shifting to a sustainable, low-emissions energy infrastructure. National’s is about finding oil.

And that is about the size of it. Of twelve specific goals, “develop petroleum and mineral fuel resources” is first, while “reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions” is last. The environment has been reduced to an afterthought, a commitment to “best practice” (which means doing nothing), rather than being put at the core of the document. As for sustainability, its a dirty word, without a single mention in the entire document.

In keeping with National’s climate change policy, there’s a massive disconnect between goals and action. The government has retained the target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025, but has no plans on how it will be achieved. It seems to think the market will do it itself, rather than pursuing the cheapest, dirtiest technology. Ditto their plans for “an energy efficient transport system”, where they say they will “focus on improving vehicle efficiency” while shitcanning plans to do exactly that (and building more roads, subsidising poor choices, while starving public transport). Only on finding oil do they have concrete plans, with promises of more fat exploration subsidies to the oil industry in the place of research into renewables. Isn’t it time we stopped subsidising the dirty, polluting oil industry? After all, they are the problem, not the solution.

Appended to the Energy Strategy is a new National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy. This sets more ambitious targets than the 2007 version, but again there’s the disconnect between goals and actions. For example, they aim to reduce transport energy use by 29 PJ a year by 2015 (vs 20PJ a year in the 2007 version). The first specific action they give for achieving this? Building roads. Yes, seriously. Other than that, its just “provide information”. Again, they seem to think the market will produce these reductions by magic – because that’s so obviously what its done in the past. Similarly, they plan to save 21PJ a year by 2015 from business. Their chief policy? “Encourage a long-term view”. This isn’t “light-handed regulation” – it’s doing nothing.

On products, specific targets to have Minimum Energy Performance Standards for 17 new classes of products and EnergyStar labelling for 15 has been replaced with a vague goal to extend such regulation “in line with major trading partners”. Again, a “do nothing” approach. And on government, they’ve reduced the target for the public sector, eliminating carbon neutrality targets and pushing the deadline for a 10% reduction in per-employee energy use from 2012 to 2015. Only on homes do they have actions to bring about their goals, with a massive expansion of insulation programmes compared to Labour. And that’s all due to the Greens.

In opposition, National derided Labour’s strategies as “hot air”. In government, that’s exactly what they are producing. A 4-year-old can understand that things don’t happen by magic, and that setting goals without any plans on how to bring them about will result in failure. Sadly, that logic seems to escape Gerry Brownlee.

9 comments on “A closer look: National’s Energy Strategy”

  1. Bill 1

    Kind of depressing, innit?

    But would a Labour led government be taking the actions required to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions? I’m not asking whether their policies would be ‘better’ than Nationals as that is utterly and hopelessly academic as long as the proposed ‘better’ action is inadequate.

    We know that the market will not and cannot solve climate change; might as well expect a ring of paedophiles to offer safe haven to children.

    And we know that the National Party and others want to leave everything to the market. But, am I wrong in saying that Labour and others are in the same boat insofar as they also want to accommodate the market and have it play a role in whatever policies they draw up?

    And if the market has rewarded and driven the industrial and societal activities that have brought us to this pass, then why would we allow market dynamics any role in the solution?

    If there is no sane answer to that question, and our governments insist on developing a role for markets, then where is the sanity in us supporting and legitimising government through either offering engagement with it and it’s institutions, investing our hope in it’s policy prescriptions, or voting for it?

    • Pat 1.1

      If/when Labour are elected, they will tweak/tinker/modify the current ETS, but they won’t scrap it. (Unless Gillard’s 150 random citizens come up with a doozy alternative – yeah,right. Surely the biggest kick for touch ever by a left-wing government).

  2. BLiP 2

    I see that Big Gerry is so butt hurt over his mining goals being stymied that he’s now refusing to comment on this latest proposal because he is waiting to hear what others have to say about it first. Kinda ties in with the other post about our “Schrödinger’s cat” Prime Minister.

  3. mouse 3

    National have an Energy Policy… Outstanding Tui Billboard idea!

  4. burt 4

    In less precious times energy strategy was debated directly on NRT’s blog.

    I think it’s the green line on page 11 in the document that NRT links to that upsets him. Imagine that, under Labour the residential sector subsidised the commercial and industrial to produce the profits that with over taxation gave the prudent management surpluses.

    • Galeandra 4.1

      Burk, what’s your point exactly?

    • burt 4.2

      The report by Labour was good, the one by National was bad and no correspondence shall be entered into because NRT hasn’t got the balls to debate on his own site. I wouldn’t either if I was as openly partisan and lacking in substance as NRT so fair enough I guess.

      • lprent 4.2.1

        I suspect that I/S didn’t think that either were up to much, but that the National one sucked a lot worse.

        You can debate it here. However I note that you haven’t done so. Is that because you don’t know enough to do so? Or is it a simple lack of will?

  5. jack 5

    energy policy should be simple:

    1. wind-power, subsidies for farmers & companies for wind turbine, grant of long term low~medium interest rate loans. (good return on tax-payer’s money, but hack, is there really a “tax payer’s money”, hahaha, just to make it sound good, they are debt anyway)

    2. tax oil companies a bit more, so gas price goes up, forcing people into public transport & upgrade public transport (car sales /service industry’s profit eventually get into the hands of a few, I don’t mind killing them, frankly don’t care, there’s always someone who’d like to drive)

    3. tax fossil based electricity use, so wholesales prices would go absolutely berserk on the release of this policy, retail following it. And stock prices of energy company would fall, however those developing wind farm eventually would come out much better off. Short term pain and would result in people putting more solar panels on, boosting bio fuel and solar industry..

    4. tax logging..encourage diversified planting, NOT genetically modified trees that reduce bio diversity.

    If john key enforces does this, he’ll be assassinated within weeks for being the first out of the entire globe to go publically against big 4 oil. Political & Personal suicide.

    All theses would have a profoundly long-term effect in NZ and the world.

    Do you dare to implement any of the green policies? The time is NOT right, as big 4 oil still have too much at stake, the entire human civilization has too much at stake from oil. US just spent 2 trillion (I always double their official figure) on the war for the oil, they would be nuts to lose a good loyal customer.

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