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Do we have cheaper fuel or do we trash the planet?

Written By: - Date published: 10:41 am, October 9th, 2018 - 64 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, climate change, Economy, Environment, global warming, greens, Judith Collins, labour, national, same old national, spin, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, transport, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

The culture wars have recently erupted with a vengeance.  On the day that the IPCC has confirmed that the world is running out of time to do something to try and preserve what we have National and associated entities have complained that fuel prices are too high.  Talk about stark contrast.

This tweet from someone who used to be Labour’s chief of staff communications director but is now a paid shill for the Oil industry summarised the absurdity of the right’s position:


Note to John:

  1. The increase in taxes is just a small part of the overall increase.
  2. The US dollar has appreciated in value.  The Government has *not* devalued the dollar.
  3. Exploration as such has not been banned.  Current exploration can continue.  The change to get future permits for offshore exploration has been proscribed.
  4. Retailers are largely to blame.

If you want proof this tweet from Economissive contains the information in graphic form:

And the longer term experience suggests that RUC and FED increases imposed by the last Government did not have that significant an effect:

National is yelling blue murder about the increases even though the increases imposed by National last term were much greater than they are by this Government:

And as Russel Brown points out the use of the phrase “slush fund” is somewhat pejorative.

And here to show the extent of the culture war over climate change is a picture of a group of conservative Australian politicians celebrating the repeal of Australia’s carbon tax law four years ago.

Ad has covered the intricacies of the politics of climate change in Australia and New Zealand with some incisiveness.  There is no chance of a consensus being reached anywhere.

Looks like we are going to have another argument where both sides talk past each other, the left saying rightly that we have to do something about climate change, while the right complain about taxes, ignore the environment devastation that is already occurring, and hope that people forget that when in Government they increased the RUC and FED continuously to pay for roads that will eventually be nothing more than gold plated monuments to that Government’s stupidity.

64 comments on “Do we have cheaper fuel or do we trash the planet? ”

  1. Bill 1

    The question asked in the headline is wrongheaded.

    It kind of doesn’t matter how much petrol prices are hiked, the price hike won’t lead to the necessary reductions in consumption – ie, the planet gets trashed.

    • Enough is Enough 1.1

      It also infers that the increase in petrol prices are designed to combat climate change through reducing demand.

      But yesterday our PM was saying the increase is due to the oil companies fleecing us and is going to legislate to prevent them doing so.

      I am assuming from Jacinda’s statement that the government wants the price at the pump to come down?

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        The post is addressing the political divide. On one side are people that are indifferent to price increases but really concerned that we are not doing enough to address climate change. On the other side are people more concerned at how much gas is going to cost.

        The difference is stark. National is clearly going to side with those worried about the short term cost.

        • Enough is Enough

          “The difference is stark. National is clearly going to side with those worried about the short term cost”

          I think both major political parties are going to side with those worried about the short term cost. There is no other way to reconcile the message that was delivered yesterday by the Prime Minister.

          The government is going to empower the Commerce Commission with the clear objective of lowering fuel prices.

        • Antoine

          > The post is addressing the political divide. … The difference is stark. National is clearly going to side with those worried about the short term cost.

          For sure. So where are Labour-Greens going to side?


          • mickysavage

            On doing something to address climate change. I would think that was clear.

            • Antoine

              So they don’t want cheaper fuel (which would encourage people to drive more)?


              • Enough is Enough

                The Green Party doesn’t but the Prime Minister is sending some mixed messages again

        • Bill

          Well, if that’s the framing, then what about the thousands upon thousands of poorer people who can’t absorb these increases? Don’t they count, or have thoughts worth paying attention to?

          • mickysavage

            This is a post addressing the political stances of the various movements.

            We have to wean ourselves off oil. Whether this is through pricing, provision of public transport, simplification of our lifestyles, becoming vegan or whatever means does not matter as long as carbon output is reduced.

            Of course poor people matter. They are going to be the most affected by climate change.

            • BM

              I have to ask MS.

              Do you use buses/trains/etc as your main modes of transport?
              Are you a vegan?

              • mickysavage

                1. I own a Prius. My next car will be an electric. I catch Auckland’s electrical trains all the time. Yesterday for instance I caught the train to a meeting in Downtown Auckland from Glen Eden and return. I drove 8 km and trained about 30 km.

                2. I consciously eat meat less and less. The last meat I ate was on Saturday.

            • Bill

              What “movements” micky?

              Tory Party and Labour/Green Party wallahs?

              Tory bad/good versus Labour&Green bad/good with all the concomitant condemnation/justification? Yup, we get that.

              But what’s all that disconnect got to do with a) inaction around carbon reduction and b) increasing levels of fuel poverty as per the implication of the post title?

              On the basis that I don’t understand the logic or reasoning of the post, I’ll just step away. Sorry for the intrusion.

              • mickysavage

                Basically because I cannot see how we can have cheaper fuel and reduce carbon dioxide output at the same time.

                Sure let’s address inequality. But cheaper fuel will not address climate change or provide the income necessary to build public transport infrastructure.

                • Bill

                  Well, the studies on much more expensive fuel have been done (Anderson et al), and they don’t have much of an impact. Australia and a few other places tried carbon taxes and the impact was minimal – certainly not anywhere near the required reduction levels.

                  No-one (as far as I know) has looked at the impact of free fuel subjected to a hard sinking cap. Equity’s certainly assured, and carbon reduction’s certainly assured 🙂 .

                  But that idea won’t be entertained because it’s not a market orientated solution and, as I keep repeating, that’s the primary focus of our politicians and associated policy makers – to keep the current economy and its basic settings going in the face of “everything”.

                  That has included telling scientists they have to imagine non-existent stuff (CCS) and insert it into their scenarios so that physics can be make to be seen to “fit” with economic ideology.

                  But hey, we can keep on this track we’ve been on these past 30 years and guarantee failure (while arguing the toss over incidental details).

                  • Antoine

                    > Well, the studies on much more expensive fuel have been done (Anderson et al), and they don’t have much of an impact.

                    There is a price at which consumption will fall substantially

                    We just haven’t seen it yet


                    • Bill

                      There is a price at which consumption will fall substantially

                      We just haven’t seen it yet

                      Just like tobacco, you mean?

                      Because at something like $80 for 50g, the reduction rate in smoking is no greater than it was before the introduction of the bullshit and punitive pricing regime.

                      “Price” cripples the already poor among us. “Price” doesn’t affect companies or the already rich and very carbon spewing of us who need to be affected.

                    • Antoine

                      I can say I wouldn’t use much petrol at $20/L


                      (PS I’m not advocating that the petrol price should be $20/L, or even as high as it is now)

                • the other pat

                  all good and noble et al…..but a lot of people do not live in cities and have no access to public transport……many folks have had wages decline in real terms and this price increase hits hard but MOST importantly there are no affordable alternatives available.

  2. Antoine 2

    I repeat (paraphrase) my question from the other thread.

    Where do we want the petrol price to be?

    Do we want $5/L to get everyone out of their cars and using public transport? Or $1.5/L to ease the burden on consumers? Or somewhere in between?

    I am honestly unsure what Labour’s goal is here.

    Does anybody know?


    • Clive Macann 2.1

      For the Govt to reduce the tax take on petrol is the same as giving the Fuel suppliers a tax cut. In the end, we pay and the companies profits soar. The Tax take is to fund roading, pretty simple really.

    • JanM 2.2

      The problem, in many parts of NZ is what ‘public transport’. I live 20 kilometres out of a city and there are no buses!

    • mickysavage 2.3

      I am honestly utterly bemused by your concentration on the cost of fuel as opposed to the destruction of the world’s environment.

      What is your goal? What do you think should be prioritised.


      • BM 2.3.1

        That’s probably because you’re a wealthy guy MS, the price of petrol has very little impact on you.

        For your average person on the street when living costs in NZ are astronomical, the skyrocketing price of fuel hits them hard.

        Food on the table, paying the bills vs trying to stop some future event that is in all reality completely out of our hands.

        I know what most would choose.

      • Antoine 2.3.2

        > What is your goal?

        I don’t have a goal here. It would be silly for me to, as I don’t set fuel prices or influence them in any way.

        But what is the Labour/Greens Government’s goal? Would it rather see petrol at $1-50 or $5? Can you tell me? Can anyone?


        • BM

          In her campaign launch speech in Auckland on Sunday, Ms Ardern called climate change “my generation’s nuclear free moment”.


          Combine that in with shutting down NZ oil and gas industry the only correct answer I can see is $5 a litre.

          Which does rather leave me doubting Arderns authenticity when she says that petrol prices are too high and she’s going to take measures to correct them.

        • Dennis Frank

          Of course not. If you’d been paying attention you’d already know that the first phase of policy formulation (extensive nationwide consulting to maximise the input of stakeholders) has given way to the second stage (policy formulation) and the minister has notified the public that the output will be with us soon. Whether it will include a specified fuel price seems most unlikely: neoliberalists vastly outnumber socialists in Aotearoa.

  3. Gosman 3

    This raises an interesting dilemma for people pushing policies for tackling climate change. If you don’t get broad based support there is a huge risk of blow back such that is happening in Australia. This would suggest a different approach should be considered one that seeks consensus rather than conflict. I don’t see much chance of that happening anytime soon given the tone of some commentators on the subject here.

    • adam 3.1

      The out right lies and misdirection by some is a real stumbling block. The continued use of tactics now utterly familiar because of use by the tobacco industry, are the norm by those who use this issue to divide society. Funny those tactics are not really coming from socialists, who are they coming from…

      • Gosman 3.1.1

        Whether you are correct or not is irrelevant. What are you able to do to counter it is the real question. You can double down and declare war on climate change deniers and attempt to force them to stop. I’d suggest doing that will lead to more conflict and blowback though.

        • adam

          Here the thing, they know if they carry on no one is going to call them on it. The devotees of liberalism have no spine to call them out, and socialist have no power.

          So I think your living in lala land gosman. You have to call them out your side of the isle – but I’m guessing you and your lot won’t do that. You don’t actually have a good track recorded of controlling or influencing the hard right crazies. Indeed all you do is wring your hands and let more extreme versions of the hard right get control of conversations.

          • Gosman

            So your answer is to rely on people like me to make the case for you is it?

            Interesting tactic.

            • adam

              My point is your lot are divisive, and you do nothing about it.

              Except as you just did, add to the divisiveness.

              So essentially our species is dead because of you.

              • Antoine

                I’m not dead yet!


                (Austin Powers styles)

                • adam

                  Your still to blame.

                  And your one of the worst for doing distractions and misrepresenting facts. Too soon with the truth.

                  • Antoine

                    I feel no guilt. My contribution to climate change is infinitesimal, as is yours.


                    • adam

                      Mine is negative, You however have written you own a car – and you consume.

                      So I’m guessing you think your infinitesimal – but your not, and your one of the heaviest consumers and as such a perpetrator of the problem.

                      That aside, your doing exactly what I said to Gosman was one of the problems, and as such all right wing trolls are truly low lives who can’t lie in bed straight.

                    • Antoine

                      > So I’m guessing you think your infinitesimal – but your not,

                      How many tonnes per year, then?


  4. David Mac 4

    Given what a litre of petrol takes to make it’s amazing it’s as cheap as it is…. I guess if we drank a million litres of wine a day it would be a similar price.

    As it becomes more scarce and difficult to produce, it’s inevitable it will go the way of all finite commodities.

    We’re coming off ridiculously low prices, crippled Venezuala, I think they were a flash in the pan, GFC prompted.

    $3 by this Xmas, $4 the next…

    • Andre 4.1

      “Given what a litre of petrol takes to make it’s amazing it’s as cheap as it is … ”

      Yup. That’s the result of huge numbers of incredibly smart people working hard for decades figuring out ways to produce more and more of it at ever cheaper costs. Imagine if similar efforts went into zero-GHG energy and climate change as a whole.

    • Antoine 4.2

      > $3 by this Xmas, $4 the next…

      Wanna bet?


  5. Gosman 5

    I am utterly bemused by the lack of an effective strategy by those pushing policies to tackle climate change. AGW has been an issue for over 20 years and yet the level of debate is at the same level it was (or worse even) when it first started gaining leverage in the wider political sphere. Surely there is something people have learned in that time.

    • Macro 5.1

      Well you should know!
      You have been actively promoting climate denial sentiment for as I can remember, both here and on Hot-Topic and around the web in NZ.
      Now that the flimsy case for denial has been shown to be the sham that it always was – the last step is to cry “Oohh! It’s far too to late.”
      Well the door of opportunity is rapidly closing, but unless you take the first step towards it – you will never get out.

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        Nope. I have never denied the scientific consensus on climate change. You are just making up stuff.

        • Macro

          Bullshit! You and I have crossed swords on Hot-Topic numerous times in the past.

          • Gosman

            Then you should be able to produce evidence for your claim that I have opposed the scientific consensus on climate change if it is correct (Which it is not)

  6. Nik 6

    If I may presume to answer MS on JanM’s behalf above (direct reply function not working), I believe the crucial aspect of her complaint is ‘no buses’. I would personally be in favour of paying a premium on fuel for my private vehicle if the taxes could be used to provide a far reaching nationwide public transport service.
    Of course, this would ultimately lead to less need for private fuel consumption, reducing unit sales for Big Oil, at which they will undoubtedly retaliate in whatever way they see strategically fit to continue their obscene profiteering.
    Meaningful positive economic reform can’t be possible while the richest, greediest most rapacious humans wield the absurd degrees of lobbying power that they presently do. Money, capitalism are not the root of evil, they are just exploitable means for the ends of the true root, being sociopathic greed.

  7. Antoine 7

    I’ve just realised the title of this post is wrong. It says “Do we have cheaper fuel or do we trash the planet?” It should be “Do we have more expensive fuel or do we trash the planet?”

    Typo, or fundamental misunderstanding?


    • Dennis Frank 7.1

      Think he was coming off the implication of Ardern’s asking the Commerce Commission to investigate the industry prices rises. She’s suggesting they are excessive & unwarranted. Makes a change from assuming they’re market-driven, eh? A traditional socialist stance, to see if govt can regulate the petrol price down. Plus the side benefit of distracting voters from her govt’s tax increases..

      • In Vino 7.1.1

        I disagree. Petrol companies have always done the same: immediate steep increases upwards when oil prices went up or our dollar went down, and when the reverse happened their price decreases were so slowly introduced, in far smaller steps. They are profit-gouging now, just as they always have. Because of Climate Change we should be increasing the price of petrol. But why let the profit-gougers continue to channel money into the pockets of the already-rich?
        Lower their profits, and increase taxes so that we can pay to fight climate change.

  8. Michelle 8

    the 17.5% gst rate jhonkey said no to a GST increase nek minute what happended they (the national party lot need to look in the mirror 28 cents petrol increase plus 2% Gst to add to the fire where is my gst tax going?

  9. esoteric pineapples 9

    The real problem is that New Zealanders have no real backbone anymore. They think they are the mirror of Sir Edmund Hillary when in fact they are incredibly weak and will always go for the easy option instead of the better long term option.

    They are so out of touch with life that they no longer understand that there isn’t always a good option and a bad option, but that you must choose the lesser of the two evils that will deliver the best outcome. To their mind if it is an evil, then there must be another way that isn’t evil. This makes them easy targets for politicians that sell then false solutions that are very often the worse choice in the long term.

  10. Nik 10

    I neglected to specify in my 1st par above (reply function again not working for me) that increased taxes could theoretically cover an EASILY AFFORDABLE if not FREE public transport system.
    Also in answer to precedents referenced above in which increased carbon tax is ineffective in reducing actual carbon output, I wonder whether in addition to reduction goals there may also be technologies we can develop to offset the impact of emissions, for which such tax revenues would be invaluable..?

    • Ed 10.1

      Free public transport would change habits.

      • the other pat 10.1.1

        but what do the people who work shifts do??….people who live outside a “city”…..i see a lot of opinions here that are very city centric………..a lot of yak is just obfuscating the fact that oil companies are making obscene profits …climate change aside……..persona;;y i have to drive 120km each day for work because im just an average joe and decided to live where i could afford………….there are thousands just like me………if you want to bankrupt us all keep on the present track.

  11. RedLogix 11

    Petrol was always far too cheap; for decades it’s stifled the development of alternative technologies. Remove the myriad of subsidies that sustain the industry globally and fuel would be twice the price.

    The ICE is a dead horse stalking anyway; the EU has pretty much banned it from 2030, that’s just 12 years off. Within a few more years no-one will be buying new ICE vehicles; and the marginal cost of maintaining all the fuel infrastructure will start to rise as fuel volumes fall.

    Little old NZ is at the far end of a massive global supply chain that is about the be massively disrupted. Time we got smart and made some big changes.

  12. mosa 12

    Simple the planet will be trashed because of the same old problems keep getting in the way.

    Short term reactions
    Political expediency
    Powerful agendas

  13. R.P Mcmurphy 13

    the political system of every country is predicated on giving everybody more.
    there are no limits to the promises that politicians will make so that the people on the road to nowhere who have nothing better to do than to organise their lives around their cars are not frustrated in their infantilised desires to use the THROB of the automobile to give them the illusion that they have control over something.

  14. Poission 14

    Buried in the financial statements release is the peculiar case of the decrease in revenue from petroleum duty and excise.

    2017 1908b$
    2018 1898b$

    (ending june)

  15. sumsuch 15

    Brilliant dissection mickysavage. John, husband of Josie?

    I complimented Martyn Bradley on his usual forcefulness, re the IPCC report. But now 13 days later irony seeps in regarding his criticism of 7pm light media shows on the free tv channels. ‘Their low-quality prattle can’t give insight or critical debate to fundamental issues like climate change’. Not another story on The Standard or The Daily Blog since on climate change. We’re fucked because of us, not ‘them’.

  16. sumsuch 16

    The other thing , after Trump withdrawing from the intermediate missiles treaty, it appears America, pretty rationally, is going to tackle climate change nationalistically, militarily. Like all peoples did things before the century of the common man. They’re going to fight it out for what’s left.

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