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Do we want to be a world-leader or a global joke?

Written By: - Date published: 1:04 pm, November 21st, 2008 - 98 comments
Categories: climate change, International, national/act government - Tags:

According to a leading financier, carbon credit broker Nigel Brunel, of OMF Financial, New Zealand has become “a bit of a joke” in Europe as National/ACT looks set to delay, even abolish, our Emissions Trading Scheme.

If you’ll forgive me an anecdote, I’m reminded of the introduction seminar when I was at uni in Finland. We were being told what a great country Finland is, sophisticated, egalitarian compassionate. The speaker told us ‘in 1906, Finland was the first country to give women the vote’. Well, my hand shot up – ‘no, it was New Zealand in 1893’ (turns out, it’s more complicated than that). The point is, every country likes to be able to tell itself that it leads the world, especially a wee, easily-overlooked settler-state at the bottom of the world. We love to claim to have led the world on women’s suffrage, the 40-hour week, the welfare state, going nuclear-free. We see ourselves as a society that others should seek to emulate: fair to its members and protective of its environment.

How embarrassing, then, that we have given up our leadership role on climate change and, instead, become a joke. Even as the rest of the world, with the US finally on board, redoubles its efforts to deal with this threat we are moving in the opposite direction.

How backward are we becoming? Well, 17 years after the world’s governments signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change – after years of negotiations the world’s nations agreed there was a real problem. No serious country denies the reality of climate change. Yet, National/ACT is set to have a committee of politicians re-examine the science. While the US and Australia rush to catch up with emissions reduction schemes like our world-leading ETS, National/ACT is going to look at ‘adaption’ instead. That is, rather than reduce the problem now, National/ACT wants to talk about how our descendants can make do in a hotter, stormier, more flooded world that we leave them.

It’s not just our pride, or even just our environment, at stake. Our economy loses out too, Brunel says:

‘We are the antipodes of Europe. Their time zone is the exact opposite of ours, and there’s a real opportunity to have a 24-hour carbon market that starts in Europe and when they go into their night we take over. ‘There is real interest in that because carbon is such an important market over there. Some very big players were very keen to establish a market down here because of the ability to then create a 24-hour market. ‘This was New Zealand’s opportunity to reinvent its financial markets by being the Asian centre of the carbon trade.’

But this week’s announcement that the incoming government will put the ETS on hold pending a review that will go as far as considering a carbon tax instead of an ETS and will re-examine the validity of the science behind climate change, has jeopardised everything

‘We have just fallen off the radar in Europe,’ he said. ‘They are saying ‘all you do is talk. You’ve been talking since 1992. You are all talk and no action. You maintain that you are so clean and green and try to be leaders and all you do is nothing. You make a decision and then you change your minds. How can we do business with people like that? We can’t take your seriously’.’

98 comments on “Do we want to be a world-leader or a global joke?”

  1. The biggest slap in the face about delaying the ETS, carbon tax or whatever is that the bill for our Kyoto liability will land squarely in the lap of the taxpayers. For all the harping about the state’s welfare bill that National and ACT do, they can be proud to add another ~2 billion dollars on to that total by their own doing.

    Those idiots harping on about how the price of power will increase, or any other produced good that might be impacted like to leave out the fact that we’re going to pay anyway! ETS or not!

    At least the ETS, or even a carbon tax, offloads the cost to the worst offenders and gives an incentive to green up. But with an ETS, we have a chance to grow our economy in new ways, new ventures. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a right-wing government with a vision for a change?

  2. Stephen 2

    How embarrassing, then, that we have given up our leadership role on climate change and, instead, become a joke.

    How could we ever lead when Europe has had a huge ETS for a few years now?!

    [because ours is the first all sectors, all gases ETS in the world. Like the ad says, information changes things, eh? SP]

  3. QoT 3

    Well, come on, Europe. Bunch of hippies and Communists, innit.

  4. coge 4

    This is a fine opportunity for NZ to show international leadership, step up to the plate & say “NO” to this mumbo jumbo based mass media bunkum. The backlash won’t be anywhere near as bad going nuke free in the eighties. I look forward with relish.

    [sorry what’s the ‘bunkum’? Climate change? Shit, you’re right, coge; don’t know how I didn’t see it before. Quick, tell the IPCC. SP]

  5. Kerry 5

    You are too late re Global Joke……that happend nearly two weeks ago when John Keys was elected.

    Yes I know his name is Key…but slap an S on the end I say…..im sure his supporters will be spewing about the misspelling of his name so ths makes it quite pleasing.

  6. Lew 6

    coge: So do you advocate discarding the majority of properly-qualified scientific opinion in favour of the minority on all matters, or only those with which you have an ideological disagreement?


  7. djp 7

    Ha! I for one wont be shedding any tears for the poor carbon trader

  8. Nick 8

    Can someone tell me what positive benefit to New Zealand there was viz a viz international relations etc from leading the world on women’s suffrage, the 40-hour week, the welfare state, going nuclear-free etc.

    These measures might have benefits at a micro level, but on a global, macro, level how has NZ really benefited?

    Captcha: grow suffrage….


    [the benefits are that we respected as a decent country but, of course, no-one’s arguing we did these things to improve our international relations. We did them because they are right and that made us world-leaders, which others have emulated. SP]

  9. Stephen 9

    Thanks SP.

    Wonder why this ’24 hour exchange’ thing never settled in Japan?

  10. Tigger 10

    How will Key manage to balance our tourism push, which is all about green, with this? I look forward to seeing him and Nick Smith squirm.

    For the past nine years I haven’t always agreed with our govt or even liked what it was doing but I’ve never been embarrassed about it. But I’m cringing every time Key opens his mouth and terrified about how bad he will make us look overseas – he’s just not someone I think anyone else will respect. Ah, New Zealand…you wanted change well you got it.

  11. Mark M 11

    Why are you writing an article quoting comment from a capilist trader ,( who has had his gravy train stopped ) as fact.
    It seems to go against the ideology of this site to support this traders comments.

    ” Some very big Players were going to establish a market down here”

    Of course they will be upset as they probably thought they were on a good wicket at the expense of New Zealand taxpayers.

    I for one will know we have got it right when the carbon traders are unhappy

    [explain how a carbon market would be at the expense of taxpayers. As for citing a financier, we live in a capitalist economy, just because I don’t think it works well over all doesn’t mean I think anyone ever involved in a market is bad – the carbon market matters to us because it affects our trade relations and our Kyoto liability, I’m perfectly happy citing an expert on the issue. SP]

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a right-wing government with a vision for a change?”

    I’m sure there’s a Godwin joke there somewhere.

  13. Dave 13

    I prefer John Smiley 🙂 sometimes he smiles so much, I think his head will split in two!!

    Gee, I wonder how his shares are doing?

  14. Stephen 14

    Can someone tell me what positive benefit to New Zealand there was viz a viz international relations etc from leading the world on women’s suffrage, the 40-hour week, the welfare state, going nuclear-free etc.

    IMHO: For the first three – who cares? They were domestic matters, which perhaps served as an example to others overseas, but I don’t see the need for tangible international-relations benefits.

  15. randal 15

    we are world leaders in selfish greedy accumulation, general ignorance about anything else and just doing what we like and to hell with anybody else.
    look at the scourge of noisy brats infesting the streets and the organised vandalism of rural letter boxes in the wairarapa by noo noo heads.
    so I guess we are world leaders at infantilised juvenile behaviour

  16. djp 16

    Mark M, you nailed it…. pretty much what I was thinking too but could not put in words

  17. gingercrush 17

    I think the left have a point here to be honest. Its not a good look internationally. It doesn’t matter what your view of global warming is. Whether you believe in it or don’t. That is irrelevant. The world expects action on it.

    Right now what is National doing to tackle global warming? Nothing. And the European countries will use that against them. Their interests are always to benefit themselves and block others. That is how they handle trade issues etc. This is an area they can now use against New Zealand.

    The problem isn’t necessarily with the ETS. National could repeal that if they had a clear direction of how to tackle global warming. The problem lies in they don’t have a plan and instead are sending quasi signals they’ll do something but still no details. We don’t even know if they’ll get rid of the ETS. Act wants that and have been a given the opportunity to reviewthe ETS. But we don’t know if that means getting rid of it.

    End of story. If we in New Zealand don’t know how we’re going to tackle global warming how is the rest of the world meant to know. And that is a dangerous mistake to make and could have consequences. I do vote National but unfortunately with the deal they’ve done with Act. Global warming, ETS etc is all up in the air. And its a problem and the left deservedly should attack it.

  18. Nick 18

    The World expects action on what gc?

  19. Lew 19

    GC: Yes. Although anthropogenic climate change isn’t a matter of belief (it’s a matter of science), and therefore that is the long-term issue, the important short to medium-term issue is the obligations in international law to which we’ve agreed on a bipartisan basis (National government signed Kyoto; Labour government ratified), and how we fulfil those obligations. There’s a useful discussion of the whys and the wherefores of this in the comments section over at <a href=”http://tvhe.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/a-carbon-tax/”.


  20. infused 20

    NZ’s carbon output is so stupidly small it really isn’t economically sensible to do anything. But hey, lets fuck our economy to show the world how ‘great’ we are.

  21. gingercrush 21

    global warming?? Though lets be fair its the OCED and a few other countries.

  22. Lew 22

    Aww, my link fail.


  23. Tim Ellis 23

    Is it really much of a surprise that he would be jumping up and down protesting about it though? He’s a carbon trader–not really a “leading financier”, but a dealer in a small, emerging New Zealand market that has come to a standstill since National was elected on the promise of delaying and reviewing the ETS. [that wasn’t National’s policy, they proposed minor amendments and only a delay on agriculture coming in http://national.org.nz/files/2008/ets.pdf . SP]

    Is this the same Nigel Brunel who said sixteen days ago that oil prices wouldn’t go below $60 a barrel, and that we wouldn’t see any more petrol price cuts?

    I’ve googled it, and I can’t find a single European news source that mentions New Zealand pulling out of the ETS. I did find this from the Canada Free Press though:

    “The revolt against new carbon rationing and taxes affecting New Zealand now encompasses much of the world including India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Poland, Italy, Germany and the whole Ex-Soviet bloc. There is naturally no support for carbon rationing from the OPEC world, and falling support from Canada. There is also scant chance that the US Congress and Senate will embrace any expensive new Kyoto pact.

    I would have thought that if New Zealand really had become a joke in Europe, that some European news outlets might at least be reporting it. Or perhaps the alternate view, that Brunel’s blossoming little carbon trading business has been put on ice, might explain his hysteria.

  24. Lew 24

    Infused: NZ’s carbon output is so stupidly small it really isn’t economically sensible to do anything. But hey, lets fuck our economy to show the world how ‘great’ we are.

    That was a point to have made in 1998. Now it’s irrelevant because the obligation exists. Or do you propose we simply renege on it?


  25. Tim Ellis 25

    Goodness me. I didn’t even put in any links, and still the comment gets moderated.

  26. infused 26

    Yes I do Lew. We’re fucked either way.

    [or we could stop emitting so many climate changing gases. SP]

  27. gingercrush 27

    Well we didn’t look fucked at one stage. We were looking at making money on the Kyoto thing. But sadly that was not to be. Quite sad really.

    And Lew thanks for the link. Interesting but its still largely over my head. I just know that we have to be seen doing something about it. And right now that isn’t happening.

  28. Mark M 28

    explain how a carbon market would be at the expense of taxpayers. As for citing a financier, we live in a capitalist economy, just because I don’t think it works well over all doesn’t mean I think anyone ever involved in a market is bad – the carbon market matters to us because it affects our trade relations and our Kyoto liability, I’m perfectly happy citing an expert on the issue. SP]

    Its not rocket science that every cost imposed on business gets added to the price for the consumer.
    If this whole carbon trading scheme imposed no costs on consumers it would be nirvana and we would all embrace it

    Unfortunately Nirvana dosent exist.

    I dont have a problem with meeting our obligations .
    I do have a problem in exceeding them principally to brag about being world leaders.

    The Government have an obligation to ensure that whatever scheme is in place dosent make our business uncompetitive with the rest of the world.
    Sometimes a little caution goes a long way and if it means the whining of a few carbon traders so be it

  29. Tim Ellis 29

    SP, since you’ve linked to National’s ETS policy, it would be useful to quote from it:

    <blockquote”National will introduce amendments to the ETS addressing the six major concerns identified in our minority select committee report. (http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=12371)

    Getting the ETS right will require careful consideration and analysis. Overseas experience shows that developing robust, durable emissions trading regimes take time. We believe New Zealand must take that time.

    That doesn’t sound like “minor amendments” to me, SP. The expression “six major concerns” suggests major amendments.

    [National listed the changes it wanted to make before the election. Do some research – Herald, stuff, our archives. SP]

  30. Lew 30

    Infused: Yes I do Lew. We’re fucked either way.

    But the question is `how fucked either way’? Faced with two bad options we should clearly choose the least-bad option. It’s ultimately a matter of whether you estimate that the damage to NZ’s reputation and international terms of trade would be greater than the cost of the liability – not just now, but in the future. You might have a point that we wouldn’t be penalised too significantly if one or more of the following were true:

    1. Our export industry wasn’t trading almost exclusively on a clean, green reputation.
    2. We weren’t already one of the most open small economies in the world possessed of very little bargaining power with which to coerce others.
    3. We could convince a significant coterie of our trading partners to collude with us in opting out of the whole climate change thing and therefore not endanger too much of our export market.

    However, none of these things are (or will be) true. Our reputation for premium produce and as a clean green destination is the core of our international brand. Even with this brand we still suffer from the perception that international long-distance trade is environmentally irresponsible – food miles in Britain, you know? We have no bargaining power other than our international reputation as a good global citizen when it comes to international trade. We have used that to very good effect indeed and cannot afford to relinquish it as we have few other intrinsic advantages. Of our major trading partners, the only one who has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol is the USA. We simply can’t opt out without damaging our terms of trade with all the other countries with whom we conduct international commerce – especially Europe, who already have an emissions trading market and are always looking for fresh reasons to constrain trade to protect member countries’ domestic economies.

    So, in short, if you think we’re more fucked just paying the obligation than destroying our export and tourism markets, you’re completely delusional. As GC says – it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s real – enough other people think it’s real that there are real consequences to behaving as if it isn’t.


  31. Nick,

    I think it not unreasonable to ask you justify your somewhat disjointed comment. You wrote: … what positive benefit to New Zealand there was viz a viz international relations etc from leading the world on women’s suffrage, the 40-hour week, the welfare state, going nuclear-free etc prior to asserting these achievements as “micro level”. Whereas they are/were not, you assert, “macro level” or globally significant.

    Surely to warrant making any real sense whatsoever the preceding question – (omitted) – would have been to determine whether those achievements at their times of adoption or implementation would have been capable of global recognition. And value. And significance.

    If not, I am saying, am I not, that context is all-important. And in that regard, the poster’s proposition of leading now and in today’s terms highly relevant.

  32. infused 32

    [or we could stop emitting so many climate changing gases. SP]

    And push massive costs on to small businesses in New Zealand? For what? So we can look good on the international stage? Nothing we do is going to impact global warming. [nz]

    ffs, retarded.

    I’m not contesting if it’s real or not. I’m saying by New Zealand doing anything, we are crippling NZ for the sake of looking good.

  33. Lew 33

    Infused: Retarded indeed, except where `looking good on the international stage’ is the key to our economy. Which it is.


  34. Tim Ellis,

    Could you oblige us please with the funders/interests behind/publishers in respect of the object you cite as: I did find this from the Canada Free Press

  35. bobo 35

    All we need now is Jamie Oliver to do a Ministry of food ban on all NZ meat on his next tv show because of the high carbon miles, just shows how fragile some of our export markets could be if we do nothing. I’m no huge fan of ETS either as it’s too complicated and open to “creative accountancy” but we have to at least try as we signed up to Kyoto, I’m more of the idea of encouraging positive changes at the source through tax incentives, university working with big polluters to come up with real R&D ways of cutting pollution.

  36. Tim Ellis 36

    I don’t know the answer to that, northpaw. It’s probably a conservative group, but it was the only international media publication that google news listed discussing New Zealand and the ETS, which would appear to debunk the claim from Nigel Brunel that New Zealand has become the joke of Europe over National’s plans.

  37. Nick 37

    Northpaw, global recognition isn’t enough. Darfur is globally recognised but not in the way we want it to be.

    I’m after actual & real benefits to New Zealand, given from trading partners, as a result of those micro & internal reforms.

  38. Stephen 38

    I’m not contesting if it’s real or not. I’m saying by New Zealand doing anything, we are crippling NZ for the sake of looking good.

    Defining ‘crippled’ would be a good start.

  39. infused, gosh and golly, a hard act to follow.. witness, you wrote:
    And push massive costs on to small businesses in New Zealand?
    But New Zealanders and small businesses in enzed love massive costs. Look at all those failed financials. Costs and losts! Risk, where’s the risk — hey guys (had been their well-throated cry) aint nothin’ to it, give dis guy the money and forget it, you’ll be home and hosed.. whenever!!

    That was then: this is now. Worse to come. Yep, the cost of lost. The latest job ad reads: wanted white knight.

    Do you see one.. anywhere?

  40. Nick,

    Northpaw, global recognition isn’t enough. Darfur is globally recognised but not in the way we want it to be.

    I’m after actual & real benefits to New Zealand, given from trading partners, as a result of those micro & internal reforms.

    You appear to be answering your own question, not mine. Would you please do so. Hint, if not the aforementioned achievements then what – (do you suppose) – would constitute “actual and real benefits to New Zealand”.?

  41. Nick 41

    I’m saying: so what if NZ is becoming a joke internationally (which it isn’t). The European ETS is a disaster. We could actually become a “global leader” (as much as I hate using that term) in refuting this global warming nonsense.

  42. Billy 42

    A carbon credit broker wants to us to adopt a carbon credit trading system. What possible reason on earth could he have for wanting such a thing?

    Probably his concern for the planet. Yeah, that figures.

  43. Tim Ellis 43

    That’s exactly right, Billy. In other news, a cinema owner doesn’t want to ban movies, and a brewer wants to continue making beer.

  44. Billy 44

    In other news:

    “Tobacco companies critical of moves to restrict tobacco sales”.

  45. Billy 45

    And anyway, we never had a leadership role on climate change to give up. We had a leadership role in talking about how we wanted to be a world leader but, instead, did worse on emissions than John Howard’s Australia and George Bush’s United States.

    If talking about how good you are at something makes you a “world leader” then I am simply tremendous in bed.

  46. Lew 46

    Nick: We could actually become a “global leader’ (as much as I hate using that term) in refuting this global warming nonsense.

    That might be a plausible argument if anthropogenic climate change were a matter of belief – eventually, you might argue, people would see the error of their ways and agree that there was nothing in it all along. This is a very tempting position to take since the horizon for real environmental impacts is still a fair way off, and is partly explained by the rather high correlation of climate skepticism with age – those who have the least to lose from climate change are least inclined to believe it to be real.

    However, it’s not a matter of belief – it’s a matter of science. Essentially, your choices as a non-expert are to believe the IPCC and the vast bulk of properly-qualified research and opinion on the matter (hereafter `orthodoxy’), or you can believe the broad argument put by the authors of the Great Global Warming Swindle (et al), viz. that the temperature record is inconclusive and all the research saying it is has been distorted by greedy scientists keen to get their hands on large volumes of research funding in order to … what … keep getting research funding – the argument breaks down here – (hereafter `heterodoxy’.) The orthodoxy in this case constitutes believing in science – the rational, objective assessment of verifiable and reproducible phenomena. The heterodoxy posits the motive fallacy as sole evidence to support the claim that science has been subverted by the forces of greed, and by extension that the scientific establishment is corrupt. Which raises an interesting question which I put to coge upthread: are you going to discard all science equally? As a non-expert, upon what basis do you decide what science to believe, and what to ignore? Do you reflect that the same corruption attributed to climate scientists is demonstrably evident in the medical system, where doctors have been known to prescribe drugs on a commission basis (not in NZ, thanks to PHARMAC), and refuse to trust the medical profession or take drugs prescribed by your doctor?

    So the ideological question of anthropogenic global warming becomes interesting – there’s a great degree of correlation (in the Global North, at least) between those who do not accept anthropogenic climate change and those who stand to gain in net terms (either to gain or not to lose) by the absence of policy concerned with preventing or ameliorating the effects of anthropogenic climate change. But it’s somehow churlish to point out that the very motive fallacy deniers use to make their primary claim against the scientific establishment is the one which best explains their behaviour and their selective belief in science.


  47. Ben R 47

    What did David Skilling recommend?

  48. Lew 48

    Billy, Tim: Heh, you came up with the motive fallacy too (though I concede it’s clearly not a fallacy in all these cases).


  49. insider 49


    Any evidence that our markets are based on the clean green image? I know that’s what the former PM liked to portray and where a lot of brand money is being spent, I’m just not sure if it is true.

    Most of our product is going out as a commodity – milk powder, bulk meat, fish, aluminium. Is there anything that indicates this is anything but price driven? How much premium are we getting as a result or preferential market access? Is it really ‘clean green’ or supply chain and quality management driving it.

  50. Tim Ellis 50

    Lew, I think when the only source that New Zealand’s becoming the laughing stock of Europe over its ETS policy, which was announced by National pre-election and voted on by the New Zealand public, is a New Zealand carbon trader, then the motive fallacy isn’t a fallacy.

    This post isn’t about climate change denial or whether New Zealand should have an ETS at all. It’s about whether New Zealand’s international reputation is being severely damaged by this policy change. We don’t have a credible source to back up that claim. In fact, there’s significant evidence that even in Europe, governments and populations are getting cold feet over even the European ETS.

  51. Chris S 51


    And push massive costs on to small businesses in New Zealand? For what? So we can look good on the international stage? Nothing we do is going to impact global warming. [nz]

    And yet, that’s not the point anymore. We have a bill to pay that’s based on our carbon emissions. The most fair way to distribute costs is with a market-based ETS solution to push costs to small businesses relative to their destruction of the environment.

    And if the emitters don’t pay it, the tax payers do, so don’t pretend that the cost to consumers doesn’t exist without an ETS/tax.

  52. insider. you ever seen an ad about nzoverseas or seen nz products marketed overseas? it’s all about the green paradise image

  53. Mr Shankly 53

    New Zealand shafted itself on this one.

  54. insider 54


    That might be for some niche products, but is that done for the ones that really bring in the money and are used as components of other products? AS for tourism, we sell the attributes we have which are low population, nice scenery relatively ‘unspoiled’, where we have a relative advantage. Norway does the same yet are one of the largest oil producers. That conflict doesn’t seem to cause them issues. Not sure why not being seen at the bleeding edge on climate isues would for us. The exchange rate I supect would do more damage.

  55. Daveski 55

    I’m a little confused – are we are leader for having a policy even if under the same party that introduced the policy we actually did worse? Wouldn’t that be a joke?

  56. Billy 56

    Mr Shankly, are you the character from the eponymous Smiths’ song?

  57. Chris S 57

    Daveski, I’m a little confused.

    National, ACT and their business backers have staunchly opposed anything that the Labour Government brought to the table in almost every area (besides the s59 bill which the Nats supported). They were in such blind opposition to the government that they voted against business tax cuts.

    Every time Labour brought up the idea of spreading the cost of New Zealand’s emissions across those that cause them, the right-wing, their business backers and the lobby groups exploded. See the carbon-tax protest, the silliness from ACT about the ETS.

    Should the government have ignored those that the legislation would affect most?

    What kind of emissions reductions policy (the only way the government has control over the businesses emissions) do you think that National and ACT would have agreed to which would have made our emissions profile better for that period of time.

    The answer is they wouldn’t have agreed to any policy. The joke is now they’re turning around and trying to blame the government for increasing emissions.

  58. Lew 58

    Insider: My job isn’t to make up for your ignorance about NZ’s extremely well-documented international branding and marketing programme. Go overseas and ask some random foreigner what they know about New Zealand – the top five things will include `sheep’, `All Blacks’ and `clean and green’.

    Tim: Yes, yes, I conceded it wasn’t the motive fallacy. My comments above largely aren’t concerned with the change of policy, more with the long-term matter of principle as to what we do about it, of which the policy change is a factor.

    However, to address the matter of the policy change. Inasmuch as the change casts doubt on the clean/green/100%pure brand I believe it’s a retrograde step, especially since the proposed solution is to relitigate a lot of matters which have already been thoroughly litigated, both by scientists and by politicians. I’m not saying Brunel is demonstrably right in saying NZ is a laughing-stock for changing horses in mid-stream on this one, but his principle holds – it casts doubt on our intentions and delays measures to reduce emissions and therefore the Kyoto obligation. The longer and more bitter the dispute (bearing in mind we’ve already debated the matter for six years) the more potential damage. Just this fact of relitigation will delay by at least a year the implementation of any scheme, which will delay emission-reduction programmes and thereby increase our overall Kyoto obligation. But connected to this, a lot of the discussion in support of the policy change seems to be fixated on the idea we can or should realistically do nothing. This is certainly the ACT position, and I believe for the reasons I’ve outlined above that it would be an absolutely unmitigated catastrophe if this were to happen.

    Furthermore I’m arguing that, even if we could without penalty renege on our Kyoto obligations if anthropogenic climate change were not real, the fact is that according to the best scientific evidence we have at our disposal, it is real, it will affect us, and no amount of ideology will change that. This really means that in order to believe that we can or should renege on our Kyoto obligations, one must believe two propositions that I’ve demonstrated are unfounded, first that we can better afford to damage our international brand, alienate our trading partners and expose ourselves to the international opprobrium that that entails than to simply pay the obligation we agreed; and second that we should ignore the recommendations of the properly-qualified scientific establishment to do so, and instead take the word primarily of a heterodox minority and those who are subject to the motive fallacy in that their livelihoods and business models are in danger from policy based on hard science.

    So ultimately what I’m saying is: choose rationality, science and mathematics – support strong and meaningful emissions reduction policy implemented as soon and as clearly as possible; if not for the environment and future generations, then at least for the economy and the current one.


  59. Tim Ellis,
    In fact, there’s significant evidence that even in Europe, governments and populations are getting cold feet over even the European ETS.</em

    Online link/s s’il vous plait. And to confirm you did say “significant evidence”.

    Lew made a very valid point earlier regarding belief, believers, believers in what, when, how etc.. I suspect your answer – forthright if you please and thus distinct from Nick’s evasion despite given ample opportunity to explain himself – will assist the folks here to comprehend from whence you cometh..

  60. tim Ellis,

    oops! bad markup – read emphasis first para only

  61. coge 61

    Lew you make some really interesting observations in this thread. You imply that it is often the older generations that are skeptical, as they think it won’t effect them. I’m not sure it is that simple. Older people have kids & grand kids, & they care very much for the future of their offspring, including ones yet unborn. Some of us baby boomers grew up with the fear of nuclear war, so we understand the inate fears of the young. We’ve also been around long enough to know that often new ideas are floated from time to time. Theories du jour. Scientists have said many many things over time that have later been proven false. I would imagine if someone wanted to be highly qualified in relevant science, they would not get the necessary grades if they dared to disagree with global warming. Thus over time all the educated are believing the same things. The politicisation of science is surely contrary to what science is. I believe that in ten years new issues will be used to blind us using “science”. From where I’m standing man made climate change is a tool to gain power, combining fear, politics, & money.

    Be assured however this pans out for NZ, it won’t be the end of the world.

  62. Carol 62

    Well, not all of us oldies are climate change sceptics. So, I don’t agree with the theory of Coge above. I’ve seen all those things change (and some not chamge), but I’m also open to new information and scientific evidence. Man made climate change is a tool to gain power? How exactly?

    IMO, the scientific evidence indicates people need to change their lifestyle, especially those who are biggest consumers. So, from people I’ve come across who are climate sceptics, it seems to me that the main motivation is that they don’t want to change their lifestyles. And I guess that would include more older people who are firmly embedded in consumer living.

    And the world has come perilously close to nuclear war, and that and nuclear power are still dangers.

  63. Tim Ellis 63

    Lew and Northpaw:

    I don’t think it’s feasible to renege on our Kyoto obligations, so I don’t think there’s much point in litigating whether man-made climate change is real or not. National isn’t proposing that we renege on our obligations. You’ve made very valid points if National was intending to follow Act’s policy of withdrawing from Kyoto, but nothing they have said in their ETS policy contemplates this.

    There are valid questions about whether we got the best deal for New Zealand. Certainly when we signed up for Kyoto the projections were that we would receive a net benefit. The last nine years have turned that benefit into a massive liability. I suspect National will want to renegotiate some aspects of that liability, although with tumbling dairy prices and a much gloomier world economic outlook, it’s highly probable, in my view, that the total liability will reduce. I don’t see a problem with trying to negotiate a better deal from Kyoto. If we can, we should.

    The next issue is, if there is going to be a considerable Kyoto liability, what is the best way to pay for it? Labour rushed through a scheme that appears to have major flaws, and carries the risk of crippling industry in the process. For what benefit? So that we can be a global leader on climate change? I think that price is too high. I don’t think that to preserve our clean and green image, we need to be a global leader. We only need to be consistent with what the rest of the world is doing.

    I don’t think that a rushed-through scheme that cripples industry in the process will be durable. There are major issues still to sort through: the US needs to sign up, as does China, India and Brazil. There are far too many questions that need to be resolved before we disadvantage New Zealand industry while our trading partners get off scot-free.

    The Government signed up to Kyoto. There will be a liability. The taxpayer should carry the burden until the global issues are sorted out. The alternative–to export jobs and transfer emissions to economies that don’t pay the cost–just doesn’t seem either economically sensible, or achieve any positive environmental outcomes.

  64. ghostwhowalks 64

    Regarding the Finland thing about women getting the right to vote and stand for election in 1906
    Well they they say NZ was a part of the British Empire in 1893.

    Finland was part of the Russian Empire in 1906, as the Grand Duchy of Finland and didnt declare independence till 1917 at the bolshevik revolution

  65. Lew 65

    Coge, and Carol: You imply that it is often the older generations that are skeptical, as they think it won’t effect them. I’m not sure it is that simple.

    I certainly don’t mean to imply that everyone over a certain age thinks `bugger those younguns’ – I was just remarking on the correlation. There are other correlations I reckon are just as interesting – income to disbelief; level of education to belief; etc. Belief and justification are complicated things and not entirely rational; that’s ok. But the policy process ought to be rational, it shouldn’t rest on gut feelings of the sort you describe.

    I would imagine if someone wanted to be highly qualified in relevant science, they would not get the necessary grades if they dared to disagree with global warming. Thus over time all the educated are believing the same things. The politicisation of science is surely contrary to what science is.

    I once told a (Labour) Minister for the Environment that I was a political scientist, and he told me there was no science in politics and no politics in science. As you correctly note science is concerned with truth, and if what you believe (that truth is being discarded in favour of ideologically convenient answers) is true, then we’re all in big fucking trouble.

    But what you’re essentially describing here is a black-helicopter conspiracy theory that the scientific establishment at large is working against, not for the interests of humanity. I don’t believe it – the establishment is incredibly tolerant of heterodox views on the grounds of Mill’s fallibility principle, and it seems to me that the main challenge for those wanting to take a heterodox view is reconciling their desires with the vast bulk of evidence which contradicts them. Sometimes everyone believes the same thing because that’s what the evidence requires.

    If you genuinely believe it I’m interested in the answer to my initial question above – do you discard all scientific orthodoxy equally, and if so, upon what do you base your decisions about scientific matters? If not, upon what basis do you discard some scientific orthodoxy and not others, being yourself not in a position to adequately judge what is and what isn’t good science? The fundamental point you make – that science self-corrects by admitting its mistakes – actually undoes your point here – unless you believe it’s permanently and thoroughly broken.

    Be assured however this pans out for NZ, it won’t be the end of the world.

    To be perfectly frank, since this is an article of faith for you, I’m no more inclined to believe it than I am to believe in the big man with the beard in the sky. I try to believe in science, and particularly in its self-correcting nature, so the assurances of someone who doesn’t are just a curiosity to me.

    But thank you for your thoughtful reply nonetheless, coge.


  66. Lew 66

    GWW: If I recall correctly, NZ wasn’t the first to grant universal women’s suffrage since Māori women were still enjoined from candidacy until after World War I (but I’m too lazy to check the real answer).

    Tim: Oh, I don’t think National intend to renege on our Kyoto obligation – that would be electoral and economic suicide. I’m just commenting that many of National’s apparent supporters seem to want this.

    I don’t see a problem with trying to negotiate a better deal from Kyoto. If we can, we should.

    Well, if we can. I don’t think it’s going to happen. True, the fading economy and weakening dairy sector will help this – just as the obligation blew out so big during the oughties because of economic and dairy growth, but overall I don’t see it. And it is a gamble – if we try and fail, that again hurts our reputation and delays the implementation of emission-reduction measures. That has a cost; Key is playing a risky game, both by risking international criticism to repeal a functional, if imperfect, ETS and by trying to talk the price down after the contract is signed.

    I don’t think that a rushed-through scheme that cripples industry in the process will be durable.

    Well, this scheme clearly isn’t durable because either a) National wasn’t consulted fully enough to be happy with it or b) National decided to play political games with it. (Or a combination of the two).

    The taxpayer should carry the burden until the global issues are sorted out.

    This is the worst possible solution in my view, because the moral hazard removes any incentive to reduce emissions. In principle this could also be used as a pretext for either tax increases, the gutting of services, or increasing government debt, since we can’t just spare any extra billions out of the tax take during a recession. Simply bad policy in my view; the polluter pays principle is the critical factor to me because it alone will reduce emissions and therefore liability over time.


  67. Tim Ellis 67

    This is the worst possible solution in my view, because the moral hazard removes any incentive to reduce emissions.

    I should have prefaced my view that having the taxpayer carry the burden for an extra year until we have a workable ETS that irons out the issues–particularly the entry of other players and ensuring that we’re in synch with our trading partners–isn’t a problem as far as I’m concerned. Granted, if we were talking about delaying the ETS indefinitely, then that would be a major problem. But one extra year isn’t.

  68. Tim Ellis 68

    I missed your earlier comment SP:

    [National listed the changes it wanted to make before the election. Do some research – Herald, stuff, our archives. SP]

    That’s exactly right. Do some research of your own about what National’s intentions were. They spelled them out in the minority select committee report, and referred to that report in its ETS policy. They aren’t minor quibbles with the ETS. They were:

    1. That the ETS Labour introduced didn’t adequately balance economic interests with environmental interests.

    2. That the ETS anticipated major windfall gains to the Government, which was not acceptable.

    3. That the NZ ETS needs to be aligned with the Australian scheme.

    4. That the ETS provided incentives to industry to exit New Zealand.

    5. That the ETS unfairly penalised SMEs.

    6. That the ETS phased out industry support without reference to international negotiations.

    7. That the treatment of Agriculture, Forestry, fishing, and thermal generation was flawed.

    Those aren’t minor issues, SP. They are fundamental. With all due respect to you, you are clearly not an authority on National’s policy, particularly since you don’t even appear to have read National’s select committee report to make such an absurd statement that National had a single, minor concern with Labour’s ETS.

  69. Steve:

    The first country to give woman the vote was infact the USA.

    Not in their presidential election though.

  70. Tim Ellis, with all due respect:

    not an authority on National’s policy,

    I would ask whether National is an authority on its policy. Seven intentions were listed, only one of which was specific. The remainder amount to mere assertion. And I am surprised to find you positing that such things are what you call “fundamental” issues.

    if you feel inclined to expand any of them in the interests of clarity would you do so please in the context of a rapidly changing global economic scenario.

    Yes, one could wish for the very best of attainments from new blood and perhaps minds at the international table, yet even if that were to assist solutions it could not resolve the user-based problems of growth and business-as-usual. So.. no I won’t press this upon you.. In return, however, it seems to me entirely reasonable to ask you what a twelve month delay could achieve that imminent dynamic policymaking cannot.

    Or has National not heard of such possibilities?

  71. RT 71

    “Delay is no longer an option; denial is no longer an acceptable response”.
    Here is Obama’s response to Climate Change.

  72. Janet 72

    No country ever ‘gave’ women the vote. Women had to organise, collectivise and fight very hard to win it in every country, over many decades, and persuade enough male politicians to support their cause. Some women were martyred in the process eg that British suffragette who was trampled in a horse race. Others went on hunger strikes and were tortured. In NZ Premier Seddon hadn’t wanted to enfranchise women and thought adding Maori into the motion would ensure its failure. Fortunately, it passed, so Maori and Pakeha women 21 and over were enfranchised at the same time on 19 September 1893. But they still weren’t allowed to stand as candidates for many more years. And you think feminists are bitter!

  73. Lew 73

    Tim: Granted, if we were talking about delaying the ETS indefinitely, then that would be a major problem. But one extra year isn’t.

    What we have here is a dynamic tension between two powerful axioms: `do it once, do it right’ on the one hand, and `perfect is the enemy of good enough’ on the other. National favour the former; Labour and the Greens favour the latter (ACT favour the ostrich axiom).

    I don’t have a problem in principle with the idea of taking a year to do things right, but the problem is twofold; 1. that it isn’t likely to be just another year because of the desire to align with Australia; and 2. another year or more of moral hazard (bear in mind, it’s been six years in discussion already) will compound upon an eventual emission reduction mechanism which is less effective in terms of reducing our Kyoto obligation, not more effective. Most of National’s six points are policy jargon for just this direction:

    * `not balancing economic interests with environmental interests’ is code for `is too strict’ in general
    * `needs to be aligned with the Australian scheme’ means an indefinite delay, since Australia are only now beginning to look seriously at matters we began looking at six years ago;
    * `gives industry incentives to leave NZ’ is code for `doesn’t cut industry enough breaks
    * `penalises SMEs’ is code for `doesn’t cut SMEs enough breaks’
    * `flawed treatment of Ag/Fish/Forestry/thermal’ means `didn’t cut those sectors enough breaks’

    So what National are saying isn’t that the ETS is flawed in principle or in its general function, but that:

    * It is too strict
    * it is implemented now, not later
    * It doesn’t cut industry enough breaks
    * it doesn’t cut small business enough breaks
    * it doesn’t cut farmers, fisheries, forestry or thermal generation enough breaks

    … so tell me, was there anyone who National thinks was cut enough breaks?

    The Labour ETS was already full of moral hazard by way of special exceptions and allowances for industries known to be the worst emitters, with some or all of their emissions liability picked up by the taxpayer in the name of the national good for the rest of the current generation. I disagree entirely with this in principle, but to an extent I recognise its necessity in practice, however extending that moral hazard beyond the current generation into the next is unconscionable. Doing so distorts the market and will act to safeguard moribund practices and prevent them being replaced by the ordinary march of progress by more efficient or cleaner practices, and will ensure inflated Kyoto obligations bills to come. It’s short-termism and will be subject to the same flaw you initially identified – if the moral hazard is seen to be unfair, it will not endure.


  74. rave 74


    What’s new? It used to be called raping and looting.

  75. maxx 75

    how cute, the standard aligning with a sales spruiking broker from OMF.

    [lprent: How cute – an idiot thinks that a program has an opinion. Why not talk to the person?
    Programs are dumb logic. It is a pity that you missed out on the logic.
    You do understand that I equate trolls with programs that need serious debugging don’t you?]

  76. coge 76

    Lew. Scientific orthodoxy is how it should always be. It’s when potentially billions of dollars are being traded that the relationship between the business & science side of things become somewhat clouded. Is there any place for self correction with the substantial interests being employed here?

  77. Carbon trading is enron for unicorns.

    [lprent: Ummm BB are you trying to join the ranks of the poets on this site? Special dispensations are available..]

  78. lprent 78

    Oops – I really have to tone down that sarcasm. Its the Irish whiskey, keeps shoving up the graphic equalizer at one extreme.

  79. Pascal's bookie 79

    If some smart young thing could actually challenge the science behind AGW there’d be no shortage of funding to make the case, or prestige in doing so.

  80. lprent 80

    PB: I keep waiting for that as well. It is pretty distressing that over the last year I’ve seen a whole pile of skeptics come here with a whole pile of ‘facts’ that I can refute easily with stuff I learned (and throughly understood) almost 30 years ago.

    The anthropomorphic anthropogenic release of stored carbon is easily demonstrated. The fact that there are buffering actions in the atmosphere and water systems is easy to demonstrate – and almost irrelevant. However the effect of this on the heat transfer in the biosphere is likewise easy to demonstrate. Of course that has no effect on the planet or the biosphere as a whole, it will survive the extinction of humans and their culture without a problem. This has all been evident since the 70’s.

    What the dickheads seem to fail to recognize is that (at present) there is really only two solutions that would allow them, their children, and their grandchildren to avoid the consequences of their actions;

    1) demonstrating a sequestration mechanism to store carbon that is currently unknown.
    2) changing their behavior

    In the absence of 1), then they’re really going to have to try 2). Otherwise their grandchildren will probably hunt them down for acts of extreme stupidity.

    Updated: The Irish made me forget the correct word. Lew recovered it….

  81. Mr Shankly 81

    Yes Billy I am that Frankly Mr Shankly

  82. Lew 82

    Coge: Is there any place for self correction with the substantial interests being employed here?

    Of course there is. Where orthodoxy is disprovable there is always a market for disproving it, and so it will be disproved – and if not, someone is missing an opportunity.

    In any case, this begs a fairly important question: that the preponderance of reward is on the side of environmentalists and universities, and against almost all of the world’s major business interests. In fact, it is the opposite; those very interests – fossil fuels, heavy industry, agriculture and the military-industrial complex – who have the most to gain from disproving anthropogenic climate change also have the greatest reward to bestow upon the disprover. So, by your logic, should the fact that science continues to affirm the existence of anthropogenic climate change in the face of this obvious incentive to cover it up, ignore it or put it on hold not a triumph of the scientific method and its fundamental commitment to truth over convenience?

    PB/Lynn: Right. I’ve more or less just reiterated what you said, and like you, I’ve had this particular argument about a hundred times and haven’t lost it yet.


  83. lprent 83

    Yeah it gets rather boring. Especially when they keep saying things like “the models are wrong”. Hell we knew that before they built the damn things. Models are always wrong – that is what they’re there for. We build them so we can find out what we don’t know. I haven’t built climatology models for 30 years, but I did build a hell of a lot of management simulations (especially to annoy MBA students). It is the art of the thing.

    The question that they try to avoid is is the basic science wrong – that I haven’t seen yet. They’d prefer to argue about if it is them, the children, or their grandchildren that cope the first major effects. Then they get annoyed when I say that it is most likely them – if they are under the age of 40.

    The primary characteristic of the models is that they are consistently wrong. They always under-estimate the onset of the timing of the effects. They’ve dropped from centuries to decades in my adult lifetime.

  84. will 84

    Yawn… te right wing bore above quotes, from his sources the ‘canada free press’ thus:

    “The revolt against new carbon rationing and taxes affecting New Zealand now encompasses much of the world including India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Poland, Italy, Germany and the whole Ex-Soviet bloc. There is naturally no support for carbon rationing from the OPEC world, and falling support from Canada… blah blah.”

    The ‘canada free press’ is the weird right wing rantings of these two (from their website):

    “Arthur Weinreb is an author, columnist and Associate Editor of Canada Free Press. His work as appeared on Newsmax.com, Men’s News Daily, the Drudge Report, Foxnews.com and The Rant.”


    “Klaus Rohrich, Senior Writer for CFP also writes topical articles for numerous magazines… and is currently working on his first book dealing with the toxicity of liberalism. His work has been featured on the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and Lucianne, among others.”

    aha that sounds just like the sort of journalists those actoids approve of. The canada trouser press by the way feature rodney rawhide as a global warming expert. Truly.

    Google, and be amused.

  85. Lew 85

    Lynn: The question that they try to avoid is is the basic science wrong

    When it comes to this people seem to skip right down to `those dastardly scientists are faking it all’.

    (But only some of them … not the ones I trust my life with whenever I fly in a plane, or take prescription drugs, or eat prepackaged food.

    The primary characteristic of the models is that they are consistently wrong. They always under-estimate the onset of the timing of the effects.

    Right. And somehow this is justification to throw them out entirely …


  86. gomango 86

    The biggest argument against the ETS has to be why would we ever think it a good idea idea to transfer the best part of a billion dollars to the Russian kleptocracy? I know they have fallen on hard (relatively) times with the recent reversion of commodity prices to the level of 18 months ago but keeping these blokes in super yachts shouldn’t really be our concern. A sound mechanism for incentivising emitters to reduce emissions is a good thing but I’m not sure the ETS is that. A carbon tax would at least leave the revenue in the NZ inc coffers rather than buying credits from dodgy provenance countries. Corruption within an ETS is a very real issue in some jurisdictions. And then you have the distortion between regimes with grandfathering and without – even NZ was a good case of that with regards to forestry.. Unless of course we do what Europe did and magically make the cap well above actual emission levels.

    I think in NZ most debate would reduce in volume if we were clearly seen to be following global consensus rather than trying to lead it. If there is no economic benefit for NZ in leading opinion why impose a competitive disadvantage on our exporters when the rest of the world isn’t doing the same?. If we were responsible for a large share of emissions then sure, we have a duty to lead, but we are an insignificant speck. Our performance as a terrible emitter over the last 9 years hasn’t hurt us internationally at all- foreigners still think of green grass and cute sheep when they imagine NZ.

    The debate should not be one of “is global warming real”, it should be framed as “do we have an effective mechanism to keep us in line with mainstream international opinion and policy”. The answer to that has to be no – clearly not over the last 9 years and probably not over the next 3. Although 4 or 5 quarters of negative or nil growth will be quite helpful in that regard.

    And isnt it ironic that (say) Norway as one of the worlds largest oil producers (ansd other oil exporters) incurs very little Kyoto liability from sucking out all that North sea oil, yet because we have cows we have a high liability (both comparisons relative to GDP).

    And pulease, the self serving comments from an OMF broker who saw a chance to come home, set up a business and avoid getting sacked overseas are just that. Self serving comments. Likewise comments from NZX – cui bono……. who profits from setting up carbon credit trading schemes? Good on them for having a go (after all they are risking their own capital) but don’t confuse their profit motive with touchy feely, hug the environment thinking.

    Smartest thing we could do is to 1. announce a commitment to meeting Kyoto targets, and 2 chuck out our existing scheme and start again in tri-partisan manner (both wings of parliament plus business) to come up with a policy that might actually work, and would survive future changes of government.

  87. gomango 87

    By the way, I do acknowledge their is clearly an anthromorphic effect on the global climate – it’s nutty to presume there is not, but I also think there is a sniff of “Club of Rome” style extrapolation going on as well. But I would rather be in the better safe than sorry camp.

    What we really need is a technological solution then we dont have to change our lifestyles. Fantastic. I have seen surveys of technology which could allegedly work (I think in Wired?) but have no idea whether this is really practical. The coolest idea I have seen for power generation(as opposed to solutions to recapture CO2 or create shade) is space based power generation with microwave transmission – http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/ – this is really cool but I’m not scientific enough to know truly how practical.

  88. Pascal's bookie 88

    “And pulease, the self serving comments from an OMF broker who saw a chance to come home, set up a business and avoid getting sacked overseas are just that. Self serving comments.”

    Well, yes. How about the comments of Fed Farmers and the BRT and the National party though? Same thing applies though the specifics differ. Shall we set the price for the Carbon tax at the equivalent price for traded carbon credits? Otherwise it ‘seems self serving’ to suggest it, no? Perhaps we should kick that off before we start the talks as a sign of good faith.

    Why should business get a seat at the tripartite table exactly? Who elected them? Should the IPCC? Or NGO’s? Sounds like more pretty words in service of delay gomango, with twist of self serving gerrymandering on the side. Sorry to say.

    I said in one of the other threads, and I’ve seen no reason to change my mind, National is running a scam here, trying to shift the costs of pollution onto taxpayers and away from polluters as much as possible, for as long as they can get away with it. If you go along with it you are either a sucker or complicit.

    We have been talking about this for years. Y.e.a.r.s. Why do we need yet more talks from scratch? Nothing in the science has really changed, (except to make action more important). So shouldn’t National have an actual plan already, or haven’t they being paying attention?

  89. gomango 89

    Pascal – we’re not exactly on opposite pages here.

    You make exactly the point I was making – everybody has a vested interest, and there won’t be any kind of long term viable solution if only one set of idealogues have input. If you read what I wrote (not that I believe you have to!) I did say I believe a carbon tax is the best way to go. Tax production of greenhouse gases. Simple. No one can cheat. Every emitter comes into the scheme. Like GST – everyone pays, and cheating is hard. Rate can change easily in line with both what’s required to meet the emissions target and what is occurring overseas. Forget linking the tax rate to the price of credits, thats not the outcome you need to achieve – though that price mechanism looks good now with recent crushing of carbon prices. UN credits currently trading at EUR15 – on the back of reduced growth they’ll be trading at EUR 5 by June next year. What you want to achieve is whatever the Kyoto target is – how you get there doesn’t really matter, it just becomes a tradeoff of what are the other effects of your scheme (ie on growth, jobs,exports etc). Defending ETS is different to suggesting a viable solution. ETS is deeply flawed for all number of reasons – there has to be a better way.

    And at the end of the day, what we do doesn’t matter in the global scheme of things one jot, either practically or reputationally. National does have a plan and it was obvious before the election they would slow down and delay because of growth concerns. No surprise there and most of NZ wont care in fact they’ll endorse this approach – bigger things to worry about now. 95% of the people reading this blog might care but 90% of the greater population doesn’t care at all and won’t until they can put job insecurity, cost of living issues, house price defaltion etc on the backburner. For most people, worrying about the environment right now is a luxury. And what are your thoughts about us being forced under the ETS to buy credits off Russian polluters who just happen to have fudged their baselines with full complicity from their Govt?

  90. maxx 90

    lyn/standard showing his usual degree of stunted interpersonal skills.


    [lprent: At least you tried to address a person that time. Of course the name is wrong and the point is incorrect. But at least you made an effort. Now all you have to do is find something to say that is worth while saying, and that the others can be bothered engaging with.]

  91. lprent 91

    gomango: Just picking up one point. The “better safe than sorry” – you’re arguing from the wrong analogy. Look at fishing for a closer one.

    There is a significant difference between the Club of Rome models and the climate change models. The COR was interesting because their projections started missing virtually as soon as the projections were made. The reason is pretty apparent. There were price signals on the resource constraints that showed in that model – so the technology and processes changed to accommodate that. That is what markets do well.

    As the price of a resource like copper started to increase, four effects started to happen. More exploration, technology and system changes to use less copper more effectively, more recycling, and people started to buy products with less copper. Same with the other major constraints to growth that the CoR identified.

    The basic difference between that and climate change is that it is a ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem. No-one owns the resource (the atmosphere), there are no major costs associated in dumping into it, and there are no incentives for the polluters to improve their performance.

    It will wind up like the north Atlantic fisheries. The abusers of that spent a lot of time ‘proving’ that there was no real issue with their practices to potential regulators. Mainly by wildly over-estimating the regeneration rates and poking holes in the scientists models. They also set up industry ‘scientific’ institutions just to do that. They caused the regulators to keep delaying or putting inadequate controls in until it was too late. It was also a multi-national problem, so countries were busy playing for relative advantage right until the end. Now this sounds awfully familiar.

    Since those fisheries collapsed about 20 years ago, the fisheries haven’t regenerated – the whole ecosystem was devastated. Of course they will eventually. But a sustainable harvesting of protein from the north Atlantic at anything like an optimal level is probably going to be inviable for many more decades.

    There a a number of similar cases worldwide. Anthropogenic climate change is just one of them. There has to be a cost associated with the pollution. When that happens then there will be the innovation to reduce the effects. Delays will just lead to worse outcomes.

  92. RedLogix 92


    The basic difference between that and climate change is that it is a ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem. No-one owns the resource (the atmosphere), there are no major costs associated in dumping into it, and there are no incentives for the polluters to improve their performance.

    Worse still there is no clear governance entity that can compel polluters to improve their performance. What we have instead are voluntary agreements like Kyoto, that only work as long as everyone honours them. The right wing mentality simply sees these kinds of non-enforceable agreement as an opportunity to cheat, to avoid their communal obligation in order to maximise short-term profit. Typically cheating tactics include misdirection (denying the obligation), procrastinating, or shifting responsibility to others. In terms of climate change, we can see the polluters heavily engaged in all three at once.

    The original ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem was resolved when various nation state governments assumed responsibility for them, and enforced laws and codes to protect the commons. Progress toward protecting the global commons will remain however, sporadic and unsatisfactory, until we have a global governance mechanism capable of holding those who exploit and damage the biosphere directly to account.

  93. Lew 93

    gomango: And at the end of the day, what we do doesn’t matter in the global scheme of things one jot, either practically or reputationally.

    It’s beginning to anger me that people make this frankly ridiculous claim as if it’s a statement of indisputable fact. It sounds like an analogue to the old denier claim of `how could we puny humans possibly harm something so big and grand as planet earth?’ (which I accept you’re not making).

    I work in the reputation management business where, as we say, a 60-year reputation can be destroyed in 60 seconds on 60 Minutes. New Zealand’s competitive advantage in the world is wholly tied up in reputation, as I explained pretty far above. Bobo, also pretty far above, mentioned that in the absence of a strong ETS, all it would take would be Jamie Oliver running a Ministry of Food special on food miles talking about how irresponsible it is to eat NZ produce and that’d be the practical end of our high-end export market in the UK. Even in low-end markets like China, reputation matters. I’ve paid ¥40 (that’s about NZ$10) for a NZ Natural ice cream on the Bund in Shanghai, and they can charge that much for it in a country where a hot meal costs a fifth of that because it bears the words `NZ Natural’. Fonterra was associated with San Lu and rightly or wrongly all NZ products have to an extent now been tarred with the melamine brush – that’s not to do with climate change; it’s to do with reputation.

    So if you have any actual evidence for reputation not mattering beyond `John Key wouldn’t put NZ’s export industry at risk’, I’d love to hear it.


  94. gomango 94

    Lew – maybe that statement of mine was a little ott, but fundamentally we are a commodity exporter, something like 75-80%. I think the issue you’re moving into is about using climate issues a tool to erect trade barriers – clearly a valid issue given our experiences over the last 30 years. But m position is really is that as long as we are seen o be no worse than good practice in our export markets and that individual exporters can prove their green veracity, i think this whole concept of global leadership is overblown. We’re not seeing our tourism projections bear up in the face of recession as thousands of Germans and Yanks say to themselves “never mind the economy, i’ll still holiday to NZ as they have a wonderful ETF in place.” A cynic would also say that despite terrible performance versus Kyoto targets over the last 10 years our “100% Pure” branding campaign overseas has worked very well. Yet in relative terms NZ is one of the worst villains in the OECD.

    And Redlogix, I don’t disagree with our last post either but the real issue about:

    “The right wing mentality simply sees these kinds of non-enforceable agreement as an opportunity to cheat, to avoid their communal obligation in order to maximise short-term profit.”

    is not here in NZ. Everybody overseas has cheated on ETS – from US, India, China, Aust ignoring it, to the European countries issuing way too many credits in general and in particular to their job heavy polluters to countries like Russia effectively printing carbon credits on an “as demanded” basis. Any cheating in NZ pales by comparison. Your call for a global governance mechanism sounds suspiciously like a “New World Order” – don’t tell travellerev ;smile: icon_wink.gif. But you are right there needs to be a global mechanism which everybody is in – without China, India and the US anything is a joke.

    The answer is simple – tax all forms of green house emission at source at a very very low level – strictly emitter pays. Structure the system like GST which works very effectively. Sneak the rate up year by year to massage demand (for emitting). Then in hard economic times (or good) the govt can use this as a fisca tool. In fact they’d probably want to give a carbon tax target to the RBNZ and let them run the fiscal policy around it.

  95. RedLogix 95


    Your call for a global governance mechanism sounds suspiciously like a “New World Order’

    People who don’t like government, really haven’t worked out that the one thing worse than bad government, is no government at all. All human society has always operated social mechanisms of one sort or another. They have had various goals, usually at the top of the list is the protection of entrenched privilege, and differing structures… but always there is a codified law, and a means to enforce it.

    No human system has been perfect, or even close to it. Whatever we have devised we could always imagine something better; the process of perfection is without limits. The correct response to bad government, is not no government…. but a better government.

    The problem with global governance is that everyone is afraid that their entrenched privileges might be not be as high on it’s agenda as they would like. And most certainly if you want to posit a totalitarian “New World Order” that is run by a shadowy elite, then yes I agree totally with you… such a thing could be the stuff of nightmares.

    But the unavoidable truth is that we are already a global society. If you examine changes in the globalisation of trade, travel, language, communications, standards and technologies since WW2 then it is obvious that such a thing has already arrived. Already many big corporates and banks are more transcendently powerful than most smaller nations states.The need for a form of federated, global governance is ultimately unavoidable. Since the formation of the UN we have been delaying the inevitable for over 70 years, and the longer we put it off the more painful the consequences will be. Ultimately I believe we will get a “New World Order”, whether we like it or not.The only remaining question is what form it will take.

    In the end the same principles that apply toward good governance of nation states, still apply at the global level. Namely, transparency, accountability and most importantly the sense of being able to meaningfully participate in a democratic fashion. We will not get any of these things if we keep burying our collective heads in the sand and hoping that the “New World Order” bogey will go away.

  96. will,

    thank ye so much for the ‘appreciation’ of CFP..

    Lew and Lynn,

    might it help these folks substitue ‘prototypes’ for ‘models’..? I can see this applicable to airplanes, new prescription drugs, tho on prepackaged food I am less inclined to opine..

  97. gomango 97

    i screwed up the smiley face after my new world comment. If there is anything good to come out of the global economic crisis it will be more transparency across borders,better co-ordination between regulators, central banks etc which is in its most literal sense a new world order. You need to recalibrate your irony meter. To be fair, a lot of changes over the last decade have been toward better co-ordination, for instance every bank in the world that wants to do business with a european or us based counterparty has the same minimum KYC and money laundering rules now. Basle 2, when that kicks off properly will better align bank risk management (if we have any banks left) – looks like citigroup is about to be nationalised over the weekend. And trade rules, etc all point to a greater interdependency and commonality amongst nations, but the issue is its very hard to sanction those that dont play by the rules. Countries like NZ, UK, Canada, Aust, Western europe will typically act in good faith and accordance with treaties they have signed but the next tier of countries tend to be loud on pronouncement, short on action and long on taking benefits inward from their treaty partners.

    As an aside I think its generally fair to say that the nations with the strongest democratic tradition are those that entrench individual rights over sovereign rights. US, UK, Canada, France, Switzerland, Scandis, Aus, others.NZ – not too many others. I don’t think there’d be more than (say) 35 countries globally that would meet what you and I would agree are basic standards for democracy, transparency, accountability. The others – I don’t want them to have the slightest amount of influence over NZ. the world is a pretty bleak place – we are fortunate to live in NZ whether under a Key or Clark government.

  98. RedLogix 98

    The others – I don’t want them to have the slightest amount of influence over NZ. the world is a pretty bleak place – we are fortunate to live in NZ whether under a Key or Clark government

    A realistic point, and a sticking point for many, many people. At the same time I still suggest that ignoring the inevitable trend towards globalisation is not going to get us the form of it that we want.

    It’s really the same as the climate change problem; either we manage it, or it will manage us.

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