- Date published:
8:11 am, October 24th, 2019 - 21 comments
Categories: bill english, Economy, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, nz first, politicans, Politics - Tags: agriculture, carbon tax, Emissions Trading Scheme, ets
One of the less endearing traits of National is their ability to screw almost anything up for short-term advantage regardless how it impacts those that they are purportedly trying to protect. Usually this comes from the results of in-fighting within the party.
Luke Malpass and Henry Cooke outline the emissions deal in “Government sets deadline for farmer emissions“. Unsurprisingly when you look at the political analysis, a lot of it concerns the probable infighting and short-term maneuvering of factions inside National.
The Government will announce plans on Thursday to make New Zealand the first nation in the world to fully fold agriculture into an emissions pricing scheme, with a comprehensive price on greenhouse gases introduced by 2025.
Stuff understands the Government will do this by accepting an agricultural sector proposal to give it those five years to develop a farm-level pricing mechanism separate from New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which the sector opposes. Farmers will pay no additional levies or charges in the meantime.
If this new scheme is not established, agriculture will be folded into the ETS by default in 2025 – a “backstop” measure neither the Government nor the sector wants to use. It could even be brought in as early as 2022 if the Government at that point felt agriculture was not moving fast enough.
I expect that having political meatheads around like Judith Collins will encourage sabotage of the agreement – as she has been doing for months now. Unfortunately for such fools of National, there are some teeth at the back of the deal.
If this deal fails to produce a result of a viable scheme and eventual results, then the farming community will be tossed into the Emission Trading Scheme.
Now I’d point out that the agricultural community and I both detest the ETS – but for different reasons.
Personally I think that the ETS was doomed from the start because it wasn’t suited to the purpose of reducing emissions. A simple tax on emissions might be a blunt instrument, but it would have forced changes in the economic behaviour of consumers. The ETS was just a pork-barrel of exemptions, exceptions and outright fraud like the dodgy as shit overseas carbon credits that flooded and largely destroyed the market.
The farmers seem to have always taken several viewpoints. From the scientific illiterates unwilling to accept the basic science at all. Through to those who considered that the ETS provided no room for individual farmers to reduce their emissions (and thereby gain advantage over their neighbours).
There have been improvements by individual farmers even without the incentive of a ETS or whatever arrangement comes out of this deal. But it is patchy and overall the nett emissions from agriculture has been rising rapidly as a whole, even faster than their increases in production.
The primary reason that I can see is because the agricultural community appears to have been as fractured, incoherent, and only united in their opposition to the ETS. They sure as hell haven’t shown any signs of actually doing anything particularly positive except when forced to by local or central government. I’d be happy to be proven wrong in that assessment. But it has been noticeable in the last two decades that while every other sector of the economy as a whole has been steadily cleaning up their act while improving productivity, agriculture as a whole seems to have been both in denial and actually getting worse as they intensify production.
This political stalemate has been in place in the early 2000s when Bill English was riding a tractor around parliament’s steps being a misogynist dickhead in a suit. The nett effect of agricultures dithering and National’s encouragement of it is that agriculture as a whole has escaped any real incentive towards reducing emissions.
In the meantime, the rest of the population has been getting short on patience with the freeloading and head up the arse attitudes of the whole agricultural community as we pay for their stubborn and short-sighted attitudes.
While agriculture is an important revenue earner for the economy, it isn’t a high profit centre undeserving of special treatment. We export around 17x as much food by weight as we consume inside the country. The impacts of agriculture cause severe issues for many other industries, especially profitable ones like tourism, while also raising costs of water treatment
But if anyone cares to look at the profitability or even the employment and wages of our overseas agricultural earnings for the economy, it is pathetic compared to just about every other revenue sector from tourism to my tech sector – all of whom actually pay (albeit underpay) for their greenhouse emissions.
Well agriculture now gets their chance to show their stuff and come up with something that incentivises their sector to reduce their greenhouse emissions – which are nearly half of New Zealand’s total emissions.
Admittedly that ETS backstop initially won’t be as bad as it should be. NZ First has negotiated a deal that will negate the initial costs by 95%. But that really isn’t going to last. There isn’t much tolerance for further dithering by agriculture.
I’d suggest that the agricultural sector start by figuring out a way of keeping some of the more stupid short-term parasites from National from screwing up the focus. To meet this kind of deadline agriculture needs to do some serious work on the issue and stop time wasting stupid stunts.
There is also a pretty good political analysis by Cooke and Malpass in “Farmers get time, Ardern gets support for elegant climate solution“