I’ve thought for some time that some of the best political writing in the Herald is to be found on the business pages. Here is a taste of Brian Fallow on the Emissions Trading Bill, currently being rushed through Parliament with scant regard to submitters.
Legislate in haste, repent at leisure.
What we have right now is the unedifying spectacle of a select committee where oral submitters on a bill of consequence to the economy get 10 minutes each to make their point to MPs who have generally not yet had time to read their written submissions…
In the scathing judgment of Victoria University’s policy studies and climate change research institute it is fiscally unsustainable, environmentally counter-productive, administratively cumbersome and economically indefensible…
He goes on:
National’s scheme is uncapped. It tells emitters: by all means produce more methanol or cement or urea or milk. The country needs the money. Don’t worry about the extra emissions. We will pick up the bill – or almost all of it.
It will claw back the free allocation much more slowly, just 1.3 per cent a year. That means, of course, that if emissions from the trade-exposed sectors grow faster than 1.3 per cent a year the number of free units the Government doles out will go up, not down.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, told the select committee these changes essentially removed the price signal from the emissions-intensive smokestack sector, where a price signal was needed the most.
The fainter the price signal, the less effectual the scheme is likely to be in reducing emissions. That in turn means we will have to buy more carbon in the international market to meet our obligations.
That is likely to get a lot more costly if or when the Americans join the Europeans and Japanese on the demand side of the market. Can the global supply of environmentally credible offset credits keep pace with that increase in demand, and if not what might be the impact on carbon prices?
These are the sorts of questions the select committee should be hearing expert views on. It is not.
A huge bill for future generations to pick up. This is a very short-sighted government.