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National’s ETS chickens home to roost

Written By: - Date published: 8:24 am, May 27th, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: ETS, national - Tags: , ,

National is under extraordinary pressure on its ETS. From farmers, to ACT (the tail once again trying to wag the dog), to the ever predictable business lobby (with one honourable exception), to the power industry, to the “grassroots”, attacks are coming from all sides.

National is, so far, sticking to its ETS guns, because it knows it has to. Trade with an increasingly green-conscious Europe is in the balance. To do nothing is to risk a huge hit to the economy. As a Herald editorial put it:

The Government is right to carry on with its relatively timid emissions trading scheme.

Under that international effort to counter climate change, New Zealand agreed to pay if it did not adequately cut greenhouse gas emissions. As Finance Minister Bill English explained this week, either the taxpayer pays all of that bill or it is shared with emitters and consumers. One way or the other, we have to pay. This is not a case of simply ignoring the Kyoto commitments and they go away.

Concerns remain over global warming and the potential for long-term, catastrophic effects on the environment, peoples, finances and of course trade. Showing backbone now in holding to small, progressive steps to share the burden is vital.

But the going is getting tough. At time of writing the top headlines on Newsroom are:

Rural Party Murmurings – Relations between National and Federated Farmers have taken a turn for the worse after the farming group’s leader reacted to a scathing attack on its ETS campaign by suggesting a new political party for farmers is over due.

ETS ‘Hysteria’ – The National MP who shot to fame in 2003 driving a tractor up Parliament’s steps to protest Labour’s so-called fart tax has accused Federated Farmers of hysteria in supporting ACT’s campaign against the emissions trading scheme.

It is clear that this issue has the potential to cost National dearly, and that they are starting to panic about it. While I can commend them for sticking to their guns (better a gutted ETS than none at all), I don’t have any sympathy over the backlash they are facing. They bought it on themselves. They bought it on themselves with their irresponsible fear-mongering and grandstanding while in opposition, from the immensely cynical “fart-tax” campaign to the outright lies on sensible energy saving measures.

This is part of an emerging pattern for National. In Government it has to deal with its own hysterical opposition chickens coming home to roost. It’s the ETS. It’s the race relations issues made harder by the Iwi/Kiwi rednecks that they courted. It’s the still growing “nanny state” backlash. It’s the public fear and anger over high crime statistics. It’s the confused and angry lobby that voted “No” in the smacking referendum. All of these, like the leaky homes crisis, are problems in substantial part of National’s own making. Call it karma, call it reaping what you sow, call it poetic justice. Call it whatever you like, it couldn’t be happening to a more richly deserving pack of politicians.

23 comments on “National’s ETS chickens home to roost ”

  1. BLiP 1

    Dunno why the bloody farmers are pissing and moaning since its the rest of us subsidising the filthy buggers to the tune of billions of dollars a year.

  2. salsy 2

    Agreed. The issue is that National have failed in selling the economic benefits of the ETS to the farming community. Ironically, its the whinging farmers who are set to benefit the most.

  3. Santi 3

    Key has lied all the way and must be held accountable. The ETS tax is unnecessary.

  4. Bright Red 4

    See that Fed Farmers are talking about their own ‘rural party’? Geez, that would essentially be splitting National back into its constituent parts – Reform and the Liberals.

    Maybe English could lead one and Key the other, and Melissa Lee could head up the new New Zealand Legion, she’s got the breeding, seeing as her dad was a general in south korea when it was a military dictatorship.

  5. True Blue 5

    remind me again who committed NZ to this crazy scheme?

    • r0b 5.1

      Jenny Shipley.

    • lprent 5.2

      National in the 90’s by signing up for Kyoto. The ETS in both labour and national lead government looks ineffectual (as does the Kyoto agreement) for achieving the purpose. It is below the least that could be done.

      Do you have a point?

    • Bright Red 5.3

      Jenny Shipley signed us on to Kyoto, creating the possiblity for us to need to buy carbon credits if our emissions are over our allocation or the possibility to sell them if we cut our emissions.

      The ETS is simply a method of distributing the implications of that international agreement into the economy. Otherwise, all costs or losses go to the government and there is no incentive (you’re big on incentives, eh?) for polluters to cut their emissions.

  6. bored 6

    “As Finance Minister Bill English explained this week, either the taxpayer pays all of that bill or it is shared with emitters and consumers. One way or the other, we have to pay”.

    What the supporters of NACT want is for it to be taxpayers….which in effect gives the producers of the polution / gases / whatever license to do as they will, as much as they like because they wont have to pay. And that from any government left or right would amount to plain stupidity.

  7. salsy 7

    “One way or the other, we have to pay’ – Blinglish

    Actually we have to stop emitting, then no-one pays. Farmers have access to large quantities of land (south facing blocks of scrub) to plant forests and offset their own carbon – tax payers dont.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      There is always a cost, in everything. Nothing is *ever* free, because at the very least it costs time.

      You may not have to pay $ if you plant trees, but you are paying the opportunity cost of not being able to do something else with that piece of land that you were forced to plant trees on.

    • Kevyn 7.2

      Salsy, Suggesting that farmers offset their carbon emissions by eradicating the last remaining vestiges of lowland native bioversity is perverse indeed.

      On the subject of groups being subsidised for their ETS commitments, the really big obscenity is making South Islanders pay the same ETS on their 95% renewable electricity that Aucklanders and Northlanders are paying on their 50% renewable electricity. Having a single wholesale price for electricity drawn from the national grid made sense 50 years ago but it doesn’t make any sense with today’s economic and technological realities.

  8. ianmac 8

    What goes around comes around. Karma. So true.
    It is probably how ETS is sold now that would make a difference. An expert such as Brownlie given his mining leadership, would help sell the need/purpose and enlist public support. 🙂

  9. Bored 9

    While we are talking about farmers being highly reluctant to pay their share of any external cost they are responsible for it was nice to see that those paragons of environmetal friendliness the Crafars make the news again. The bad news is that they apparently owe councils around NZ fines of around $200K for poluting the environment where ever they stood a cow. The good news is that despite the bankruptcy they are personally liable.

  10. colonel rabuka 10

    it\’s just great to see national juggling another vote damaging issue here. they\’re certainly in the hot seat at the moment.

    even so, as much as i enjoy seeing national squirm, the idea of the farming lobby running into the arms of ACT is an horrific thought.

  11. Turn off the TV 11

    Federated Farmers is basically ACT anyway.

    National has done a great job of stealing ACT’s voters over the last few years, with the tactics already mentioned, which led to their extremely low party vote last election. What we are witnessing is a lot of those voters realising they’ve been duped and going back to ACT.

    For better or worse there are not many political parties on the right for dissatisfied voters to choose from. When there is only one serious option then naturally it is going to be difficult to hold it all together.

    The left has a far more diverse political ecosystem

  12. Santi 12

    Chubby taking a pasting in his own blog.

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