Rod Oram, as usual, has set the standard in commentary with his piece on the National-Maori Party ETS. The full article is here but I’ll lift the core points:
Oram argues a climate change policy package needs three things:
- Put a price on emissions to incentivise change. We chose an ETS as the most effective price signal, a decision shared by virtually every other price-setting country.
- Put in place a big set of powerful complementary measures such as financial incentives for households and businesses to adopt new technology, plus standards and other mechanisms to foster the take-up of technology.
- Persuade other countries in international climate change negotiations to give forestry the regulatory framework it needs.
The first of these is what an ETS is meant to provide but Oram lists nine elements you would include in your ETS if you want it not to work and, surprise surprise, the National-Maori Party ETS has them all:
- Place no limits on how much greenhouse gas a company exposed to international competitors can emit for free
- Slavishly follow the ETS in Australia, a small neighbour and international laggard struggling miserably to deliver one. Even better, cut our ETS off from America’s.
- Keep giving free allocations as long as possible. This again reduces the incentive on businesses and households to change.
- Place a $25 a tonne cap on the price of carbon until at least the end of 2012. This mutes the price signal and thus the business incentive to change.
- Allow forest owners to sell their carbon credits overseas. It’s absolutely fair they should get the best price they can. But if there’s a price cap here, they will sell lots of our home-grown credits overseas.
- Buy off a minor party to secure the votes to demolish the ETS.
- Axe complementary measures such as fuel efficiency standards for cars and minimum volumes for biofuels.
- Keep households and businesses dependent on taxpayer subsidy. Sow the seeds of dependency now by giving in to special pleading. This will make it even harder to remove price caps and other favours later.
- Create uncertainty for business. Do so by passing legislation that does not have broad political support. Even better, devise an ETS that will require subsequent governments (even ones led by your own party) to radically overhaul it to stem the ballooning taxpayer subsidies
The National-Maori Party ETS will just be an economic ticking time bomb – costing the government billions, failing to incentivise our economy to adapt to the low-carbon economy that must come – and it won’t do what it should: reduce our emissions.
Just a final note: the Maori Party has actually only agreed to support the National ETS through to select committee. By now, they must know that they’re not even getting the bribes that National promised. It’s not too late for them to salvage their principles and their mana, and scuttle this disgraceful excuse for an ETS.