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NoRightTurn on the ETS

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, August 2nd, 2011 - 20 comments
Categories: ETS - Tags:

Climate change: The ETS’s first year

The government released its first Report on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, tracking progress in the ETS, today. Their conclusion is that the scheme is working well, and I’d agree. Forestry emissions – the most direct and immediate way we can control our emissions profile – are down, forest owners having stopped cutting down trees the moment it started costing them money. Energy sector emissions are also down (mostly due to good weather, but in part due to generators prioritising plants which wouldn’t cost them money), and investment has been steered towards renewables and away from dirty generation. At the same time, it also highlights the biggest flaw of National’s modifications to the ETS: the massive pollution subsidy scheme, which sees emitters rewarded for destroying the environment. National’s ETS means subsidies for everyone, from cement-works to capsicum growers. But the biggest beneficiaries are two of our biggest companies: New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and Methanex. Unfortunately, the report doesn’t say how much these companies received, and obfuscates its numbers to make it difficult to work out. But it does highlight the scale of subsidies: NZAS gets 4.36 tons of carbon credits for each ton of Aluminium produced, to offset its already generously low electricity costs. And Methanex gets 0.35 tons of carbon for each ton of Methanol. Despite the low latter figure, the company received 9% of all credits allocated to industry – or about 160,000 tons (and that will double after next year).

But its gets worse. The report also notes that

One company, Methanex New Zealand, also chooses to participate in the ETS on a voluntary basis. It does this because it earns NZUs for production of methanol. The greenhouse gases stored in methanol are assumed to be permanently embedded, and therefore removed from the atmosphere.

That’s a very interesting assumption. Methanol in its native state is highly biodegradeable – which means the carbon contained in it is released to the atmosphere. But it is normally used as a fuel (in which case it is burned and the carbon released to the atmosphere) or a chemical feedstock (which means it gets turned into something else, which is then burned or biodegrades, resulting in the carbon being released to the atmosphere). And what it means is that MethanexNZ is effectively in the carbon laundering business, turning natural gas into carbon credits by pretending that its products are never used.

To point out the obvious, we don’t allow this for wood – the carbon stored in a forest is considered to be emitted immediately when the trees are cut down. So why the hell do we allow it for industrial products?

20 comments on “NoRightTurn on the ETS ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    Good to see the full site name used in the title this time.

  2. Afewknowthetruth 2

    ‘Their conclusion is that the scheme is working well, and I’d agree’.

    What a load of crap.

    ETS is just a hige financial scam, designed to make profits for bansksters whilst doing nothing to address the real source of all our woes -the burning of fossil fuels.

    A growing forest absorbs CO2, A dying forest emits CO2. Overall, forests do nothing to alter the overall carbon balance. Only a continuous planting exercise in which NO trees are cut down would have any impact … and the impact would be quite small unless the global economic system (based on burning fossil fuels) was shut down. . As it is billions of tonnes of previously sequestered carbon (in the form of coal, oil and methane) are converted into CO2 and added to the atmosphere every year -so the CO2 content of the atmosphere rises continuously. 394 ppm and rising at over 2ppm per annum.

    There is no such thing as ‘carbon-offsets’. Nor do ‘carbon credits’ exist in the real world. They are just fabrications, thought up by economists and money-lenders.

    In developed nations something like 90% of the forests that existed 300 years ago have been chopped down. In developing nations the figure is around 50% loss.

    If every forest that was chopped down were replaced ( a mathematical and practical impossibility) all that would do is restore the Earth to how it was 300 years ago. Amd we’d still have most the CO2 that has been released since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the atmosphere and in the oceans.

    That is another import point about this whole ETS scam. It takes no account of the death of the oceans due to acidification.

  3. paul 3

    Look at what the ETS means for Palmerston North.
    Ratepayers who may be forced to live under the Turitea wind farm have been deceived by Mighty River Power and PNCC.
    When will we be taxed for breathing out CO2? 4.415 million New Zealanders breath out 1kg per day of plant nourishing CO2 every day. The ETS is just a tax and nothing else. Mercifully the Kyoto treaty will die in 2012 never to be resurrected. The biggest scam in world history.

    • Zorr 3.1

      You are aware that a lot of the info that you link to on your site is unmitigated bullshit, right?

      Would love an open comments section there where I could actually address the issues your truthiness factory faces…

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      Plant nourishing CO2 hahahhaaaa

      Hey its poisonous to people didn’t you know 😉

      • John D 3.2.1

        CO2 is poisonous to people at levels greater than about 5000 ppm
        Below 180 ppm, life on Earth would cease to exist.

        So at 400ppm we are at the lower end of the range where CO2 is beneficial to life.

  4. lefty 4

    How can anybody possibly say ETS works? We are in deep trouble when a site that thinks it is left supports this scam.

    The great market religion has reached deep into society and all reason has deserted even the supposedly educated.

  5. How can anybody possibly say ETS works? We are in deep trouble when a site that thinks it is left supports this scam.

    It works in the same way as a tax: if you raise the price of something, people consume less of it. That’s not rocket science, and its something accepted by people on the left as well as the right. The problems around the ETS stem from subsidies, loopholes, and allocation, not the core idea of trading permits.

    And that said, an ETS or carbon tax (the two are equivalent in effect) should be just part of the solution, and needs to be backed up by strong regulatory measures to address the areas where it doesn’t work so well (e.g. energy efficiency standards, vehicle emissions standards, a ban on new thermal generation). Sadly, our government are still market purists.

    • lefty 5.1

      All a tax or trading system does is put a price on carbon. This does not deal with the problem of emissions.
      It may have the effect of rationing or reducing but it does not discern between necessary and unnecessary use.
      Those producing emmissions for luxury products for the rich can carry on regardless. They will find a way of making the rest of us pay their bills anyway.
      Meanwhile basic needs can be priced out of existance.
      It would be far more effective to just stop producing shit we don’t need.
      The left does not accept emmissions trading or carbon taxes (unless you count National, Labour and the Greens as left).

      • Idiot/Savant 5.1.1

        I can see how you might think that if you were fundamentally opposed to markets. If, OTOH, you see them as a useful tool for resource allocation if appropriately supervised, and/or the tool we have ATM with high transition costs to move to a different tool (and a problem which needs solving sooner rather than later), then YMMV.

        • burt


          Why do you engage in debate about your posts on other peoples blogs but none of us can on yours?

          [lprent: Pretty obvious sn’t it?

          Because it is a lot of work keeping a comments section operating so it isn’t too much of a sewer. Given a choice I would prefer to write posts and comments rather than moderate. But we made the decision that we wanted a comments section so it required moderation.

          I would say that I/S preferred writing his good posts rather than keeping fractious commentators relatively civil. When we republish here then the posts get our moderation as well.

          You realize of course that I/S counts as an author? Authors get some protection on the personal outside the content of their post. And your repeated questions like the one above gets close to the limits of my toleration. ]

          • Mac1

            Burt, you ask that question? Mate, you’re the answer.

          • burt


            I thought it was a reasonable question and as I/S had already commented in this thread I don’t see what your problem is. Your big bully “stop asking him that question” and pussy moaning about me repeatedly asking it make you look like his Mum. Poor poor intolerant lprent gets angry defending somebody who could simply answer a civil question. What a knuckle dragger.

            [lprent: It was not a reasonable question as it had nothing to do with I/S’s post and was directed at him at a personal level. He did not comment on the lack of comments on his site. That was a topic you raised.

            It is part of my role to protect authors from those types of attack – and they are attacks regardless how you try to mask it. And I’m not just a knuckle dragger on that – I am a complete arsehole.

            Anyway, since you obviously didn’t get the point, a one week ban to remind you who makes the judgement on the rules on this site. ]

            • Alex

              Children! Let’s keep on topic, shall we?

              Good points have been made about the ETS but was sad to see the biggest failure by the Nats, cutting the R&D tax credit left out. The R&D credit is an excellent way the government can incentivise production in clean green technology that will have a far greater effect on lower emissions in the long term.

  6. Andrei 6

    The ETS is wacko, off this planet wacko.

    Why do any of you fall for it? All it will do is make you poorer and entrench the power and wealth of the ruling class. which is what its all about.

    Look at the way Al Gore lives FFS – hell he “emits” more so called planet wrecking GHGs in a freakin month than we will in our entire lives and he is laughing at you all the way to the bank.

    You lot can be mugs and happily pay the tithes to this heathen religion and its priests but I resent it big time, Its outright theft.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Another stella post from Andrei.

      Why do any of you fall for it? All it will do is make you poorer and entrench the power and wealth of the ruling class. which is what its all about.

      You really love making up drivel.

      Now tell us again how the “Socialist EU” bombed Yugoslavia to bits.

      You lot can be mugs and happily pay the tithes to this heathen religion and its priests but I resent it big time, Its outright theft.

      Nah its the likes of you who have been profiteering from the Earth and her mineral resources without putting anything back except toxic waste and greenhouse gases.

      Pay your share asshole.

  7. John D 7

    The vast tracts of forest owned by DOC are not accounted for under Kyoto.
    This fact alone makes the whole ETS a complete and total ripoff.

    We should be selling carbon offsets to the world, not paying for them.

    • The vast tracts of forest owned by DOC are not accounted for under Kyoto.
      This fact alone makes the whole ETS a complete and total ripoff.

      You are incorrect. Those forests are counted under Kyoto; its just that they’re in a steady state, and so not absorbing or emitting any carbon. What matters for forests is change: growing new trees, or cutting them down.

  8. emissions trading is useless. We need an emissions reduction scheme. best way to do that: build a low carbon economy based that uses clean energy… in short: we need green jobs.

  9. it is also worth noting the green party and te mana party do not support carbon trading and the ETS. Te Mana wants the ETS repealed and the green party supports a carbon tax policy approach.

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