Gerry ‘sexy coal’ Brownlee has spent today ripping apart more anti-climate change laws. Today, under urgency and without the opportunity for the public to contribute via the select committee process, National/ACT has repealed the Biofuels requirement and is now in the process of repealing the ‘ban’ on new baseload fossil fuel power plants.
Disturbingly National/ACT’s ministers just don’t seem to understand what they are doing. Nick Smith nodded his head when Jeanette Fitzsimons said ‘greenhouse emissions grew under National and grew faster under Labour’ but started yelling when she added ‘because growth was faster under Labour’. It’s like Smith doesn’t understand that, unless there is investment in research and legislation adding a cost to carbon, then greenhouse emissions are tied to growth.
Gerry Brownlee didn’t seem to understand that the fossil fuel power plant ban has exemptions for security of supply and replacing existing generators with better ones, if he did he wouldn’t have given those reasons for repealing the ban. Incredibly, he argued that a price on carbon will mean there is no need for a ban on thermal plants because they will be priced out of the market, even though National/ACT are having a select committee to see whether climate change is even real and a price on carbon is needed. Fitzsimons also showed he had no idea about the dynamics of the oil and biofuel markets. She showed that there were plans, now cancelled, for plants to produce enough biofuel from sustainable in New Zealand, so Brownlee’s scaremongering about imported, unsustainable biofuel was unfounded.
The really weird thing is that you keep on hearing National MPs running the line that nothing will change from repealing these laws. They seem to think the biofuels market will do just fine without the boost from a requirement that low percentages of biofuels be included in petrol and diesel, despite biofuels plants already being cancelled because of the removal of that requirement. They seem to think that there will be no new thermal plants without the ban, despite the ban already resulting in power companies already dropping plans for thermal plants near Auckland. They seem to think they haven’t just cost hundreds of millions to the carbon market by throwing the future of the emissions trading scheme into doubt.
The fact is, for all their talk of a commitment to climate change, National has voted against every piece of legislation to tackle this the greatest threat to our future. And, now they are in government, they are repealing those laws. We no longer have a government programme for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The only thing that is going to save us from from a blowout in emissions under National/ACT years is the contracting economy. Cold comfort.