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The wood, the trees and the ETS

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, June 3rd, 2020 - 4 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, global warming, greens, science, uncategorized - Tags:

It’s a brutal thing to propose more taxes and costs on business during our worst economic meltdown in a century.

But yesterday along with some stronger stick, comes some agricultural carrot as well.

In the Emissions Trading Reform bill that went through its second reading yesterday, Green Party Minister James Shaw has effectively raised the carbon price to $35.00.

Probably one could reasonably argue that there’s no good time to raise business costs like this, so the best time to send strong signals on which way the economy should shift is when it’s slowed right down and is seeking fresh direction. Like right now. it’s not like business confidence or investor confidence could get much worse.

The bill says we’ve got a carbon budget of 354 million tonnes from 2021 to 2025, and a new cap on the ETS of 160 million tonnes. The Commission will review that next year.

But there’s seeing wood, and then there’s seeing trees.

The forestry policy provisions of the bill get deferred to 2024 so that foresters can figure themselves out, and it delays penalties for small foresters. In fact there’s a fair few carve-outs for small foresters. Quite possibly these carve-outs are related to the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) bill which is also going through the House. Jones is working to try and save what is left of our local processing, rather than treating the forest industry as a tradable carbon sink.

Jones’ bill is about as loved as Shaw’s one. I cannot figure for the life of me how one bill that greatly enables the international trade in logs and forests is assisted by another bill that seeks to limit international trade in logs to ensure domestic building supply.

But now for the good news.

Sustainable farming gets a good funding shot in the arm today from Minister Damien O’Connor.

In particular, $28m for the whole horticulture industry to wean themselves off harmful crop protection practices.

Horticulture NZ explains it here.

Also due for voting before the House rises is Damien O’Connor’s proposed law for a consistent and binding definition of what “organic” means when you purchase a product with that label.

With that will come a regulatory system which is intended to more than pay for itself, so it will have funding to spend.

I hear submissions from all players including Organics NZ are now pretty consistent, and the Select Committee will get it into parliament in reasonably short order.

On balance that’s a pretty weird day for the agricultural environment out of this government.


4 comments on “The wood, the trees and the ETS ”

  1. Just as Land use has changed over generations, and the need for employment which enriches our local communities has caused Governments to choose those products and land use which suits the times and time frames.

    In my life I have seen coal mines developed, stumps burning for days and piles of stumps pulled out also burned, where giants of our bush had been cut down to provide grazing for sheep and milking cows.

    During World War two, coal was a protected and important industry. Burning huge piles of native tree stumps was also considered necessary. Values change over time, and as our understanding of the damage to the environment occurs we change our behaviours.

    Sometimes there will be a conflict of interests. The Government role is to balance these. Not an easy task.

    Jones wants more timber for local milling and a greater use of our own timber here to off set concrete, to create local jobs and build up rural communities. Vested interests gaining high prices from overseas buyers do not want to supply the local market.

    This Government tries to mitigate immediate effects, and at first glance this may look contrary.

  2. gsays 2

    28 million for crop protection sounds like a good idea. The R&D spend in most industries fails to carry weight as the shareholders executives and accountants have a fairly short term, balance sheet approach to business.

    Hopefully there isn't too much wheel reinvention, or taking a very high tech avenue to something that can be achieved by old fashioned practices eg companion planting, good soil health, moisture levels etc.

  3. Tricledrown 3

    If we don't import fuel our balances of payments would always in the positive.

    Industrial farming is not sustainabull.

    More and more farmers are moving to more sustainable farming as it requires less labour and money to maintain healthy pasture.

    Buying into corporate agrochemical overstocking is very costly tractors ploughing spraying with glyphosate adding fertilizers and supplementary feed from nasty regimes.

    Selling sustainable food is the future.

    Droughts are here on a regular basis now sheep and cattle need a lot of food to make a few kilograms of protein.

    Drought resist crops and horticulture should be forced on areas that now have regular droughts its futile to do the same thing if you only making a profit every 3 or 4 years when maybe olives or wine macadamia nuts .

    Like refrigerated cargo came about we were able to sell.meat on the other side of the world.not a lot has changed in farmers thinking since then.

    The European Olive Crop has been decimated from drought and disease ,we need to jump in quickly and plant the disease resistant strain .

    Having more trees and shelter helps reduce air temperature considerably

    NZ needs a massive shake up in farming and adding value if the govt is going to spend billions on propping jobs it also needs to spend a couple of billion plus on helping farming become more sustainable for farmers to continuously profit and get out of the commodity cycles

  4. I agree Tricledown, we need to be looking for ways to improve our land use and the food produced should be quality food and we need to learn techniques used in dryer climates, as parts of NZ are going to be much dryer from now on.
    Sadly we have not learned much about the use of trees in companion planting and creating micro climates.

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