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Up-Skilling Skilling

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 pm, October 24th, 2007 - 19 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

The NZ Institute needs to look a bit more closely before leaping into print.

The strangest thing about its exhortation that NZ should be a climate change ‘fast follower’ is that is precisely the position we’re in right now. The government has announced its emissions trading scheme. It will be fully up and running by 2013. Are we leading? Far from it. Europe already has one now. Australia (even under the great Kyoto denying Lil’ Jonny) will have one by 2011. Numerous US states are developing schemes. Japan has a peculiarly-Japanese voluntary scheme which will probably work. Norway has one… The list goes on. If we didn’t move now, we’d be left way behind the leading pack of developed countries.

Yes, the NZ iteration is the first all gases, all sectors because it will include agriculture and forestry, and in that respect it leads the world. But, given our unique emissions profile with the enormous contribution belching animals make to our greenhouse gas emissions, and the significant potential for mass deforestration, our scheme simply had to include those sectors to be credible, effective, and fair.

And it seems very strange to accept the importance to NZ of our clean, green, 100% pure brand, and then encourage the government to renege on its Kyoto obligations. Other than building a shiny new nuclear reactor across Lake Wakatipu from our tourism mecca, I can’t think of an action which would damage our brand more than what Skilling proposes.

Finally, Skilling laments the $700 million cost of Kyoto compliance. Yes, that’s quite a big number. But the economically literate chap that he is should know better than to place such a figure into a debate without any real context. By contrast, Infometrics (no friend of the government) recently completed an analysis of the costs to our economy of complying with our international climate obligations. It demonstrated that at current carbon prices, complying will have a neglible effect on the economy, perhaps somewhere between 0.0 and 0.3 percent change on a range of indicators. Our growth might slow marginally, so that the living standard we might reach in 2028, we might attain in 2029 or 2030. Even at much higher carbon prices, the impact was small. Not too scary really.

19 comments on “Up-Skilling Skilling”

  1. the sprout 1

    Skilling’s Institute has always been a shameless mediawhore. He seems to think it is his humanitarian duty to let the world know his latest “completely independent” musings – don’t hold your breath waiting for him to get less jump-to-printy.

  2. Luke 2

    The costs of not doing anything are much higher than any costs from Kyoto. Many consumers from wealthier nations are now starting to look at where products they buy come from, and how much C02 is emitted when they are produced. New Zealand needs reduce our emission in all areas of our economy, and all through our supply chains.
    I’m guessing these climate change objectors are now losing a few arguments now that its clear that Rudd in Aussie will act on climate change and the Democrats in the US will do something to, and as you mention many states are already acting.

  3. Sam Dixon 3

    Skilling is just a respectable vehicle for business interest. I’ve read everything the NZI has produced and none of it has contained anything realistic or actionable… its just about creating an environment of repsectiality for neo-liberal econo-centric policy.

  4. Benodic 4

    Sam, a quick look at the NZ Institute’s membership is quite revealing:

    Institute Members

    * Andrew Grant, McKinsey & Company
    * Brad Cooper, Westpac
    * Brett Shepherd, Deutsche Bank
    * Brian Sweeney, Sweeney Vesty
    * Bridget Liddell, Antipodean Equity
    * Bruce Plested, Mainfreight
    * Cameron Clyne, BNZ
    * Catherine Savage, CMS Capital
    * Chris Liddell, Microsoft
    * Chris Mace, Oceania & Eastern
    * Clayton Kimpton, Kensington Swan
    * David Baldwin, Contact Energy
    * David Pralong, McKinsey & Company
    * Don Elder, Solid Energy
    * Geoff Lawrie, Cisco Systems
    * Greg Horton, Harmos Horton Lusk
    * Guy Cowan, Fonterra
    * Helen Robinson, Microsoft
    * Jack Regan, AMP Financial Services
    * Jenny Gibbs
    * Jens Madsen, Ports of Auckland
    * John Allen, New Zealand Post
    * John Cobb, Goldman Sachs
    * Dr John Hood, University of Oxford
    * John Taylor, University of Auckland
    * Jonathan Ross, Bell Gully
    * Lynda Reid, St Cuthberts School
    * Nick Main, Deloitte
    * Nick Wells, Chapman Tripp
    * Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand
    * Rod Snodgrass, Telecom
    * Rodney Jones, Wigram Capital
    * Scott Perkins, Deutsche Bank
    * Scott St John, First New Zealand Capital
    * Simon Mackenzie, Vector
    * Stephen Tindall, The Warehouse

    http://www.nzinstitute.org/index.php/about/institute_members/

  5. Conor Roberts 5

    Dear Dr Skilling,

    What would happpen to the planet if everyone decided to be a ‘fast follower’?

    Yours,

    Conor

  6. Sam Dixon 6

    Dear Conor,

    I don’t care. I would still be rich.

    Yours,
    David Skilling

  7. the sprout 7

    Dear Messrs Roberts and Dixon

    I am the only intelligent and insightful one here. I doubt you even belong to a multinational conglomerate. Get your own ‘independent’ think tank.

    Yours,
    Dr David Skilling

  8. insider 8

    Yes it is revealing benodic that at least four are on the govt’s ’eminent persons panel’ advising on the ETS policy including its chair and ‘deputy chair’ (not sure if that is an official title).

    I do wonder if any real research has been done into the value of this clean green brand is, or is it just a warm fuzzy that makes us feel better rather than actually means anything significant to anyone outside the country when they make purchasing decisions?

  9. Benodic 9

    I’m not sure the point is purely to have a clean green brand. I thought it was to stop catastrophic climate change.

  10. Santa Claws 10

    Ben-dover – so what would you expect from the list.

    Here’s a few names from another list that you probably take to bed each night. The difference is that the NZ Institute publishes papers. These guys actually set policy for the country.

    Mike Williams

    Williams is a shrewd, well-off, 50-ish retired businessman. He can talk the language of shares and property values and why business doesn’t like Clark’s policy changes.

    Mike Williams: MA (Hons) Auckland, is President of the Labour Party and a director of Transit New Zealand and GNS Science Limited. Mr Williams is formerly managing director of the Insight Group and he has a particular interest in the marketing of New Zealand and intellectual property issues.

    http://www.transit.govt.nz/about/who/images/Mike-Williams.jpg

    Marian Hobbs

    She was Principal of Avonside Girls’ High School, Christchurch, from 1989-1996.

    In 1996 Marian moved to Wellington and was appointed Principal of Wellington Girls’ College. Before she could take up that position, however, she entered Parliament as a Labour List MP.

    Dave Hereora

    My background was mostly spent in the Trade Union Movement beginning as a shop delegate at the age of 16 , serving on various union executives and employed as an Organiser, in all spanning a 30 year period within both the Freezing Workers’ Union and Service and Food Workers’ Union organising and advocating fair treatment for workers coupled with applying appropriate industrial law protections as a vital tool to balance workplace safety and positive on-the-job relationships.

    Kate Sutton

    Kate Sutton is a policy analyst and project manager for COMET (City of Manukau Education Trust). She is Chair of the Tamaki Community Board (Glen Innes, Panmure, Mt Wellington, Otahuhu) and a member of the University of Auckland Council. A former student president of the Auckland University Students Association , Kate is now an executive member of the University of Auckland society and involved in supporting and co-ordinating various University of Auckland student and alumni projects.

    Andrew Little

    A Taranaki Boys’ High old-boy, he was drawn into student politics while studying law, philosophy and public policy at Victoria University in Wellington in the 1980s. The student loans system was being introduced, and Little found himself in the thick of the campaign against it.

    He quickly rose to become first president of the Victoria University Students’ Association, and then national student president.

    When Little emerged from university in the early 1990s as a qualified lawyer, he shunned the high-flying, corporate ladder being climbed by most of his professional colleagues. Instead, he chose a job in Auckland as a lawyer with the Engineers’ Union (a forerunner of the EPMU).

    Tony Milne

    Completed BA at Canterbury University in 2002, double majoring in English and Political Science.
    Member of the PSA Union
    Began work in Parliament as Executive Assistant to Tim Barnett MP for Christchurch Central, November 2003

    (Another proponent of calm discussion? http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/canterburyissues/messages/post/FlHZp6Jbm4X8N1MkgVKnA)

    Phil Twyford

    After a career as a journalist at
    the Auckland Star and the Sunday
    Star, and then as a union organiser, he
    founded Oxfam in New Zealand in an
    office above Auckland’s Karangahape Rd

    In 1999 Phil was recruited to a key leadership post with Oxfam International & a global aid group with a combined budget of $800 million working in more than 100 of the world’s poorest countries. Phil was based in Washington DC and headed up the group’s global advocacy and campaigns. He managed a team of lobbyists dedicated to influencing the policies of the World Bank, IMF, WTO and United Nations in favour of the poor in developing countries.

    Jordan Carter

    I’m a late 20s Kiwi guy, living in Wellington. I came to NZ in 1988, and grew up in Auckland. Did degrees at Auckland Uni (Commerce, in economics; Arts, in politics and geography), and then moved to Wellington to enjoy the lifestyle and be involved in party politics. I’ve recently taken a First Class honours degree in politics from Victoria University of Wellington, and am currently a part time Masters student.

    At the start of 2004, I spent four months in London on a Chevening Hansard Scholarship. This involved studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and completing an internship at the PM’s Strategy Unit. It was a major growing-up exercise, stuck on the wrong side of the world in the middle of a war, in a flat full of Americans…

    (Another calm debater who would no doubt be welcome here. http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/?q=node/628)

    Su’a William Sio

    Su’a William Sio, who, by his own blog, is a personal friend of Taito Phillip Field. “I believe my services in the Labour Party, the trade union movement in both New Zealand and the South Pacific region, have prepared me to advocate strongly for the above points and add value to Labour’s Parliamentary team”.

  11. insider 11

    Benodic

    clean green is a far broader concept and predates current climate concerns. If you think our clean green will “stop catastrophic climate change” you need to look more closely at the numbers.

    A previous post has disappeared for some reason. I comment that Skilling is asking important questions that shoudl be asked in the policy making process. They should not just be dismissed on ideological grounds. I’ve always thought Skilling was considered highly by the govt – must have been he was saying things they agreed with, which is a pretty poor way to judge analysis.

    I ask the question, why aren;t we thinking about alternative ways to use that $700m? What if we could get a far better climate response by investing it in emissions reduction projects in developing countries? Wouldn;t that be a better leadership response that actually made a difference?

    PS to the blog owners – this site has an annoying habit of accepting a post and showing it on screen as published, then when you come back to it, it has disappeared. I don;t believe you are censoring – it must be a bug. Got any suggestions?

  12. Skilling’s a significant improvement on Kerr and the NZBR.

  13. Benodic 13

    Santa I’m not sure what your point is there. You’ve provided us with a list of Labour Party members, most of them not even MPs. What’s your point?

  14. Sam Dixon 14

    mardypants – see I think that’s what they want you to think.

    When NZI stuff starting coming out last year in professional circles it was all very ‘oh intersting, oh this Skilling seems like a thoughtful chap’ but he never actually suggested anything substantial in the way of policy, it was all very vague and not anyhting that you could really pin sdown the poltiical undertones of… but the mask has slipped as NZI has moved beyond its credibility establishment phase… he’s just another econo-geek (like Matt Nolan and his ilk) who sees everything through economic blinkers, not seeing that that in itself is a political standpoint.. that makes him a tool for the tories who pay his salary.

  15. I don’t doubt Skilling’s goals, I simply prefer the approach adopted by the NZI which is public and largely research-based, over the NZBR which lost its way sometime during 1991.

  16. Santa Claws 16

    Ben-dover, what was your point in posting the NZ Institute members then?

    The list is the first part of the Labour Council – surely a group that has a great influence on actual policy in NZ than the NZ Institute, and which show a remarkable lack of real-world experience in improving New Zealand.

    Sambo – We’ve got it now thanks. If Labour does it, its fine; anyone else, its bad.

  17. Benodic 17

    Santa, my point on the NZ Institute was that rather than being an ‘independent’ think tank it is in fact funded by large, wealthy corporates that have a vested interest in neoliberal economic policies. This may go some way to explain the motivations behind the Institute. Of course, they can be as right-wing as they like, I’d just prefer they stopped pretending to be neutral.

    I still can’t for the life of me figure out what your point is about the Labour Party Council. They’re officials for a centre-left party who have centre-left beliefs and a variety of backgrounds. Many of them have done great work improving New Zealand – Andrew Little has helped improve the wages and conditions of tens of thousands of NZ workers. Phil Twyford has done great work with Oxfam. Marian Hobbs has devoted a large part of her life to educating our children. And they’re not lacking for experience either. You seem to be arguing against yourself on this one.

    You’re also clearly slightly insecure about your homosexuality, as is evidenced by the ‘ben-dover’ remarks. Don’t worry, it’ll pass.

  18. Sam Dixon 18

    mardypants – right, I know what you mean.

    I was at an NZBR thing recently for ‘young people’ (40ish people, a wee ‘interactive chat’ thing… ‘give the boy of 7’, said the Jesuits, ‘and I’ll give you the man’ that kind of angle) and Roger Kerr started out sounding very good – wealth isn’t just moeny, there’s more to societial benefit than mere economic growth.. but the mask slipped pretty quickly, when he was asked about he role of public policy in climate change he fluffed around before, inevitably saying ‘we have to ask how clear the science is’ – people actually laughed at him.

  19. the sprout 19

    here’s a rather scathing response to the Listener’s pro-NZI editorial and Skilling, from Associate Professor Ralph Chapman & Professor Jonathan Boston in the Listener letters, 10 Nov.

    CLIMATE CHANGE
    “Fast follower” (Editorial, November 3) was a sad grasping at straws being offered by David Skilling of the New Zealand Institute. Skilling’s most egregious proposition is that New Zealand should abandon its Kyoto Protocol commitments, and seek to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels some eight years late, ie, by 2020.
    This proposition is irresponsible. It would mean breaking international law & not on principled grounds, but purely on the basis of narrow, short-term, national self-interest. It would do significant damage to our international reputation and undermine our efforts to work with the international community to cut greenhouse gas emissions radically and promptly.
    It would also mean missing important economic opportunities. What Skilling calls a “fast follower” (but what is really a “slow learner”) is a recipe for being left behind, in a rapidly changing global policy environment.
    Climate change presents a tough set of ethical choices, since we have to weigh up our own standards of living and comfort against those of future generations. But there is compelling evidence that delaying action risks enormous damage for our children and grandchildren. When top scientists such as Jim Hansen of NASA warn that a decade of little action risks making the Earth “a different planet”, can we treat Skilling’s do-less-and-do-it-more-slowly prescription with any seriousness?
    The issue is not going to go away; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it crystal clear that climate upheaval will get much worse before it gets better, if indeed it does. Skilling underestimates the huge impact accelerating climate change will have. It will remake our markets and radically alter much of our economic and social lives.
    Associate Professor Ralph Chapman & Professor Jonathan Boston, Victoria University of Wellington

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