Friday, December 8, 2023

An eruption of ignorance over the ETS

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Volcanoes aren’t the only thing creating a lot of hot air, says Alan Emerson.
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To say the entire ETS debate is irritating would be an understatement. I don’t believe either our politicians or our bureaucrats have the faintest idea.

Watching Climate Change Minister James Shaw on television reminded me of a possum in the headlights. I thought it was embarrassing.

I did, however, support his comments that “one of the things the government is trying to do is to ensure that landowners who have invested in forestry actually have the value of their assets preserved”.

That told me that the majority of changes going forward will not affect the forestry investments to date.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was designed to help offset our carbon emissions but it has been played around with ad nauseum by both Labour and National. Investors need certainty and they’re not getting it.

For the record I don’t have a problem with planting the right tree in the right place to sequester carbon. I do have a problem with companies using trees to mitigate all of their carbon obligations.

Surely we can have a simple ETS recognising both natives and exotic forests that can only be used in part by polluting companies. If they can use trees to cancel all of their obligations,  nothing will change. We’ll be a heavily polluting economy with endless trees.

We now have a consultation document that, like all such papers is a total waste of time. I only wonder why politicians bother with the charade.

The government recently promoted tweaks to land-use regulations that will give local government the ability to restrict trees on good land. As I’ve written, I believe that’s positive.

The four options up for “consultation” are convoluted at best. For the record I agree with the ACT Party. Its environment spokesperson, Simon Court, told me that the reform options are “largely unnecessary”.

He added that “CO2 emissions can be achieved by supporting the current ETS”. I wouldn’t argue with that, but politicians of all colours like to meddle.

I don’t always agree with the Forest Owners Association (FOA), but I support its position on ETS reform. It maintains that the “options for revising the ETS will cause a shortfall of plantation forests for sequestering carbon in NZ and make meeting our 2050 emissions target impossible”. That makes sense.

It adds that “this issue is far too important to play politics with. By the time politicians discover they have put forestry into reverse it will be too late. Climate change will not wait for us to catch up.”

So, my preference is for a simple, transparent ETS along with limitations on the amount of offset polluters can use.

As I’ve written often enough I’m not a scientist, but I remain incredibly confused about the entire scientific process around global warming. 

In addition, I’d ask the question as to why no one is talking about the global warming effect of volcanoes. I’m not suggesting we can do anything about them but when one eruption 32 years ago can negate all the man-made emissions in history, why are we playing with climate change?

Why are we putting NZ farmers through hoops over something about which we have absolutely no control?

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