The National Climate Change policy restates their commitment to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) within 9 months, but never once mentions what this trading scheme would be expected to achieve. It is an environmental policy that hardly mentions the environment.
The policy describes an ETS that would be less expensive than that proposed by Labour, but as a result would be expected to achieve less for the environment. As Labour’s scheme would achieve no significant emissions reductions according to Greenpeace, National’s policy can be expected to achieve less than nothing, if that is possible.
But it will still impose significant costs on New Zealand families and businesses, in order to achieve nothing.
Then if human-induced climate change turns out to be incorrect, which a number of scientists are suggesting, this money would have been completely wasted.
It is good that National recognise the need to engage major emitters like China if global emissions are to be reduced, and that they are wishing to “defend our economy”. If climate change does turn out to be correct, and we have to deal with the effects of it in coming years, we would need a strong economy to cope. But their idea of defending seems to be not damaging it quite as much as Labour would. This is not how we define defending.
An Emissions Trading Scheme would be the largest change to our economy since Rogernomics in the ’80s, and we will not approach it lightly. It would hit agriculture particularly hard as agriculture is responsible for 48.5% of NZ’s emissions but a much smaller percentage of GDP. So half NZ’s emissions (the half that is arguably the most difficult to reduce) must be paid for by this small sector of the economy. Many farmers are struggling to pay the bills at the moment, an ETS could put these farmers out of business.
The Family Party would have a Royal Commission of Enquiry into Global Warming, to determine whether humans are in fact causing global warming, and if we are, what response is appropriate for New Zealand to take. This approach allows our policies to be based firmly on the best advice of scientists and economists. We would also reduce costs for businesses and support the export sector, while National is proposing extra costs for businesses and would damage many exporters.
National needs to justify scientifically that an ETS is necessary, that it would actually help the environment, and that it would be affordable. None of these three vital questions are addressed in their policy.
National’s policy is vote-winning rhetoric, not a plan for New Zealand’s future.