I rise on behalf of the ACT Party to support the First Reading of the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Scheme) Amendment Bill.
If we are honest this bill is a hollow victory for all sides.
There are many features of this amendment that are improvements on what we had, one of which ACT fought hard for.
The one-for-two surrender ratio will continue indefinitely, halving the price of the Emissions Trading Scheme to New Zealanders.
The $25 per unit fixed price option will continue indefinitely, keeping the cost to New Zealanders capped.
The emissions from our vital agricultural sector will remain outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Perhaps more important than what is in this bill is what has been left out.
Some would have preferred that there was a cap on the number of units that New Zealand businesses could import from overseas.
That cap would have allowed future governments to hold emitters to ransom, making them pay for a limited number of New Zealand Units.
Thanks to the ACT Party this bill will not restrict importation of foreign units.
That means that New Zealand businesses will pay the same price for emissions as do their foreign competitors.
Indeed, the ACT Party has a proud history of opposing this wrongheaded exercise in environmental narcissism.
For that we owe a great debt to the Hon John Boscawen for his tireless campaigning against the ETS.
So why is this a hollow victory?
The fact is that New Zealand emits 0.2 per cent of global emissions. We could not influence the climate one way or another if we wanted to.
The truth is that we should not have an ETS.
It was Labour, with the help of New Zealand First, who introduced it. We now lead the world in environmental navel gazing.
• No other country has an ETS on petrol or on diesel used for key export industries.
• No other country’s ETS covers the transport sector - "a tax on everything".
• No other country has an ETS on methane, ozone and nitrous oxide;
• No other country has an ETS which increases the price of ALL electricity;
• No other country has enacted an ETS since 2004.
Ah, the Opposition says, but we’re setting an example to the world! The only example we’re setting is how a country can shoot itself in the foot through an exercise in environmental narcissism.
With the ACT Party’s pressure and support, this 80 page amendment bill will neuter the worst costs of the ETS on New Zealanders.
But we are left with an impossibly complex scheme that will have negligible effect on the environment.
Remember even the Greens did not campaign on climate change last election. Their market research must have told them it’s a dead issue.
The Emissions Trading Scheme is now a monstrosity, and the ACT Party regretfully supports this bill to at least neuter its worst effects on New Zealand business and households.