ACT says responsible climate change policy is a "bottom line"

The Act Party today reconfirmed its policy on climate change focusing on mitigation and adaptation. This follows the release of the latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  

“Act’s policy is that the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) should immediately be abolished,” Act leader Jamie Whyte said today.  

“Our absolute bottom line to provide National with ongoing support on confidence and supply is that there be no expansion of the ETS until China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada take similar material steps to implement ETSs across their economies, including agriculture,” said Mr Whyte.   

“New Zealand is well ahead of any other country in imposing climate change costs on our economy – and we are the only ones even considering including agricultural emissions. We should not move any further ahead until the world’s top ten emitters follow.  

"We need a responsible climate change policy that sees us move in line with the rest of the world on mitigation and which focuses on any adaptation policies that are needed.  

"The ETS is the wrong policy for New Zealand even if every element of the IPCC report and its new climate change models is correct.”  

China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada are together responsible for over 70% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, while New Zealand’s share of global emissions has fallen over the last decade from around 0.19% to around 0.14%.  

Emissions in China and India are expected to keep increasing over the next few decades, with China expected to become by far the world’s largest economy by the middle of the century, and India is expected to become equal to the United States.  

No country outside the European Union currently operates an ETS.  The EU ETS excludes most of its economy, and does not cover agricultural emissions.

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Nov 29

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No law to set the price of broadband over Chorus copper

 

As RT reported weeks ago, legislation to overturn the Commerce Commission’s decision on the wholesale price of broadband over Chorus’s copper telecommunications network was never likely, for the reasons outlined then.  In truth, the Nats were already focused on a contractual fix with Chorus.  That said, the media stunt with scheduled press releases from the other political parties gave John Banks the opportunity to express publicly what had been conveyed to the Nats weeks ago in private: that ACT would not support legislation to quash a decision of the independent regulator.

 

UFB - one bad idea leads to another

As Chorus is discovering, partnering with Government on a technology project is a risk to shareholders.  Of course Chorus had little option in the circumstances. The Nats simply announced an election policy that they were building an Ultra fast fibre broadband network.  This had the potential to make Chorus’s business worthless if they did not jump into bed with government to access taxpayers’ money.  One bad public policy choice resulting from the desire to look visionary in an election campaign, now results in further bad public policy choices.

In other technology news, the next stage of the ebench project to provide near paperless records for the judges in the Courts is on permanent hold. Again no surprise: big-bang technology projects involving government nearly always fail. 

 

Drill baby drill: Greenpeace gives up

The Greenpeace flotilla so ably lead by Co-Skipper McDiamid of the Vega headed back to port and Greenpeace went off to Court in a bid to use the law to stop deep-sea oil prospecting. Getting in close proximity to the prospecting vessel the Noble Bob Douglas had failed to have any effect.  Greenpeace is a global corporate - it sets out to get earned media that can then be replayed in the English speaking world over the news cycle.  Emotion drives up donations to fund the national campaigns and HQ in Amsterdam.  That’s why Greenpeace activists abseil off buildings; occupy structures with oversized signs and enjoy being safely manhandled by authorities; it makes for great television.  Young journos love it too.  They are sympathetic (who can be against the environment) and they get the footage.   Greenpeace needed to stop the prospecting or get an OTT response from the Government.  They achieved neither.  Turning out activists to stand on beaches simply won’t play globally.  And seeking a judicial review in the New Zealand Courts is not as fruitful as being the subject of Russian justice.

 

Flexi-super is poor policy and misses the point

ACT is not that keen on Peter Dunne’s idea of flexi-super which allows retirees to take a lower payment sooner than 65 or a higher payment if they retire later at 70yrs. ACT thinks the policy misses the point: the current scheme is unsustainable.   Geoff Rashbrooke of the Victoria University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies has done the numbers in a new working paper.  He makes three observations about flexi-super: first there is no individual pot of money, New Zealand superannuation is a generous welfare benefit not an annuity.  Second he thinks the discounted rate of payment proposed is about right.  However the bonus for late retirement at 70 is too generous.  Third he observes that opting for a lower payout earlier through poverty is not much of a choice.  He concludes his paper by saying that he was surprised the policy was ever taken seriously.

 

From hero to zero by word of mouth

Despite the boosting by the editorial writer of the NZ Herald who declared the CCCP to be without taint, the rest of media and other politicians including the PM have been having fun with Colin Craig.  There appears to be no end to his willingness to express his views on the broadest range of topics.  The CCCP is really all about him.

Watch John Banks on the campaign trail in Christchurch East with ACT candidate Gareth Veale yesterday on the subject of Mr Craig – it is classic.

 

The Wrap

 

Steady hand on the tiller award

The steady hand on the tiller award of the week goes to Energy Minister Simon Bridges who made sure Greenpeace did not get the video footage they wanted.

 

Elvis has left the building award

The Elvis has left the building award of the week goes to Colin Craig who is learning that the easy bit of being the NZ Herald’s kingmaker is now over.

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Nov 15

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Partnership Schools are on the way

Tomorrow (details here) is the opportunity for Aucklanders to hear Nick Hyde who is the CEO of the Vanguard Military School one of the five new Partnership Schools championed by ACT.  Nick and his family have a proven track record of leadership in the education sector with running the Advanced Training Centre’s Military Prep School.   You can read about the other successful Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua announced by John Banks and Hekia Parata here.

Getting the public policy right around expanding school choice and empowering the parents of some of our most vulnerable students is only half the battle.  ACT’s own Catherine Isaac played a major role in making sure that New Zealand got world leading policy.   Best evidence also shows that great schools require great school leaders.  Come along a join us at the Auckland North Regional Forum tomorrow if you can– you will be inspired.

 

Goosing CCCP polling; Labour tanks the economy grows

For the past fortnight the Nats have been talking up Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (CCCP) in an attempt to goose his polling numbers with the journalists joining in. For the journalists, Craig has all the potential of being New Zealand’s version of Australia’s Clive Palmer.  That makes for great copy if your beat is politics.  It also sets up a nice pattern.  As Mr Craig makes up policy on the trot; is it a bottomline?  If so, how does Mr Key respond?   

The real take-out of the polls has been missed. Labour’s leadership change hasn’t worked.   What is also becoming clear is that while Mr Cunliffe is bright, he is also lazy.   He isn’t on top of his material in Parliament.  It also comes across in his glibness; what sounds profound on first hearing does stack up on closer inspection.   The more Labour MPs profess to be energized, fired up and good to go the more unhappy many look.  Rodney Hide has a thesis that Labour is still more pre-occupied with itself than the country, despite the best efforts of Mr Cunliffe.

Out of the GFC shadow

Poll numbers are not the only numbers that matter in politics.  Those around economic fundamentals also matter.  The post GFC economy is emerging.   Economic growth is up to 2.7 per cent to the year to June and likely to hit over 3.5 per cent in election year – the ANZ Bank says they see a potential for economic growth at over 4 per cent.  Unemployment is down, inflation, current account deficit, and 90 day Bank Bills interest rates are all up consistent with real economic growth.  With a growing sense of economic security those voters that Mr Cunliffe needs to win are not the stay-at-homes but those that swing between Labour and the Nats; they are less likely to shift away from Mr Key in an election about economic credibility.

Abroad

Fast followers now out on a limb?

This week Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced his Bill to repeal the carbon tax with Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey introducing an accompanying measure to repeal the mining tax.  While the Bills have to get through the Australian Senate, these taxes are dead. 

It places New Zealand in a tricky position with our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  The purpose of our ETS was to ensure that we were seen to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions even if in fact the ETS didn’t actually reduce emissions.  Officials freely conceded that any drop in New Zealand’s emissions would make no difference to the climate anyway.  No, what mattered was we were seen to be doing our bit.  New Zealand was to be a fast follower not a world leader.  With the moves in Australia, New Zealand is not only a world leader with our ETS we are out on a limb.   Only Europe has an ETS and it is nowhere near as broad or as ambitious as our one.  What is more there won’t be ETS or a carbon tax in the US or Canada any time soon.  Surely being a fast follower now means dumping the ETS?

 

The Wrap

Emotional intelligence bypass of the week

This one goes to Russel Norman Co-Leader (and real leader) of the Greens and his contribution to Parliament on Typhoon Haiyan.  The purpose of the motion was to express New Zealand’s sympathy to the Government and peoples of the Philippines.  Instead, Dr Norman made it about domestic politics and about the Greens by reading a long highly emotional statement from a Philippines delegate at a global warming conference in Warsaw.   Most in the Parliament thought it crass.  You can see John Banks statement on the Typhoon here and you can make a donation to the Red Cross here.

 

Standing your ground award of the week

This one goes to ACT’s own Gareth Veale who has an unshakable confidence in his city of Christchurch and his Party.  ACT is a great campaigning party; we will be taking our message to the people of Christchurch East in the by election and to the wider city.

 

Upcoming Events

  • Auckland North Regional Forum, Takapuna Yacht Club, 39 The Strand, Takapuna, Saturday, November 16, 1.30pm - 4pm, Cost: $10.  Hosted by Beth Houlbrooke.  Speakers include Dr Jamie Whyte, Nick Hyde, and Professor Robert MacCulloch.

    To RSVP, you may register online here. Alternatively, you may contact Beth.Houlbrooke@act.org.nz  and direct credit your fees into the 'ACT NZ Auckland North Region' Bank Account 01-0121-0120885-00, putting your name in the particulars.

  • Canterbury Regional Forum, Saturday 23 November, 2.30 - 4.30pm Cotswold Hotel, Papanui Rd, Christchurch.

Russell Norman’s comments not only insensitive, but inconsistent

“Russell Norman’s use of the devastation in the Philippines as a platform to spotlight climate change politics was not only insensitive, but displayed wilful ignorance of scientific data,” ACT Party Spokesperson Robin Grieve said today.

“The IPCC 5th Assessment Report, released this year, directly contradicts Mr Norman’s assertions that man-made climate change is causing an increase in extreme weather events like typhoon Haiyan,” said Mr Grieve.

“The extensive report clearly states that ‘current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century’.

“It goes on to conclude that ‘there is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to human influence’.

“Mr Norman’s party references the IPCC throughout its speeches and media releases, so one would think that they’ve read the latest document. Choosing to ignore the IPCC’s findings in this case would be sheer hypocrisy from the Greens.”

ENDS

Appendix:

Chapter 2 p60

Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century

Chapter 11 p4

There is low confidence in basin-scale projections of changes in intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones (TCs) in all basins to the mid-21st century.

Chapter 11 p33

Modes of climate variability that in the past have led to variations in the intensity, frequency and structure of tropical cyclones across the globe—such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (e.g., (Zhang and Delworth, 2006; Wang et al., 2007; Callaghan and Power, 2011); Chapter 14)—are very likely to continue influencing TC activity through the mid-21st century. Therefore, it is very likely that over the next few decades tropical cyclone frequency, intensity and spatial distribution globally, and in individual basins, will vary from year-to-year and decade-to-decade.

 Chapter 2 p60

In summary, this assessment does not revise the SREX conclusion of low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. More recent assessments indicate that it is unlikely that annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have increased over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin. 

Chapter 10 p60:

There is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to human influence

Chapter 10 p50

Overall global average cyclone activity is expected to change little under moderate greenhouse gas forcing

Chapter 14 p30

It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged…….The annual frequency of tropical cyclones is generally projected to decrease or remain essentially unchanged in the next century in most regions.

This is what the Report says about extreme weather events:

Chapter 10 p54

At present the evidence does not support the claim that we are observing weather events that would, individually, have been extremely unlikely in the absence of human-induced climate change. 

On the subject of extra-tropical storms (large storms in high latitudes):

Chapter 14 p34

There is high confidence that the global number of extra-tropical cyclones is unlikely to decrease by more than a few per cent due to anthropogenic change.

Chapter 2 p57

There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale. 

Chapter 2 p62

Confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low. There is also low confidence for a clear trend in storminess proxies over the last century due to inconsistencies between studies or lack of long-term data in some parts of the world (particularly in the SH). Likewise, confidence in trends in extreme winds is low, due to quality and consistency issues with analysed data. 

Full report retrieved from http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/#.UoWUnMRmiSo

Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond

Freshwater is a vital component of human life and our economy. The management of the freshwater resource is therefore very important but as knowledge about freshwater evolves that management must adjust to avoid unnecessary scarcity or quality problems.

A key part of management is to oversee systems that efficiently allocate freshwater, avoiding the waste associated with both under- and over-exploitation. It is very important to get these systems right.

ACT acknowledges the valuable work undertaken by the Land and Water Reform on these issues, particularly in respect of its examination of the case for tradable rights or consents and the desirable design features of such a mechanism.

ACT's April 2013 submission on the government discussion document: Improving our resource management system stressed the value, environmentally and otherwise, of a system of well-defined and well-enforced property rights for resolving disputes over the allocation of natural and physical resources and maximising the well-being of people and communities.

That submission explained why government interventions of a specific nature might be desirable in situations of a public good character, but such interventions needed to be respectful of private property rights. The RMA differed markedly from the Public Works Act in that respect.

Another problem with the RMA that this submission identified was the failure of its purpose statement to clarify whether the purpose was to improve the well-being of people in their community, or to sacrifice it to some other cause.

This submission on the government's March 2013 discussion document, Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond is largely supportive of the approach taken in this document, yet finds the same issues potentially arising to a significant degree.

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Read ACT's freshwater submission here 500.72 KB

David Parker's ETS Admission Piles Contradiction On Contradiction

Labour Finance Spokesman David Parker’s neat and succinct criticism of Labour's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) piles contradiction on contradiction, ACT Party President & ETS Spokesman John Boscawen said today.

“In a press release this afternoon, Mr Parker said ‘gas and coal generators’ carbon costs are incorporated into the price paid to hydro, wind and geothermal generators, despite the fact they have zero or low carbon emissions.’

“In other words, Mr Parker  is conceding that Labour’s ETS allows hydro, wind and geothermal generators to make windfall profits at New Zealanders’ expense,” Mr Boscawen said.

“Time and again I stood up in the House and said that Labour’s ETS would create windfall profits for renewable generators and it would hurt those on low-comes the most. But Labour didn’t care.
 
“In the same release, Mr Parker goes on to say that ‘under Labour’s [new energy] policy only companies whose generated electricity emits carbon will be able to charge for it.’  What this means is Labour is now trying to sell itself as the saviour of a problem it created.

“The point of introducing Labour’s ETS was to push the price of electricity up so that New Zealanders used less of it.
 
“Mr Parker needs to explain why he favoured giving renewable generators a windfall gain two years ago, and what has changed in the past two years to make him change his mind?

  “I would wager that this has nothing to do with caring about energy prices for households and everything to do with Labour’s campaign to upset the asset sales programme,” Mr Boscawen said.
 
ENDS

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Missed Opportunity on ETS

Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser has declined a request by ACT to make the ETS a truly open market mechanism, ACT Deputy & ETS Spokesman Leader John Boscawen said today.

“We wrote to Mr Groser asking him to submit a Supplementary Order Paper on the Climate Change Amendment Bill to ensure restrictions on international imports may be made only for qualitative reasons and not quantitative,” Mr Boscawen said.  

 “We did this because the current legislation allows future Ministers to ban high quality, environmentally sound foreign carbon credits.   

Doing so would push up ETS costs on New Zealand households and exporters for no environmental benefit.   In fact, Labour and the Greens are already on record saying they would like to do exactly that.  

Yesterday in Parliament, Labour tried to set a totally arbitrary restriction requiring 50 per cent of all credits to be New Zealand Units and not foreign ones.  
“This is like saying that 50 per cent of all goods sold in New Zealand must be New Zealand made – a return to Muldoon era policies.  

“Mr Groser could have ensured that future Governments would have to come back to Parliament and pass legislation in full view of public scrutiny if they wanted to push up costs on New Zealanders by restricting their access to foreign carbon credits.   But he declined to do so.  

“We are disappointed that the Government would not go further and use legislation to reinforce New Zealanders’ right to purchase carbon credits at the world price – it’s a missed opportunity.

“Nevertheless we are pleased to have supported this overall bill which greatly reduces the costs on New Zealand exporters and households,” Mr Boscawen said.
ENDS
 

An ETS without ACT: Over $500 extra per household per year

Last night’s volley of failed Labour-Green amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme could have driven the costs of the ETS through the roof for negligible environmental benefit,  ACT Deputy Leader John Boscawen said today.

“The Labour Party amendments would have removed the two-for-one discount that currently applies, made consumers and households dependent on local carbon credit suppliers by strangling imports, and doubled the price cap from $25 to $50,” Mr Boscawen said.

“The Green Party would have done all of the above, as well as set a minimum price on carbon emissions and establish not one but two new climate change bureaucracies.

"If the Opposition parties were in power they would like to see the emissions price rise to $50 per tonne.   This would increase the overall ETS cost for a household of four to well over $500 per annum.  

“That might be an acceptable cost if it was a matter of saving the planet, but it is not.  At 0.2 per cent of global emissions, New Zealand could not affect the climate even if it wanted to.

“Some say we should be setting an example, but what example would we be setting?  We are already at a competitive disadvantage to our major trading partners, China and the US, who do not have an ETS.  Foreign politicians would quickly see that putting a $500 per household drag on one’s economy for no environmental benefit is very silly.

“ACT has worked hard to ensure our ETS does not disadvantage our economy, unlike Labour and the Greens who would rather shoot our economy in the foot,” Mr Boscawen said.

ENDS
 

ETS: Families Before Forestry

The Government should not change its position on the importing of international carbon credits, ACT Leader John Banks said today.

"Any restriction on importing foreign credits should be made on the basis of environmental integrity, not forestry industry lobbying," Mr Banks said.

"I hear the forestry industry saying they want to receive higher carbon prices, but I don't hear the industry telling New Zealanders who's going to pay.

"They don’t tell workers that higher carbon prices will make exporting employers less competitive.

"They don’t tell motorists that higher carbon prices mean higher pump prices.

"They don't tell parents that higher carbon prices will mean higher food prices.

"I wrote to the Minister for Climate Change Issues asking him not to place undue restrictions on foreign carbon credits so that New Zealanders would not be forced to pay more for carbon credits than foreigners do.

"I urge the Minister to ignore the lobbying from those with vested interests.

"We should not be putting jobs, petrol prices, and food prices at risk simply to prop up the forestry industry,” Mr Banks said.

ENDS

Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Scheme) Amendment Bill

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.

ENDS
 

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