Zero Carbon Bill harms economy for little gain

Tue, 21 May, 2019

The Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will seriously harm our economy while doing little for the environment, according to ACT Leader David Seymour, confirming he would vote against the legislation.

“This legislation is an attempt by Jacinda Ardern to show global leadership. If the Prime Minister believes Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and others will follow her Government’s lead on climate change, she is deeply naïve.

“As with the oil and gas ban, firearms legislation, and regulating social media, the Prime Minister is more concerned about pandering to a global audience than about good policymaking that is in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

“The risk of shooting ourselves in the foot with this legislation is very real. If the Government requires New Zealanders to make significantly deeper emissions cuts than our trading partners, it will harm the economy and significantly reduce living standards while pushing economic activity to countries with lower environmental standards, increasing global emissions.

Economists at NZIER believe we could lose up to 22 per cent of what would have been our 2050 incomes. These losses will be felt disproportionately by poorer New Zealanders.

Tailrisk Economics has called the net zero emissions by 2050 target a ‘feel good’ project which will cost the economy $200 billion and which is unlikely to have any impact on the behaviour of other countries.

The Government has been warned by its own officials that the Zero Carbon Bill could actually increase global emissions because of ‘carbon leakage’, where economic activity moves overseas as a result of government policy.

“The Zero Carbon Bill’s impact on the environment is uncertain. I asked the Climate Change Minister in Parliament last year what impact his legislation will have on global temperatures. He simply did not know.

“The UK Climate Change Act – on which the Zero Carbon Bill is based – has seen that country reduce its emissions no faster than New Zealand since 2008. New Zealand’s Productivity Commission reports the UK will be even less effective in the future as ‘low hanging fruit’ are picked.

“A less cumbersome and bureaucratic approach to climate change would be to tie our emissions price to the prices paid in our top five trading partners. That would be administratively simple, politically durable, and effective, and would show that New Zealand is doing its bit.”