Red Alert

Archive for the ‘ets’ Category

Mining lignite doesn’t make the cut

Posted by on July 22nd, 2011

New Zealand has extensive lignite deposits in Southland and Otago. Some think that we should be using this “mineral wealth” for economic good. For example, Solid Energy, a state owned enterprise, want to mine Lignite in Southland. They’ve proposed converting the former Mataura mine site into a $25 million briquetting plant. This would make about 90,000 tonnes of briquettes a year from 150,000 tonnes of lignite.

I’m opposed to this proposal because, from an environmental perspective, it just doesn’t make sense. Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is correct, when she observes that “the plans to increase lignite use are extremely concerning as they would produce huge quantities of carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change”.

We won’t be arbitrarily prohibiting such mining operations simply because we don’t happen to like them. We will apply an appropriately calibrated Emissions Trading Scheme to them. Under any such scheme, its highly unlikely that the Southland proposal by Solid Energy would make the cut.

Lignite mining and conversion would only be likely to be viable under a properly calibrated ETS if forests of new trees were planted to off-set the increased emissions, and currently experimental carbon capture and storage technology were deployed commercially.

Unfortunately, we have a government that believes that the environment should be sacrificed for economic growth. John Key is on the record as saying, “At the moment companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion”. What he needs to realise is that for New Zealand, economic and environmental well-being are intertwined, not two separate, competing considerations.

The price of cheese

Posted by on May 22nd, 2011

Fed farmers tells us that paying tax or for their pollution will cause prices to go up.

Funny they have been telling us for years that prices are set by international markets.

Minister Boscawen, meet Mr. Boscawen

Posted by on August 19th, 2010

Today in the House, I questioned the new Minister of Consumer Affairs on his past record.

A quirk of Parliamentary procedure is that during Question Time, a Minister is not response for comments that they have made as an MP.

In the case of Mr Boscawen, his comments as a ACT MP run countercurrent to the position of his new colleagues in cabinet.

I guess that Minister Boscawen and Mr Boscawen should meet some time and figure out who is ‘right’ on the costs of climate change.

Today in the House, I questioned the new Minister of Consumer Affairs on his past record.

Cost of living goes through the roof

Posted by on July 27th, 2010

LabourSurvey pic 27July10

I thought I would share this response to some questions we have asked in the community with Red Alert readers.

The loose translation of the Chinese text is:

Dear MP Huo, Thank you for your Labour Party who always speaks on behalf of ordinary kiwis, particularly at a time when the cost of living is increasing dramatically, well done, we support you. (name and address withheld)

This constituent echoes the thoughts and feelings of many families across the country.

It is concerning for everyone in the community that prices are rising faster than wages, and with an increase in GST coming into effect shortly, this situation is only going to get worse.

With inflation expected to hit 5.9 percent next year, it seems there is no let up for hard working kiwis either.

Any tax cuts should make it easier for more kiwis to get ahead. However, National’s tax plan gives most of the tax cuts to the privileged few. But, 70 percent of salary and wage-earners are on $40k or less, with 800,000 kiwi families with a combined household income of $60k or less.

Under National, transport prices rose 3.1 percent with higher prices for International air transport and vehicle licensing fees.

Cost of food is increasing with a recent OECD study finding that New Zealand food prices over the last 10 years rose higher than almost any other of the 30 OECD countries studies, at 42% compared to the OECD average of 33%.

Under National’s ETS, families pay twice – once as consumers and once as tax-payers ($110 billion over the next 2-3 decades) while polluters get an easy ride.

Filed under: asian, ets

The countdown is on…

Posted by on July 2nd, 2010

Phil Goff launches Indianewslink June2010

The General Election maybe over a year away, but last Friday Phil Goff launched Indian Newslink’s official election page.

As pictured above, a number of Labour MPs were on hand for the launch, including Ross Robertson, Su’a William Sio, Carmel Sepuloni, Ashraf Choudhary, Carol Beaumont and Rajen Prasad.

I think this election page will add to Kiwis anticipation for the election.

Kiwi families are struggling under National’s recent policy and budget announcements.

GST increases and ETS mean that Kiwi families are put under further strain at a time when the world is coming out of the recession.

Kiwi families deserve better. Labour will ensure that tax-cuts are spread evenly over all wage earners and don’t just favour the rich.

After Labour worked hard to make student loans less of a burden on students with interest-free student loans, National has added an additional student loan fee of $40 per year.

This doesn’t give me any hope that National will keep the interest free student loan policy which was a legacy of the previous Labour government.

We’ll see how voters react next year.

For our body and mind: Let’s fight against those polluters!

Posted by on December 17th, 2009
From left: Dovel, Bobby, me and Sir Paul Reeves

From left: Dover, Bobby, me and Sir Paul Reeves

One of the world’s most visionary environmental advocates is in New Zealand and “walks his talk”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jnr (“Bobby”), named one of Time magazine’s “heroes for the planet”, addressed a packed hall in Auckland Thursday night. He spoke candidly about his resolute defence of the environment and other issues facing the modern America and the world.

The US is world’s leading source of democracy. The main function of the media is to preserve the democracy by keeping the public informed about the issues that affect that democracy. However, the majority of the media there are controlled by only a small number of people, who decide what the news is and how the public are fed.

His concerns certainly echoed ours.

We are facing two types of pollution, I think – environmental one which our seriously jesting ETS cannot address and, the spiritual one – we haven’t got any legislation to address that, have we?

As to the increasingly biased mad media (not the quality mass media which I love and respect), what can we do? Do we want to bend over and take more or is there anything we can learn from the American lesson?

Does Key know why he is going to Copenhagen?

Posted by on December 8th, 2009

We all now know Key is off to Copenhagen. Grant Robertson predicted it.

But he doesn’t know why? Somehow he thinks he is going to make a difference to the result.

We all know that he is only going because he was under intense international and domestic pressure to go. He doesn’t even believe in climate change and is scared that his comments while in opposition will be part of the briefing documents that his foreign counterparts will see about him. Not to mention the pathetic ETS he promoted through Parliament.

The best reason for him going has been given by Mike Moore. It is an opportunity to meet leaders who after a few such meetings might make themselves more available to meet him or take his phone calls.


Posted by on November 24th, 2009

The Nats have just passed a motion to put the house into urgency to get their ETS passed. What a dog’s breakfast. They have fuelled the fires of division and prejudice by doing exclusive deals with sectors and corporations that shift costs onto poorer and less priviledged Kiwis. In opening up the Conservation estate to select iwi corporations and foreign investors, there will be inevitable suspicion about every other part of the legislation and it’s objectives. Horsetrading  to get support for the Bill has been far from transparent and Nick Smith consistently misleads the country with statistics that suit his purposes in both ACC and now around the ETS. Given the statement that farmers are supposed to be the beneficiaries of this deal why does Don Nicolson, President of Fed Farmers, think this whole process “a mess”, “a shambles” and “a growing disaster”, to use his own words. Makes one wonder whether we should start from scratch?? Feds even suggested a carbon/emissions tax. Shame they campaigned against what they called the Fart tax. Hope they show more vision in the future. The country needs agriculture.

Filed under: agriculture, ets

foregone revenue rather than debt

Posted by on November 17th, 2009

This is Nick Smith’s response to a 50 billion dollar blunder, or put another way, a 100 billion dollar subsidy to big polluters.

That is roughly $92,000 per family each year…until (at least) 2050!

Ask one of those families if they had an annual $92,000 bill whether they would get away with the excuse that it’s “foregone revenue rather than debt” when the bank calls in.

The Minister is out of touch with the New Zealand public.

No one likes hidden costs, and a deliberative and unrushed process would mean that access to accurate data would improve the policy discussion. Just like the science, we are going to be better informed each day on the complexities of climate change and its economic impacts as a policy issue. So why rush it?

I have to agree with the Herald, National is redesigning an ETS the way you would when you do not want one.

Haste on National’s ETS bill creates such a waste

Posted by on November 16th, 2009

The Finance and Expenditure Committee has released their report on the Emissions Trading Scheme bill being pushed by the National Government.

There’s a great deal covered in the report itself, and I will try to avoid reiterating everything, but I wanted to give my two cents.

The whole process, from the ETS review committee (which was a waste of time), to the walkout by National on a grand coalition with Labour (which would have settled the issue months ago), to the backroom deals with the Maori party (who knows what else has been agreed to), and now with the select committee (carried out under extreme haste) and upcoming debates in the House is tantamount to a collusion of deception and greed.

The evidence clearly shows that National had always intended to get a watered down ETS, while trying to convince the NZ public and other countries at Copenhagen the complete opposite. They were able to enlist the support of the Maori party, in a deal that will in my opinion come back to haunt them.

The strategy was to slam the changes through before the public would have a chance to learn better. National has refused to release background information and they have permitted superficial departmental advice to be issued to MPs in the select committee. In fact, even the Parliamentary Counsel office (who help write the legislation – people who help avoid bad laws from being written) could provide only an untested draft on the day of deliberation

Therefore, what does this all mean – here are the numbers:

Written submissions, the majority of which were from individuals.

Oral submissions over five days between 15 October and 27 October 2009

23 hours 35 minutes
The amount of time given for those 128 submissions. Compare this to the 58 hours of hearings for the 161 oral submissions heard when the original bill was put to the House by the Fifth Labour Government

National failed to get a majority for its proposed changes in the FEC Select Committee. They do not speak for the majority on their own bill.

Response from ShapeNZ survey who say that emitters should pay their share of the costs from climate change. In addition, nearly half of National voters and 75% of Maori Party voters opposed extending free emission credits assistance to large emitters. Kiwis are overwhelmingly not in favour of National’s proposed changes.

The minimum amount speculated by Dr Suzi Kerr, Visiting Professor of Economics, Stanford University that the taxpayer would subsidise to each worker at the Rio Tinto Aluminium Smelter at Tiwai Point, under the proposed changes to the allocation regime and phase-out of free units suggested by National.

90 years
According to the Minister of Agriculture, the Government plans to provide free carbon credits for 90 years. In fact, There is no specified date when allocation of free carbon credits will end under National’s proposal (the status quo is 30 years)

$100 billion.
Including borrowing, the cost to the NZ taxpayer of the higher allocation to major emitters will be $100 billion by 2050. A back of the envelope calculation means this works out to 25,000 per person, each year, for 40 years. 

As you can see, we will all have to pay for National’s haste. What a waste.

Doctors on National’s ETS – Public health pays the price

Posted by on November 5th, 2009

Last Friday, the New Zealand Climate & Health Group made their views on the Emissions Trading Scheme public. In the Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association (the article is viewable if you have a subscription), the group conclude that any changes that benefit polluters over everyone else will jeopardise public health.

Dr Jamie Hosking, who helped write the article, suggests that a well-designed ETS could lead to:

1.       Reduced emissions and thus a reduction in climate change and its negative health effects

2.       ‘Recycling’ Government revenue from emissions pricing into strategies with health co-benefits

3.       Promoting behaviour change that has both emissions and health benefits, such as energy-efficient housing and more walking and cycling

4.       Gains in health equity and fairness

The scale of National’s proposed kickbacks to big polluters is not lost on these doctors:

“This is not the best use of more than $754 million dollars of taxpayer resources”, says Dr Hosking. “It would be more than the annual budget of most of the District Health Boards (DHBs) in New Zealand, and would pay for the combined DHB deficit (at $150 million at the end of 2008) five times over.”

This is not a fringe group. They understand that if Kiwis don’t create a fair and comprehensive approach to solving climate change, then we all lose.

Filed under: climate change, ets

Climate change is not a fringe issue

Posted by on October 27th, 2009

Over the weekend, I have been joining people across Wellington (as well as across the world) who have been showing their support for a broad political agreement that will reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions.??

Local schools in the Ohariu electorate Onslow College and Tawa College have already held related events last Friday. I gave a talk at the Centre for EU studies at Canterbury University on climate change issues.

The next day I was at the Avalon Park Windmills in Lower Hutt at a event organised by the St James Anglican church. A video of their rally is now posted on Youtube:

I was at the Labour stall at the 350 Wellington Climate Action Festival, held on the Wellington Waterfront (next to Te Papa). Pictures of the day are here and below:

These events were part of a day of action by 350 Aotearoa. Other events included an Auckland bikeride from Britomart to Mt Eden where Jacinda Ardern spoke, and an event ??at New Brighton in Christchurch featuring Ruth Dyson and Lianne Dalziel.

Climate change is not a fringe issue; people from a diverse range of backgrounds want bold, fair and comprehensive action. Make sure you are being heard.

Climate Change at the Finance and Expenditure Committee

Posted by on October 15th, 2009

Last year, I chaired the Finance and Expenditure Committee (FEC) while we heard submissions on the Emissions Trading Scheme (Mark 1). The Committee received 259 submissions. We heard in person from 161 of them in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, and by ‘phone and video conference, over 58 hours of hearings, having closed submissions on 29 February and reported back to the House on 16 June.

At the time, Nick Smith, then the Nats’ climate change spokesperson, screamed and yelled that this was a terrible, rushed process.

Today, FEC started hearing submissions on Nick Smith’s bill to amend the ETS. We have about the same number of submissions, and about the same number wanting to be heard, as last year. Submissions closed on 13 October. We have a report-back date of 16 November. As Carbon News points out the Nats tried to severely limit the hearing of submissions on the amendments, but were outvoted today. Everyone who submitted on the actual bill – and asked to be heard – will be. The problem is that this is all to be done by in Wellington by next Thursday, so submitters will have very little notice of the need to appear, and no doubt many will miss out, especially those who are not Wellington-based. We might manage 30 hours of hearings.

All this on amendments that Treasury says could add 8% of GDP to NZ’s debt by 2030, for a scheme that the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says cannot possibly help us meet even the Nat’s tiny pollution reduction targets.

What a great Government they are turning out to be.

House tactics – Wiremu Pakeha missing

Posted by on September 24th, 2009

So we have had urgency for each week of the current session.

Last night the house finished four hours early because the government had run out of business.

And now we are back in urgency doing the ETS.

But we are also doing the Remuneration Authority legislation, the policy for which was announced months ago, and the Money Laundering legislation which as been around forever. Both these could have been done on Tuesday if Brownlee got his act together.

Trying to work out why they are doing these two. Maybe it is because Bill English is away. Possibly trying to see if he remembers the way back to Dipton.

Do the Maori Party get anything for the ETS?

Posted by on September 17th, 2009

I’m sure Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have a strategy in there somewhere, but it’s pretty hard to spot at this stage. Surely they didn’t agree to give the National government their votes on the ETS before working out exactly what they would get in return?

First they claimed they were getting an increase in benefits. Turns out they aren’t. Then Pita Sharples claimed they were getting extra home insulation for 2000 Maori households. Turns out perhaps not.

In fact, from the information we have available it looks like not one single extra home will be insulated. All the National government have agreed to do is bring forward funding from future years so that they can keep up with demand. Hardly a massive victory for the Maori Party.

So what, if anything, did the Maori Party actually get for supporting the ETS?

Labour’s good faith on the ETS

Posted by on September 17th, 2009

As promised earlier, I released to the media yesterday a copy of all correspondence and documents in relation to Labour’s negotiation with the National party on revising the Emissions Trading Scheme. As you will see, we were assuming that our meetings would be continuing as we got down to agreement on a MoU and proceeded in a fair fashion.

Labour could not have made such a deal like that made between National and the Maori party. What we were prepared to negotiate was made clear in the Minority view in the ETS Select Committee’s report, a view I elaborated upon last week.

Labour had been very principled in what to compromise and had expected that National would also bring their principles to the table, in a negotiated process towards a fair outcome.

Now, it’s difficult to see how that could be accomplished.