Green in every way

I see Chris Trotter’s beaten me too it, but “What the hell are the Greens on about?”

Having failed to get the emissions trading scheme they wanted in their talks with National, they are asking the public to tell them what to do. By Tuesday morning. All right then…

The Herald’s report offers a few possibilities for this extraordinary move:

“Theories around Parliament about why the Greens held the press conference ranged from it being a publicity stunt through to a belief the party was trying to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table by threatening to bring down the legislation. It is possible, however, that the Greens are genuinely conflicted about which way to vote.”

Whatever, it defies belief. Sure, the ETS on offer is a dog’s breakfast, and doesn’t go nearly far enough. But it’s better than nothing, which is what we’ll get from National.

National “outlined” its climate change policy last Wednesday, but it got little coverage. Why? Here are the main points:

  • National has set an achievable emissions reduction target … a 50% reduction in New Zealand’s carbon-equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050.

But they have no hard policy on offer to achieve this.

  • National “will ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions”

They’ll be at the table. But what will they be doing at the table? Why, they’ll be working “with fellow countries on finding a pragmatic way to include large emitters like China, the United States, India, and Brazil.”

  • An emissions trading scheme for NZ.

Their scheme will be “robust”, and able to “stand the test of time.” Government won’t “profit” from it, we’ll know how much it will reduce emissions, we’ll know what the economic effects will be, and it won’t be introduced in a rush. It will, “strike a balance between New Zealand’s environmental and economic interests”, be compatible with Australia’s, and “will encourage the use of technologies that improve efficiency and reduce emissions intensity, rather than encourage an exodus of industries and their skilled staff to other countries.”

At last, some detail you say. Nope. I’m prepared to bet National’s understanding of where to strike the balance between environmental and economic interests is very different from the Green’s, for one thing.

Greenpeace can see the stark realities of the situation. Take the bird in the hand, they say.

Better still, the Greens should listen to Big Biz. They are keen to kick the ETS into touch, until their vassals are safely installed in power and we can be served up some toothless wonder of an ETS scheme that won’t achieve cost anything.

It may be difficult to swallow, but it’s not really such a difficult choice to make.

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6 Responses to “Green in every way”

  1. macdoctor01 Says:

    As I commented on Chris Trotter’s blog, this is actually the Green’s first real political decision. They do not have a comfortable principled position to take but must either vote for Labour’s deeply flawed ETS or await a National government’s version (likely to be worse from their viewpoint) or a large Labour coalition, where they will have much reduced bargaining power.

    Part of their confusion stems from the fact that, when environmentalism was all about pollution, the right thing to do was obvious. Whatever you may think of the science of anthropogenic global warming, there is no doubt that the way to fix it is by no means clear. It all used to be about dead birds and smokestacks, now it is all about graphs and statistics. It is no longer warm and fuzzy to be an environmentalist.

    The Greens have no idea where to stick their flag, because the ground underneath them is now all quicksand.

  2. ak Says:

    Mind you doc, there was a time when no one cared about the birds or smokestacks either. Change in public opinion in this area has always been slow – but steady in the right direction. AGW now has majority acceptance, and for the Greens to vote against Labour’s bill would be seen as doing nothing – the “wavering” Green voters will neither understand nor accept a hold-out on principle in election year, and the Greens could run the real risk of sinking under the 5%. Anything’s better than nothing – you can’t improve squat if you’re right off the radar.

  3. macdoctor01 Says:

    Strangely, I actually agree with you, ak.

    Must be ill… 🙂

  4. ak Says:

    (I know, I know…. it must be catching, I find your comments increasingly sensible too – perhaps we should just both take two disprin and have a wee lie down) “)

  5. Redbaiter Says:

    Sorry to post off topic, but bursting with curiosity to see your take on the Shawn Tan issue. Next post maybe??

  6. Kevyn Says:

    Actually Nats approach to an ETS is cleverer than Labour’s and, played properly could seriously embarass Labour and harm the Green’s. Point three of Nat’s ETS policy essentially says they’ll wait and see what Rudd does then use CER as the excuse to copy ozzie’s Labour. The Greens need to be very careful not back the wrong ETS from the wrong Labour government.

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