Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Kerr: The Real Environmental Crisis


The Real Environmental Crisis

The environment matters to people. It is part of their overall quality of life.

All parties at last weekend’s election had environment policies. The public and political debate is not mainly over environmental goals. It is more over the means of achieving them and over trade-offs, where they exist, with other goals such as economic growth, freedom and equity.

The Business Roundtable has had a longstanding interest in environmental issues. We have been involved in debates over the Resource Management Act (RMA) and climate change from the outset. With the change of government it is pleasing that policies in both these areas are up for review. The election result suggests that voters at large are unhappy with them. On climate change National must not make the mistake it made in the 1990s on the RMA of only tinkering with the policy it inherited and regretting it ever since. A more fundamental reappraisal is essential.

In its work on environmental issues, the Business Roundtable has emphasised the importance for environmental management of secure property rights, compensation for regulatory takings, proper economic pricing and the use of markets wherever possible. These policy elements scarcely feature in the RMA, in contrast to the much sounder Public Works Act. Environmental regulation is sometimes necessary but needs to be well designed if it is not to do more harm than good. The previous government’s climate change policy was an incoherent mix of a market mechanism (an emissions trading scheme) and ‘command and control’ regulation (such as the ban on new thermal generation). My view is that a better market mechanism for New Zealand to start with would be a low carbon tax (with offsetting income tax reductions). This could be superseded by an emissions trading regime if a broad international carbon market developed (which is not in prospect at present). A key advantage of a low tax is that it would give certainty as to price, which would help firms to plan and help make what needs to be a stable, long-term policy more politically sustainable.


Full speech (PDF)

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Barfoot and Thompson: Auckland Housing Prices Shrug Off Winter Concerns

Auckland house prices shrugged off the normal winter downturn, concerns about increasing prices and warnings of possible future interest rate rises in July.
“Mounting concerns about the prices being paid and possible future interest rate increases did nothing to dampen July trading... More>>

Stats NZ: Sharp Falls In Unemployment And Underutilisation

The seasonally adjusted unemployment and underutilisation rates fell to 4.0 and 10.5 percent, respectively, in the June 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today. The unemployment rate continued to fall from its recent peak of 5.3 percent in the September 2020 quarter... More>>

FIRST Union: Do Shareholders Realise Marsden Point Conversion Could Cost More Than Half A Billion Dollars?

FIRST Union, the union representing workers at Refining NZ, are querying whether shareholders voting on Friday on whether to convert the Marsden Point refinery to an import-only terminal realise the conversion could cost $650-700 million dollars... More>>

Transport: July 2021 New Vehicle Registrations Boosted By EV Rebate Scheme
Motor Industry Association Chief Executive David Crawford says that July 2021 sales of new vehicles were boosted by the recently introduced rebate scheme. July 2021 registrations were 15,053 units compared to 12,263 units for July 2020... More>>

ASB: New Support Finder Tool Helps Connect Customers With Thousands In Government Support

ASB research alongside benefit numbers from the Ministry of Social Development shows an increased number of Kiwis are struggling financially, and many may not be aware they’re eligible for government support... More>>

Housing: New Home Consents Continue To Break Records

A record 44,299 new homes were consented in the year ended June 2021, Stats NZ said today. “The annual number of new homes consented rose again in the June 2021 year, the fourth consecutive month of rises,” construction statistics manager Michael Heslop said... More>>