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We Need A Kyoto Policy That Emitters Like

We Need A Kyoto Policy That Emitters Like

Satire by Lyndon Hood

Carbie the Carbon
Carbie the Loveable Carbon Emission. Everyone loves Carbie.

Following the release of the Green Party's carbon-control proposal, there has been suspicion or outright disapproval from major carbon emitters. That's not the way things ought to be.

Kyoto policy is a difficult and complex area. The Greens' effort is just backseat driving from amateurs who imagine it's a good idea to penalise the very people who make their living releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

The last thing we want is an economic instrument that imposes costs on precisely the thing it's trying to stop. What is the point of having a plan to restrict carbon output, if carbon-intensive industries can't make a buck out of it somewhere?

The industries have rightly pointed out that these extra costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers. Imagine it – our most important emitters might lose business because of these higher prices. Goods and services might become more or less desirable in a way that reflects their environmental impact.

Is that what we want?

I don't think I have to answer that question.

We want a policy that panders to the interests of big business and the Greens have dismally failed at this. It just goes to show how inexperienced they are in that area; they should leave such things to the experts in the major parties.

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An industry-led process would be best, of course. Emitters would do well to look to the model of the forest industry. Without any prompting, they drew up their list of demands and have been demanding them with increasing righteousness ever since.

And they've stuck to their guns: they should be paid backdated credits for forests they have planted since 1990, since backdated gifts are good, but not penalised for any forests they might have cut down since 1990, because retrospective taxes are wrong.

Kyoto credits are, or will be, acquired by the taxpayer due to the Government signing the Kyoto protocol and will be positive or negative based on New Zealand's overall carbon output as compared to an arbitrary earlier date. Therefore, money should be given to anyone who plants a tree. Whereas, if trees get cut down it's obviously the Government's problem.

As always, the electrifying beauty of logic is the lobbyist's greatest weapon.

A similar system for heavy transport might include payments to truck drivers for all the time they spend not driving. Or for power plants, any coal they happen not to burn. Only a suggestion; I would not presume to dictate to industry on these matters.

Others may argue the Greens' policy in detail. They might say it is not viable due to the world carbon credit markets it relies on not being in place, or somehow flawed or misleading economically, or that unavoidable price increases in power and food will harm the poor.

I refuse to be drawn into such nitpicking. If major emitters don't give it their seal of approval, that tells me everything I need to know about a carbon policy.


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