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Gareth Morgan says National really should be proud of its pragmatic judgement that capping emissions is beyond us [irony]. Your view?

Posted in Opinion
"National really should be proud of its pragmatic judgement that capping emissions is beyond us"

By Gareth Morgan*

Trade Minister Tim Groser says its nuts complying with a regime that applies to only 15% of global emissions and so on that basis he has abandoned New Zealand’s commitment to the Kyoto reduction of carbon emissions and instead declared we will try to convince the US and China to curb their greenhouse problem.

Does this sound credible or more like a rationale of convenience aimed at removing constraints on economic growth imparted by carbon emission limits?

Mr Groser cites our ETS as the mechanism we deploy but we all know it’s been fatally diminished as anything meaningful; the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment noted that rather than reduce our emissions to 10-20% below 1990 levels by 2020 as Mr Groser undertook at Copenhagen, we will in fact exceed that commitment by 30-40% at that time.

Of course, Groser put some small print into that 2020 goal which will allow the Government to wriggle out of it.

But instead of setting another, more concrete goal, Mr Groser’s government is leading the charge away from commitments to cap greenhouse gas emissions, opting instead to reject those using the spin that Kyoto now doesn’t matter.

Of course on the grounds he’s citing – that it applies to only 15% of global emissions – Kyoto never mattered, not from the day we signed up, so the Groser revelation is nothing new, it is simply a change of mind by our government.

Pity he hasn’t the constitution to front up and simply say that.

It is evident that National does not subscribe to the view that New Zealand can meaningfully change its economic structure, we are predominantly a primary producer and that is what underlies our status of being the 5th highest emitter of greenhouse gasses per capita in the OECD (11th in the world).

We simply cannot change that and are finding the economic cost of even reversing the upward trend in our per capita greenhouse emissions too big an ask.

We don’t have any other strings to our growth bow other than sponsoring emission-intensive industries so for us it’s either economic growth or capping emissions – you cannot have both.

This is National’s position. It needs to be explicit on this and have the courage of its convictions to say so. Wouldn’t it be great if a little honesty tempered the politicians’ pontificating on the issue of climate change and they simply acknowledged that the cost of adjustment is too high a price to pay?

Sliding around the truth by now saying we were wrong to sign up to Kyoto, that we need to delay and delay agriculture’s entry into our ETS, that it’s more ethical somehow not to sign up to the principle of emissions capping until the big boys do – are all slimy ways to acknowledge that cold, hard fact.

National really should be proud of its pragmatic judgement that capping emissions is beyond us.

At least then New Zealanders would be faced with that fact and could begin to think about our future.

With a dairy industry that has raised the number of cows from 2 to 4.5 million and is incentivised to keep expanding those numbers ad infinitum, there is no chance emissions will be capped.

Isn’t the relevant question then whether that’s the sort of industry we wish to underwrite?

It may well be of course, but we need to focus the debate on the issue, not skip around it with the double talk of a seasoned trade negotiator who shows little to no respect for calling a spade a spade.

Subjecting voters to the duplicity of well-honed diplomatic language is at best condescending and more likely, deceitful.

The public deserves a discussion on this issue that has more clarity and honesty underpinning it.

The issue is simple – do we want to try and diversify our economic structure away from emissions-intensive industries or is that too big an ask of our standard of living?

Just put the question Mr Groser, gather your courage.

If we’d waited for China and the US to go anti-nuclear we’d still be waiting. Ask New Zealanders nowadays whether they want to reverse that policy. You might be surprised by what people actually want.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gareth Morgan is a businessman, economist, investment manager, motor cycle adventurer, public commentator and philanthropist. This opinion piece was first published on his new blog garethsworld.com and is reprinted here with permission.

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28 Comments

When did politicians ever

When did politicians ever call a spade a spade?
Take the Greenies, they will never ever weigh their wants up against the reduction in national wealth. Or to acknowledge that by doing what they want, child poverty will increase.
An example is where they say that if you put up X many more wind generators, this reduces carbon emissions by Y tons. The unmentioned fine print is that Z many more backup thermal plants are required. And in a "dry year", carbon emissions will be absolutely huge.
So it is not surprising to me that National will put forward misleading/ irrelevant justifications for doing things.

spade a spade OK, total

spade a spade OK, total ignornace and bias on your part.
1) There is a difference between efficiency and resiliance. 
2) There is (and will be a bigger)  difference between what it cosst to run a thermal plant in the past and in the future.
3) there is a difference between short-term and long term.
4) I think you mean a "still" year or you are confusing hydro with wind, frankly given how confused your post is, that is one thing that is pretty clear. 
5) You dont necessarily need backup thermal backup, you can do hydro....or otherwise have gas turbine which is low co2 output.
6) Child poverty if you go for short-termism will get worse because you ignore the long term effects which are significant....Apart from the above, a big part of that is we need population control and reducation.
7) "Dry" years, 1992 was dry? so 20 years ago, this year might be dry? so a 1 in 20 event?  So for 19 (or more) years we have a lot less CO2 v 1 with somewhat more, need to see the NET but NEt is lower I would say.
regards

I think some things are

I think some things are pretty evident,
1) It makes no sense for us who are low co2 emmiters per kg of food to tax ourselves above those who are not low emitters and wont tax themselves.  better for us to be cheaper than the higehr co2 emmiters, then consumers buy our lower emission food and the others go out of business.
2) Tax would seem to suggest you can alter behaviour via a price mechanism. Reality good food is an essential, if ppl cant afford good nutrient rich food they buy the cheaper cr*p, how has that helped?  Nixon did that in the 1970s, taking that issue of food off  the election radar, he/they did that by supplying highly process rubbish.
3) Before the GFC many more Americans said they accepted AGW then is now the case.  That makes no sense, unless its seen as a financial / survival thing....who cares about tomorrow if I dont have a job and food today.
4) Sure we need the debate, just like we need the debate on so many other issues like funding the public healthcare system....we wont....ever IMHO.  Not to mention population control and reduction and (easier) stopping immigration.
We wont have any of these debates because the pollies ownt go there,
a) Phil Goff etc said he wouldnt be afraid of making hard decisions, yet its perfectly obvious that he didnt, and never would have and neither will David Shearer.  So lets write Labour off.....
b) The other side more than Labour is wedded to infinite growth on a finite planet, eyes wide shut as they say....write off.
Whos left?
Green's make some noises but to seriosuly open the debate they'd get tared as fruity loops....
next?  NZF? led by Winston "I like to give handouts to OAPS" Peters?
Kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel now arnt we....
So, really Gareth, yeah carry on plugging and just get on with life, appologise to your children/grandchildren...."I tried, no one cared".
regards

I agree the Greenies never

I agree the Greenies never admit there policies cause poverty and all the negative consequences that go with it. Look how housing affordability causes infectious diseases.
 
http://asthmafoundation.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Michael-Baker-poverty-and-infectious-diseases.pdf housing affordabilty chart page 27 compared to hospitalisation rate from infectious diseases page 25.
 
But when practical measures are promoted by the likes of Hugh P that have been proven to work elsewhere to decrease housing costs. Who complains the most? The Greenies.

While housing affordability

While housing affordability can effect IDs I fail to see how Green's policies have neg consquences, maybe let us know your logic?
For instance Green's have recognised that income in-equality is harmful and are trying to fix that (and others), yet inequality has been driven by the ideology of the right for 30+ years
Hugh P is clueless, all he wants to do is drive the rabid right's voodoo economics further, when we should actually be reversing it.
All you are attempting to do is justify your right wing extremist political outlook / economics that is the main cause of in-equality by claiming the opposite.
That is un-true and in bad faith....and Im being polite here.....
regards

I will give you this Steven,

I will give you this Steven, you are a shining beacon of equality when it comes to dealing out abuse, accusations or putting words in others mouths.

Ralphie baby, ...Steven may

Ralphie baby, ...Steven may be a little polarising sometimes, impatient at others, inflexibley committed to his ideas and causes most of the time, but abuse...?, geez mate , it's just punctuation for effect in most blog confrontations.....don't take it personally.
 He is if anything consistent....and that's got to be good . 

Not likely, it's only rarely

Not likely, it's only rarely I read his posts anymore, too exhausting.
 
Although if abuse is punctuation what do you care if I call a spade a spade?

The question was Ralph is the

The question was Ralph is the puntuation abuse...? still it appears you have the floor.
what do I care....? oh I just do, is that ok..? hell I even care bout you Ralphie.
 Stay well.

I like Ralphie too , Count

I like Ralphie too , Count .... ... 'cos he has good sense , and in uncommon quantities ..
 
..... and he has nailed steven to a tee ---- gawd , I wish it is was to a tree ---- A gigantic , hearts of oak , solid as a rock English Elm [ Ulmus procera ] ; big 150 mm galvanised flat-heads from Bunnings ( galvs , you'll notice , steven , I do care , don't wantcha getting tetanus whilst you're up on the cross ) --- bang bang / holster the Paslode , steven's out for the count , Count ........
 
But bugger it all , 'tis Christmas / not Easter .. Santy Clause , and no DIY with the nail gun and knocking up  the resident Malthusian Luddite ...
 
Jesus Christ !

Tis Christmas indeed GBH....a

Tis Christmas indeed GBH....a time enjoy so many things we take for granted.
 Cheers Mon Ami.

Christov - target audience,

Christov - target audience, man.
 
nuance has two too many letters.
 
Bah Humb

Or two too few PDK...once

Or two too few PDK...once again the subtlety of definition in the tone of things.
May your produce taste that little bit better among friends. 

Keep up the good work.

Keep up the good work.

You too Ralphie.

You too Ralphie.

Steven you omit to mention

Steven you omit to mention that the Greens policy is to reduce income inequality by making everyone poor, that is for everyone but public servants of course, for them there is a bottomless trough of money from which to feed.

On what facts do you base

On what facts do you base this claim?

I for one am willing to

I for one am willing to celebrate common sense when I find it - even if the journey had a few winding by-roads.
 
Although I also agree that National would probably get some political value of telling the truth in this instance.

Yes , very true .... and to

Yes , very true .... and to some of us ( Cantabrians particularly ) Hugh P. is a national  treasure
 
    ... far from being " clueless " .... ... he is on top of the nation's housing bubble , & onto the Chch re-build .
 
There are  many here who appreciate his tireless work ! 

{ ooops , my bad , this comment was meant to be inserted under robby217 , directly above }

I cannot speak for Hugh but I

I cannot speak for Hugh but I am not some right wing nutcase infected by voodoo economics. I can see much of what was done in the last 30 years in the name of neoliberal economics has failed to work. But I am not getting into an argument about general economic policy I am discussing housing.
 
I am keeping it simple, our high cost of housing causes poverty. It's not just infectious diseases, it 's also our retirement commissioner saying it will impact on poverty for the elderly when the current cohort who have a lot lower home ownership rate reach retirement age.
 
Hugh demonstrates that houses could be more affordable, if we had less restrictive planning laws for new housing, he gives plenty of examples to prove his case. This will decrease poverty related to housing affordabilty. The Greenies oppose changes to these restrictive planning regimes therefor they are preventing proven solutions to ease housing poverty. What is so difficult about this?

Sorry Brendon but a property

Sorry Brendon but a property developers, of which Hugh is a representative, only have an interest in profiting from the endeavor. The end result is not cheaper housing, just where the profit goes. Developers have just lost their margin to the banks, the real cultprits in the cost of housing. It is simple, interest causes a redistribution of wealth. Hugh is fighting the wrong enemy.
 
I have also pointed out before the flaw in Hughs claims about the inventor of low cost modern housing. Levitt's brother studied under Frank Lloyd Wright but bastardised Wrights designs and principles for profit.

So how is it that Texas has

So how is it that Texas has affordable housing of about 3 times medium household income and California is double or more than that. Same banks, same Reserve Bank setting the same OCR. The difference is in there planning rules and how they fund their new housing infrastructure.

Steven posted a nice gotcha

Steven posted a nice gotcha on that one a couple of months back. Texas was right up there in the list of worst states with delinquent mortgages, a point that makes a mockery of the median multiplyer.
 
It doesn't matter how affordable you make housing, interest (as a redistributor of wealth) will eventually make it unaffordable.

They had their housing

They had their housing crash...and a big one it was, and sudden. I have a mate in St Petersburg, Florida. Paid around $150,000 for a 3 bedroom bungalow going for mid $80,000 now. And that is with mortgage interest being tax deductible. Imagine if we had that here.
Aus and NZ have not had a housing crash yet.....although Aus is arguable. 
Housing is very difficult to compare country to country. I sold a house in Ontario and my feeling is the price inflation there (Eastern Ontario) is way below NZ. They had rent control for years, people still had places to live, affordably. My Dad rented his whole life, retired at 60 and bought a house cash, no interest paid. 
What is a fact is that NZ'ers put far more value into home ownership than many, and take eyewatering mortgages to make it happen. If the banks will lend that will ratchet up the price. My personal opinion is it is part of the culture here to really squeeze the budget for a house.
Cheers

What a load of horseshit,

What a load of horseshit, from Robby/Brendan/Ralph etc.
 
Let's get some truths on the table, boyos:
 
Wealth' is resource-based.
 
There are two types: finite and renewable.
 
Chew into the first at a growing rate - inmdeed at any rate, and the process ends.
 
Chew into the latter at beyond-replacement rate, and the process ends.
 
Fail to mitigate the residues of using either, and sonmeone further down the road has to pick up the tab
 
You whinging bunch have had the best of the energy-supplies, best of every resource, less folk to habve to share it with, and you've ducked your obligation to future generations, in your total selfishness.
 
The joke is that you can't have more, now. Even at that, you're better off than your offspring will be.
 
Time some folk took responsibility for their actions.
 
But I guess that would be asking too much......

Shall I do this? Just for a

Shall I do this? Just for a laugh?
1/ Hydro is good but Greenies don't like hydro. Geothermal is good too but this will run out sooner or later.
2/ Dry year implies anticyclones implies no wind.
3/ No water + no wind means base load and peaker thermal is required.
4/ So wind farms NEED thermal peakers there or its power cuts boys. To the cost of windfarms needs to be added thermal peakers. Which pour out their inefficient high carbon power in dry years and sit there costing money in wet windy years. Cheap power? No.

Your point?   Hydro is one of

Your point?
 
Hydro is one of the best, but direct solar is better (eliminates transmission both infrastructure and losses). Hydro is the natural battery for solar; if the sun is shining heaps, water is husbanded, bets time for it to happen. If it's rainign and the solar is down a bit, who gives a shit, full dams. They're entirely symbiotic.
 
I don't think windfarms are in the league of either.
 
Peak loads can be evened out - and should be.
 
There is incredible room for efficiencies; my place gets by on under 0.5 kw/h p/d. Extrapolate that.
 
If Tiwai goes - and it should - there whould be enough spare power to run a serious fleet of urbal enectric vehicles, without new generation.
 
No source is impact-free. A ton of CO2 from a ton of concrete, methane from drowned growth, cessation of sediment flow (Roxburgh is 40 ft deep, and the supply of sand which used to migrate up the Otago coast is what is doing the filling. Every omelette needs eggs to be cracked- hydro just uses less eggs than most.

Okay you tried that for a

Okay you tried that for a laugh.  
The question is do we laugh at your effort, riddled as it is is logical fallacies (point 1 -- strawman, point 2 -- factually incorrect, point 3 -- false connection; more possibilities than what you present) or should we be laughing at something else?