MIL OSI – Source: Hot Topic – By Gareth Renowden – Analysis published with permission of Hot-Topic.co.nz Headline: It’s deja vu all over again: NZ consultation on climate target set up to be a farce At the end of last week, with the deadline1 for submissions on a post-2020 target for New Zealand emissions rapidly approaching, the Ministry for the Environment released a second set of economic cost estimates for various emissions targets. These cost estimates are substantially lower, the Ministry admits, than the costs in the consultation document issued by the MfE on May 7th. As it happens, neither the Infometrics modelling used in the consultation document or the newly-published Landcare Research is terribly helpful when considering policy options, as I shall discuss later, but for the time being consider the usefulness of a “consultation” process where the following is true:
- Announce a four week consultation period on May 7, starting then, to conclude four weeks later.
- Publish a consultation document that plays up the costs of action and plays down the costs of inaction — calculated by Treasury to be up to $52bn.
- Conduct a rushed series of consultation meetings around the country to which no ministers front up.
- Release the economic modelling relied on for the cost estimates in the consultation document 10 days after the process begins, well after the consultation meetings have started.
- Release a second economic modelling report showing costs to be less than the original document presents just over a week before submissions close.
Given time and budget constraints, the scope of this research does not include any analysis of:There are a couple of extensions to that list: the Infometrics modelling excludes any domestic pricing of agricultural emissions over the next 15 years, but assumes that they will be included in international emissions accounting. It also ignores — ignores! — what could be achieved by incentivising forestry planting:
- The net impacts of NewZealand’s greenhouse gas emissions on climate change and what the economic and social effects of a changing climate might be.
- Non-market policies to reduce emissions, such as restrictions on fossil-fuel generation of electricity and biofuels obligations.
- What action consumers or governments in other countries might take against New Zealand if it was perceived that New Zealand was not doing enough to reduce emissions.
- Likely trends in global carbon prices. ￼
Uncertainty in accounting settings makes it difficult to quantify the effect of forestry and land-use emissions and removals for the purpose of the modelling. To avoid distorting the results, mitigation through forestry and land use has not been quantified or included in modelling estimates presented in this report.Let’s summarise. This what the economists at Infometrics (and Landcare Research – their assumptions are not too different) were asked to test:
- we will ignore the likely costs to society and the economy of a changing climate
- we will ignore any non-market tool for achieving emissions reductions by regulation
- we will ignore NZ’s international exposure to climate risk
- we will ignore anything that agriculture can do to reduce emissions, and assume that the rest of the economy will be happy to subsidise farming
- we will ignore anything that our forestry industry can do to plant trees and remove carbon from the atmosphere
- and we will assume that we can only meet our emissions obligations by buying overseas emissions units.
The current government should not be allowed to play silly games with all our futures. They are embarked on an economic and strategic governance failure of epic proportions. I suspect that nothing anyone says in this sham of a consultation will be listened to: but at least what we do say will stand in the public record. Not everyone sank the ship. Not everyone turned a blind eye. Not in my name, Tim Groser.[Headline, of course, and also Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, though given where we’re heading Wooden Ships is probably more appropriate.]