Monday, July 19, 2010
I have come to realise there are two types of reality - there is the real world, in which you and I struggle to survive each day, and then there is the world inhabited by politicians and the vast industry that feeds on them.
The latest manifestation of the dynamics of these two worlds is the emissions trading scheme. The ETS is seen by one world as another unwanted tax and by the other as an international obligation.
The Government has tried to downplay the effects of the ETS on households, but frankly I do not believe it.
I am sure the flow-on effect of fuel and power rises on businesses will add up to more than the $3.17 a week costs increase we have been told to expect.
The fact is the voting public feels aggrieved. Even though these voters do not have a viable alternative to turn to on this issue, this is hardly desirable for the Government.
The ill-feeling over one policy could spread to others, who knows?
Behind the dissatisfaction with the ETS is the uncertainty around climate change. Is it real, or not? The public doesn't know what to think.
Conditioned to respect science, most people accepted the initial reports of doom and gloom. But it now appears they were too gloomy and contained flaws.
That is the voters' world. But in the politicians' world it is different.
Internationally, the decisions have been made. Climate change is real and a way has been found to deal with it.
The ETS has been formulated and is locked in place. We can't back out.
We could have waited, as Australia has, but we are different from other countries.
We depend on trade to survive and we have taken a strong marketing stance based on being "100 per cent pure". We have to be seen to be acting as our customers would want us to.
To keep making money from our exports, which pay for our standard of living, we have to accept a little pain. That's the reality the politicians would have us accept. And it is the one I believe is right.
But some interesting new research has made me re-examine that belief.
The researchers asked people in British supermarkets about their purchases - specifically, whether their decisions were made on where the food item originated.
Then they went out into the high street and asked people if food miles - the distance food has to travel - would stop them buying New Zealand produce.
The results were fascinating.
Of the shoppers, only 5.6 per cent nominated country of origin as one of the reasons for purchasing an item and only 3.6 per cent indicated they had consciously chosen British products for the reason that such produce was "less harmful for the environment".
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There were fears for the safety of Climate Change Minister Nick Smith last night as he faced a barrage of abuse from mainly irate Southland farmers at a meeting to discuss the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
More than 300 people from across Clutha and Southland packed the Gore venue, where it was obvious even before the meeting began that opposition to the scheme was strong.
Farmer and businessman Richard King took the chance to have his say face-to-face with the minister before the start. Following a heated exchange, Mr King told nzherald.co.nz he had been a National Party member for more than 40 years. "I'm here to say 'to hell with it'."
Dr Smith struggled to give his 20-minute presentation as he was continually interrupted by hecklers. At one point it appeared the chairman, Invercargill MP Eric Roy, almost lost control of the meeting as he repeatedly yelled for order and had to stop one man from advancing toward Dr Smith.
A National Party insider told the Herald organisers were concerned people could become violent and had considered calling the police.
Dr Smith told the crowd it was the 32nd presentation he had made during his nationwide road show but the first where he had been repeatedly interrupted.
Order was finally restored when there was the opportunity for questions from the floor. Bruce McGill asked the minister why New Zealand wasn't following Portugal's lead and promoting soil carbon as a means of gaining credits.
Dr Smith said if the government had opted to include soil carbon in the scheme farmers would have had to take the up side with the down side. "It's true some farmers are building up their top soil, but the amount we are losing from erosion and storm means overall (our soil carbon) is negative."
He said the inclusion of agricultural emissions into the scheme had been deferred until 2015 and that it would only enter the ETS if New Zealand's trading partners made progress on tackling climate change.
Until then, farmers were no different from all other New Zealanders, who had to pay more for electricity and fuel as a result of the ETS, he said.
Monday, July 5, 2010
New Zealand has already implemented an ETS, now owners of forestry are selling carbon credits such as on this New Zealand Online Auction Site Trademe where one trader is offering Carbon Credits (750 NZUs) Starting at $15,000 New Zealand Dollars.
Currently the auction seems to be more questions about the specifics of the ETS as the world struggles to come to grips with its complexities.
View this trademe.co.nz Carbon Credits auction.