NZ Green Party
A government at war with its own Treasury

In all the time I’ve been hopping around Parliament I’ve never heard a statement more extraordinary than this one:

The numbers from Treasury are nonsense. Treasury can’t tell us what the deficit is going to be in December let alone what’s happening in 2030 or 2040.

Now, I’ll admit to having a go at Treasury forecasting myself from time to time, most notably about oil prices.  But the thing that is extraordinary about this statement is that it didn’t come from here at the lily pad, or from a Green or Labour MP.  It was made by none other than the Prime Minister, in response to Treasury advice on Nick Smith’s limp excuse for an Emissions Trading Scheme.

That’s right – John Key expressing a complete lack of confidence in a Government Department that he is ultimately responsible for.

Nick Smith chimed in too, unusually for him somewhat more moderately:

Figures beyond the first decade are highly speculative and dependant [sic] on assumptions about future international agreements, the carbon price and the growth of industry.

What a pity Smith didn’t apply that sort of logic to the other debacle he currently presides over – the gutting of ACC, where he is himself using highly speculative figures about the cost of claims decades in the future to justify levy increases and cover and entitlement cuts now.

Here’s what Treasury had to say about the regulatory impact statement for the ACC-gutting Bill currently before Parliament:

The Treasury Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) Team has reviewed this regulatory impact statement (RIS) and considers that it does not meet the RIS requirements. The RIS does not contain the required information and the analysis is incomplete in a number of key areas. For example, some of the proposals to remove ACC entitlements will shift costs onto other government agencies or onto individuals but the RIS does not quantify these costs. The proposal to introduce experience rating and risk sharing in the Work Account will increase administrative and compliance costs for business and for the ACC Scheme, but these costs have not yet been investigated. In addition, the RIS consultation requirements have not been met.

Pretty damning stuff, but Smith will no doubt blunder on with this ill-conceived Bill and Treasury can expect another serve from the PM for providing advice which is embarrassing to the Government.

128 thoughts on “A government at war with its own Treasury

  1. Are we still surprised when these 40-something ‘Bright-Young-Men’ trash the advice from policy analysts who have been working in their fields for decades?

    Frankly, I’m more surprised when anything they say makes sense, or shows any deeper appreciation of the actual policy concerns of the Ministry they’re commenting on.

    Earth to John Key: running futures for a merchant bank is not relevant to the good governance of the GNP of a small country… please consider the possibility that the people in Treasury know more about it than you do.

    (OMG, I just defended Treasury policy wonks. I definitely need a short lie-down …)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4 (+6)

  2. Yeah, katie, Key leads an arrogant government that rams legislation through under urgency, affording it little, if any, Select Committee scrutiny, and ignores or dismisses out of hand evidence that does not support its an agenda driven sometimes by rampant populism and sometimes by neo-liberal ideology that was tried and failed in the 1990s.

    The ETS and the ACC cuts are two classic examples of this. National even had to repeal their own tax cuts because they ignored advice that they were fiscally unsustainable and bulldozed them through Pariament under urgency anyway. It will all come back to bite them on the bum, and some future Government will be left to clean up the mess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2 (+5)

  3. No one can predict those numbers for 2030/2040. If Key is to be criticised on this, it should be for stating a self-evident truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 17 (-8)

  4. That down-voting thing – is it the blog equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and saying “nah nah nah nah” when someone says something you don’t want to hear?

    I would like to meet someone who could even get close to ballpark figures for 2030/2040. What an interesting, and unique, soothsayer she would be….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7 (-1)

  5. Sweet as Blue. We’ve come along way since you last floundered about in the pond. We’re so civilised now and we’ve got karma thumbs! I gave you your first ‘thumbs-down’ for old-times sake :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  6. Hmmmm……

    Women are unpaid!
    Forget 40%, NZ should go for 50%!
    Without an environment, there is no economy.
    The country would be a lot nicer place if Russel was PM

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9 (-5)

  7. Key was more than happy to cite Treasury when the figures suited him. His hypocrisy and arrogance know no bounds. None the less, it’s foolish of him to dis Treasury now, as his expression of no-confidence in them will always be used against him now. Kinda funny in a way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2 (+5)

  8. I think you just thumb down anything outside the party line.

    It’s all rather North Korean…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12 (-8)

  9. Doesn’t everyone smite…
    Yes, but Frog’s not Prime Minister …yet!
    Smiting the Department one is responsible for, now there’s a short-sighted act …and speaking of which, Blue, you’ll have thoughts about Rodney and Roger that you’ve not had the opportunity to share with us!
    I’m all ears!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  10. So, the problem is not that Key is stating the truth, it’s the fact he is a NZ PM stating the truth?

    The horror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  11. Nope. It’s a case of Key arrogantly dismissing anything that doesn’t serve his purpose, yet trumpeting it when it does.

    The hypocrisy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 (+3)

  12. As for the thumbs … we’re playing with you.

    It’s a bit childish, though?

    Boo! Yay!

    Isn’t the problem that you won’t get any polemic debates? Opposing views undesirable?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6 (-5)

  13. Nope. It’s a case of Key arrogantly dismissing anything that doesn’t serve his purpose, yet trumpeting it when it does.

    Modus operandi for all politicians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9 (-5)

  14. And it’s a modus that we should call when we see it – we did, ’cause we did!

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  15. “It’s a bit childish, though? ”

    Well it’s easier than typing out bu11sh!t every time you disagree with a comment. No one forces you to pay attention to them.

    “Modus operandi for all politicians. ”

    And pointing out hypocrisy is MO for opposition party blogs, surely…

    “No one can predict those numbers for 2030/2040.”

    Anyone can predict them, it’s the degree of accuracy to be questioned. What basis can laws be made on if there’s no attempt at predicting their future consequences? Treasury are often very crap, but they’re arguably the best government department to give advice on the financial implications of this travesty…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 (+4)

  16. I maintain that predicting numbers accurately for 2030/2040 is a turkey shoot. Too many variables.

    That’s the truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 (+3)

  17. “I maintain that predicting numbers accurately for 2030/2040 is a turkey shoot. Too many variables.”

    I agree but the real point is if carbon prices are higher than expected the result won’t be that polluters decrease their pollution it will be that the taxpayer gets a bigger bill for the credits this government has given away. This is clearly opposite to the stated purpose of the ETS.

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  18. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  19. Welcome back BP. Let’s hope this time you can refrain from trolling and engage in constructive argument.

    Re your comments:

    @4.44 PM – I presume you mean the Treasury quote on the ACC-gutting Bill. Here’s the link to the Bill itself (PDF). The quote from it in my post is at page 21. I linked to Kevin Hague’s submission guide to encourage people to make submissions, but it in turn also links to the Bill, right near the top.

    @3.45 PM – There are two differences, BP.

    The first is, as greenfly points out, that I am not the Prime Minister. The role of Opposition parties is to challenge Government decisions and the competence of departmental advice. The Government’s respective role is to ensure departments perform competently. If the PM is concerned about the competence of Treasury, he should address that directly with them, as it is he who is responsible for their performance .

    The second is that when I challenged Treasury’s forecasts about oil prices I was able to cite evidence that they were demonstrably and substantially wrong. The PM has cited no evidence that Treasury’s figures on the ETS debt projections, or for that matter the deficit in December this year, are wrong. He’s just publicly attacked Treasury as incompetent, but put up no argument why they are wrong.

    If it comes to a choice without doing any research between believing Treasury policy wonks or Nick Smith, (which is a choice a lazy PM might make) I’d pick Treasury every time. The PM chose to believe Smith.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 (+5)

  20. Thanks Frog. I’ll have a read.

    Not much of a fan of Nick Smith either, but probably not for the same reasons as you, I suspect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  21. “If trade-exposed industry closes down or moves offshore because competition in the developing world doesn’t face that same cost, and they won’t, then the NZ taxpayer will be paying regardless.”

    Quite a speculative prediction there BP. Many variables you are assuming.

    If you’re right though I would prefer to pay the price through losing the polluters from our shores than paying them cash to stay and pollute. The money we would lose in lost jobs etc. would be offset through lower power consumption (if Rio Tinto left we could switch Huntly off), better waterways …

    Change is going to come, maintaining the status quo will cost more and more…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 (+4)

  22. Quite a speculative prediction there BP. Many variables you are assuming.

    True, although mine is short term and obvious in terms of a business case. If the production cost is too high, they go broke or move.

    In either case, this is tax revenue that must be made up elsewhere. In either case, supply is going to meet demand somewhere else. How does this reduce global c02?

    I don’t know the business case for Rio Tinto, other than what I’ve read through blogs and the media.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  23. I foresee it now:

    Double Dipton, angrily stomping across the road to No. 1 The Terrace to give John Whitehead and the Treasury team a bollocking over their shonky advice.

    Yeah, right!

    More likely he will be asking them how he arrange his personal affairs to get back the accommodation allowance the Auditor-General has determined he was never entitled to receive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 (-2)

  24. Says me.

    I raised the issue of the Government’s response to Treasury’s advice on the National Party’s ETS. That’s fair game for comment on this thread.

    But regurgitating propaganda from climate change deniers like Monckton and de Freitas is not.

    So far the thread is on topic. Let’s keep it that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  25. New Pond Order, Blue. Frog’s got teeth and Rimu. Shape up or ship out.
    No regurgitating. That’s for pelicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  26. The ETS has nothing to do with climate change? Well, I must say I’m in agreement there.

    >>But regurgitating propaganda from climate change deniers like Monckton and de Freitas is not.

    ?

    Yes, I can see your cursor heading for the down vote button. I notice my posts above are disappearing. Well that’s mature! Hear no evil, eh.

    No rebuttals? Just down voting? Nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9 (-6)

  27. BP

    I keep my “Hide-em” level at -11. That ensures that I see most posts including yours, because you aren’t completely without redeeming features. I know you are trying hard but being perfectly awful just seems to elude you somehow :-)

    If trade-exposed industry closes down or moves offshore because competition in the developing world doesn’t face that same cost, and they won’t, then the NZ taxpayer will be paying regardless.

    You figure they won’t ? You DO have an optimistic streak, don’t you. Not that we have a lot of trade-exposed industry and it seems to me that we aren’t entirely helpless in the event.

    We are at risk to some degree if we worship the free-market of course, but that’s clearly not the case because what Nick et.al. have done is expose the taxpayer without ANY countervailing benefit… cutting the market forces out of the equation directly and subsidizing emissions directly from the public purse.

    Subsidizing them with a claimed exposure based on $25 Carbon… and giving them a price of $12. Which is risible if there is an effective market and appropriate targets… because the question has to be asked “Who the fnck will have spare carbon credits in 20 years time?” The only way to believe that number is to stipulate that we aren’t coming out of recession but headed into the greater depression.

    Sort of like WWI turned out not to be the “war to end all wars”, the great depression turning out to not be the worst possible economic outcome of fractional-reserve insanity. Bad economic news is actually GOOD, who’d-a-thunk-it.

    Why demand for carbon credits is expected to grow

    * Because of projected shortfalls and higher relative carbon abatement costs, it is anticipated that a number of OECD countries will need to purchase Carbon Credits to meet their Kyoto target by 2012. The higher relative emissions abatement costs in these countries mean that they will find it attractive to buy carbon credits generated elsewhere.
    * Private companies in industrialised countries will increasingly be subject to ‘cap and trade’ mechanisms, such as the EU Emission Trading Scheme which started on 1st January 2005 (although this will initially cover only 50% of emissions). The EU scheme is separate from the Kyoto Protocol but the ‘Linking Directive’ of 2004 allows a European company to buy Kyoto Protocol Carbon Credits to comply with their obligations under the EU Emission Trading Scheme.
    * Governments will also have to buy Carbon Credits because the ‘cap and trade’ mechanisms will initially only apply to a fraction of each state’s economy and Governments are responsible under the Kyoto Protocol for meeting their country targets. OECD Governments and European companies subject to the EU Emission Trading Scheme will therefore be the main buyers of Carbon Credits.
    Low-cost carbon credits available in the EBRD’s countries of operations
    * The reference year used by the Kyoto Protocol for targets in emission reductions is 1990. Since then, emissions have dropped sharply in countries such as Russia and Ukraine, as a result of substantial real contraction of GDP.
    * It is expected that the 13 countries of operation with Kyoto Protocol targets will remain below their agreed maximum greenhouse emissions. These countries will therefore be likely sellers of carbon credits.
    * High carbon and energy intensities mean high potential for low-cost emissions reductions (low relative investment cost per tonne of GHGs avoided).

    http://www.ebrd.com/country/sector/energyef/carbon/index.htm#trading

    When the US and the rest of the world start buying them, what exactly happens when the supply runs short? BAU elsewhere adapts to the higher prices… but in NZ we just pump more taxpayer money into it… for the rest of the fncking century.

    I can imagine you might have a low opinion of that.. but the reason the government is playing stupid numbers games is that it doesn’t want an ETS and this is its way of making sure it doesn’t get one… even if it DOES have one.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  28. bj asks “When the US and the rest of the world start buying them, what exactly happens when the supply runs short?”

    Corrupt officials will just make up more carbon credits. Money for nothing – what could be easier. We’ll never run out as long as people want to buy them.

    How could anybody ever possibly know if they are buying real credits, duplicate credits, or completely false credits?

    It’s the perfect scheme to rip off. What’s being sold for millions? Nothing – absolutely nothing. Not a thing, Specifically, no carbon.

    And what’s nothing worth? Millions. Does anybody want to buy my “no carbon” for a few million – I’ll give you an authentic looking certificate.

    This could eclipse all other illegal trade combined – the illegal drugs trade, people smuggling trade, fake products trade, Nigerian scams etc.

    Why go to all that bother when you can print your own certificates worth millions. What corrupt officials will be able to resist such large amounts. With so much money to bribe officials, they won’t even need to make fake copies – just get the dodgy governments to print real ones.

    We’ve recently (or currently) had past or present country leaders on corruption charges – Italy, France, Israel, South Africa, Phillipines, Taiwan, Peru, Zambia, Bosnia, Thailand, US senate leaders, and opposition leaders from Taiwan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Spain, Venezuela, Uzbekistan etc

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of those who have actually been charged. What a fantastic scheme emssions trading will be for these people, and thousands of other leaders and officials just like them.

    Can someone please remind me how you authenticate that that you are buying real “no carbon” that is not in the air somewhere?

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  29. Photonz

    I think they’ll try mate. I think there’s a very good chance they’ll try… and may succeed for a very little while. I also reckon that there is no way to hide the number of hectares you have of trees, or the number of windfarms. Not now.

    This isn’t Gold or Oil where the supply can be hidden and the futures can be scammed.

    I am less nervous about blatant fraud here than I might be if it were simply a matter of some government official certifying the existence of N trees or X wind turbines… and I am significantly disturbed by the alternatives we abandoned because some people do worship the free-market overmuch.

    respectfully
    BJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  30. Which begs the question Photonz

    Is it really a good idea to subsidize the emitters and cut off the effects of the free-market that the ETS depends on in order to work?

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  31. frog: In all the time I’ve been hopping around Parliament I’ve never heard a statement more extraordinary than this one

    Really? Do you think Key should have simply dismissed it as an “ideological burp” from Treasury, instead?

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  32. “Treasury has told the Government it should cut personal and company taxes as soon as the next Budget….But Finance Minister Michael Cullen dismissed the briefing as the usual “ideological burp” from Treasury every three years. He remained largely unconvinced tax cuts would change the growth rate”.

    Treasury’s prescription:

    * Cut personal, company and high marginal tax rates to boost economic growth.
    * Reduce the growth in government spending.
    * Rethink the carbon tax.
    * Cut remaining tariffs and liberalise overseas investment regime.
    * Review Resource Management Act to stop red tape strangling development.
    * Consider selling state owned enterprises.

    Dr Cullen’s response:

    Nothing more than an “ideological burp”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  33. Frog says
    “In all the time I’ve been hopping around Parliament I’ve never heard a statement more extraordinary than this one:” (really truely?)

    “The numbers from Treasury are nonsense. Treasury can’t tell us what the deficit is going to be in December let alone what’s happening in 2030 or 2040.”

    Why is it the most extraordinary statement? It is because it’s probably one of the most truthful statements to come out of pariament – that rare thing, basic common sense?

    Do you really think Treasury has any more of an accurate picture of the deficit in 2040, than they had of the current deficit back in 1978. (let alone one or two years ago)

    As for the first part of the statement, that’s correct as well. Almost every time there’s a deficit / balance of payments / tax take announcement, it’s either way above or way below treasury predictions.

    That this is the most extraordinary statement you’ve ever heard in parliament, is…..er…. extrarodinary.

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  34. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  35. There’s nothing extraordinary about Key dismissing Treasury advice as nonsense one day, having lauded them for their wisdom the day before – that’s the Key way! Key speaks many tongues, ‘parsel’ being the one he favours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3 (+4)

  36. bj – maybe subsidising some emitters could be part of the solution.

    We have emissions coming from some products that we want to reduce the use of – oil, coal, gas etc.

    We have other emissions from products that we don’t neccesarily want to reduce – i.e.food. We’ve just had reports that to feed the world, we’re going to need 70% more food.

    That probably brings up the population debate, but I won’t go there right now.

    The point is we want to reduce fossil fuel use, full stop. But we don’t neccesarily want to reduce food production – just the emissions from it.

    So emissions from these two different industries should be treated quite differently. Treating them with the same blunt instrument is just stupid. Perhaps additional taxes on fossil fuels could be put into R and D for reducing emissions from animals.

    This would quite likely result in a much greater and faster reduction in animal emissions than the ETS.

    So what might sound like a crazy idea (subsidising emitters) could in some industries, have a far greater beneficial effect on reducing emissions than simply hitting everyone on the head with a great big ets hammer.

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  37. Nah Blue, you get down-thumbed for harping when your statement has already been addressed and expanded upon.

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  38. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  39. Photonz,
    Ah, and this is where Phil should chime in.
    By reducing meat consumption we can vastly increase the mouths able to be feed.

    Something worthy of note is the amount of fossil fuels used in food production and thus the overflow of any costs into the food producing sectors. Not to mention that food production is our single biggest emitter here independent of the fossil fuel input :P .
    We do, of course, have the technology to sustain many more billions than present. The thing is the cost and what benefit doing so would provide. I would argue that, even could we support all those we presently have, the population is far to large. But the technology is there if only we can meet the energy needs, easily achievable via SPS if we had CATS: http://www.verticalfarm.com/ (a project i’ve been following for about three years now.)

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  40. Photonz

    I might agree to providing support for specific industries or productive sectors, and indeed I generally regard that as a better idea for NZ than trying to be a perfectly free-market capitalist society.

    However, if we provide support for an industry, that is a separate issue to the cost of emitting. Trying to tie the two issues together invites additional complication in a system that we both regard as already too complex.

    No?

    respectfully
    BJ

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  41. bj – it is too complex in some ways, and too simple in others – i.e. effectively it’s a blunt scheme to reduce consumption, but is aimed both at industries that need production decreased, and increased.

    I think there’s a lot of fatal flaws in the scheme – I think it will fail.

    sapient – surely when we eat meat we have just helped stop the emissions from an animal????

    However dairy products including ours are pretty important for the nutrition of a lot of countries.

    I don’t want to divert into vegetarian or population debates (except to say I agree with you that we should reduce world population).

    Effectively I think you’re saying pretty much the same thing – we need to increase food prodction to properly feed the world, but just do it much more efficiently / sustainably.

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  42. Blue – harden up! A ‘thumbs-down’ is hardly ‘shouting down’, unless you have some sort of visual-to-aural translator on your computer, set to ‘super-sensitive’. (Calling other posters here ’12 year-olds’ is the kind of childish behaviour that will doubtless attract more of what irks you).

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  43. “..we need to increase food prodction to properly feed the world, but just do it much more efficiently / sustainably..”

    which means..no matter how much you try to dance around it..

    ..going vegan..

    how can it not..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  44. BP

    I think we’re still working out how to respond to your polarizing influence.

    I’d suggest that you browse some of the other threads (that were not affected by that influence) before you pass judgment :-)

    I note that you got a fair few upticks. The crowd isn’t THAT hostile.

    However, the point is really whether the assumptions made by Nick Smith are better than the assumptions made by Treasury regarding the price of Carbon Credits. I’ve pointed out the basis for expecting the price to go higher, and the assumptions I’d have to expect to underpin a lower price. The only assumption I can see making sense on the part of government taking the figures it is taking, is that it thinks it can get away with using this means to subvert the ETS to its own ends.

    Examining their actions on just about every issue, this is the shoe that seems to fit.

    respectfully
    BJ

    BJ

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  45. Blue – harden up! A ‘thumbs-down’ is hardly ’shouting down’, unless you have some sort of visual-to-aural translator on your computer, set to ’super-sensitive’. (Calling other posters here ‘12 year-olds’ is the kind of childish behaviour that will doubtless attract more of what irks you).

    If I used the same tone you’re using, I’d be voted down, and then “disappeared”. Again, what was so wrong with my very first comment? Was it impolite? I can understand that people may disagree with it, but why would they then want to make it disappear simply because they disagreed?

    In order to stay visible, one needs to agree with the party, or phrase objections in that tiresome passive-aggressive mode of university arts courses?

    I find that mode dishonest.

    It strikes me that the down-vote is a means to silence critics. I’ve looked back through the posts and it is used frequently. It is used when someone says something that runs counter to Green policy.

    Truly odd.

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  46. Photonz,
    I assume the first line after my designation is sarcasm? lol.
    Dairy products are important, especially to the poor. Irish (specifically that of Leinster) history tells us at least this much (also to keep a little variety in and between ones crops, eh?). What happens when we tell the guy on a dollar a day that he has to pay 80c per day for the emissions of his main source of nutrition? The population and meat/vege ratio are strongly intertwined one thinks.
    Can we increase production considering how much more expensive fertility enhancing additives will get and our reliance on non-perennial stable crops even assuming more land is dedicated to such? I think it will be interesting to see food land and tree land compete for the highest monetry yield once trees begin to give so much more.

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  47. I have seen what happens when purposes get mixed Photonz… consider the US income tax laws.

    If there is a price on carbon, it is the price of carbon, not the price of carbon to this guy, and a different price for carbon to that guy. If I want to subsidize an industry, I should arrange a subsidy and it is a separate decision. The Carbon price remains the same, a price on the commons which MUST be met and felt by the market if the market is to respond to it.

    The point of the exercise is that the price on the commons is a blunt instrument which will kill us if we ignore it any longer, and whatever ELSE we do, it has to be in place and unavoidable for us to properly allow for it in all our adaptations.

    Mixing the two processes tax and benefit, cost and subsidy… just scrambles things so that it is easier to inadvertently create loopholes.

    I LIKE blunt instruments. Everything we try to do, fully in view.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  48. For example, I was reading this thread the other day, and nearly everything written by Owen McShane, who was making some very interesting, informed points, was “disappeared” by down voting.

    http://tinyurl.com/ydsnxzp

    I looked back at the thread, and it appears that the moderator has removed those scores, making Owens posts visible once again. So, the moderator is going against the votes of the readers, perhaps in acknowledgement that the voting system is rather flawed?

    But if I mention same, I’m the spawn of Satan.

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  49. BP, we’ve chosen to experiment with some of the features available in the software. This one is entirely configurable by users, who can set the threshold at any level they want. Also, all comments are available at the click of the mouse, even if they meet a user’s threshold. As with any of these things, some people like it and others not. You missed our threaded comments experiment and debate – now that was fun.

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  50. Hmm, so perhaps some people prefer Owen’s engagement style to yours. It’s not all about the issues then, is it.

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  51. BP

    Since I was participating in the thread you mention I just reviewed it, and I recall it and I distinctly DO NOT recall any of Owen’s posts getting disappeared in that conversation.

    There was a thread in which he got hammered, but it wasn’t this one. Are you sure you are looking at the right thread?

    (Yes… I seriously believe that you linked to the wrong place by accident )

    BJ

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  52. Cheer up Blue! I’ve given you a positive thumb, because you seem to be feeling a little rejected.
    Is it the democratic aspect of thumbing that upsets you?
    (Disclaimer: I objected strongly to the system as well Blue, claiming it was childish :-)

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  53. Dunno Frog. Owen was being very polite and he was still “disappeared” i.e. the default setting for all readers, which most people won’t change. The only reason he is visible now is that someone has reset those voting scores. At the time the debate was occurring, Owens posts were disappeared.

    However, it’s your house. Just sayin’ I find the Digg-style voting very teenage. Not sure how it fits in with a supposedly open and smart political discussion forum.

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  54. >> DO NOT recall any of Owen’s posts getting disappeared in that conversation

    Because you’ve got your threshold set lower than the default.

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  55. You can’t possibly take pride of place in our satanic rankings here BP. You far too often make reasonable points and keep us honest… much like Owen and Gerrit and Shunda.

    I happen to like the ratings, they keep it interesting at some level… letting me know how well I am “connecting” with people and I do like getting SOME feedback. Calling it juvenile and us 12-year-olds is going to get YOU some feedback though. I suggest that you relax and get used to it. You can argue against the “party line” here and still get recs… or often it will just get silence on that part. A lot depends on how well you argue.

    I don’t know who is reading the blog.. how many… what political views they hold. You have caused me to think of a question….

    Frog… Question.

    Can anyone reading the blog offer a thumbs-up/down? Or must they be registered?

    So you see BP… you have failed in your effort to paint yourself as evil :-)

    respectfully
    BJ

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  56. Cheer up Blue! I’ve given you a positive thumb, because you seem to be feeling a little rejected.Is it the democratic aspect of thumbing that upsets you? (Disclaimer: I objected strongly to the system as well Blue, claiming it was childish

    Well, one wonders why one should enter into interesting debates if ones views are going to be dissapeared. So one is left to conclude the point of the voting system is to silence opposing voices.

    As I say, your house, your rules. A curious approach, certainly.

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  57. Blue – how you do love to push your barrow! Someone entering into interesting debate won’t necessarily have their post ‘disappeared’, if they are able to show a rational approach. A good argument will attract positives as well and don’t forget, there are plenty of people browsing here who regularly down-thumb ‘green’ statements.
    Back to your original claim about Key’s correctness re Treasury – he also said that ‘ Treasury can’t tell us what the deficit is going to be in December..’ which is pretty damning of a Department that the Government bases many of it’s decisions upon, isn’t it!

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  58. “..You can’t possibly take pride of place in our satanic rankings here BP..”

    that’d be me..wouldn’t it..?

    by a country mile..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  59. bj – the whole scheme is fatally flawed.

    - it discourages food production when we need more.
    - in some cases it will discourage new (but expensive) more efficient technology if it is cheaper to pollute and pay for carbon.
    - the buying of credits is totally open to massive corruption. How can a company in one country possibly tell if what they are buying is real or not, or if it’s already be sold to another company in another country. We’re about to see the emssions trading scheme become the emissions trading scam.
    - the adminstration, new govt departments, measuring, policing, trading etc, will make EVERY company LESS efficient. The scheme itself is a giant inefficiency that produces nothing i.e. companies will need to produce more (i.e. more carbon emissions) just to to overcome the inefficiency of the system.
    - it is completely inequitable. Countries and companies who try hard to do the right thing, will be penalised compared to countries and companies who do not participate.
    - it make it HARDER for companies who need to invest in new technology to reduce emssions. Instead of funds for new technology, that money is diverted to paying for carbon. It makes it HARDER, NOT EASIER – for them to improve things.

    Plus there’s always going to be a lot of unseen negative consequences (these are just a few of the obvious negative consequences)

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  60. No Phil – Think about James and Wat and some of our other “Libertarian” guests for a moment. Not LibertyScott, who is another good “keeps-us-honest” poster. Think about the guy who brought up the monarchy all the time…. there are a number of poster’s from hell out there who have very consistently made less sense than you do. :-)

    I hadn’t thought about it that hard…. don’t like lists, but you’d be on my good list… if I had one.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  61. I am quite sure you’ve got threads confused… and you wanted us to look at… this one: http://blog.greens.org.nz/2009/11/15/denying-death/

    Perhaps, but I don’t see Owen being rude in that thread either. He is daring to suggest that AGW theory might be flawed, which, I guess, is the 2009 equivalent of telling the high priests that sacrificing the virgin on the altar at Stonehenge might not be a constructive idea.

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  62. What Owen did, if you look at the post that garnered the hostility in the first place, was to bring over from Kiwiblog, a false argument about the IPCC authorship. This was one that was simple and easily checked… not an argument about AGW, which we have discussed without such troubles.

    When I pointed out the problem there was a bit of a reaction, I think owing to the fact that we’ve grown to like and to some extent trust Owen. He HAS earned a fair bit of respect here… but the false claim put him on the back foot, and was an error which angered people.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  63. Photonz

    1. We don’t “need more” food. We can grow a certain amount sustainably and after that we need fewer people. Destroying the environment to attempt to do the impossible (keep up with our obsession with procreation), is a bad idea.

    2. the buying of credits is totally open to massive corruption. How can a company in one country possibly tell if what they are buying is real or not, or if it’s already be sold to another company in another country
    The totals available to any given country can be to a large degree measured from Orbit. We have that technology. The volume of sales for a given country is traceable. This is a tractable problem because the available total is fairly easily measured/estimated. If that were not the case it would be far easier to game. I would encourage regulation of any Carbon futures market however, as that IS where things can get gamed.

    3. The scheme itself is a giant inefficiency that produces nothing
    Accepted in part, but there is no alternative on offer. You have yet to provide me with any way to avoid this. It DOES produce something – it produces (if it is done properly) a planet our children can live on.

    4. Seems to me that emitters who don’t participate will see tariff walls erected against them that will be impossible for them to climb. I doubt that they will profit from this speculation which both you and BP have forwarded. You will never see any ETS that isn’t coupled with tariffs against non-participant emitters.

    5. it make it HARDER for companies who need to invest in new technology to reduce emssions. Instead of funds for new technology, that money is diverted to paying for carbon. It makes it HARDER, NOT EASIER – for them to improve things.

    I disagree. It alters the economic payback on everything we do and investing in new equipment that saves emissions would become far more profitable than leaving the old stuff in place and paying for the emissions and having to pass those costs to customers and losing market share. The only thing that is economically hard in this country is getting people to invest in industry rather than houses in the first place… and the reasons for that go far beyond the question of what a carbon-credit costs.

    You have yet to provide me with an alternative Photonz1. If I don’t have the best possible tool in the toolbox because Labour and National broke the other tools, that is hardly my doing. I WILL do whatever I can, and if an ETS is possible and Tax is impossible then I will do an ETS. The alternatives are quite dangerous to my children’s children.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  64. * Cut personal, company and high marginal tax rates to boost economic growth.
    * Reduce the growth in government spending.
    * Rethink the carbon tax.
    * Cut remaining tariffs and liberalise overseas investment regime.
    * Review Resource Management Act to stop red tape strangling development.
    * Consider selling state owned enterprises.

    Ideological burp was understating it! These are old fashioned solutions that when they were first considered were based on hypotheses held by academic economists, with some small evidence from authoritarian Chile, and when tried in a democracy (here) caused a serious decline in the economy and a catastrophic widening of the gap between rich and poor. The hypothesis is false: Whilst markets matter and are important they are incapable of running a small democratic economy. For that the evidence is that you need an economically powerful state. Hence you need high taxes. Get used to it! The benefits of a functioning health system, education system and welfare system far outweigh the losses from paying tax.

    Blue Peter is correct, forecasting over a 50 year time frame is cloud cuckoo land stuff. John Key was calling that correctly (but what an unashamed hypocrite). But the proposed ETS is wrong in so many ways…

    as always
    peace

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  65. bj – accepted we need fewer people. Are you volunteering? Unless or until this happens, we need more food, unless again you volunteer to forgo your share ;-)

    The world can’t control massive production of drugs, pirated products, animal trade, people trade, fake medicinal drugs, etc. Measuring how much carbon is NOT used by some countries, when there will be governents actively trying to smudge the figures, will not be, in your words “easily measured”.

    You are wrong – the scheme does not produce anything. All it does it shift pricing and money around, at a massive administration cost. You are hoping that people will behave in a certain way because of the shift in costs – some will, some won’t. But you would be able to get even better, more certain results, with methods that are much less inefficient.

    Of couse there will be cases where it will be cheaper to pay for carbon rather than install new technology. New tech often mean perhaps a 10% reduction in emissons – so there’s a big investment cost, but you still have to pay for the remaining 90% of emissions anyway.

    You also seem to think that companies can simply spend whatever they like on new tech. Most companies have as much debt as they can safely carry already, and even companies that are popularly known for ripping off consumers, like power companies, often in fact run on a profit margin of just 5%.

    From low profit margins, companies are now expected to pay shareholders a reasonable return for their investment, AND pay for carbon, AND make large investments in new technology.

    If there’s not enough to go around, what do they do? Carbon payments will be compulsory, if you don’t pay shareholders, they pull out, the share price goes down, and very soon you have a company where debt is higher than capital value and they go bust (just like the finance companies).

    There’s a fundamental problem with left / green politics, that there’s very few green MP who have ever run their own businesses (does anybody know what percentage have run a business?), and a large following of people for whom profits, large business, and capitalism, are all completely negative things.

    They seem to have zero idea about massive inefficiencies in things like compliance costs, and how these affect business.

    There’s an attitude that businesses can always pay, businesses can do masses of extra paper work, business always rake in huge profits, businesses can always afford a massive new bureaucracy.

    But there seems to be zero understanding that all this 100% inefficient administration impacts negatively on the businesses ability to actually make positive change.

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  66. I up vote BP when he says something on topic and which expands on the conversation.

    He constantly says things which are off topic, so I down vote him a lot.

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  67. Why are we handling BluePeter with kid-gloves? Is he so delicate?
    Unbolt your trainer-wheels Blue, set your jaw and try to keep up with the big kids (just keep pedalling!)

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  68. For the crime of saying:

    No one can predict those numbers for 2030/2040. If Key is to be criticised on this, it should be for stating a self-evident truth.

    I receive 11 negative votes.

    Checklist:

    On topic: Yes
    Rude/Offensive: No
    Truthiness: Very truthy

    I guess it’s because I’m the person saying it, or any agreement with National is seen as inherently negative, or both.

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  69. keep up with the big kids

    The kids don’t like the way I talk or what I say.

    I accept that some people are intolerant. No problem. Just pointing out my views on the childish voting system…

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  70. ok, you’ve done that BP. you can move on to discussing actual issues of the day now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 (+8)

  71. Personally, I like up-voting people. It feels like I’m encouraging them.
    Positive. Supportive. :)

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  72. bj – you keep saying I’ve offered no alternative, when I already have, more than once.

    I’ll develop it further.

    Put extra tarrifs on all fossil fuels at source (dealing with just a very small number of companies)

    For govt administration and the likes of our few big fuel companies, they woul;dn’t need a single extra staff member to administer this – it’s simply a tarrif change.

    Companies and people who use fossil fuels, would face increased costs (getting the same behaviour change of an ETS), but there would be no wastage in a giant worldwide duplicate bureaucratic double tax scheme and scam.

    Advantages -
    - massive saving in govt bureacracy, and hence taxpayers money
    - massive saving in companies compliance costs, measuring etc
    - more money for for new efficent technology (what would have been carbon tax and large adminstration cost could go to this, taxpayers money that was to go on bureaucracy could go to R and D – i.e. actually making a difference).

    Along with this we could put a sinking lid on emission regulations. These are currently ALREADY in place and measured for the likes of factories, so AGAIN, there would be no new massive bureacracy set up. EXISTING systems like regional councils already administer this – it’s a simple matter of reducing allowed levels.

    These regulations would stop companies who simply wanted to polute and pay for the carbon under the ETS (which would not stop this practice), while at the same time leaving companies with MORE money to address the problem.

    The government could then control exactly how much carbon we emitted, instead of just rolling a dice and maybe having people reduce carbon, or maybe having people just emit more and paying for it.

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  73. Photonz

    So that’s your proposal… OK. I didn’t recognize it as such, sorry. It does work better as you develop the thought more thoroughly and I’d be happy to have it.

    We can’t get it though. Can we. :-(

    Moreover, if we give up what we have as law right now National and ACT will almost certainly abandon the notion of doing anything at all.

    Try to remember. We don’t have choices, we have National.

    BTW – Spelling is tariff

    respectfully
    BJ

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  74. I try to be critical or give praise tp political parties because of what they do – not because they are this right wing party, or that left wing party.

    Most parties have at least some good and some bad ideas.

    You may write off National, but haven’t they taken action against the worst two emission problems – fuel and thermal generation. I thought they just raised petrol tax recently, and we’ve got the insulation grants (so popular, I had a ring just ten minutes ago that the insulation campany has me on the list and will be come and inspect our house in the middle or end of next year).

    Unfortunately we’ve had a decade of swelling bureaucracy and policies encouraging a housing bubble, and now we have the financial fall out. It goes back to what I’ve been harping on about – it’s much harder to take strong climate action when everyone is feeling the economic squeeze.

    The point with the ETS, is we could have a alternative system that works better, faster, no massive bureaucracy, and would target more money towards reducing emissions instead of on wasteful adminstration.

    Slight correction – not we COULD have a system. We ALREADY have the system.

    All it needs is a few numbers tweaked – it could be done tomorrow. Fuel tax up. Allowable emissions down.

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  75. I write off National because they couldn’t aim any lower without drilling a hole to the center of the planet.

    They raised petrol taxes – just enough – to build more roads:

    3 cents a litre in October this year and another 3 cents next year to the cost of petrol. This 6 cents will be used for more roads and mostly in Auckland.

    Scarcely the stuff of actually changing consumption. Their aim is to increase consumption. That is necessary for “economic growth”. Which they worship.

    The insulation was OUR doing, not theirs. They kindly refrained from gutting it in order that they could claim it.

    I can’t imagine anything quite as transparently and viciously contemptuous as Brownlee’s treatment of efficiency (and Jeanette) and the notion of making the government actually purchase efficient vehicles was tossed out on its first reading.

    There are very few things I am certain of, but the unsuitability of this government as anything except a negative example is unmistakable.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  76. bj – you say that under an ETS emissions will be easily measured and there won’t be much of a problem with corruption, fake credits etc.

    Under a scheme already operating, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM,a carbon trading scheme worth tens of billions of dollars) where carbon credits are bought from developing countries, it was found that there was a lot of fraud. In fact, in an article put out by International Rivers and Friends of the Earth, more than 75% of credits paid for were fake.

    However the scheme allows those who buy the fake credits to increase their emissions – effectively it’s having the OPPOSITE effect of what was intended.

    The article concludes that stricter policing of the scheme would make it so inefficent that it would be impractical.

    There’s also been large scale fraud worth hundreds of millions of dollars in China, Brazil, and Papua New Guinea, some involving Austraslian companies. Fake carbon traders are apapently swarming through SE Asia right now.

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  77. The fraud was discovered, no? Was a private scheme too – so not as easy to watch the private corporations. Governments have national boundaries. Total owned by a country is a known quantity. CANNOT be faked. Measure the gozintas and gozoutas and you’ve got the basis for fraud detection. I know it can be done. I know it isn’t done yet.

    Because you cannot fake more hectare’s of trees than you have.

    I expect that fraud of this sort will be attempted often enough to be a problem, but not successful enough to be a serious problem. It is a problem now because there’s no real effort to police it. With any real involvement in the market globally the fly-by-nights will get zorched quickly enough. The SERIOUS problems come into being with the “futures market” and the trading by mobs like Goldman-Sachs.

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  78. bj – I was wrong about predicting organised crime and corrupt officials will be SOON be trading fake carbon credits in the future – they are already doing it, right now.

    Fron interpol “Alarm bells are ringing. It is simply too big to monitor. The potential for criminality is vast and has not been taken into account by the people who set it up.

    Organized crime syndicates are eyeing the nascent forest carbon market. I will report to the bank that REDD schemes are open to wide abuse”

    Here’s another major scheme that ripe to be taken over by organised crime –
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/oct/05/un-forest-protection

    And there’s a $1.5 billion scam uncovered in UK, Spain, and across Europe, a GBP38 million scam in UK, carbon certification companies have been suspended over irregularities in Norway and UK.

    What a fantastic scheme for organised crime – a world forced to pay millions, sorry billions, for something you can’t see, hear, taste or even measure (how do to measure to check carbon savings, after they have happened, or that they have already been sold once, twice or ten times before?)

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  79. photonz1

    That has been my argument for a long time but so far deaf ears have listened.

    What we should be doing is collecting carbon taxes and spending that money in New Zealand to minimise carbon emmisions.

    Anything else like the ETS trading scheme plays not only into the hands of the “mafia” but also into the 30% AlGore corporation plus every bailed out bank in creation.

    Was really hoping that we could break the cycle of being beholding to money lenders and I live in hope, but it is not looking likely.

    Any ETS trading scheme will not reduce carbon emmisions, not one iota.

    That baby is the emporer not wearing any clothes.

    All it will do is transfer wealth from nations to a UN derived world dispensing bank.

    Control of which no nation will have any say over.

    mmmmmmmm – conspiracy?

    The next age will be based on relocalisation of power to nations (but more likely neighbourhoods). This is the last roll of the dice for globalist.

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  80. bj says “Because you cannot fake more hectare’s of trees than you have.”

    Get real bj – it’s already happened. They’re sold multiple times, forests that don’t qualify have fake certification to be included, forest that don’t even exist have had credits sold – let me count the ways this can easily be scammed.

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  81. Gerrit – I agree completely.

    Whenever I think of spending millions of dollars on a piece of paper that tells me I have something that I can’t see, or measure or check, the words clothes, emperor and no keep coming into my head.

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  82. @Gerrit 6.14 PM:

    What we should be doing is collecting carbon taxes and spending that money in New Zealand to minimise carbon emmisions.

    I agree Gerrit. And so do the Greens. A carbon tax is their preferred option. But while National and Labour have the dominace they do in parliament, and the Greens have only 9 votes, the Greens can’t even get it on the agenda as a serious political option.

    Hence the Greens begrudgingly supporting Labour’s ETS last year, which might have reduced emissions a wee bit – but I still think the Greens should have opposed it because of its likely lack of effectiveness in that regard.

    National’s version will likely have no impact at all on greenhouse gas emissions, but will be a huge cost to future generations that will be required to subsidise the big polluters.

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  83. BJ,

    Unless you have a central clearing station (like the UN is setting up), you will never know how many times a carbon sink has been sold.

    Just like one of my customers does not know who my other customers are to any extent, so will a purchaser not know who else is buying duplicate or triplicate carbon credits from a single sink.

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  84. toad,

    But I dont hear the Greens shouting their message from the rooftops. If I look at the last few post on frogblog for example there is not a single mention of carbon emmision taxation plus benefits versus ETS with no benefits.

    So come on get on message Greens. And you may just get more then a paltry 9 MP’s.

    Trouble is you and the other Greens are more interested in ACC, Maori, Bill English, Leaky Homes, Student Loans, etc.

    Where is the core Green message?

    Mind you with Maori being given permission (in secret no less) to grow and log trees on DOC land, where is the Green message on that score?

    No problems with that?

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  85. Gerrit,
    Perhaps because it is an idea which will never achieve the carbon-neutrality that is required for us to actually survive. It provides a ‘decrease emissions’ mechanism but no ‘increase sequestration’ mechanism save that which has seen more forests ripped up than planted as of late.

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  86. Sapient,

    The idea of the taxation is not to “trade” an emission for a sink but to attain a carbon neutral standard.

    The taxation is to encourage a change away from emitting. Less taxation for lower emmisions.

    Remember the Greens have spelt out that this taxation will be neutral (cant find the link to Russel’s posting on that matter).

    Trading does not lower carbon emmisions. It just means that emmitters need to “find” someone with a carbon sink large enough and “pay” some money.

    That money is coming directly or indirectly from the consumer (you and me) so does not have any impact on the emitters modus operandi except that they need some extra adminastrative function to channel money from you to the carbon sink holder.

    Off course 30% of this money will be “used” to make sure that the carbon sinks are genuine and sustainable.

    Which is where the “mafia” and 30% AlGore Corporation come in.

    And naturally once the 30% are troughing it on your money, there will never be any end to emitting carbon as the “trade” has to be sustained for the good of the corporate.

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  87. Gerrit,
    If we are pumping more carbon into the air than is being removed there will be an increase over time in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and thus, as a general rule, an increase in the radiative forcing. This behaviour is not sustainable in the long term even if the rate by which we pump extra carbon into the atmosphere is small.

    There are three major ways that a carbon tax can work, the first being the revenue neutral approach, the second being the investment approach, and the third being a pseudo-market approach via government.
    The revenue neutral approach sounds nice and will reduce emissions as a result of putting a price on carbon but since this is revenue neutral any money which is to go to investment or to carbon sequestration must ultimately come out of the same tax pool as all services previously did and thus entails some major cuts to the funding of other services provided by government. Effectively a massive cut in social spending without any coresponding decrease in taxation. Additionally, since not all, or even none, of the money thus generated goes toward paying the owners of sequestration there is a large, to infinate, dissonance between the price paid by emitters and the price received by sequestration operators thus resulting in a deficit of carbon sequestration relative to carbon emission; the carbon sequestration having no relation with carbon emission should, as most such schemes propose, sequestrators not be paid at all. Thus under this scheme we will always have large net carbon emissions and no way to remove that emission other than by raising the tax (levy likely a more accurate description) level; something that will result in much economic and social degredation as we attempt to make the emissions ever lower.
    The investment approach proposes that we place a levy on carbon and that we use the procedes to fund measures to reduce carbon production. Good in principle, not overly effective in practice, terrible when combined with the revenue-neutral approach of the Greens. This puts a price on carbon and thus causes a shift in supply and demand, in this way it decreases carbon emission. It also makes the transition to a less carbon-heavy infrastructure more readily done and thus achieves a greater emissions reduction than the revenue neutral approach. However, it suffers from the same problem, and for the same reasons, as the revenue neutral approach in that it it fails to achieve anywhere near zero net emissions; catastrophy delayed but still inevitable.
    The third approach is less of a tax than a carbon trading market in which the government acts as the broker. In this approach all emissions are taxed and that tax is then used by the government to purchase carbon sequestration, the mark-up being a source of revenue. This carbon sequestration being purchased internally or externally. This works little different than a full-market and has advantages in that the bodies which need to be looked at are fewer in number though has disadvantages in that it opens the scheme up to political pandering and special tax rates bellow the actual market price. This scheme provides a motive for the emitter to reduce emission as a price has been put on carbon and allows a strong mechanism by which sequestrators are paid to sequester (read nulify) the remaining emissions. Under this scheme a full reduction to zero net emissions is not only possible but almost guaranteed upon full implimentation as a result of simple market dynamics. Under this scheme we can not just delay catastrophy but stop its arrival. This is the approach that I support, though a more pure market is also an option but comes with a whole different set of ‘perks’.
    It should be noted that many countries have reserves which will provide substantial revenue to the government even in the absence of a surcharge on transactions. In New Zealand not only do we have reserves but also large territorial waters which annually sequester massive amounts of carbon; a potentially very large source of revenue for the government under a trading scheme as profits from the purchase of sequestration thus produced go straight to the governments pocket to be used on carbon efficency or whatever else the government decides to do with it. These are our terretorial waters, our juristiction, we have every right to claim the credits thus produced even if the major kyoto parties are not so well endowed.

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  88. Sapient – while i agree that our territorial waters absorb significant amounts of CO2, I disagree that we can claim that CO2 as sequestered. If either temperatures rise or the atmospheric CO2 concentrations fall, those waters will release some of their CO2. At best we could claim that the CO2 has been temporarily stored until we can grow enough trees to store it on land. However it could also be argued that the waters move so any CO2 absorbed within our territorial waters moves out of those waters soon after as the water itself moves away.

    Better is to invest in pest control and claim the CO2 absorbed by our national parks.

    Trevor.

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  89. A taxation can be revenue neutral and still fund CO2 reduction measures. Any CO2 reduction achieved reduces New Zealand’s Kyoto liability and therefore how much the government has to pay, so this is more than enough to fund economic CO2 reduction measures. If we get good at it, we should be able to profit from selling credits to other countries.

    Trevor.

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  90. Trevor,
    Yes, as I understand it as the oceans warm they will release C02. My understanding of the matter is not great as it is not one I care about greatly nor one about which I am terribly interested but from what little I do understand there is still a substantial amount of sequestration that takes place in the ocean, and in our territorial borders, other than that based on C02 absorbsion (i.e. substantial use by life which then forms deposits on the ocean floor) but I could be wrong. Further, if we stop the warming – an achievement substantially boosted by a fund thus generated – then the C02 will remain there. At the most, my arguement as to the effect of each approach stands unharmed.

    As to your second post; irrelevant. I have said that such reduction measures can be taken and I have said that if one intends to keep it revenue neutral you must cut funding to other areas. The investment does not produce immediate windfalls and even if it did that too would be irrelevant as, since the tax is based on emission, the government would actually be collecting less tax relative to its carbon liability as Ptax = Pcarbon * Mark-up. If the sector is emitting less carbon we are collecting less tax from it and thus do not have that income and thus any gains by eliminating the bill for those emissions is nulified and given that there would likely be a mark-up over the market rate for credits it would actually be less revenue. Overall the ROI to the government will be tiny compared to those to the businesses as it is only the higher profit margin that will offer any such return while we are stuck with the consequences of, assuming revenue neutrality, interest on the loan to pay for it or the detriment to social services.
    In the end we may get bellow our prescribed levels and thus be able to sell carbon credits but those levels are feel good nonsense and even if we were half those levels we would still be killing ourselves; we need zero net carbon emission globally or we are royally screwed and the first two options will never achieve that, not even with a price of $1000 per ton. We need the market mechanism and 100% carbon accountability. Unfortunately no politician has the insight nor the gonads to do anything about it.

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  91. Photonz

    As Gerrit points out but I didn’t note explicitly, the trading isn’t set up yet. There are organization that are providing “credits” but without the central trading nexus, the organizations can double deal without much difficulty… and they STILL get caught because we are watching for it, but the policing of the system isn’t organised.

    BJ

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  92. As one conservation group said, with all the fake credits it will take such an effort to police the system properly, that it will make is so inefficient as to be pointless.

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  93. Photonz…

    I don’t think the problem will be as difficult as you (or they) think it will be. I have a passing familiarity with the sort of resources that can be applied and the ability to cheat once the information goes through a central point will be markedly curtailed… except at that central point or by outright forgery. The tools exist to fight both of these and are fairly well understood.

    Mind you.. I WOULD have preferred a simpler system. I don’t have any ability to get one.

    BJ

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  94. Sapient,

    Just a small quible.

    Can you break your posting sentences into paragraphs?

    Most difficult to read as is with endless sentences all flowing from one to the other.

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  95. Gerrit,
    Yes, I apologise for the appearance. I do actually write it in paragraphs and I do tab into paragraphs out of habit, it is just that this blog poorly defines paragraphs and does not recognise that use of tab. If you look closely you will be able to see the seperations via the line discontinuities. I should really use a double-enter to make paragraphs more clear I guess and then a horozontal rule to designate topics rather than a single enter for paragraphs and a double enter for topics.

    Did you want me to reformat the large post?

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  96. Wow – the ideology machine is really starting to come off the rails now!

    Can they fumble on for another year – or will their house of cards come tumbling down?

    When their popularity stalls will they sacrifice Nick Smith as a distraction?

    - move along now… nothing to see here…

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  97. Gerrit,
    If we are pumping more carbon into the air than is being removed there will be an increase over time in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and thus, as a general rule, an increase in the radiative forcing. This behaviour is not sustainable in the long term even if the rate by which we pump extra carbon into the atmosphere is small.

    There are three major ways that a carbon tax can work, the first being the revenue neutral approach, the second being the investment approach, and the third being a pseudo-market approach via government.

    The revenue neutral approach sounds nice and will reduce emissions as a result of putting a price on carbon but since this is revenue neutral any money which is to go to investment or to carbon sequestration must ultimately come out of the same tax pool as all services previously did and thus entails some major cuts to the funding of other services provided by government. Effectively a massive cut in social spending without any coresponding decrease in taxation. Additionally, since not all, or even none, of the money thus generated goes toward paying the owners of sequestration there is a large, to infinate, dissonance between the price paid by emitters and the price received by sequestration operators thus resulting in a deficit of carbon sequestration relative to carbon emission; the carbon sequestration having no relation with carbon emission should, as most such schemes propose, sequestrators not be paid at all. Thus under this scheme we will always have large net carbon emissions and no way to remove that emission other than by raising the tax (levy likely a more accurate description) level; something that will result in much economic and social degredation as we attempt to make the emissions ever lower.

    The investment approach proposes that we place a levy on carbon and that we use the procedes to fund measures to reduce carbon production. Good in principle, not overly effective in practice, terrible when combined with the revenue-neutral approach of the Greens. This puts a price on carbon and thus causes a shift in supply and demand, in this way it decreases carbon emission. It also makes the transition to a less carbon-heavy infrastructure more readily done and thus achieves a greater emissions reduction than the revenue neutral approach. However, it suffers from the same problem, and for the same reasons, as the revenue neutral approach in that it it fails to achieve anywhere near zero net emissions; catastrophy delayed but still inevitable.

    The third approach is less of a tax than a carbon trading market in which the government acts as the broker. In this approach all emissions are taxed and that tax is then used by the government to purchase carbon sequestration, the mark-up being a source of revenue. This carbon sequestration being purchased internally or externally. This works little different than a full-market and has advantages in that the bodies which need to be looked at are fewer in number though has disadvantages in that it opens the scheme up to political pandering and special tax rates bellow the actual market price. This scheme provides a motive for the emitter to reduce emission as a price has been put on carbon and allows a strong mechanism by which sequestrators are paid to sequester (read nulify) the remaining emissions. Under this scheme a full reduction to zero net emissions is not only possible but almost guaranteed upon full implimentation as a result of simple market dynamics. Under this scheme we can not just delay catastrophy but stop its arrival. This is the approach that I support, though a more pure market is also an option but comes with a whole different set of ‘perks’.

    It should be noted that many countries have reserves which will provide substantial revenue to the government even in the absence of a surcharge on transactions. In New Zealand not only do we have reserves but also large territorial waters which annually sequester massive amounts of carbon; a potentially very large source of revenue for the government under a trading scheme as profits from the purchase of sequestration thus produced go straight to the governments pocket to be used on carbon efficency or whatever else the government decides to do with it. These are our terretorial waters, our juristiction, we have every right to claim the credits thus produced even if the major kyoto parties are not so well endowed.
    ______________________________________________

    Okay, that seems to work to me. I think I will adopt the double-enter, triple-enter, and HR formatting. :P (I do wish I could just use the [HR] tag though)

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  98. damn, it does not allow for triple-enter either. hmm. I need at least three distinctions.

    All the alternatives are ugly. I think the least ugly is ~.

    Okay, so:
    Double-enter replaces single-enter as my first level distinction. (different leaves)
    Enter-~-enter replaces double-enter as my second level distinction. (different branches)
    Enter-HR-enter remains the third level distinction. (different trees)

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  99. Sapient,

    I dont think the sea will count as a carbon sequester as it has been one since time began. How much more can it absorb?

    Are the great oceans already filled with as much carbon as it can store? Where is the science to quantify the oceans storage capacity?.

    The fourth way a carbon emmision reduction could work is not taxing or trading it at all. Simply let nature take its course and let global climate change (and the upcoming ending of the industrial age) remove humans ability and need to emit carbons to the degree we do.

    Totally dont give a damn and let a natural progression of the new ages upon us (salvage and relocalisation) and a reduction in population take care of global climate change.

    A simple double tap of the enter key is all you need between paragraphs. Indeed some of your longer sentences are paragraphs in themselves.

    As an aside (and please dont take this in a slight on you but more as an obsevation on my part) it is interesting to see that your writings are generated to suit a particular market (university student? impressing a tutor with expansive prose) whereas others more attuned to getting a messeage across to more people may use far fewer and simpler words to say the same thing.

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  100. Gerrit,
    Indeed, though that fourth option is not one I favour, for obvious reasons.

    It is only when I reached first year that there started to be a difference between my ‘sentences’ and my ‘paragraphs’. Sentences are poorly suited to my way of thinking (thus my tendency for long sentences with lots of commas).

    As to my prose, that may be attributed, variably, to one of two things; primarily my personal amusement (plus that some words just feel better than others in a given circumstance), or on occasion sleep deprivation. :P . My actual academic writing is, according to my supervisor and the like, well suited to the purpose; my engineer flatmate disagrees with my writing style (mostly my use of ‘may’ and my large use of qualification in my writing [he thinks it disqualifies it as science, I think it enhances the scientific integrity and differentiates me from the terrible post-modernist strains of psychology]), but psychologists deal with systems far more complex than engineers (no offense intended) and a different approach is thus necesitated. There is far more arse to cover when you use so many heuristics. Far less rules, much more intuition.

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  101. McTap – yes, Smith’s the sacrificial lamb and he’ll get his when the farmers look to spit the dummy.

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  102. As an engineer I can follow your flatmate reasoning. Everytime I see a “may”, “could”, or “possible” I cringe.

    Mainly because it it used to blame something onto an cause even if there are no correlations.

    Witnessed this natural occurance

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/0119_060119_jellyfish.html

    and the resultant blame

    Another theory suggests that seas heated by global warming are better suited for breeding, turning the Nomura’s otherwise modest numbers into an armada.

    For some reason we have to find cause in every occurance. Cant we just accept something as happening?

    What I find highly encouraging is that smart people are turning an opportunity into a localised bonanza.

    What to do with all the jellyfish they’ve caught? So far, resourceful anglers have turned their unwanted catch into crab food, fertilizer, and novelty snacks—served dried and salted.

    What a positive occurrence for the jellyfish harvesters. Just the local fishermen will have to change from catching fish with nets to using poles and hooks or spears.

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  103. Gerrit,
    I suspected you would be able to see it as such.

    I can assure you that my commitment to academic integrity ensures that my ‘may’ are always well backed by theory and research, even if cross-field at times. If a psychologist ever says ‘will’ without a ‘most likely’ or ‘in some cases’ then they are being, quite simply, dishonest (postmodern/feminist?).

    I changed to the heuristic science which is psychology because the shear complexity of the system is similtaniously a nightmare and a wet-dream, it is a journey of intrigue. While physics (string theory exempt) is beutiful in its simplicity and logical penetration, the mind is stunning in its complexity and situational, heuristic based, logic.

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  104. Sapient

    You can’t count the ocean. You didn’t use it to emit. You can’t use it to sequester as it is part of a natural carbon sink and circulating to boot. You can’t count it because it isn’t counted by anyone else and You can’t count it because there is nothing you are doing to improve its ability to sequester. Which is to say it is the same now as it was before 1990.

    Fuggedabowdit :-)

    As for your problem with the paragraphs… since you are cutting and pasting from an editor, one suspects that the editor is leaving its little paragraph signals in place of the spacing you desire, a trick that saves electrons and disk space but can be wearing on the nerves. There may be a setting in your editor that is appropriate to change this behaviour ( so I suspect that a programming editor might behave rather differently than OpenOffice or Word). First tell me what your set up is, I might have some suggestions. First one though, is to try a programming editor.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  105. Gerrit

    Finding cause is survival positive. Sufficiently so that the question “Why?” is built into our brains. We call it “curiousity” but for a species which bases its success on preventing natural processes locally (INside my house it is warm in winter), it occupies an even stronger position.

    To the extent that for many people an unanswered “Why?” is so uncomfortable that they are compelled to invent Gods and Demons. Which quell the “Why?” and bring inner peace and tranquility, but at a large cost when these explanations are misapplied.

    From an old Aussie beer commercial slogan. “Why ask why?”

    Which is why we have to ask. Aren’t you glad you did?

    :-)

    respectfully
    BJ

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  106. How much more depends on temperature of the ocean and the partial pressure of the CO2 above it.

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  107. BJ,
    My set-up, as of late, is that I type into the comment box at the bottom of the page. :P

    ~

    To the ocean point, the 1990 point is trivial and needs to be at least pre-industrial revolution if we are to make any meaningful difference or else we are ultimately just delaying disaster rather than preventing it.

    That we havint used it to emit is irrelivant, that it is natural sequestration is irrelevant, that we havint improved its ability to sequester is irrelevant; the point is that it does sequester and it is in our territorial waters. If we can get the other nations to recognise the sequestration of the ocean as that of the country then we stand to make money from that.

    At any rate, the ocean point is of little consequence. I suspected it would not be wise to bring up as it would distract from my point, it would seem I was correct (rare, I know).

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  108. My set-up, as of late, is that I type into the comment box at the bottom of the page.
    Right… that would explain the spelling :-) I’m not complaining mind you. Spelling is (IMHO) partially genetically determined. I’ve known a lot of very smart people who can’t spell to save their lives. Then there are others like me who have spell checkers built in and wind up in spelling contests.

    There is more CO2 in the ocean than there was before the industrial revolution began.

    The CO2 is not “sequestered” there except for the activity of plankton which absorb, die and fall to the sea bottom. This IS a sink. It is a small part of the total CO2 absorbed by the ocean.

    Both are measured and counted in the natural cycle, and modeled as part of the process we are experiencing.

    You missed the blend between 2 and 3 where the gummint does the tax (and I liked Eli’s “carbon added tax” notion, though I see a difficulty), and then uses the revenue to make the investments. Including the purchases of local sequestration.

    Not as efficient as the government run market perhaps, not saying I favor it… but it is there. The problem with markets is clearly that they are subject to fraud. Tax or tariff is easier to administer.

    The costs are as predictable as any government activity is, but would at least have some buffering built in by the government standing between the emitter and the market. The advantage is there if it is used correctly, or if as National has done it is there to be abused as we can clearly see it being abused.

    Labour presented a more clearly market based model. National has gone to a corporate welfare state for its design inspiration.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  109. BJ,
    My spelling is nowhere near as bad as it used to be :P . My increased misspelling and lack of elegance as of late is the result of rushed writing and no review before posting. The British S’s over the American Z’s is very much intentional. Straight of the fingers, so to type.

    Language is not something that comes naturally to me, it takes much effort; from the age of about 8 months to just over 3 years I was strongly to profoundly hearing impaired and, despite having a vocabulary at age 1 year of 2 standard deviations above the norm, my language skills suffered accordingly.

    ———————————

    I do not know the details of Eli’s proposal and cannot find it up this thread, though I suspect I have encountered it in one of the threads I was only browsing (I prefer to leave the AGW debate to you as your knowledge far outstrips mine on the matter). The mark-up which I referred to as a part of the third may be used for such investment, though I do realize that I did not declare such.

    I much prefer the system which works with governments as ‘brokers’ and a international clearing house as this way allows the blame for any inbalences to be placed on governments and thus any discrepancies resulting from fraud are made easily seen and matter which must be delt with internal to the country, the mechanism of distribution within the country being irrelevant. This approach, though, is most certainly not revenue neutral but does allow for investment and for governments to alter internal influences of the carbon price.

    ~

    So,
    Internationally
    - An international body approximates the amount of sequestration in each nation.
    - That same body approximates the generation of each country.
    - This body compares approximations to government reports and the sales and purchases made by that country.
    - This body may investigate any country.
    - This body acts as the intermediatary in all inter-nation trades.
    - This body collects opperating costs through a rate on all exchanges.
    Nationally
    - Government purchases and sells sequestration via the intermediatary.
    - Government places a flat levy on all emissions.
    - Government charges levy at Lemission = Pemission * Rmark-up where the mark up is never a major component (i.e. never larger than GST).
    - Government responsible for policing internally.

    ———————

    Interestingly, my IQ estimation at age one would seem, initially, to lend some degree of support to my environmental effect IQ belief but then given that there is a 4-month space between onset and testing it can be considered an inferior score to what I would otherwise have and thus may have otherwise reflected my present score. Seeming to support your arguement as to only a very weak effect of environment. Though, by that age cognitive styles are partially endowed so even that score does not represent one independant of environmental influence.

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