Russel Norman
Is Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English a climate change denier?

Is the Deputy Prime Minister of our country a climate change denier? It may well be the case.

During question time in Parliament yesterday I wanted to get into the lack of focus and inaction from this Government on climate change which is starkly highlighted by the suffering our drought-stricken farmers are going through.

I expected the debate to be around what actions were the right ones to take and who should bear the cost but, it ended up being about whether climate change was real or not.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he accept that human-induced climate change is real?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It may well be, but I am not sure what that has got to do with this particular question.

Climate change is an inconvenient truth but the science is conclusive and political leaders around the world are now in agreement it exists and are working at ways to limit how extreme it gets.

There’s no ‘may well be’ about it.

Even Prime Minister John Key accepts there’s climate change he just doesn’t want to do anything about it. In fact this Government is actively undermining international efforts to tackle the problem.

That’s been condemned internationally but Bill English dismissed that: “The fact is that being condemned internationally by a handful of NGOs is not going to influence New Zealand Government policy.”

Tell that to the most senior Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who described New Zealand’s decision last year not to sign up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as ‘very disappointing’.

New Zealand will be hit by more droughts and more intense droughts because of climate change, yet this Government is doing nothing to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions, and it has refused to make commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions.

The Government doesn’t have a strategy to develop a national strategy to tackle climate change. It will it just leave the New Zealand public and businesses like farms to face the costs and harsh effects on their own.

Which is crazy given that responding to climate change now and incentivising green tech would put us in a much better economic position than being a slow follower.

Photo Dominion-Post

142 thoughts on “Is Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English a climate change denier?

  1. Dr Norman,

    expected the debate to be around what actions were the right ones to take and who should bear the cost

    No doubt the costs will be attributeded to the rightful contributors in the 2013 Green shadow budget you are producing?

    incentivising green tech

    No doubt the costing detail of that scheme will be in the 2013 Green shadow budget?

    If not, all your talk is political point scoring and of no value to the voters.

    Show us the money, where it will be collected and where it will be spent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 18 (-6)

  2. In order that I can make some sense from this post I have 2 questions which need answers:

    1 What is a ‘climate change denier’? A definition would be helpful in order to understand what is actually being denied.
    2 What specific policies does the Greens Party advocate to make the climate change so as to prevent the occasional drought? This requires some quite specific and well backed up proposals I would have thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11 (-7)

  3. It seems politics is now, in some people’s minds, reduced to accountancy. I’ve heard a few calls now for people to shut up about issues until they’ve produced detailed costings.

    I’m glad politicians and activists of yesteryear, those who pulled down the Berlin Wall, for example, ignored those yelling “You should all go home and not do or say anything about this issue untill you’ve produced an analysis of the economic costs and benefits of your proposals.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 4 (+21)

  4. Bill English says climate change may well be true.

    Russel interprets this as a denial.

    Perhaps this topic is really about the failure of the NZ (or Australian) schooling system to teach comprehension of basic English (excuse the pun).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 16 (-5)

  5. Sam says ‘It seems politics is now, in some people’s minds, reduced to accountancy. I’ve heard a few calls now for people to shut up about issues until they’ve produced detailed costings.”

    It’s not about accountancy – it’s merely about detecting whether policies are a real world possibility or a pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 12 (-6)

  6. I’ve never met a person who denied that climate changes. If it didn’t, we’d be locked in a ball of ice.

    Ice Age – Thaw – Warm – Ice Age……climates natural state is to change.
    Conflating this with AGW is not honest.

    What does Russel plan to do about it, anyway? Tax it? What will he do with the tax revenue? How will this stop droughts in NZ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 21 (-8)

  7. Sam,

    It seems politics is now, in some people’s minds, reduced to accountancy.

    Dr Norman wants to be finance minister in the next government.

    Do you think that the position requires some sort of knowledge about book keeping, accountancy, budgetting, etc.?

    Is it not fair to ask about those “tiny” details?

    Noone is asking for anyone to shut up about issues, just that we would like to see a Green shadow budget. Was it not Dr Norman who asked about costs? You know that accountancy matter?

    Is that too much to ask for from the wanna be Minister of Finance to quantify those costs he asked Mr English about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8 (-1)

  8. Gerrit, your questions are fine, it was comment that Norman’s comments are “no value to the voters” that suggests he shouldn’t discuss issues unless there are figures attached.

    Actually, no elected politician feels bound by detailed policy proposals, and in any case, they can’t predict future income and expenditure flows accurately enough to make serious financial reckonings ahead of time. An honest discussion of a party’s principles and understandings is a more reliable guide for voters than a list of costings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 (+8)

  9. An honest discussion of a party’s principles and understandings is a more reliable guide for voters than a list of costings.

    My party principles are to eliminate poverty in New Zealand and give everyone who wants one a high paying job. Those who choose not to work can be paid well, too. I will build many hospitals and schools, and they will all be free. Education is a right. As is healthcare.

    Fine principles, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    But when I pull out my spreadsheet, I don’t appear to have sufficient funds to make my principles happen. Unless I find a super-massive oil well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 12 (-5)

  10. Sam,

    An honest discussion of a party’s principles and understandings is a more reliable guide for voters than a list of costings.

    The Greens policy is to raise taxes on CO2 emissions. Surly the voters have a right to ask how much the taxes will be and how much extra will it cost for a litre of fuel, how much extra will a MHZ of power from Huntly cost me?

    That is what the Greens should be addressing.

    We have Jan Logie asking for increases in welfare payments without any idea where the money is to come from.

    So again lets see a budget so that Jan Logie can increase welfare payments in 2014, paid out of what taxation change.

    Is that too much to ask for?

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

  11. Sam says “An honest discussion of a party’s principles and understandings is a more reliable guide for voters than a list of costings.”

    But that becomes dishonest if policies promise to spend five dollars for every one collected in tax.

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

  12. We have Jan Logie asking for increases in welfare payments without any idea where the money is to come from.

    Don’t be a big silly-billy, Gerrit. It comes from the magic money tree, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14 (-4)

  13. Fine Arana, I didn’t realise you were a party, but if those are your principles, I’m happy not to vote for you as I don’t take you seriously. Likewise to photonz – if a party suggests spending five times as it collects, or if its policies suggests this will be the case, or if you think a proposal to tax CO2 is unaffordable, don’t vote for them. But don’t be silly and demand detailed costings that will be worthless after election night. Or say “you can’t talk about this issue until you have the figures”.

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

  14. Fine Arana, I didn’t realise you were a party, but if those are your principles, I’m happy not to vote for you as I don’t take you seriously.

    Quite right, too, mate. People who sound like that are dreaming.

    However, we do have parties, in the NZ parliament right now, who advocate something not too far away from my ridiculous example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8 (-2)

  15. “But that becomes dishonest if policies promise to spend five dollars for every one collected in tax”
    Indeed. Just as it is dishonest to promise tax cuts for everyone and then increase the cost of living/GST.

    “all your talk is political point scoring”
    I agree with this too. Keep up the good work.

    Most farmers know that global warming is happening… and why. Although the ‘city based corporate farmer’ might revel in English’s denial; the real farmers know they are dependent on our environment and deep down they know that the Greens are our best hope for future generations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4 (+4)

  16. Sam,

    Nice job of riding shotgun.

    If that is the official stance of the Greens to say “wait till after the election till we tell you the CO2 emmision tax rate”, it is about as dishonest as Labour and National.

    Part of the Greens official policy is to collect $4.5B in capital gains tax. One figure we can question in other words.

    Dr Norman refered (as in provided a link) to the policy in his posting so presumably we can discuss?

    On income of $4.5B and at a (presumed) tax rate of 10%, somewhere in the NZL economy we have an increase in capital value in goods bought and sold of $45B per annum.

    Care to list where this untaxed trading is happenning?

    Or are we not to ask?

    Are we allowed to ask where this money is to be spent (budggetted to)?

    Or is that a no no as well?

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

  17. Care to list where this untaxed trading is happenning?

    Off-market unicorn biscuits.

    Are we allowed to ask where this money is to be spent (budggetted to)?

    Poor people who love whales. And kiddie-widdies who like swimming in the rivers-ies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10 (-5)

  18. fin says “Just as it is dishonest to promise tax cuts for everyone and then increase the cost of living/GST.”

    Not really – there were initial tax cuts, then when GST was lifted, there was ADDITIONAL tax cuts/benefit increases so nobody lost out – the gst increases were designed to be tax neutral.

    Sam says “But don’t be silly and demand detailed costings that will be worthless after election night. ”

    Translated, this means “please don’t point out that the Green Party policies can never be paid for”.

    And we don’t need detail – the nearest $100m will be fine.

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

  19. The money will be provided in two ways, according to the Greens.
    One way will be simply to print it. Russel appears to have been twittering about this recently. Don’t borrow money, just print it.
    The second way will be by a “capital gains” tax. When the inevitable massive inflation kicks in due to the operation of policy one the prices of everything will greatly rise. These will be called capital gains, although they are only inflation, and then the Green party propose to tax the b’jesus out of them. They aren’t real gains of course, which is why I put the words in brackets, but that won’t worry the ideological descendants of the mad hatter’s tea party called the Greens.

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

  20. Yes man made global warming is real – proven beyond doubt. Trouble is that it will cost a massive amount to fix. Imagine paying the price of not driving your car again, ever! The western world is so skint, thanks to the depredations of greedy bankers, that there is no money to fix the problem. Even if anyone could find the political will to piss off the electorate sufficiently to do it. Mind you a government that allows our manufacturing to be done overseas, propping up the gross exploitation of workers at the expense of their own people, is probably immoral enough to allow the world’s demise rather than risk alienating their rich friends.There is however one bright spot on the horizon – Peak Oil !! When petroleum becomes too expensive, as it will in the near future the collapse of our transportation infrastructure will stop the pollution of our atmosphere by carbon emissions. So keep calm and bat on… even the “Slack Chaps” can score a century every now and then!

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

  21. Photon, a shadow budget that comes within $100m of actual would be better that “fine”.

    alwyn, I think the proposed CGT is inflation adjusted.

    I want to mention the proposed tobin tax, but I don’t want to drag this post further off the topic…

    ..which is, national’s inability to see how our primary producers are going to be affected by climate change, and how their policies are not helping.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 (+6)

  22. I had to laugh at this, Russel:

    political leaders around the world are now in agreement it exists and are working at ways to limit how extreme it gets.

    Given that “political leaders” (as opposed to some politicians) have shown no evidence of working at way to limit how extreme AGW gets (if there is such evidence other than talk and policies that have not been effective in this area please point to it), I very much doubt that most of the heavyweight political leaders really do see it as a problem (though it’s actually a predicament). If they did, why wouldn’t they adopt serious and urgent strategies to mitigate warming, instead of ploughing more money into trying (also unsuccessfully) to get economic growth going again?

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

  23. Stuhugfj – a climate change denier is not one who denies climate changes, but one who is unwillingly to accept the overwhelming consensus of scientific evidence that humans are now causing climate to abruptly change due to the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. Something known as the increased Greenhouse Effect.

    Maybe Bill English falls into this category, or maybe his world view is so self-centred he really doesn’t care about the harm and suffering that climate change is causing. Difficult to judge thus far.

    Russell Norman should also add ocean acidification to the list of near-term issues that New Zealand is going to have to face. Oyster farmers on the North American Pacific coast are already confronting seawater so corrosive that it is killing juvenile oyster larvae. We may not be prone to such strong upwelling of corrosive deep water, but it’s still going to be a huge problem for New Zealand in the decades ahead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4 (+9)

  24. What specific policies does the Greens Party advocate to make the climate change so as to prevent the occasional drought?

    I’m pretty sure the Green Party understands that drought is normally a natural event. Global warming however, leads to the poleward expansion of the sub-tropical dry zones – areas each side of the equator which are drier-than-average due to nature of the planet’s large-scale atmospheric circulation. Expansion of this dry zone over New Zealand is not going to be helpful for farmers.

    Secondly, La Nina and El Nino are likely to become more extreme due the the greater moisture holding and redistributing capacity of the atmosphere. So La Nina is going to get wetter on average, and El Nino drier.

    Thirdly, as the atmosphere warms the drying power of the air increases too. When a wind warmer than before blows through, it will dry out the soils it comes into contact with much more quickly.

    The Earth is in energy imbalance, so it must warm up until equilibrium is restored. We therefore have decades of warming in front of us, and drought will become increasingly more prevalent in New Zealand. But so too will floods – a difficult concept for many to grasp, and I’ve yet to see this explained well enough, but simple enough when you understand a few of the basics.

    Bottomline: National policies will make New Zealand much poorer, both financially and ecologically. (They appear to be in denial of the science, or simply are too selfish to care)

    Green Party policies wish to prevent this gloomy scenario from unfolding. True, many Greens are a tad bit naive on some of the fiscal policy issues, but their hearts are in the right place even if their heads sometimes aren’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2 (+10)

  25. Tony – yes it is very odd that politicians are doing nothing substantive to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Ever since the Kyoto Protocol was enacted greenhouse gas emissions from industrial activity have sky-rocketed.

    Medical science provides us with an apt analogy:

    Suppose the parents of a child notice he is feeling poorly. They take him along to a doctor who diagnoses a life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical intervention. Not happy with this diagnosis, the parents trundle the child off to a succession of doctors who all give the same diagnosis. Out of one hundred doctors, 97 give the same diagnosis of urgent medical intervention. Of the remaining three medical experts, two aren’t sure, and the third reckons the child is fine – despite the tell-tale signs he is not.

    The National party seem to be ignoring the 97% of experts. As in the analogy no good will come of this, the climate is bound by maths and physics and has no regard for human ideology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2 (+9)

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

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  27. Back in Feb 2011 Bill English described reducing carbon emissions as a fad, but maybe he’s a bit more up with the play these days since he’s warning farmers not to expect drought relief for future droughts. The National government’s ability to basically ignore the major issue of the 21st century is mind boggling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1 (+13)

  28. Where does Bill English suppose the financial aid is going to come from, if not the government? And why does Bill English think he has any say in what future governments decide?

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

  29. Arana – if you want to be taken seriously as a climate troll, you are going to have to dramatically lift your game. Too bad if you don’t follow the discussion. May I suggest you consult the peer-reviewed scientific literature, rather than anti-science blogs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3 (+7)

  30. – NO ONE KNOWS if we cause dangerous levels of global temperate increase.

    Arana, I explained this to you IN DETAIL, in the previous thread on this topic. Obviously you did not read it but instead have read someone else’s LIES about what we do and do not know. Repeating their assertions here. Links…. as I can more easily excoriate idiots when I know which idiots they are.

    Oreskes, Peiser, Doran, Anderegg –
    97% of CLIMATE SCIENTISTS tell you it is us and it is dangerous.

    The World Bank tells you it is us and it is dangerous.

    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Astronomical Society
    American Chemical Society
    American Geophysical Union
    American Institute of Physics
    American Meteorological Society
    American Physical Society
    Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO
    British Antarctic Survey
    Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
    Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    Environmental Protection Agency
    European Federation of Geologists
    European Geosciences Union
    European Physical Society
    Federation of American Scientists
    Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies
    Geological Society of America
    Geological Society of Australia
    Geological Society of London
    International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)
    International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
    National Center for Atmospheric Research
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    Royal Meteorological Society
    Royal Society of the UK

    - Tell you it is us and it is dangerous

    The Royal Society of NZ
    Tells you it is us and it is dangerous.

    There is not any reputable science out there that tells you that the CO2 doesn’t belong to us. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

    There is not any reputable science out there that reckons that the risk to human civilization is zero. The only argument is how bad will it be.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/11/4133.full.pdf+html

    We are aiming at 4 degrees plus at this point.

    (unfortunately paywalled)
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-011-1227-6
    (discussion-synopsis)
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/link_to_us.php?Blog0=1663

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Carbon-Dioxide-the-Dominant-Control-on-Global-Temperature-and-Sea-Level-Over-the-Last-40-Million-Years.html

    Now I AM getting a little bit pissed off with you – because you keep saying the same crap but showing nothing to back it up. You want to engage properly? or should we simply recognize that you are running this line based on your “gut instinct” and can’t be taken seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1 (+13)

  31. BJ,

    The problem is not trying to convince the populace that global warming is happening, the problem is trying to convince the populace that paying extra taxes will magically “solve” the problem.

    The Greens are asking the populace to vote for them so that they can pay extra for car fuel (as an example) and all the purchases they make that have a fuel contingent in their pricing (be it derived from or used to deliver).

    An increase in taxation that is clearly not affordable in NZL households (don’t we have 270,000 kids in poverty already?).

    I think a fresh approach on solving the global warming scenario is called for that does not include increased taxation, middle men like Al Gore clipping the ticket at 30% plus is fair and equitable for all.

    Most importantly is “solves” the global climate change model to one that is beneficial to 7 billion people.

    That is why I’m keen to see a Greens shadow budget, for to gather the votes needed to gain bargaining power with Labour, the Greens need to stop talking about digging continually deeper (mining as an analogy) into the pockets of New Zealanders and lining the pockets of middle men.

    If we look at the Greens policy of taxing co2 emitting electricity generation higher then renewable sourced generation, it needs to be explained to the voting populace how they can purchase the lower taxed Wairakei electricity rather then the higher taxed Huntly generated stuff.

    What infrastructure changes (to the electricity billing method) will the Greens construct so that the consumer has choice? For without that choice the consumer cant force the market to renewable sourced electricity generation.

    If nothing is put into place we simply have higher power prices as the punitive co2 taxes get “passed along”. That is the nature of a national grid, we all pay the same irrespective of how the electricity is generated.

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

  32. There is no evidence that proves temperature rise due to man-made c02 will be at dangerous levels. There is a lot of conjecture and estimation.

    BTW:

    You might find this video interesting:

    http://youtu.be/S-nsU_DaIZE

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10 (-5)

  33. Arana

    There is no evidence that proves temperature rise due to man-made c02 will be at dangerous levels. There is a lot of conjecture and estimation.

    That all depends on what your definition of the word “dangerous” is Arana.

    With highly detrimental effects for a substantial number of species from ocean acidification, rising oceans, increased pest and diseases, the increased extinction of species, the detrimental impact on agriculture and food production and the cost to the economy of more frequent and extreme storms, I would say that climate change is dangerous. Most of these effects are being observed now, and are therefore not conjecture.

    In fact all the scientific studies conducted so far have found that any benefits from having a warmer climate are outweighed by negative health effects of rising temperatures, especially in developing countries.

    I can link to actual studies if you like that show your statement is total rubbish Arana?

    If the issue wasn’t so important, it would be somewhat amusing that the climate change deniers often support right wing politicians… The RWNJ’s are definitely in a minority that’s dwindling as fast as our water supplies.

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

  34. Jackal – you’re wasting your time.

    Apparently, if something isn’t 100% provable it’s a LIE!

    Arana never takes medicine because it’s not 100% provably effective, doesn’t apply sunblock because it’s not a 100% provable barrier to UV, won’t wear a seat-belt because it’s not 100% provable to prevent death or injury in the event of a car accident, and never takes a jacket or umbrella on a cloudy day because it’s not 100% provable that it might rain.

    What a joy it must be to go through life with such conviction and certainty.

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

  35. We are well within natural variation. It’s a big claim to make that man-made c02 will lead to dangerous warming and not a claim backed by much in the way of big proof. Big conjecture, certainly.

    The RWNJ’s are definitely in a minority that’s dwindling as fast as our water supplies.

    Plenty of snow in the UK at the moment, but as we’re told by the AGW know-it-alls, snow/no snow, drought/rain, slightly cloudy/fine are all signs of AGW. Comedians. I’m sure they’re convincing themselves.

    Polls indicate LWNJs are losing the war as the public grows less and less interested in the subject.

    Good.

    And the science continues to roll in….

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130125103927.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11 (-6)

  36. I guess you didn’t read to the end of the article, Arana.

    Here – I’ll help you.

    “Terje Berntsen emphasises that his project’s findings must not be construed as an excuse for complacency in addressing human-induced global warming. The results do indicate, however, that it may be more within our reach to achieve global climate targets than previously thought.

    Regardless, the fight cannot be won without implementing substantial climate measures within the next few years.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1 (+9)

  37. Apparently, if something isn’t 100% provable it’s a LIE!

    If people will insist “it’s settled” when it clearly isn’t, then they’re going to get push-back. They made their alarmist bed, they can lie in it.

    We can be certain about many things, but massive chaotic systems, such as climate, is not one of them. Yet.

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  38. “Terje Berntsen emphasises that his project’s findings must not be construed as an excuse for complacency in addressing human-induced global warming. The results do indicate, however, that it may be more within our reach to achieve global climate targets than previously thought”

    Well of course they’d say that….

    The bigger picture, however, is that some of the alarmist predictions have failed to eventuate. The same alarmist predictions many people believed were “settled”.

    These findings show the issue is far from settled. The issue appears to be more benign than some of the shrieking shills would have us believe.

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  39. It is really not worth engaging with Arana over this subject. Even on the odd occasion that he/she provides any scientific links, the research doesn’t back up his/her case, yet this never occurs to him/her. Responses are never fully read anyway, so don’t bother; it’s a pointless exercise.

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

  40. I’m loath to post links here as the posts tend to get quarantined:

    http://www.cato.org/blog/rare-its-not-bad-we-thought-finding-published
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9787662/Global-warming-at-a-standstill-new-Met-Office-figures-show.html
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/todays-global-warming-is-well-within-historic-range/story-e6frgd0x-1226563061202

    I have many other links. I don’t think this proves AGW is not happening, but then it’s not up to me to prove a negative. I think the data suggests there is still a lot we don’t know, and that predictions are largely guesswork.

    Meanwhile, the economic cost of acting is massive. People will die. Standards of living will drop. So, we need to be sure that a) the problem is real and dangerous and b) taking these extreme measures will make a real difference.

    We’ve yet to get anywhere near a)

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  41. BJ – you’ll love this – burning MORE coal may reduce global warming

    “Burning coal is the main way that humans continue to add to the vast amounts of tiny sulphate particulates in the atmosphere. These particulates can act as condensation nuclei for cloud formation, cooling the climate indirectly by causing more cloud cover, scientists believe. According to this reasoning, if Europe, the US and potentially China reduce their particulate emissions in the coming years as planned, it should actually contribute to more global warming.”

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

  42. photonz1 – there’s actually some really interesting research on this topic. The proposition has been around for a while (since about ’95 IIRC).

    A number of significant risks have been tabled in the research, notably rapid ozone depletion and increased humidification which are seen to offset the advantages of sulphide ‘seeding’.

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

  43. “If that is the official stance of the Greens to say “wait till after the election till we tell you the CO2 emmision tax rate”, it is about as dishonest as Labour and National.”

    Damn straight.

    “Translated, this means “please don’t point out that the Green Party policies can never be paid for”.”

    No actually you are quite welcome to point this out. My guess would be that the political promises of just about all political parties can`t be afforded, which is why so many policies evaporate or are quietly shelved after the election (I particularly notice this with `work for the dole` schemes, which are a favourite of tubthumping politicians but which prove expensive in practice and are thus scaled down or dropped once the votes are in). You would be a mug to vote on the strength of detailed costings that will probably be ignored, `corrected due to changed circumstances` or deemed out of date once a party takes power. But feel free to do so – just don`t complain when your party of choice lets you down (again).

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  44. I think the denial of Bill English and inaction of John Key are more related to the effect on the Capital markets and therefore their, and their backers, personal accumulations. This would also apply to a big proportion of baby boomers who are waiting to retire on their investments. But in a free market sense they need to take the loss, banks included, and stop asking the next generations to pay the price for their investments in a bad dream.
    The British Stern review estimated a loss of 5% of GDP a year from warming and as our economy is growing slower than this we are facing a shrinking economy anyway. In this scenario all growth forecasts are myths, and for Farm values, oil and coal mine values, are not what they have on the books. If we are honest about this then the new purchasers of these assets would be those who can make them work
    and have not been investing in mythology to date.
    However if we invest in Green Technologies instead of the old myths we can salvage some of what we have left, Capital gains taxing and environmental taxing shift the balance the right way so greater adaption can occur. The Stern review also says the cost of notr doing anything is still 5% a year plus getting worse. If this isn’t a recipe for total social breakdown I am a born again climate change denier. In this scenario an equal chance economy is far more sensible than a growth economy.

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  45. Gerrit

    Remember that the proposed tax is to be distributed back to the population, not retained by the government. It is a Pigovian tax only. A means of making the economy internalize an external risk. So in addition to paying more for fuel, you get money refunded to you from that CO2 tax. Work out the details however you like, the overall cost to the individual becomes dependent on how hard they work on reducing their carbon footprint.

    It is of course, not going to return as much as it costs us overall… TANSTAAFL applies… but the RELATIVE costs of various methods of heating, transporting, lighting etc… will alter to favor energy efficiency and carbon neutrality, and we will wind up with a far more robust and sustainable economy.

    That’s the way I read it.

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  46. Hmm, burning more coal helps cool the climate? If true, it would only be a short term phenomenon and would boost longer term warming as coal production eventually declines (mining that extra coal would also boost ecological damage). But who cares about future generations (or about the lungs of current generations, or other species), eh photonz1?

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  47. The conjecture and misinformation belongs to Ridley

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/lessons-ridley-ipcc-hansen.html

    … who isn’t much but a hugely optimistic lukewarmer. Everyone else does better. Hansen missed by more in 88 by having a significantly wrong sensitivity number that he corrected since, but Ridley is still talking about “alarmism” even though the theater is actually on fire. You need to consider that he is not a climate scientist and his record as a banker was that he wasn’t prepared for the worst case there either, and Northern Rock became the first bank in England to have a run in 150 years.

    In other words, an INCURABLE optimist, one who does not learn from his mistakes. His risk management talent is execrable and he expects us to bet the planet on his assessments of risk?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/matt-ridley-risk-management-failure-deja-vu.html

    He sucked you in I guess. Not me. Thanks.

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  48. BJ,

    Pigovian Taxes don’t work.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigovian_tax

    Bovenberg and Mooij establish that households consume a dirty good (D) and a clean good (C). If the government taxes D, it can use the earned revenue to lower the labor income tax. At the same time, the tax levied on the firm will increase the price of D. The lowered income tax and the higher consumer prices even each other out, stabilizing the real net wage. But because C’s price has not changed and it can substitute for D, consumers will buy C instead of D. Suddenly the government’s environmental tax base has eroded and its revenue with it. The government then cannot afford to keep the labor income tax down. Bovenberg and Mooij posit that the increase in the price of goods will outweigh the slight decrease in the income tax. Labor and leisure become more interchangeable the lower the real net wage (or after-tax wage) falls. With this decrease in the real net wage, more people leave the job market. Ultimately, labor bears the cost of all public goods.

    Especially where the consumer cannot choose, due to a centralised and common electricity distribution grid, between a “dirty” and a “clean” supplier.

    So basically nothing will change as the extra taxation on Huntly generated electricity will be passed onto ALL consumers.

    Sure the consumer will get some of the extra taxation back (after admin fees are taken out) but overall it will increase electricity prices for ALL.

    Hence the Greens need to be careful to look at the distribution network and billing methods before implementing taxation on “dirty” generation facilities.

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  49. And the science continues to roll in….

    That is the same study I already responded to. Do not expect me to explain the evidence of it being flawed a second time.

    Find another. I suggest Pielke – the father son team of denialists. They are always doing something to earn their paychecks.

    Try to remember something else whilst you are in this game. The oil companies internationally could fund all the climate research that is done out of about 1% of their profits annually. So if there is actually a valid contrary case to be made they should be able to make it.

    Well back when it wasn’t QUITE as certain as it is now, they did…

    Called themselves the Global Climate Coalition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Climate_Coalition

    They did research through their “Science and Technology Assessment Committee”.

    Which produced a report in 1995 (a “confidential” report) – it was not voluntarily released… sort of embarrassing for them but it contained the following

    “The scientific basis for the greenhouse effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/science/earth/24deny.html?_r=0

    The GCC disbanded in 2001 or 2002. Possibly the lesson of what happened to the Tobacco Institute, its attempts to mislead the public, and its members was instructive.

    ———————-

    But you’re going to have to find a second study. The “rolling in” of the science on climate change is a weekly thing. More nasty inconvenient truth discovered every week and I expect that the problem with the study you cited is going to be difficult for the authors to resolve.

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  50. Especially where the consumer cannot choose, due to a centralised and common electricity distribution grid, between a “dirty” and a “clean” supplier.

    OK… I’ll bite. How come I can pay Meridian a slightly higher price for their renewable energy rather than someone else who burns coal at Huntly? The power supplied is separated from the grid supplying it economically. It is all rather clever… are you saying it doesn’t work?

    ???

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  51. @Photonz – The problem is that the particles stay in the air for a year if you’re lucky, the CO2 for 100 years.

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  52. The Telegraph is publishing the surface air temperature of a solid, liquid and gaseous sphere that is 4/5 ocean and asserting that this is entirely meaningful despite all the noise that goes into it.

    Now you can assert that the trend is due to the Sun, or ENSO, or Volcanoes.

    Those effects are actually measurable. The predicted behaviour of the climate is a result of “all of the above”.

    So the predicted behaviour is that the trend will continue upwards and the Met data (and others) for the surface temps doesn’t show that just now. Is the trend intact? Well yes.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-real-global-warming-signal/

    All one has to do is take out the known forcings as we observe the now known data… that is a remarkably significant and healthy looking trend.

    Is the warming OF THE PLANET continuing? Well yes.

    http://skepticalscience.com/pics/2_heat_content700m2000myr.png

    Is the Telegraph correct? Only for surface temperatures without considering known forcings.

    Does the report from the Telegraph mean anything to Climate Science? Not really. Is it science? Not a bit.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=47

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  53. Suddenly the government’s environmental tax base has eroded and its revenue with it.

    I take issue with the word “Suddenly” Gerrit. No change of that magnitude is going to be sudden. I do accept that the cost will be higher for the renewables we are driven to consume, that is an expected cost. I also expect that in time the tax will generate less revenue and the rebate checks or credits will shrink. That means it has accomplished its purpose… not that it doesn’t work. Someone has to reconsider the concept of what constitutes “working” in that environment.

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  54. I haven’t been able to get around the Australian’s paywall for the moment. They claim rubbish, being a Murdoch publication

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/global_warming_contrarians/news-corporation-climate-science-coverage.html

    … and the author is a known purveyor of rubbish

    http://theconversation.edu.au/event-horizon-the-black-hole-in-the-australians-climate-change-coverage-2642

    …but I can only respond to the title.

    Yes. We are within the boundaries of “Natural Variation” still.. only just, and only if we consider the temperature alone, but we are.

    We went from the bottom of the range for this interglacial about 200-300 years ago to the top of the range, in the space of 150 years. This is NOT normal. It isn’t a rate of change that natural climate processes on this planet have exhibited… any time in the last 11000 years

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0307/Global-temperature-rise-is-fastest-in-at-least-11-000-years-study-says

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/scientists-find-an-abrupt-warm-jog-after-a-very-long-cooling/

    That looks normal to me …. Yeah Right.

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  55. Finally – quoting the Cato institute.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/with-all-due-respect/

    I think it is important to note that the quoted piece acknowledges as its TITLE that scientific findings that it “isn’t as bad as we thought” are rare, and it discusses not whether the climate will change or how much but whether the rainforests will survive more change than we thought they might…

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/03/ask-the-scientists-are-rainforests-resilient-to-climate-change

    …which is rather hard to predict and given the change that IS predicted, probably irrelevant as the change that is on offer exceeds the change modelled by a factor of 2 or more. Hmmm…

    http://planetsave.com/2011/10/19/tropical-forest-and-savannah-tipping-points/

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  56. I reckon it WOULD be good if we could get ALL the MPs on record on this topic. In their own words if need be, but on record. Lets figure out a fairly non-threatening form for the question and ask. Just to be real clear about the real issues.

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  57. @Photonz – The problem is that the particles stay in the air for a year if you’re lucky, the CO2 for 100 years.

    The residence time in the atmosphere for human-made pollutions aerosols, such as light-blocking sulfates, is about a week. They tend to settle or get rained out of the lower atmosphere. If they manage to reach the upper atmosphere (stratosphere), such as the 1991 Mt Pinutubo eruption in the Phillipines, they can remain there for a year or two before settling back to Earth. There’s generally no clouds at that height, and no way for the aerosols to act as nucleating particles and get rained back to Earth.

    We observed a large cooling of global temperatures after Mt Pinatubo erupted. The continued pumping of sulfates into the atmosphere by industrial activity is postponing a substantial amount of warming. It would only take a week after the end of industrial emissions for the full fury of global warming to be felt. A highly unrealistic scenario, of course, but it nevertheless highlights an oft-neglected aspect of global warming.

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  58. bj,

    I reckon it WOULD be good if we could get ALL the MPs on record on this topic.

    Excellent idea. The trouble is that we’re dealing with politicians and straight answers aren’t something that species is capable of.

    How about, “These aren’t questions about the impacts of current climate change, whether we can adapt to current climate change or how we can mitigate current climate change. Do you accept the science behind greenhouse gases (i.e. that they reduce the heat escaping the planet, thereby causing the planet to retain more heat as the concentration of such gases increases)? Do you accept that human behaviour is increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? If the answer to the last question was “yes”, do you accept that the increased warming is the primary cause of current climate change? Please answer “yes”, “no” or “I haven’t studied the science behind these questions enough to make a judgement” to each question. Thank you.”

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  59. That is as good as anything I am likely to come up with Tony.

    It is inherent in the nature of a successful politician that they must be good at concealing the truth. Consider that any 3 people coming through their door are apt to disagree violently over what the correct course of action is. The politician must somehow appear to agree with all… if he/she can.

    An interesting subtext of the CATO institute has to be brought out. As they champion the “rare” scientific paper that claims it “won’t be too bad”, they clearly show that in their case the science is not being used to determine policy. Their ideology determines policy and that policy determines what constitutes acceptable science.

    Cart preceding horse. Plainly visible if it is thought on.

    One might wish to subtly tease this aspect of the reasoning out. Work this week has left me rather shattered. I’m thinking on it but won’t make sense of things until Sunday earliest :-) Subtle isn’t normally my strong suit .

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  60. Gerrit – taxing CO2 emissions can result in reduced CO2 emissions through a number of mechanisms, even if most of that tax is returned to the consumer.

    The consumer has a number of choices, even if they don’t get to choose how their power is generated. They can opt to spend more money on insulation and efficiency improvements to reduce their power consumption with the payback period being improved by the emission tax. They can opt to install solar water heating or even photovoltaic systems to reduce their power consumption that way. If they use coal, oil or gas for heating, the CO2 tax will encourage them to shift to electricity or wood pellets, etc.

    Also the power generation companies have choices. Taxing CO2 emissions has little effect on renewable generation, but hits coal fired generation hardest, so the power companies are given an incentive to reduce their coal usage and to a lesser extent to reduce their gas usage as well. Whether they do this by building wind-farms or new geothermal stations, or whether they do it by adding solar water heaters to their existing coal or gas stations or by burning biomass instead of coal is up to them. The CO2 tax rewards them for doing so, or hits them if they don’t.

    Trevor.

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  61. Gerrit In your tax scenario you are forgetting about savings to the state in your equation.
    These are probably. Less spending on drought relief.
    Les spending on health issues
    Less spending in the conservation estate as we have less extinctions.
    Greater production in the primary sector thus more foreign exchange and more jobs.

    At the same time capital gains taxes are reducing the inflated values of property and productive resources enabling new ideas and fresh thinking. A better chance for innovators at showing their competitive advantage. This allows the base of the economy to widen and thus improves the selection offered to the consumer/worker. The chance to become more self reliant in business allows a greater ability of the community to participate in their community and thus increases democratic process.

    Well being of community improves all our social indicators, thus the skills in our workforce improve, more productive to offset the lower income. But not having to pay a speculative premium on necessities gives more cost savings.

    Taxation of income can reduce as less social welfare.

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  62. And I forgot, greater production as those on speculative incomes find it less favourable and refocus on production.

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  63. Trevor29

    The consumer has a number of choices, even if they don’t get to choose how their power is generated. They can opt to spend more money on insulation and efficiency improvements to reduce their power consumption with the payback period being improved by the emission tax.

    For many (most?) consumers, not really. The beautiful advantage of the way that electricity is supplied is that the capital costs of the plant are invisible to the consumer, they consumer just pays a rate per KWh. if they want to get into reducing their KWhs, by fitting insulation, they then need to get into financining and capital works. For those on dodgy incomes or living in rental accomodation, this just isn’t going to happen. For similar reasons, efficiancy improvements (eg heat pumps, new fridge) are not available.

    So whereas in theory you’;re bang on the money, and thats the way it should work, the reality is very different.

    I’d also note that a little while ago the Government swapped the ownership of generation assets between SOEs, so that one SOE wouldn’t have a CO2 advantage over another…

    Yep, carbox taxes, just another rort.

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  64. dbuckley – you are quite correct in saying that not all consumers will be in a position to make all the changes that they might want to. However there will still be a significant proportion who do. However even those living in rental properties can swap light bulbs for higher efficiency bulbs and take other steps to reduce their consumption. Also in this context, ‘electricity consumers’ includes commercial and industrial users.

    Even after the SOE asset swaps, the SOEs can still improve their individual bottom lines by investing in renewable energy and reducing their fossil fuel usage. However I think removing Meridian’s control of the water source for the majority of its assets was really strange and counterproductive if the government is serious about meeting the 90% renewable target that it promotes.

    Trevor.

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  65. The SOEs improving their bottom lines wont improve my lot. I buy electricity retail, and get what I’m given.

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  66. Wayne Luxton,

    In your tax scenario you are forgetting about savings to the state in your equation.
    These are probably. Less spending on drought relief.
    Les spending on health issues
    Less spending in the conservation estate as we have less extinctions.
    Greater production in the primary sector thus more foreign exchange and more jobs.

    Unfortunately you are falling for the same rhetoric that the Greens policy espouses.

    Namely that one course of action will have un-calculated (and dreamed up) flow on effects elsewhere, when there is no proof these benefits will occur.

    The most likely scenario (and no better or worse then yours) is that the state taxing “dirty” power generators and not “clean” ones is that the price of electricity will rise to the consumer.

    For if the state taxes Huntly electricity up by say 30%, the flow on effect to the “pool” of electricity pricing in the national grid will be a price rise of 30% LESS the “clean” electricity contribution that is taxed at the lower rate.

    There is no reason to suggest, however, that the “clean” power generators wont increase their prices to the new market rate set by the extra taxation for Huntly electricity. They can put their prices up by 29% and still undercut the state owned Huntly generator

    Hence I want to see how the Greens will construct a pricing structure to the consumer that reflects their ability to purchase “clean” electricity versus “dirty”.

    Any refunds to the consumer base for the “dirty” taxation paid (by the consumer) to the state for using the “dirty” electricity will never be equal to the extra taxation paid. You have admin fees taking roughly 20 to 30% of the taxation.

    In other words the consumer is facing higher electricity charges under the Greens proposal.

    Unless the Greens can control the pricing of “clean” electricity generation. Something that it cant do unless it nationalises all private “clean” electricity generators.

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  67. Gerrit Since all these tax models are an hypothesis but common sense tells us certain things ate given. I guess it depends on our experiences and desired outcomes. I think mine reflect an optimism to do something about things and not sit on my cherry and live off future generations opportunities.

    One given that applies across the board is that every action has a reaction, so by cutting consumption on things showing bad environmental effects we allow the common estate to rebalance and humans need to learn to live with that.

    In my reading about acid effects on humans, there is a hormone reponse that creates an adrenalin like reaction to do something to fix things (find anions). However, unlike adrenalin reaction where there is an identifiable source, with a shortage of anions we can’t see a physical threat. As a shortage of anions also shuts down our higher thinking to preserve anions for essential function, we go into robot mode to fix things, like workaholics.

    This to me explains a big part of what society is doing at present, headlong consumption and denial about the problem. The sad thing is in some Eastern health analysis this is an indication of ill health and a prerequisite to immune breakdown and cancers etc. Thus a sharp decline in population is indicated by this sacenario, also negating the process of growth at all costs. I see those in denial as being those most vulnerable in health/survival terms.

    By the way a continual growth at all costs has also got to have an equal and opposite reaction. I guess the present Government policies are doomed anyway and so we might as well adapt in a way that allows balance.

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  68. In my part of the world, bless the rain that is reAWAKENING the plants and birds and all the processes I can’t see.

    It allows me to keep sustaining myself.

    I just hope that others can appreciate the same and not see it as an excuse to resume there greed and want to use my and my offsprings share.

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  69. Gerrit – why should the CO2 emission tax require 20-30% overhead in administration if it is being paid by a small group of large companies (and SOEs)? High administration costs would accompany taxing a large number of entities small amounts rather than the other way around.

    While it is true that the generators will benefit from higher electricity prices if they are using renewables, they will pay some of this back in the form of extra tax on their profits, and would return more of it to government unless the government relinquishes ownership. However when enough renewable generation comes on stream, the high CO2 emitters will be costed right out and the price of electricity will then be set by the lower cost generation – that with a lower CO2 content.

    The alternative is or at least should be that New Zealand pays a higher Kyoto bill. However if we had implemented sensible CO2 reduction policies years ago as suggested by the Green Party, we would be getting a Kyoto refund instead.

    When the price of imported oil and oil product climbs through the roof, it would be nice to have some of our own gas left so we could run part of our transport fleet on it. All policies that encourage burning that gas now for electricity or heat will cost us in the long term.

    Trevor.

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  70. In other words the consumer is facing higher electricity charges under the Greens proposal.

    The nationalization of major electrical power suppliers has to be part of the MONETARY cure we need, according to my view of that problem.

    The fact that the price of electricity will rise is not a surprise however.. it HAS to rise to the point where renewable sources are able to supply it. You were thinking some OTHER result is expected?

    The “cheapest” available energy is the stuff which is subsidized by future generations paying for it in terms of environmental damage. That is cheapest for us. You persist however, in implicitly assuming that the cost to us NOW is the only and true cost.

    If we raise the price of that, and the price of carbon based fuels in general, to the point where behaviours change and renewables move to “cheapest”, then the price of electricity is at the level that WE then have to adapt to, with properly insulated and heated buildings, and all the rest that goes with that. The economy rebalances to that level… and any time the economy does that, it is painful.

    Do you suffer from some misconception that we aren’t aware of that?

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  71. Trevor29

    Gerrit – why should the CO2 emission tax require 20-30% overhead in administration

    No, I said a 20 to 30% TAX, which, if we follow BJ’s taxation return method, would require admin fees to follow the taxation back to the payers.

    So that the taxation payers dont get the full amount back.

    BJ,

    Bet my last dollar to say the Greens wont go into the election with a nationalisation program for the electricity generators.

    Will bet my second last dollar that the Greens will not go into the election with a clear statement that electricity prices (and fuel prices) will rise to “protect” the future environment.

    Do you suffer from some misconception that we aren’t aware of that?

    So will the Greens be truthful and tell the people to expect higher prices for electricity and fuel?

    Right at the start Dr Norman said,

    The Government doesn’t have a strategy to develop a national strategy to tackle climate change. It will it just leave the New Zealand public and businesses like farms to face the costs and harsh effects on their own.

    So he will no doubt now tell the New Zealand people that the Greens strategy is to increase prices of electricity and fuel?

    Waiting with bated breath.

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  72. Have our Mercury Energy invoice sitting in the inbox to be paid. When I look at my usage graph on the invoice versus last year we consistently are using 15% less electricity.

    Guess what monetary saving we are making?

    None, we are paying 10% more for using less (for tax purposes I keep all our invoices and can quickly check).

    So I repeat my request from the Greens to show how taxing “dirty” emissions and not taxing “clean” emissions is going to show up on citizens power bills.

    Current market model for electricity supply is not doing it, so how will the Greens change the model so that using “clean” generated electricity is rewarded?

    The current system does not do that, in fact savings are punished as the lower consumption is actually punished by higher prices.

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  73. Gerrit – I apologise, but how else should I have interpreted:
    “You have admin fees taking roughly 20 to 30% of the taxation.”?

    Trevor

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  74. “So I repeat my request from the Greens to show how taxing “dirty” emissions and not taxing “clean” emissions is going to show up on citizens power bills.”

    It could show up on the electricity bill as lower GST, but it could equally well not show up on the bill at all, instead showing up as less tax taken from pay packets and/or increased benefits. Eventually it will show up on the electricity bill – when the cheap gas currently being burned to generate electricity runs out. Unless most of the electricity currently generated by fossil fuels is replaced by electricity generated by renewables, we can expect some big price rises and quite possibly electricity shortages.

    Trevor

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  75. Trevor29

    Easy, if 20 to 30% of the 30% taxation is taken up in admin fees, then only 80 to 70% can be returned.

    Making a mockery of Pigovian taxation.

    I set a random figure of taxation at 30%, admin fees (best guestimate of 20 to 30% fees – that is what Al Gore charges to clip the ticket in the ETS) comes out of that 30% taxation.

    we can expect some big price rises and quite possibly electricity shortages.

    Will the Greens front up and say that in their policy statements?

    Dr Norman berates Nationals lack of a strategy but fails to mention a flow on effect of the Greens strategy will see increases in the price of electricity and fuel.

    Both strategies (one to do nothing and the other to tax “dirty” emmisions) will increase electricity and fuel charges.

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  76. Quite right, Gerrit. the Greens are just like every other politician in that regard: they won’t tell people the truth because otherwise they won’t get elected. So, the sad fact of the matter is that people don’t want the truth; they want nice comforting words, as though that makes it all better. The environment is in a nose-dive but no-one cares.

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  77. Tony – the need for psychological comfort is a human problem, not a political one.

    Which is why IMO, looking to any politicians to ‘resolve’ the issues at hand is pointless.

    Change needs to come from the ground up.

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  78. Absolutely correct, Gregor. Unfortunately I see no evidence of either.

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  79. The current system does not do that, in fact savings are punished as the lower consumption is actually punished by higher prices.

    Gerrit – I have noticed this as well but it is a separate issue from incentivising cleaner energy production. The current distortion is a result of a couple of factors:

    (i) the government remains in an effective monopoly position wrt power generation as they are the sole shareholder in our powercos that produce about 80% of on-grid power

    (ii) the bulk of power retailers are also power generators, therefore no separation of interests

    (iii) as sole shareholder of the majority of generators and retailers, the government has no incentive to regulate the market effectively for the benefit of consumers.

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  80. Tony – I don’t believe that people at grassroots are not making rational, far sighted choices wrt power consumption and generation choices.

    For instance, my wife will attest that I’m pretty rigorous around power and water consumption in our household (which is slowly rubbing off on her :)). I can’t be the only one.

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  81. You’re not the only one, Gregor (me too), but the odd fraction of a fraction of a percent in the population amounts to same thing. However, I’m talking about more than just electricity and water use, which is probably more than you were.

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  82. I figure you have to start somewhere, Tony.
    And setting a personal example is the best way to do it.

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  83. Easy, if 20 to 30% of the 30% taxation is taken up in admin fees, then only 80 to 70% can be returned.

    Making a mockery of Pigovian taxation.

    I set a random figure of taxation at 30%, admin fees (best guestimate of 20 to 30% fees – that is what Al Gore charges to clip the ticket in the ETS) comes out of that 30% taxation.

    That’s an ABSURD number. Maybe not so clearly absurd here in NZ where the bureaucrazy is, but it is absurd. What Al Gore charges to clip-the-ticket has no relationship to a proper government not-for-profit arrangement, AND YOU KNOW IT.

    http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/admin.html

    I’d accept as much as 5% given that we’re just starting and this is NZ. More than that is, for such a simple scheme, absurd.

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  84. Gerrit

    You do recognize that higher prices will create incentives to save energy, and generate clean energy, right?

    So the Pigovian tax does work to cause that to happen, right?

    When it happens the tax generates less money, but that means that it is working.

    Putting a huge admin loading on the process is your invention, not a notion of ours or a realistic expectation given the simplicity of what is proposed.

    FAILING to do those things lays a far larger “tax” on future generations who will obtain a broken environment as their inheritance from our profligacy. THAT cost has to be weighed alongside the added cost of the electricity from renewable sources. You don’t count it in any of your posts. All you ever count is the immediate cost to YOU of the electricity TODAY.

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  85. The way the SOE system is working with power prices, and probably saving incentives, is the nature of the structure itself. Early systems were based on consumer servic but changed to make them fit the private corporate model. The prices were cheaper and line charges etc. were part of the unit cost, making savings really work. The present structure makes the small consumer more directly subsidise the infrastructure for bigger new businesses and for the large influx of new foreign consumers.
    As we see with Solid Energy and the asking for a return on dividends and suggesting borrowing to help cover it, and with ACC Nick Smith upping levies to business above what was needed, is an attempt to ramp up performance to exite the asset sale process. It is ironic that companies can be pinged for such action where the govt. acts like a bad corporate. With Mighty River heads dodging questions asked by the Finance Select Committee you wonder what they are hiding and are they close to breaking the disclosure laws around this Market. Maybe a complaint should be made by the Public as ultimate share holders.

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  86. The error of structuring government “controlled” services as separate businesses (State Owned Enterprises) is a serious one. The entire notion SHOULD have caused people’s heads to implode when it was first suggested…

    I certainly cannot see any excuse for it except to somehow justify that those services are set up to make profits and yet be immune from regulation. It sounds like a half-step to privatisation and effectively I have to suppose that that is EXACTLY how it was conceived.

    The religion of free-market fundamentalism is a treacherous one.

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  87. bj – I suspect the reasoning applied was so that the State could appear to operate at arms length via a pseudo-market (i) in preparation for eventual privatisation (simultaneously pleasing local vested interests, international finance and the WTO) and (ii) to create an environment where any failures or price gouging could be blamed on “the market” all the while guaranteeing a no risk bailout courtesy of the never ending money supply: the taxpayer.

    It’s actually pretty clever if you think about it.

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  88. Problem for me is that as soon as I look at it all I see is a rort in progress. I’m from New York. There isn’t enough wool in New Zealand.

    Apparently enough for a lot of New Zealanders though.

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  89. BJ,

    You do recognize that higher prices will create incentives to save energy, and generate clean energy, right?

    So the Pigovian tax does work to cause that to happen, right?

    You have not been reading my comments,

    I have been saving electricity yet am facing higher prices. No Pigovain tax will fix that, as outlined previously, if the consumer cannot choose.

    The market rate for electricity will be set by the highest tax generator (the less taxed will simply generate higher profits).

    Putting a huge admin loading on the process is your invention, not a notion of ours or a realistic expectation given the simplicity of what is proposed.

    Simple you say, when you cannot even give consumers the ability to choose supply from a “clean” generator. Consumers can only draw from a common pool where the price will be set by the highest taxed generator.

    No incentive to either save power or give a continental if it is “clean” or “dirty”.

    So come one BJ, outline how this simplistic taxation policy and pricing structure will work. Yes it is simple to say, tax “dirty” and return the taxes to the consumer so that the “dirty” generator is put out of business.

    But now put it into a workable and measurable (after all you want to see how the CO2 emissions are being reduced, no?) plan.

    Is not that ALL I asked for? A workable plan better detailed than simply saying “add a Pigovian tax” to “dirty” generation.

    As an engineer you must have developed detailed plans from an original synopsis?

    FAILING to do those things lays a far larger “tax” on future generations who will obtain a broken environment as their inheritance from our profligacy. THAT cost has to be weighed alongside the added cost of the electricity from renewable sources.

    Quantify that cost so that it can be added into a electricity generators’ balance sheet as a liability, that way you will get the TRUE cost of electricity. Only then can it be amortised against future earnings.

    Problem is to quantify. Care to make a start on the figures?

    All you ever count is the immediate cost to YOU of the electricity TODAY.

    Guess what BJ, that is how the voters think.

    I think I’m like a lot of people, relating their personal experience to a wider context that encompasses other people in society.

    If it happens to me, it happens to others in society. Sorry if that is a personal failing on my part.

    To make it better for my grandchildren (and by extension everyone’s grandchildren), I make comments here and work to improve society with the personal experiences gained in the past and today.

    The other problem the Greens need to overcome is the very healthy skepticism that “pay now” for later benefits is actually going to make a difference.

    Have seen enough in three score years plus some, to know that politicians “pay now reap benefits later” schemes are 99.9% a failure for the people fronting up with the money.

    Why should the Greens be any different?

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  90. I HAVE been reading your comments Gerrit. Nor am I denying that the current arrangement isn’t what I’d want, but I am going to ask you again how my ability to “choose” Meridian as my supplier, and I pay THEM for my electricity… and at a higher rate… and they provide their electricity from sustainable sources… doesn’t exist?

    I have to go. Will look at the rest of your post later.

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  91. BJ,

    Just been on Meridians web site and when I look at their rates here

    http://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/assets/PDF/For-home/Join-Meridian/Rate-cards-Feb-2013/RateCard32RESPubVectorAucklandGSTIncl.pdf

    I would be paying, at the economy24 rate, 21.07cents per kWh.

    I pay with Mercury Energy, on the low user rate, 24.66 cents per kWH.

    3 cents per kWh variation.

    Both use Vector as supply distributor and the above costs include the vector charge. Note that the Meridian Network charge is 7.44 per kWh while Mercury is listed at 9.63 per kWh. This is where the 3 cents variation is mainly found.

    I use 496kWH per month (down 15% from this time last year) but prices are up 10%. If I changed electricity supplier I would be $14.80 better off per month (around $180 per annum).

    We are members of the Auckland Electricity Consumer Trust and as such the $320 (tax payed) dividend received, pays for 2 months worth of electricity. A 16% reduction on my electricity charges.

    Makes sod all difference to use “clean” versus “dirty” generation to consumers.

    Question remains, how will the Greens tax the “dirty” and return those taxes (with your minimal admin fees) back to the consumer using “dirty” generated electricity?

    Looking for the nuts and bolts mechanism, not the overarching Pigvorian tax meme.

    For a start the Greens would need to roll back the Max Bradford reforms and reestablish a one stop shop for the national distribution grid.

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  92. Where I am Mercury isn’t a choice and Meridian is a few cents up from what else is on offer. It isn’t actually my point.

    Point was and is, that you CAN choose a “renewable” supplier. Not sure about how it can work if everyone tried to sign up with Meridian, as they only can supply so much from their renewable base, but they and not one of the fossil burning companies are responsible to supply the electricity I use IN to the grid and I am charged their rate.

    So if a CO2 tax is in place raising the rate the carbon burners have to charge, Meridian gets cheaper RELATIVE to those. That’s irrespective of the way the rate tiers, which I find perverse, work.

    The distributor is the owner of the lines. Should not be a relevant factor and I have no idea about what Max Bradford did except that it sounds like another ill-conceived effort to further privatize another public utility.

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  93. BJ – Max Bradford oversaw the reforms of the electricity sector from one state department (NZE) to a group of competing SOEs, trusting in market forces to yield efficiencies without realising that the electricity market by its nature doesn’t work that way.

    Trevor.

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  94. Trevor says “without realising that the electricity market by its nature doesn’t work that way.”

    In the last couple of years at least three times I’ve been offered over $200 to stay with my previous electricity supplier when I’ve decided to change.

    Most companies seem to make little more than 5% profit on their revenue, so I can’t see any great profiteering happening anywhere. The cheaper power they can generate, the more profit they make, so there’s good incentive to be as efficient as possible.

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  95. The national grid isn’t where any difference in your supplier shows up, is it? The supplier and the lines maintenance are two different things. I don’t think you get a choice about your lines maintenance.

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  96. Why should your electricity supplier be a profit making/driven organization at all. I see no reason it cannot be a state run utility and the EFFICIENCY of that utility is as easily made a matter of public oversight as of competition.

    You are as always, measuring efficiency on the basis of the benefits to you, monetarily. I regard this as an inadequate basis to judge the value of an approach to power supply (or anything really).

    Because

    “When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money”

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  97. BJ,

    So if a CO2 tax is in place raising the rate the carbon burners have to charge, Meridian gets cheaper RELATIVE to those.

    But will they pass on the “cheaper” electricity costs to the consumer?

    Or will the Greens/Labour 2014 government insist that their annual profit of around $340M be increased to pay for Jan Logies request for higher welfare payments?

    http://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/company/news/media-releases/nzx-announcements/meridian-energy-s-half-year-result-a-solid-recovery-from-previous-record-dry-year/

    You will be pleased to know that the SOE Meridian Energy is keen to spend your money building “clean” electricity generating capacity in Australia, The Pacific and the USA instead of increasing New Zealand’s “clean” energy supply to enable (for example) cheaper electric private/public transport development.

    Why would a New Zealand SOE be interested in developing Australian or USA “clean” energy when we so desperately need the development here?

    How will the CO2 burners be eliminated if the SOE’s money is not spent in New Zealand on “clean” energy generation development?

    Surely the Labour/Green government in 2014 will retain the profits and money borrowing capacity of Meridian Energy in New Zealand to make Huntly redundant and to plant more wind farms, install tidal power generation in the Kaipara Harbour entrance and Cook Strait?

    The sort of nuts and bolts action plan I would expect to see in the Greens energy strategy policies.

    Not hiking electricity charges.

    “When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money”

    Will never some to that as the ability of the earth to carry 7 Billion people will have long gone before the last tree is cut.

    Population will be lucky to amount to 100K and as such nature will be regenerating faster then the peoples ability to cut down the last tree.

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  98. Max Bradford’s reforms efficiently transformed the electricity market from generating power to generating profits.
    National got chucked out of power (ironic) for that slap to the populace.
    But they’re back and back on task…sell off the $$$ generators.

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  99. Gerrit – For us, the purpose of the tax is to stop people from doing something, not to generate revenue. That is the NATURE of the tax. Using it as part of the general revenues leads to the perverse condition that the State’s interest monetarily, is to increase the behaviour that it is taxing.

    So no Gerrit, it would NOT be used to fund increased welfare. Not if the Greens have anything to actually say about it.

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  100. BJ,

    You are still looking at the micro picture of your taxation regime.

    Micro picture is to tax “dirty” generators and return those taxes to the consumer (less admin costs).

    But you are not looking at the macro picture that the taxation will leave “clean” generators to increase their pricing up to the new market rate of what taxed “dirty” generators have to charge their customers.

    Meridian will be free to charge the new market rate and increase the returns to their sole shareholder.

    That portion can then be used to increase welfare payments.

    Or are you saying that portion will be used to “subsidise” all electricity users due to the higher market rate prices?

    And are the Greens happy that the profits (and capital borrowing abilities) of Meridian Energy are being spent in Australia, Pacific Islands and the USA to generate renewable energy?

    Capital resources that could be better spend in New Zealand?

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  101. Samiam,

    National got chucked out of power (ironic) for that slap to the populace.

    With Labour’s record of not changing the electricity ownership and administration structure for the nine years, after the Bradford reforms, whilst the government, do you see them changing anything in 2014?

    Nothing in their policies to suggest a major makeover.

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  102. BJ says “Why should your electricity supplier be a profit making/driven organization at all. I see no reason it cannot be a state run utility and the EFFICIENCY of that utility is as easily made a matter of public oversight as of competition. ”

    Efficient? That’s funny. You are talking about the same government department where workers would use the workshops in the weekend to fix their cars, and so they could claim overtime for it.

    Or the same one that had such vast cost over runs on Clyde Dam that they could only sell power for a quarter of the real cost of producing it.

    Or the same department that spent millions on facilities in the Mackenzie Country, that no one, anywhere, at any time – ever gave them permission to build.

    You probably confuse efficiency as the reason for cheap prices under NZED, whereas in reality they were because of billions of dollars in subsidies from general taxation.

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  103. the taxation will leave “clean” generators to increase their pricing up to the new market rate of what taxed “dirty” generators have to charge their customers

    That would not be likely if the state is in control of them… it is certainly possible if they remain private and directed to maximize profits.

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  104. Once again Photonz, you are confusing money matters with something else. This isn’t about money and it isn’t all about you.

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  105. BJ says “Once again Photonz, you are confusing money matters with something else.”

    I don’t want the state control my electricity supply any more than I want state control of my food supply.

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  106. BJ,

    That would not be likely if the state is in control of them… it is certainly possible if they remain private and directed to maximize profits.

    Meridian is 100% state owned. They can either reduce their pricing and reduce their dividend ($340M per annum) to their sole shareholder, or they can increase their pricing to the new market rate and return a bigger dividend to their shareholder.

    So will the Greens/Labour government in 2014 forgo the Meridian dividend to reduce “clean” generator electricity price?

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  107. Gerrit – you persist with this ridiculous strawman. It is not necessary to have a lower price to the consumer for low CO2 emission electricity. As I have explained before several times now, the CO2 charge increases the price of electricity of gas or coal to the consumer so that investment by the consumer in insulation, solar water heating and other such measures become more attractive and their electricity, gas or coal consumption drops.

    The CO2 charge will also encourage the electricity generators to move towards renewables (which incur no such CO2 charge) as their running costs will be lower if they do so.

    Why you go on about wanting lower prices to the consumer for renewably generated electricity beats me.

    Trevor.

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  108. If the price of electricty rises, electricity generators who use renewables will have increased profits. If these companies are state owned, then the increased profits go to the government (less the costs of building the renewable generation). These profits should not go into the general purse. Instead they need to be returned to the consumers so the consumers can afford the higher electricity prices. Some consumers will continue using similar amounts as before and these may end up paying a bit more. Others will act to save money by better insulation, solar water heating etc, using their increased income to finance these improvements.

    Landlords may also be encouraged to upgrade their rental properties and use the lower operating costs as a selling point and to justify higher rents.

    Trevor.

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  109. Gerrit – I really have no idea why you are on this tear. Probably a bit of both if it is being run for a profit. I already pointed out that it SHOULD NOT be. Grumble. You want the price of renewable electricity to go DOWN? On what basis? Apart from removing profit from the equation, there isn’t a cheaper here. It is cheaper relatively, not absolutely, and the cost is expected to go UP, at least until economies of scale kick in and additional generation comes on line.

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  110. BJ and Trevor29

    You have perfectly illustrated my initial point (scroll up and check) that the Greens electricity policy to tax “dirty” generators more, will increase prices to the consumer.

    Remember Dr Norman said

    expected the debate to be around what actions were the right ones to take and who should bear the cost

    All I’m pointing out that under the Greens policy the costs will be loaded onto the consumer.

    The stupid idea that by magic a Pigovian tax will alleviate the price rise is also faulty.

    A tax garnered from “dirty” generators only, but distributed to all consumers, due to the pricing regime of the current infrastructure that cannot differentiate between “dirty” or “clean” suppliers, cannot be large enough. Taking from a dwindling few to give to the many does not stack up.

    Be nice if there where some figures attached to show how the Greens taxation policy would work but alas there is none.

    Trevor29 resultant scenario of how the extra taxes will be distributed

    Instead they need to be returned to the consumers so the consumers can afford the higher electricity prices. Some consumers will continue using similar amounts as before and these may end up paying a bit more. Others will act to save money by better insulation, solar water heating etc, using their increased income to finance these improvements.

    is faulty. There wont be enough taxes gathered to pay the difference (especially after admin and distribution costs are deducted) between the price rises and any measures to reduce consumption.

    Strange that trying to figure out HOW a Greens policy will work in the real world is called a “straw-man” or being out on a “tear”.

    Greens electricity policy wont work unless drastic measures, to undo the Bradford reforms are undertaken.

    So will we see a Greens policy to reform the electricity industry to run alongside (or better replace) the increased taxation policy?

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  111. Ah yes, those taxation administration costs which I queried and you claimed you didn’t say, then changed your position. So again, why would it cost 20% to administer a tax on a few large companies? High taxation administration costs are incurred when taxing a large number of entities, not when there are a few players. Remember that the tax is applied to those supplying fossil fuels, and there are very few players in that game, even if Fonterra wants to join them.

    Trevor.

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  112. Trevor29,

    As you ridicule the 20-30% admin distribution costs, you no doubt have a more accurate figure at your disposal?

    Remember it is not just the collection costs from a few, there are costs in distributing to the many in the Pigovian taxation model.

    Dr Norman wants to

    debate to be around what actions were the right ones to take and who should bear the cost

    But the Greens dont really want to debate the acction further then a “tax fossil fuel” standpoint.

    If you want to debate than surely the Greens must run some figures and allocate costs?

    For without those how much tax will you collect and how much will be redistributed to subsidise the Greens higher electricity charges for the consumer.

    I guess that question is “in the too hard basket” for the greens.

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  113. Dear Sir, The question of whether Mr English and Mr Key are in “climate change denial” goes beyond this one issue. Climate change, resource depletion, bioshere degregation, over population and a number of social equality issues are externalities (i.e. not captured by free market pricing. This is compounded by the short term bias of free markets. Given the dominance of the neo-liberal ideology in the thinking of the mainstream parties in general and national in particular these gentlemen will take no action until it is too late. What is required is a major effort to challenge the free market ideology just as its proponents did to Keynesism etcetera. The evidence is there it is up to you guys to get stuck in!

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  114. John,

    If you want to capture extenalised social costings and sheet them home to the people causing the costings then the first step is to quantify those costs.

    Once done they can be incorporated into budgets (for state owned enterprises) or balance sheets (for private companies).

    Untill then screaming about externalised social costs is doing diddle squat.

    Come up with a formula to extenalise social costs and lest see what they are.

    Like taxing fossil fuel emmisions, quantify the externalised social costs and set a figure.

    So that the costs can be either reduced and removed from budgets and balance sheets by possitive environmental changes, or the costs passed onto the consumer.

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  115. whether man made climate change is real or not is less relevant than …. can it be reversed or slowed? science doesn’t seem to have a reliable answer on that one …. i don’t see how tax will reduce or stop rapid climate change …. and what happens if we have a large volcanic eruption with high volumes of S02 and CO2? who do we tax then? Also … why is every other term with the word “man” in it sexist but this one seems ok?

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  116. Jared, the phrasing is usually something like, “climate change caused by anthropogenic global warming (AGW)”.

    For some people, it’s certainly relevant whether current climate change is caused by humans or not because they don’t see any reason to alter their behaviours if it isn’t. Can it be reversed or slowed? Well, since CO2 and other greenhouse gases do result in a warming of the atmosphere, a smaller quantity of those gases will warm it less. So, technically, what we do now can affect what people have to cope with in the future, i.e. yes, we can mitigate it somewhat. Volcanic eruptions we have no control over and they have happened before men and women began pumping huge volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere (as well as affecting the concentration in other ways). They represent the natural ups and downs of greenhouse gases (and other particles) that have always occurred. Our emissions are on top of those.

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  117. Thanks Tony! You are a clever clogs! what with your up to date terminology and all but are you a climate scientist? …. that seems a little simplistic to me … it’s not a recipe for a cake we are talking about … if you are a climate scientist … or even if you are not …can you point me towards studies that show predictable results if we start reducing CO2 emissions now?
    churr to the churr
    oh …and i never said it was irrelevant …. just less relevant than fixing it innit?

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  118. jared, sorry, you did say “less relevant”. Same comment applies, though.

    I’m not a climate scientist and don’t know of studies that show reducing emissions can help mitigate AGW caused climate change. However, the effects of CO2 have been demonstrated and known for a long time. It seems reasonable to me that reducing emissions will reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and thus reduce the amount of human caused warming from what it otherwise would be. Whether that actually will make much difference is unknown, as feedback loops might overwhelm direct forcings from our emissions. However, it seems to me that the less we emit, the less likely it is that we’ll get catastrophic climate change. We should apply the precautionary principle here, given the risks. I’m not holding my breath.

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  119. nah me either …. i wonder if it is a little shut the gate after the horse has bolted/ ambulance at the bottom of the cliff …. to me the major concern is not with terminology or arguing with people who deny, to me the major concern is finding the best way for people to deal/live with the change in climate …. that is unless there is some predictable scenario re lessening CO2 … I agree in principle less emissions should mean less change … but as I said before I am not sure it is that simple

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  120. Gerrit – I am still trying to figure out why this tautological truth is so bleeding important for you to work out.

    “You have perfectly illustrated my initial point (scroll up and check) that the Greens electricity policy to tax “dirty” generators more, will increase prices to the consumer.
    .
    .
    .
    All I’m pointing out that under the Greens policy the costs will be loaded onto the consumer.”

    Really Gerrit, the only question is how MUCH of an increase there will be. If it is done well the increase will be to roughly the COST of renewable electricity… if poorly, the increase will be larger. Moreover, that’s the final stable state. The expectation of higher interim prices for some people while they are still making “bad” choices is also present.

    “The stupid idea that by magic a Pigovian tax will alleviate the price rise is also faulty.
    .
    .
    .
    A tax garnered from “dirty” generators only, but distributed to all consumers, due to the pricing regime of the current infrastructure that cannot differentiate between “dirty” or “clean” suppliers, cannot be large enough. “

    Sorry, but Pigovian taxation is not “stupid” – your analysis of how it works/doesn’t is flawed.

    Furthermore, the people causing the pollution are PEOPLE, not corporations. The corporations are the tools we use, but The entire point to taxing CO2 is to alter the emissions of CO2, and that means imposing costs on people who consume stuff that causes emissions. THIS ALTERS THEIR CONSUMPTION. We aren’t going to accomplish shit if we try to NOT alter consumption… and the only tools that do that are price and scarcity. The corporations are economic animals, if the market shifts they will shift to supply it.

    I get the feeling that you are trying to get us to commit to doing something impossible and you’re frustrated that we won’t so you can’t catch us at it :-)

    “the Greens dont really want to debate the acction further then a “tax fossil fuel” standpoint.”

    What is to debate Gerrit? That IS what we have to do, though it is not the FUEL that wants the tax it is specifically the EMISSIONS… a nit. I take your meaning, just want to make it clear to others.

    “the first step is to quantify those costs.”

    That has been attempted a few times Gerrit, but it is far more uncertain than the warming itself. Lord Stern who did a fair job of it has now said he was far too optimistic.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/27/nicholas-stern-climate-change-davos

    However, that isn’t what you actually want. You want the Greens to explain in detail what each person in the country is going to pay in tax, as if we fucking know everything that is going to happen in the future and what our partners in government are going to agree to. You have a wishlist for certainty about the future, but we are NOT going to lie to you and tell you something that we cannot be sure of. Any other party would just tell you whatever it is you want to hear. We don’t… and then you don’t like not being lied to.

    Has anyone ever told you you’re a strange guy? :-)

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  121. BJ says “The entire point to taxing CO2 is to alter the emissions of CO2, and that means imposing costs on people who consume stuff that causes emissions. THIS ALTERS THEIR CONSUMPTION. ”

    There’s always unforeseen consequences with new taxes.

    Like higher power prices from a tax on carbon meaning people use their heat pumps less, and their wood fires more.

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  122. That’s a fair point, photonz1.

    However, I’d say the effect of your example would be pretty marginal.
    It’s more likely that people would just accept being more uncomfortable and adding a third sweater!

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  123. BJ,

    and that means imposing costs on people who consume stuff that causes emissions. THIS ALTERS THEIR CONSUMPTION. We aren’t going to accomplish shit if we try to NOT alter consumption…

    You conveniently are overlooking the fact that people DO NOT have a choice in buying their electricity from a “clean” supplier (cheaper) then from a “dirty” supplier (more expensive).

    We all buy from a central pool of electricity called the national grid.

    The electricity you are buying from Meridian is as likely to be generated by Huntly coal as Wairakei steam.

    I have quoted why Pigovian taxes dont work, scroll up to see the reasons why.

    You want the Greens to explain in detail what each person in the country is going to pay in tax,

    That would be nice. Did Dr Norman not say that he

    expected the debate to be around what actions were the right ones to take and who should bear the cost

    So Dr Norman wants the government to debate what actions are needed and who will bear the cost of that, but the Greens wont even start to debate those costs (including some figures so that personal budgets and company balance sheets can be prepared).

    If the Greens don’t want to debate costs, why should the government?

    Especially if in your opinion they are very hard to quantify.

    As an engineer, I’m strange, for I have to figure out the nuts and bolts on how to cost, quote, machine, manufacture, assemble and distribute things. Notice what comes first?

    Customers always ask costs first, then quality. Voters are the same.

    How anyone can expect anyone to vote for a blank canvas political party that cant even say how much they will tax “dirty” generators?

    That is “strange” to me.

    With the latest polls having the Greens on less than 10%, maybe the party needs to be a bit more specific in their policy statements in regards costings and measurable outcomes.

    Dr Norman would do well if he could produce a shadow budget to show where all the funding for Green party policies will come from.

    How will he negotiate with Labour in 2014, to implement Green policies, if he cant quantify costs?

    “Hey Mr Parker, we want to raise taxation on dirty electricity generating companies”

    “Why that is interesting Dr Norman, how much do you think we should tax, and what impact will that have on the consumer?”

    “Dont know Mr Parker, how much it will cost nor how much it will raise in increased taxation but we have this cunning plan called a Pigovian tax that makes it tax neutral”

    “So why Dr Norman should we include it into our budget if it is tax neutral and the benefits are immeasurable?”

    Yep, that will be Dr Norman negotiating from a position of knowledge and strength, NOT.

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  124. Jared

    First do no evil.

    Before we can reduce them we have to get back to not raising the CO2 level.

    That’s harder than it was, the ocean is absorbing less now as it warms.

    Simply stop make it worse, consider actual reductions at that point, but we make it worse every day. The target Hansen computed was 350 PPM, that’s why there is a 350.org. If the sensitivity is lower it could be a little higher, if higher it should be lower, but it is a pretty reasonable target.

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf

    Except that we’re already at 390+ and may top 400 this year.

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  125. Sorry Gerrit, I pointed out the problem with that analysis of pigovian tax then. I will revisit it now… just to make it quite clear.

    but the alternatives are to start shooting people who produce too much CO2, and dying.

    But because C’s price has not changed and it can substitute for D, consumers will buy C instead of D. Suddenly the government’s environmental tax base has eroded and its revenue with it. The government then cannot afford to keep the labor income tax down.

    The last bit DOES NOT MATTER. The consumption of the dirty good has been removed.

    The point of the tax is NOT to make more money for government OR to return money to people, OR to be perfectly neutral. It is to alter the economics of consuming things that do damage the society but CANNOT be otherwise costed by the market.

    Failing to take the value of that social good into account, those economist’s arguments fall into the category of parakeet cage lining that most economist’s work occupies.

    ============================

    I think you are wrong about what comes first. I am quite sure you that you have never costed something before you figured out how you might build it in the first place. The costing only comes AFTER you have some idea about how and what you want to build. You can’t do costs until you know what it is made from and how complicated it is to put together.

    Then too, costing is important when you want to know if you can afford to do it at a price the market can afford. Here we have a situation where it is existential. We do something that stops the emissions, or we lose everything. Some things are not expressible in monetary terms.

    “The electricity you are buying from Meridian is as likely to be generated by Huntly coal as Wairakei steam.”

    The specific watts that flow into my house, yes. The watts supplied to the grid however, are another matter.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_retailing

    -by paying a “sustainable” supplier instead of someone else, I am subsidizing THEIR provision of electricity into the grid. If they are at a price point that is lower than the folks who own Huntly as a result of the tax they will get more money and be required to provide more electricity. At some price point it also may become cost effective for me to do the hot-water heater and put solar panels on my roof…. and at some level of consumer sign up they’re going to have to say “no more” because that’s all they can supply.

    Which is when the price really needs to rise. Which additional money, in THEIR hands has to go to more renewable generation… not to government or people. TAXES get returned to people… and the market is open to other renewable based suppliers.

    =====================

    We can change this using the market, or change it at the point of a gun, or die.

    Which path do you want to go down – or do you plan to take the New Zealand path which is to debate what to do UNTIL you die.

    =========================

    Dr Norman was talking about what he expected in Parliament Gerrit. Not about what I already know we have to do.

    expected the debate to be around what actions were the right ones to take and who should bear the cost

    …basically means he is asking what does the GOVERNMENT plan to do? As an opposition party, that is a fair question. But it is a politician’s question, and it wasn’t answered.

    No actions are the right ones as far as we can tell from this government, and future generations are to bear the costs.

    Keep the question in the context of question time and it makes perfect sense.

    “how much do you think we should tax, and what impact will that have on the consumer?”

    1. Enough to change the consumer’s behaviour with respect to CO2 emissions. *enough to make it economically favorable to use wind and solar and geothermal and hydro, rather than using coal or gas. What is the current price difference?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

    Call it about $60/MWH to start with and ramp up to $90 which would pretty much finish Coal in the Electricity market… and eventually eliminate Gas. Yet the numbers have to be reached in terms of CO2 emitted, not in terms of MWH generated.

    2. It will change his behaviour with respect to CO2 emissions. He will be a lot more careful about his usage of power.

    What pisses me off is that you still want to debate as if there were some sort of actual choice involved.

    … and you want to engage in a public debate about a hypothetical tax regime when we can’t even establish whether the government thinks there is a problem to address and we can’t put in a tax but instead have to work to prevent them from selling off the power companies at crazy-eddie prices.

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  126. BJ says “2. It will change his behaviour with respect to CO2 emissions. He will be a lot more careful about his usage of power. ”

    Or he may simply swap to wood or coal and massively INCREASE CO2 emissions.

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  127. Using wood does not increase CO2 emissions, assuming the trees are replanted. The new trees use up the CO2 that was emitted by the trees that they replaced.

    He would only swap to coal if coal was cheaper. The whole point of the tax is to increase the price of coal. If coal was still cheaper, it is likely that he will use less coal burning it himself for heat than Huntly would use burning it to make electrricity.

    Trevor.

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  128. Gerrit – you have provided a 20-30% figure for the costs of administering a CO2 tax. I have asked you to justify this, and gave a suggestion why it would be less. I don’t have to have a better figure. So far you have said nothing to convince me that you haven’t simply made up a figure, although I am guessing that you have taken a figure from a completely different type of tax and assumed that it would be the same.

    You have also tried to argue that there would be redistribution costs. This doesn’t hold up at all. One way to redistribute the income from a CO2 tax is to adjust the income tax rates and/or thresholds so less income tax is gathered. If your 20-30% taxation administration fee is correct, this will return 120-130% of the tax gathered from the CO2 tax to the tax payers.

    Trevor.

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  129. Trevor29,

    You are a magician,

    If your 20-30% taxation administration fee is correct, this will return 120-130% of the tax gathered from the CO2 tax to the tax payers.

    You may want to rethink your statement.

    20 to 30% admin fees means only 70 to 80% will be returned, no?

    The people, systems and infastructure to collect and distribute the tax is a cost. Don’t know where you think you get it from as income?

    But hey if you can turn an expense into income, I want a share in your company.

    In fact the nation, no the world will be in awe as you have turned the proverbial water into wine, single handedly solved the growth conundrum of feeding the growing human population on a finite resourced planet by simply…………

    Wait for it……….

    Making an expense an income.

    WOW, why did I not think of that?

    Oh wait, it is like a perpetual motion machine, it does not work.

    ah well, back to the drawing board.

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  130. BJ,

    What pisses me off is that you still want to debate as if there were some sort of actual choice involved.

    No, what I want to debate is the Greens solution as published in the policy statements.

    That it seems is hard to do as nothing is costed.

    The point of the tax is NOT to make more money for government OR to return money to people, OR to be perfectly neutral. It is to alter the economics of consuming things that do damage the society but CANNOT be otherwise costed by the market.

    So if the tax is NOT to return money to the people, how will the extra revenue be spent? I fact why should a government encourage burning less coal if the revenue stream is so lucrative (think tobacco, alcohol, petrol taxes)?

    … and you want to engage in a public debate about a hypothetical tax regime when we can’t even establish whether the government thinks there is a problem to address

    It is not a hypothetical tax regime, it is Greens party policy to tax CO2 remember!

    All I’m asking is HOW the proposed Greens tax regime will work!

    Is that a no no?

    Jeez, you cant have a policy and not expect people (voters) to debate it!

    It is not what the current government will do or not do, it is what the Greens policy says the Greens in government will do!

    Looking forward to the first meeting Dr Norman has with Mr Parker IF the Greens and Labour get to the treasury benches in 2014.

    “Dr Norman, nice pollution taxation policies the Greens have, want to discuss with me implementation?. Where do you think the Greens policy costs will sit in the 2015 budget?”

    ” Jeez mate (in a rich ozzie twang) don’t rightly know what the costs are, mate.”

    An incredulous Mr Parker replies (in a nasally kiwi mutter) “And you want my job?”

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  131. Gerrit

    I posted a link to the Social Security admin costs of something more like 1%… it isn’t reasonable to believe 20% admin unless we are talking about stupid NZ politicians and their rich mates… which would leave out the Greens anyway.

    Photonz – Coal is not cheaper, it is also taxed. Perhaps you missed the point. ALL activities that cause net CO2 emissions/releases get hit.

    Wood is biomass and not a net addition to the CO2 load unless it is not regrown… which is a different sort of suicide pact for a society, sort of like Easter Island, but larger.

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  132. So if the tax is NOT to return money to the people, how will the extra revenue be spent?

    You misunderstand. The PURPOSE of the tax is not to do so. If it is a pigovian tax it returns as much as possible, less the admin fees you are so fond of, but its purpose is neither to redistribute wealth nor to provide revenue for the state. Its purpose is to give an uncosted social harm a cost that the market can take notice of.

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  133. Gerrit – try having some coffee before you start typing, and then re-read what you are about to comment on – all of it, not just one sentence. Let me repeat what I wrote:

    “One way to redistribute the income from a CO2 tax is to adjust the income tax rates and/or thresholds so less income tax is gathered. If your 20-30% taxation administration fee is correct, this will return 120-130% of the tax gathered from the CO2 tax to the tax payers.”

    Income tax is a tax. If it costs 20-30% to collect income tax, then reducing the amount of income tax that needs to be collected (because the government has an alternative source of revenue) saves that 20-30% administration costs as well. The workers who are having to pay that tax get a tax relief which is 20-30% GREATER than the amount of alternative revenue used to replace the revenue from income tax. The difference is the reduction in the administration costs of the income tax because less income tax is needed.

    How is that coffee working for you now?

    Trevor.

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  134. All I’m asking is HOW the proposed Greens tax regime will work!

    ?? I think I finally see your problem here… you mistake my tax preference for a Green policy. Just a reminder…. I am only ONE Green there are many, and no single Green makes policy of any sort.

    If it were in fact a Green POLICY there’d be a full explanation of it in the policy documents and all the detail you wish.

    Not a “Green Party” tax policy Gerrit. It is what some of us prefer to the current joke ETS. Not a developed party policy.

    I think that may be the source of your difficulty here.

    1. Establishing CO2 equivalency tables for general fuel use.
    2. Doing measurements at large fixed thermal plants.
    3. Taking livestock off the regime.
    4. Charging per tonne of CO2 emitted.
    5. Returning the tax to the people of NZ as a check/rebate on a monthly basis (not as a tax reduction).
    6. The rate established so as to make the production and use of energy from CO2 emitting sources more “economically attractive” than that same production and use from CO2 emitting sources. I previously pointed at a rough table which indicates some $60/MWH of electricity as a starting point.

    It is fundamentally simple and inescapable. The purpose is to change behaviour, not to generate or redistribute wealth. It is not expected to be free of COST… the sustainable sources are after all, more expensive and difficult to use.

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  135. Gerrit,

    It would be nice if we could stay on topic which was Bill English and Climate Change Denial. My point was that as with other major issues one must address the prevailing orthodoxy to make headway.
    Given the topic has moved on I would suggest that the evidence says that best interventions are the simplest and a general carbon tax on ALL falls into this category. Carbon trading schemes, targeting of sectors etcetera are inefficient and open to manipulation. Any should be directly passed onto subsidising alternative energy production and/or consumption minimisation.

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  136. BJ – I’d like to add one word – “currently” – to your statement:
    “the sustainable sources are after all, more expensive and difficult to use.”

    Development continues on wind generation, solar photovoltaics and other forms of sustainable energy harnessing, lowering their costs. Meanwhile the oil that fuels much of the world’s activities is getting harder to find and extract, and although there are developments in the gas industry, gas prices will rise again at some point. In more and more places, the costs of generation from renewable resources are lower than the costs of generation from non-renewable resources.

    Trevor.

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  137. Actually the way I see it is that no one really wants to make any radical changes to their own lifestyles. “Be the change you want to see in the world” Ghandi
    It’s not all about money…..currency can be in other forms. If any of you really want to make a real contribution to halt climate change, stop the debating and go sell up and move out of the cities and onto the land. Humans just don’t get what their real purpose in life is….every other animal just lives life, do you?

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  138. Sue, admirable though that might be, it won’t make any noticeable contribution toward halting global warming. To truly make a difference is going to require a massive mobilization of people not seen since World War 2.

    The longest journey begins with the first step. Trouble is we’re still arguing over taking that first step…..

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  139. Ghandi was correct in terms of political/social issues, but that message is NOT about the atmospheric/climate commons.

    We, as Greens (those of us here as ARE Greens) do work to reduce our carbon footprint. However, the nature of the “Tragedy of the Commons” is that it is not resolvable by the actions of individuals.

    The motivation to consume more of the commons, because it has no price on it, is alternatively understandable as an economic market failure. It is as a result, immune to ordinary social pressures. It cannot be managed without recourse to some self-government which PUTS a price on the use of the commons, or alternatively, rations the commons out to each.

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  140. I agree with both BJ and Sue. I see an unfortunate aspect in the way our Economics is shaped by those seeing only a monetary equation, instead of a whole system. The four main steps I see as needed to make some difference.

    1. Make the personal changes that we see in our view of the task to change the impact. I was an early “Hippie” on the Coromandel and one of the first 13 candidates for Values Party. Right from the beginning we ran into authorities trying to stop us setting up an alternative on our land, seeing their centralised model as the only option. I see this as the inability of large numbers in our community to stand on their own skills, and see it as ok to take or force others to make their process work. I’m sure Ghandi saw this and was also the spiritual focus to get others standing up against oppression. So Sue, Ghandi had two sides to his action.

    2. A huge education campaign to put economic thinking back on track. Money is only a medium of exchange and if not in relation to the resources we are exchanging, or to those we are sharing or using, we have serious social and environmental consequences. There is far more research outcomes, to totally debunk the present Treasury analysis. The problem the Greens have has always been there. If we don’t do the educating the policy change in Pasrliament will not really be accepted – The Smacking Bill? To get things going the Values Party decentralised and activated at community level, but it took time for most of our policies to become mainstream.

    3. Local Body strength to rebalance town plaanning to strengthening communities. At present all housing development is being compartmentalised into rows of houses and rows of factory farms. This suits those making money out of the process but sets us up to need a basic fuel source to be able to transact. We need more village like clusters of people in rural places where fibres and other plants are being grown for the development of alternatives to fossil fuel. Before all this modern town planning a farmer might sell a few blocks of land (5 acre) to offset the economic downturn. This would allow a rural population to work busy times on larger farms without travelling from the nearest town.This was common in the 50′s which is where we have to go in terms of balance.

    4. A full constitutional debate that looks at resource economics and allows those who wish to base their lives on conservation to proceed without the continuing need to stop outsiders from trying to exploit the common. Local councils have been that for centuries until we get centralised government undermining the independance on a spurious call of saving costs, when if we look at percentages, more is going out of the local economy to repay foreign returns on things that disrupt local economies – mining colonisation. Analysis shows most of this is going to enrich developed parts of the economy and not to our poorer neighbours.

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  141. I can’t exactly rewrite Ghandi’s quote in my name with reference to climate issues, they’re just words that can be applied to many scenarios. My point really is that most people don’t want to radically change their lifestyles. They think buying organics or chemical free cleaners is going to do it, they miss the point entirely, most things can be homemade or homegrown without the nasties, you have to not want it in the first place. I totally agree we need to stop arguing these issues and move to 2nd base otherwise time will run out. While we still condone factory farming, unsustainability, cruelty to animals, chemical agriculture, chemical warfare blah blah we’re never going to move forward because we don’t have the intelligence to do IT. The best I can do is be the change I want to see and spread the word as much as I can. Unfortunately we’re mostly ‘preaching to the converted’.

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