Should we be worried? Damn right we should…

The NZIER has put out another of their ‘Insights’  papers, this time highlighting just how vulnerable our exports are to consumer perceptions that our goods are not sustainably produced.

The US and some EU countries are indicating that border taxes may be used to defend their local producers against imports from countries that have ‘soft’ climate change regimes.  The ETS that the government bulldozed through Parliament under urgency last week takes ‘soft’ to a whole new level; we’re talking marshmallows here!

While border taxes would be quite tricky to impose without contravening WTO rules about trade restrictions, and may not present a danger to us in the short term, we can’t be too sanguine about the longer term.

A much more urgent risk is that we are perceived as a country not making serious attempts to reduce our carbon emission, which will give our competitors an opportunity to turn market preferences away from our export products and services.

Given that we now have an ETS with no effective cap on emissions, and that does little to provide regulatory or financial incentives for our major polluters to change their ways and reduce pollution, we have handed our trade competitors a very handy club to beat us with!

Fortunately we do have some smart business people who understand the opportunities for genuinely ‘green’ or sustainable products or services that appeal to the growing number of socially and environmentally conscious consumers (the LOHAS  segment).

What a shame though, that any success they have in securing a share of this affluent, high value market will be despite the actions of the government, rather than being supported by it!

5 Comments Posted

  1. In his column, Moore said:

    Man is the only species on earth who can laugh or blush or needs to.

    Preceeding this tag…

    Mike Moore is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

    I laughed, he should blush.

  2. Looks like Mike Moore is having difficulty coming to terms with some of his “Givens” being challenged.

    So were a few others that he talked to!!

  3. In from Prof Jaime de Melo(Geneva) new evidence on trade, pollution, environment ‘trade-off’s. The following lede pretty much sums the artticle on voxeu. Now I appreciate this very much a euro-centric pov but the final sentence tells of likely kiwi-to-european market attitudes.. and more especially in terms of we CAN do rather than a weak ETS regime and reliance on do not much because of unsolvable cattle methanes etc..

    The “pollution haven” view asserts that globalisation draws industries to countries with lax environmental regulation. This column presents evidence that the major polluting industries are not very footloose and that changes in emissions through the relocation of activities are relatively small. The growth of trade itself, however, is likely to contribute to growing emissions associated with transport.

    That trade growth speech from the throne by PM Key (mentioned by Kennedy-Graham Sunday RNZ), and Minister Groser’s banging on about FTAs – which informed folks know once anchored Bush’s Trade Fast-Track program — and yes Bush’s since ‘his’ Congress gifted unitary authority – along with Minister Smith’s admission that GHG increases evidenced a “reality check” are all statements to effectively weaken NZ’s position in the world. Which is taking note..
    You guys are wise in taking consumers’ and consequential lines.. one being ‘climate debt’ claimants of which the $10bn+ at CHOGM is down payment..

  4. we can’t be too sanguine about the longer term.

    In the long term, agriculture will be paying for their emissions though, won’t they? Leading the world and all that…

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