2010-11-09

Obama’s new climate

With the United States becoming the latest country to abandon emissions trading, Federated Farmers is asking the Government to focus on the efforts of other countries, in the terms of reference for the 2011 review of climate change policies.

“Given the Obama Administration has abandoned plans for a ‘cap and trade’ system akin to our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), ours being the most severe in the world, do we really wish to be in a club of one?” asks Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“We’ve had plenty of commitments from the Government that agriculture will not be in the ETS, if our trading partners don’t follow suit. With President Obama’s decision today, when will our legislation be amended to give that commitment effect?

“The thing is that there seems to be a bureaucratic reality and a trading reality. In the bureaucratic world, our ETS ‘adds immeasurable value to all exports’, but in the trading world, into which our exporters sell, we’re told it doesn’t.

“That’s not to say we don’t think anything should be done. But the bureaucrats advising Government need to get over themselves. They need face up to the reality that the world has moved on. Reality is expressed in the number of countries following New Zealand’s example.

“In June, at our National Conference, I highlighted the Hartwell Paper by Professors Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics and Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia.

“Those eminent academics concluded it was impossible to have emissions reduction as the all-encompassing and driving goal. Kyoto couldn’t work and events have proven them right.

“Instead of subsidising carbon units that enrich a select few, they called for public investment into clean energy technologies. I’ve seen this in China. This isn’t about forcing the public to change, but changing what the public use.

“Ironically, it was the global economic meltdown that jolted the world into realising they’d faced one bubble, called sub-prime, only to start a new one with carbon emissions units.

“Given President Obama’s new climate, the Washington Post reports that a senior European official believes the Cancun talks in Mexico should now focus on a voluntary international framework instead.

“New Zealand can show leadership by pushing for research into developing viable clean technologies. And we’re doing that right now with agriculture greenhouse research.

“Federated Farmers has always been pro-research because that’s an area we can make a real difference in and goes to the heart of efficient resource use,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

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