More than 25,000 people will soon fly to Doha for the UN’s 18th climate-change jamboree.
The 25,000 will fly home after failing to extend the Kyoto Protocol or agree on anything meaningful. The Kyoto system will then end as scheduled on December 31 and the international carbon price will collapse further – including under New Zealand’s ETS, the most extensive such policy in the world.
All informed observers have known this for five years, but the climate-change jetset has had an interest in denying it. How else would they accrue air points?
Doha’s certain failure is not stopping local greenies from demanding New Zealand unilaterally announce further self-flagellation under the Kyoto system.
Our trading partners will require it, they assert nonsensically.
The truth is that Kyoto never covered more than 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
China, the US, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Korea were never in.
EU countries signed up only because their mining and manufacturing sectors declined after 1990, Kyoto’s Year Zero.
Similarly, former Soviet republics joined only because their emissions also plunged after economic collapse post 1990.
Australia joined belatedly under Labor, and remained in only because Julia Gillard blatantly lied one week before the 2010 election: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.”
She u-turned immediately after re-election.
Even among the minority that signed up for Kyoto, most countries have announced they won’t extend after December 31.
The top three emitters, China, the US and India were never in. The fourth and fifth, Russia and Japan, won’t be re-joining. Nor will Canada, the seventh biggest emitter.
In fact, in the whole world, only the EU and Australia say they will continue.
Even then, nothing Ms Gillard says on Kyoto means anything, and the EU’s commitment is in doubt, having failed to agree on a negotiating position thanks to Poland’s rebellion against Brussels.
Back home, New Zealand has a settled climate change policy. For better or worse, both major parties agreed to an ETS, linked to the prevailing international carbon price.
Labour said it should cover all sectors and all gases as soon as possible, and ahead of anyone else. National preferred to include only sectors and gases with access to emissions-reductions technologies.
Now the international carbon price is low, Labour wants to artificially inflate the local price and link our policy to Australia’s.
National’s Nick Smith agrees and is believed to be working with NGOs and other parties in parliament to pressure John Key to increase costs on manufacturers.
This strange coalition believes New Zealand should ignore that only Europe and Australia want to extend Kyoto and that Australia will anyway pull out when its government changes next year.
New Zealand, they say, should back Ms Gillard and sign up for five more years of Kyoto.
Allowing Ms Gillard’s disgraced, dishonest and outgoing government to set New Zealand’s domestic and international climate change policy would be absurd – but that is what Dr Smith, Labour and the environmental NGOs are agitating for.
Luckily, Mr Key appears to be backing common sense. He defends his ETS but says it will be based on the international price, not a government-imposed domestic one.
His ministers have also indicated that New Zealand won’t unilaterally sign up to a Kyoto 2 treaty that hasn’t been negotiated, never will be, and which no one else except the EU and Ms Gillard are interested in.
A small bit of sanity is creeping into New Zealand’s climate change policy.