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Halting ETS is 'absolute bottom line' for supporting National - ACT

ACT wants the Emissions Trading Scheme abolished immediately, and will make the ETS a bottom line in coalition negotiations, leader Jamie Whyte said this morning.

“Our absolute bottom line to provide National with ongoing support on confidence and supply is that there be no expansion of the ETS until China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada take similar material steps to implement ETSs across their economies, including agriculture,” Mr Whyte said.  

The ACT leader's comments came as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fifth major Assessment Report this morning NZ time, following a draft made public last October (read NBR's analysis here).

The report's headline findings include "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased" and "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years."

National has delayed or indefinitely postponed introducing the ETS to several sectors. Farming is exempt until at least 2018. Mr Whyte wants no further expansion, and favours the scheme being scrapped. 

He says even if the climate change model used by the IPCC is correct, the ETS is the wrong mechanism for NZ.

“New Zealand is well ahead of any other country in imposing climate change costs on our economy – and we are the only ones even considering including agricultural emissions. We should not move any further ahead until the world’s top ten emitters follow," Mr White said.

"We need a responsible climate change policy that sees us move in line with the rest of the world on mitigation and which focuses on any adaptation policies that are needed. 

China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada are together responsible for over 70% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, while New Zealand’s share of global emissions has fallen over the last decade from around 0.19% to around 0.14%, the ACT leader says.

Emissions in China and India are expected to keep increasing over the next few decades, with China expected to become by far the world’s largest economy by the middle of the century, and India is expected to become equal to the United States.  

No country outside the European Union currently operates an ETS. The EU ETS excludes most of its economy, and does not cover agricultural emissions, Mr Whyte says.

Earlier, Mr White told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that there’s no point in New Zealand cutting its emissions if we know other countries won’t do it. 

‘It's irresponsible of us towards our children to waste money on a futile gesture, when we could be using that money to adapt future climate change.’

Mr Whyte told Q+A that adaptation can be achieved through private means.

Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman says the report is very much a call to action.

‘So it's about whether we take our responsibility as human beings seriously to our children or not.  I mean it's pretty straightforward.  So this is about do we have the ability to act together, both in New Zealand and around the world, to reduce our emissions.’

Comments and questions

Agree with Whyte that we should not be out front on this one. But his performance on Q+A was appalling and ACT has done itself a major disservice with this guy. Too academic. Needs to join the real world.

I too agree with Jamie Whyte. Taking the stance we do is expensive and futile. I also agree with you that he just hasn't got it as a politician. Even though his logic on Q+A couldn't be faulted, I doubt that he made an impression on any viewers at all.

Does it matter that Dr Whyte does not appeal to goggle-box addicted middle New Zealand? ACT's error in the past was trying to appeal to the centre, whose vote it will never capture. ACT's natural constituency is the intellectual liberal right, and Whyte is spot on perfect as its leader.

Intellectual Right?
Please define Intellectual and how this might be the preserve of the 'Right'?

Absolutely the right message Jamie. Unfortunately, as the other contributors noted, you are not the right messenger.

You believe, " Too academic. Needs to join the real world"!!
For NZ First, Maniac and Green Party voters you may be right! But for thinking New Zealanders you couldn't be more wrong. I have never met Mr Whyte, or his President, Mr Thomson, but their conduct when interviewed was impressive. They truly are a breath of fresh air, intelligent and honest, and have convinced me that ACT may just have left the clown nonsense behind and I am now firmly ACT.

I'll drink to that Mr Morrison. Its hard to find such integrity these days. These chaps are untainted by bureaucratic advisors-they just use commonsense. Of course the command and control set dont like commonsense. They like to induce a fear of the future into gullible citizens. ACT is needed more than ever before to hold the left wing bullies at bay.

King Canute - is he going to tell the tides China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada are more responsible than us. We have a huge coastline so we are in danger. Tell the people who will die or lose everything "We are only responsible for 1.4% of this". What a clown

Here's the sea level rise around NZ - flat like the global temperatures:

Even the IPCC admit that the economic cost is minimal. It therefore makes no sense to make ourselves poorer now so that the richer us in the future can be richer still.

What makes sense is to mitigate and adapt in the future - for example by waiting until they are required and then building / upgrading sea defences.

We should only spend money now if the costs will provide us with future benefits that are greater than those costs. With the IPCC's estimates of the total economic cost of climate change coming out at 0.2% to 2% of GDP then everything that we do needs to cost less than 0.2% to 2% of GDP; and be subject to a full cost/benefit analysis to ensure that it will actually provide benefits overall.

However, if John Key has the international presence he seems to be garnering amongst the higher powers, then lets set an example and hold the higher powers to an ETS. Lets dare to take the moral high ground and show the world what a little country like NZ can do.
Just as we did with the anti-nuclear stance; John served us proud at the recent Summit.
Oh wait, that was David Lange's Labour Government from the 'non-intellectual Left' (See Skeptic above).
That's right, (pun intended) we go where USA goes.

Good on ACT. Extortion of NZ citizens by it's own govt in the name of fraudulent overseas interests is not acceptable.

Yet everyday it happens (extortion of NZ citizens by its own govt) thru the monopolies/SOEs that have been set - by the founders of ACT!! The founders and ex leaders profess a market philosopy but themselves are busy at the public trough! ACT belongs to the dark ages when people were uneducated.

You obviously have no idea about ACT policy. ACT would sell all those 'assets' and eliminate any monopolies:

When discussing ACT's policies it might help you a bit if you actually knew what ACT's policies are - yes? Try reading a few more of their policies while you're there so you don't publicly embarrass yourself again.

Theres been no evidence in the past Act has policed monopolies, and I doubt there will be in the future.

Talk is cheap, and the sooner extreme right wing parties are gone the better.

Lucy...impoverishment of Kiwis,especially the poorest and most desperate ones by wasting money , time and resources on a non problem that we are powerless to do anything about anyway on the global scene is retarded and frankly evil...take a moment to check your moral compass...and a few facts.

Hi James,

Climate change is not a non problem, and it is not going away. It will affect the poor worst of all.

You should read a bit more widely.

You should have watched the interview. Jamie Whyte certainly did not deny global warming was a problem. The problem he sees is the futility of trying to stop it through the emissions trading scheme. Far better to accept the inevitable and concentrate on solving any resulting problems he says... Hard to argue with his assessment.

Because we're not actually getting warmer now the current catchcry is 'climate change'. But whatever the title of the hysteria the ETS is a crock and smacks of the Emporer's New Clothes'. . Not one ETS dollar (read tax) will make one ounce of difference to the major polluters.

ETS is a boondoggle ...John Key luvs it! It ain't going nowhere.

A great philosophical rant, and the same sort of thinking that sees the world's fish stocks depleted, and moas confined to museums. Sure, we share the globe with some other pretty inconsiderate people who would be perfectly happy to damage the ecosystem providing they can survive doing whatever they do for a bit longer. The Greens (many of them hold PhDs too but don't flaunt it) at least recognise there is likely to be a problem and if we can't solve it ourselves we should redouble our efforts to persuade other countries to moderate what they do, not just join in and make as big a mess as we possibly can. It's termed the 'tragedy of the commons', but was known by economists back at the beginning of the 19th century. Well read, well educated people are familiar with it.

Absolutely right, M2M

"Well read, well educated people are familiar with it."
So anyone who disagrees with your philosophical belief is uneducated and not well read.
I am educated and can read as well as anyone. I along with an increasing number of others do not agree with the AGW alarmism. The climate has always changed and will continue to change. Yes the temperature has increased a little from the time of the" little ice age" in the mid 1800's. This is what anyone would expect with fluctuations in climate over the longer term.
The fundamental basis to the AGW theory is that with increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the average temperature will rise. There has been continued increases in the CO2 levels in the past 15-20 years but there has been no increase in temperature. Something is wrong with your theory. Your friends in the Greens with the PhDs will tell you that in science if the evidence does not agree with the theory, the theory is wrong. They will also tell you the ice core data supports the premise that CO2 level fluctuations follow temperature fluctuations.


It's time to ACT (haha) and start taking responsiblity for our 'progress'.
Intersting that those who stand the most to lose are those who are lest inclined to ACT. And you call yourselves ACT. I guess it is 'ACT' only if you benefit.

Agree with Jamie Whyte. Greenies may get off wanting NZ to lead out in front, but the net result result, worldwide, is next to negligible, unless the big boys come onboard ! !
May make some people feel good about themselves, but the cost, particularly to the poorest members of society , is higher fuel and electricity prices. So how do they benefit.
NZ carbon emissions are 0.2%, or 1/500th of the world's total, so a good analogy is this:
imagine 500 houses dumping their sewage onto the street in 1 suburb, but 1 house ( NZ ) does not - the net effect is negligible.
So in my opinion, unless the US, Russia, China, India come on board or start coming on board, what's the point ??
Sure it will make us feel good, maybe, but for the Earth's position, bugger all will change . Food for thought ???

The point, Deano, is that someone has to take the lead, and NZ has a good tradition in that regard (think free trade, nuclear weapons testing etc) which gives us the right to be listened to even though we are only small in world terms.

We already did take the lead. We were the first (and only) country to introduce a national ETS, back in 2008. Six years later, not one country has decided to follow. Lots of them make fine speeches – but are not stupid enough to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Jamie Whyte is quite right to take a principled stand on this issue. ETS or carbon tax puts up the prices of electricity/gas/diesel/petrol, which are essentials of modern life. Only poor people are forced to stop using energy. Everybody else just pays the higher price and accepts a slightly lower standard of living.

How much cooler will the world become as a result of the ETS?

Act isn't the only party opposed to the emissions tax-grab.
The Conservative party were against the ETS at the last election.

This argument of not being the first to act is self fulfilling. If no one acts first then no one follows. The fact is someone has to act first. Also the argument that China India etc produce more carbon is highly convenient. Much of there carbon footprint is because the west has exported carbon intensive industries to them. Last time I went to India most of the locals could barely afford food let alone cars and iPhones. I think we should be looking at carbon per capita. Anyone know how NZ compares to the rest of the world?

Quite low if you just include CO2 (around 60th to 70th), but much higher if you include the methane from our animals (around 15th to 20th). Ideally, it needs to be normalised against GDP as well so that you get a measure of how cleanly (or otherwise) a country produces wealth.

Richie, you will live to see the is not far away when we understand that carbon is good; carbon monoxide is bad. Some of us fortunately do already. We've lost the blinkers, if we ever had them. And our BS functions are on high alert for 'climate scientists (retreads from dreary backroom jobs).
Don't fret the 'growth hormone' --carbon. Fret about the chancers and BS-ers who are conning you into their projection rubbish.
When it comes to the ETS, slurp up the carbon and vomit the BS please. Not tuther way round.

Ok, why dont you start yourself then. You could refuse to use any oil products or you could sell your car and/or pay an extra tax whenever you buy fuel, or pay your power bill. You can send the "tax" to the Green Party or something if it will make you feel better. You will feel good, doing your bit to save the planet.

What? Not eager? Come on, the argument not to be first is self-fulfilling.

But, somehow, you want New Zealand to be first. Like our anti-nuclear stance. Oh, dear. Nobody followed us then either.

Good to see Jamie Whyte drawing some lines in the sand.
Previous ACT leaders have been too soft;perhaps at last we have a "conviction politician"as opposed to the usual "consensus politician"(in all parties)

The lines will blur and ACT will fold, who else could they possibly be in government with? How many supporters could accept ACT walking away from a deal when the price is living with a left wing monster at the helm? My guess is ZERO.
Besides, the ETS is solely about trade protection and nothing else. Without the GFC, emissions would have been the next the next 'food miles' un-official trade barrier.

I'll drink to that Paleo, to hell with populist pc claptrap.
What we need is horse sense, and I get the impression Messrs Thompson and Whyte have it in spades.

Go ahead; bury your heads in the sand.

The natural human relfex to change is in this order: Denial; Shock; Anger; Frustration/Stress; Ambivalence; Sceptism; Acceptance; Importance; Hope; Enthusiasm.
I guess ACT needs to ACT and move on from Denial. Most of New Zealand is at least at Ambivalence - Acceptance stages.

If you are Intellectuals as 'Skeptic' suggests then intellectualise this. You are dragging the rest of us down and the water is rising! Or is it?

Are you really suggesting New Zealand can change the future weather? Can you imagine the consequences of Normans suggestion of the Government putting up signs saying where the water MIGHT rise to? What would your reaction be if you owned real estate between one of these signs and the waters edge? Would you be happy about the drop in value? or, would you demand the taxpayer compensate you? Remember these predictions of weather 10 to 100 years out are coming from scientists who often cannot get next weeks weather forecast correct.

"Intellectual" is such aloaded term, and so are "left" and "right" when applied to politics. My comment, however does reflect an observation that, while people of above average intellectual ability often start their adult lives believing in the equaltiy of mankind and the utopia that can result from central planning, with time, thought and observation, many learn that government planning, intervention and regulation will more often than not stuff things up, and that utopian visionaries (left or right) will resort to force to realise their utopias. Read Hayek.
That means that with age they become more "liberal" (in the European sense of the word (where it is to do with personal and economic freedom), not the American (where it means socialist), or the Australian (where it means conservative).

Horse sense, like horse latitudes? Like lost at sea?

Or horse sense, like gambling? Like policy for sale to offshore interests.

How right, right, right you are!

Populist PC claptrap? If by "populist claptrap" you mean selling off long-developed assets for less than they return in dividends; increasing the gap between rich and poor; and kicking out the welfare ladder that put you where you are today ... then, sure, call me PC if it makes you feel better.

Isn't the gap between the poor due to those who rely on the government to support them become poorer whilst those who rely upon themselves become richer?

Watching Jamie whyte vs Russell Norman is like watching reason vs idiocy. Jamie Whyte showed up Russell beautifully. I sometimes wonder if Russell Norman has been sent over here to destroy our economy!

There is a reason why ACT is and always has been, polling very poorly! Half baked economic ideas and baldy thought through philosophy will continue to make ACT only a party in name to support its master the National party So much for being the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers!

D Jones. Could you please elaborate on what the half baked economic ideas are.

Most other parties promote policy for poverty because thats where the votes come from. Gullible ignorance.

Great news! I was wondering how long this guy was going to take before finally putting ACT where it belongs: out the back door.

Whyte is right.

At the end of the next Parliamentary term, the Greens/Labour will probably take power. If National/ACT leave the ETS sitting on the statute books, the rate is going to increase by 1000% in short order. AND it will be extended to include biological emissions.

It would be like leaving a box of matches for toddlers to play with,