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Greens put carbon tax back on the table

The Green Party is considering whether to again support a carbon tax to force climate behaviour changes, given the failure of local and global emissions trading schemes to place a meaningful price on carbon emissions.

The proposal emerges in a discussion paper issued at a Green Party-sponsored climate change conference at Parliament, which has attracted a who's who of New Zealand climate scientists and policymakers.

Fixing New Zealand's "weak and ineffective" climate change policies "will require either the strengthening of the ETS, or replacing it with a carbon charge, or a hybrid of the two", the party's paper says.

Co-leader Russel Norman confirmed the party is in an internal debate as to whether to ditch its support for an ETS and revert to its original support for a flat rate of tax on carbon emissions.

The same paper proposes New Zealand should make an ambitious pledge to cut its national carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels, instead of the current government signal, which would allow emissions to rise between 10 percent and 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

New Zealand's lack of a firm pledge was a "serious vulnerability", a former New Zealand diplomat who chaired global climate change talks in 2011 told the conference.

That was especially as the country has a big repair job to on its reputation after withdrawing a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period at the Doha climate change negotiations last December, said Adrian Macey, now a Victoria University adjunct professor in climate change research.

Higher than UN proposal

The Greens propose a 40 percent emissions cut target by 2020, higher than the United Nations-proposed cuts for developed economies of 25 percent.

"Any country whose target is below 25 percent might be reasonably asked to identify which other country it wishes to nominate to make up the difference in attaining the collective target," the Greens paper says.

It points to Britain's target of a 34 percent cut by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Rather than the current signalled target of a 50 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2050, New Zealand should target a 90 percent cut, the paper says.

Those targets would be met through the use of new carbon budgeting, organised in five-year blocks of activity.

"These 2020 and 2050 targets would be met through a combination of local and international carbon actions or trading. Some three-quarters of the 2020 target should be met in New Zealand, while 60 percent of the 2050 target would come from local action."

Among policy actions New Zealand could take now that would not require "tectonic shifts", Prof Macey suggested to "fix forestry" – whose capacity to contribute to climate change mitigation has been pole-axed by low carbon prices – an early package of "complementary measures" and revisiting the science around agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

New scientific findings are suggesting methane emissions' contribution to climate change could be overstated, meaning agriculture's 50 percent contribution of New Zealand's total GHGs might be lower than thought.

That could assist policy discussion by making the scale of adjustment for farmers less alarming.

Prof Macey also called for a return to earlier times when government officials were more willing to engage with all interested parties in the climate change policy-making debate.

"People aren't blind and can see the direction the world is heading in and would welcome some greater engagement by the government," Prof Macey said. "There is a certain reluctance among government officials ... to engage."


Comments and questions

Haven't the Greens caused enough economic sabotage against NZ Inc already?

There should be an enquiry about it!

At last we are seeing the Greens admit they will still adjust the ETS up or impose a tax which will see the gains to the consumer from their electricity policy wiped out. Any tax will hit the household budget of the poor the most.
Meanwhile the EU has come out lately saying that climate policies will take "a back seat" to important economic policies. This is a major reversal of direction for them.

Carbon tax is a tax on life and productivity across the board, Carbon is one of the most prolific elements on the planet and is involved in nearly everything. taxing it or limited the use will destroy SMEs as only large global corps will win the carbon credit auctions and have the rights to produce.

Just get on with it Greens I didnt vote for you to speculate on what to do. Action!

Good on you Gary. I didn't vote for them to do anything at all.

Umm, Gary, not sure what they can actually "do" when they ain't in government, other than the odd bit of weakly veiled economic sabotage.

I'm incredulous that people still subscribe to this carbon/climate change rubbish. In the face of what seems to be a steady stream of actual outcomes and evidence refuting the CC alarmists' claims, what once upon a time may have had some credence just smacks more and more of blind ideology.

I like China because the watermelons explode before they mature - here they just ooze rhetoric trying to explode.

I hope they do. Nothing like having a completely insane economic policy to discredit the loony Left.

If Greenbour get in the price of food, petrol, power will go through the roof. Only a complete fool would vote for Greenbour. Its hypocritical Greenbour bleating about the cost of living when they are going to raise it significantly if they get elected next year.

Many large users of carbon resources in electricity generation, such as the United States, Russia and China, are resisting carbon taxation...perhaps the Greens will be replaced by the Blacks in this election as the Kingmaker, by this extreme suggestion.

I am impatient for the European Centre for Nuclear Research [CERN] to produce their final report which they indicated in their interim report will prove that global temperatures are at the mercy of solar effects on cosmic rays to the extent of somewhere between 50% to 100%. Expect it to be close to 100%. Any legislation about climate should be shelved until after that report is released except if it scraps the ETS which was created before CERN reported.

And what if the CERN study doesn't prve that cosmic rays are responsible for recent heating?

Then we are left with the fact that the earth is cooling notwithstanding the increase in CO2.

I am interested in why you would put so much faith in the CERN study, the results of which are as yet unpublished, yet you choose to disregard the thousands of peer reviewed papers that endorse anthropogenic global warming.

Nut jobs.

"Greens put carbon tax back on the table".

Please keep up Pattrick, it was never off the table.

Carbon taxes were based on unsound scientific claims that co2 was responsible for much of the global warming observed 1940 - 2000, promoted by the UN. The failure of the models used to replicate observations which have shown no warming for the last 16 years and no ocean warming or sea level rise, discredits the theory. Subsequent revelations of the dishonest manipulation of data to show warming that did not exist has cast serious doubts about the claims of the promoters that carbon taxes will reduce temperatures.
For the Greens climate change is now a religion.

The ETS should be scrapped.

A wonderful way to kill a recovery is increase tax. Well done Greens.

A carbon tax is about as useful as "farting against thunder".

All the climate models have failed spectacularly. There is no other substantial evidence that man-made carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming.

A reduction in emissions of 90% would return NZ to a pre industrial society. Has anyone actually done the maths on this?

A peer reviewed paper is about to be published that demonstrates that if the Australian carbon tax was rolled out globally it would take 80% of global GDP over the next ten years to prevent just one sixth of a degree of warming over the same period.

There should be a Royal Commission to enquire how we ended up with the current ETS without someone in policy working this one out.

It is no longer conspiracy theory. The Agenda is plain as the noon day sun to anyone who opens their eyes. The aim of the Green Movement is the destruction of our lifestyle as we know it. National is not giving good government, but if the voters express their displeasure by electing a Green/Labour coalition then look out NZ!