Emissions trading schemes are a bit like Weetbix. Many people find them bland, they have a complicated structure with many layers, and unless you sweeten them up (and add some milk) they are hard to swallow.
If you add too many sweeteners to Weetbix, and too much milk, you get a sickening mess, and you lose all nutritional value of the Weetbix. And that’s what John Key did as soon as he got into power. He added billions of dollars worth of subsidies (sweetners) to our biggest polluters, put too much milk on the New Zealand economy and environment, and left tax payers to foot most of the bill. No nutritional value, no environmental or economic benefit, just a big, sickening, soggy mess. John Key’s ETS was a failure from the start.
It began with the China floods in May last year, coinciding, in June, with widespread fires and drought in Russia, coinciding with record breaking monsoon flooding in Pakistan that killed 1,500 people and left 20 million homeless. That was followed by a "once-in-a- century" drought in the Amazon - except that the last once-in-a-century event in the region happened just five years before.
In December a million hectares of Colombia was underwater. Sri Lanka had its heaviest rains for 100 years. The Philippines had four weeks of sustained rain in January, Brazil had catastrophic mudslides killing 600 people and then Queensland was inundated - the flood waters covering an area larger than Germany and France combined.
In April the mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers swelled to record levels causing spillways to be opened and mass evacuations, followed by one of the largest tornado outbreaks in American history. Meanwhile a nine-month drought continues to parch Texas and Oklahoma and China evacuated some 500,000 people in June from floods along the Yangtze River following the worst drought in 50 years.
So clearly John Key does not care about the environment, does not care about our generation, and he certainly does not care about our most valuable asset – our clean green brand in our beautiful country.
Luckily we have the Green Party in Parliament – the Party with the best understanding of the economic and environmental situation we find ourselves in. Whether we care or we don't, New Zealand's clean green brand is worth a lot of money. Further, the global economy is going green, with or without us.
The green economic wave is coming, could be worth $6 trillion annually globally already and we can either let it swamp us, or ride it from our prime position. As the new business group Pure Advantage points out, we risk loosing this prime position – slipping from number one in the international Environmental Performance Index, to number 15 last year in the space of just 5 years. The Green Party has a plan for a smart green economy that works for everyone, that will reverse this decline.
In terms of climate change, the Green Party’s current policy is to improve the ETS, though our first preference has always been a carbon charge, recycled into income tax reductions. This goes along with our plan for ecological tax reform – to tax bads, like carbon emissions, and reduce taxes on goods, like income.
We would improve the ETS by putting a cap on emissions, and make sure we cover taxpayer liabilities under international agreements like Kyoto as fast as possible. We will also put a cap on how many international credits can be purchased, so emissions reductions are at home, like Australia is planning. This is important to ensure we move towards a smart, green economy here in New Zealand, rather than paying others to do it for us in their countries.
And of course we need to look at the resilience of our entire economy, to make sure we are the full package – the real deal. So the Green Party will transfer money from motorways into better, faster and smarter public transport, to make sure New Zealanders have choice in how they get around, and that they don’t bear the brunt of rising petrol prices. We will protect our most treasured places, and ensure any mining done is not going to wreck our beautiful country, or our climate. We would clean up our waterways. And we would use our public assets (rather than selling them) to partner with private industry, to develop clean tech and green tech, such as Whispertech’s current partnership with publicly owned Meridian Energy.
By taking these important steps, and having an economic vision for New Zealand, we will transform our economy into a smart green economy. We will be playing to our Pure Advantage and we will be setting ourselves up for future prosperity with a quality of life that we can be proud of.
John Key’s ETS was a failure from the start, and so is his lack of economic vision. Only a Party Vote for the Green Party will ensure a we create smart green economy that works for everyone, so we have a future worth looking forward to.