There is blood in the water. The emission trading scheme now looks like nothing more than a bait ball for hungry sharks, and the feeding frenzy is on. The National / Maori Party scheme will hand around $110 billion from New Zealand taxpayers to businesses while doing nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Federated Farmers, not content with the bulk of the fishy proceeds, wants to vacuum up the whole damn lot. They are calling for the Government to scrap the entire scheme without offering a proposal they would support, other than taxpayers picking up 100% of their tab. With all this, it's hard to blame corporate iwi leaders for wanting to get a feed as well. They are currently negotiating (we hear) to plant native trees on conservation land and grab the carbon credits.
The problem arises, of course, because the Government's proposed changes to the emission trading scheme are so contrary that they subsidise the polluters – farmers and industry – and punish the foresters. Maori forestry owners are doubly penalised because many of their forests were planted before the Kyoto agreement was signed and so don't get carbon credits. It doesn't seem impossible to come up with a scheme that actually reduces emissions and treats (pre and post Kyoto) forests fairly, but both National and the Maori Party seem more interested in getting special treatment for their respective powerful lobbies than doing something for the planet.
This has been described in The Guardian (UK) as the worlds “most shameless two fingers to the global community” from “a country that sells itself round the world as 'clean and green'”. New Zealand got a pretty sweet deal in the Kyoto agreement, agreeing to hold rather than reduce our rate of greenhouse gas emissions. We have continued to plead for special treatment ever since, even though we have one of the highest per capital emission rates in the world. Expectations on what will happen at next month's climate change negotiations in Copenhagen vary, but I think that New Zealand can expect to be shamed and embarassed. We certainly deserve it.
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