Blame or repair?

The Herald today fumes over fumes from farming.

There’s so much in their editorial with which to take issue, but a single point glares out from the page. They say:

The whole point of the ETS is that emitters take financial responsibility.

The Herald appears to replace concern for the environment with a vindictive crusade to lay blame. And I thought they just wanted to repair the environment.

Who is the emitter?

Is it the farmer or his customer? Or the customer’s customer? Surely everyone who eats butter or cheese shares a slice of the “blame” for the emissions caused in producing what he eats.

So the final customer should pay a share.

You think they do? But, in an auction, how does the farmer ensure extra on top of the auction price for his milk or meat or whatever, to compensate him for the ETS tax? That’s not going to happen.

Farming is unique in being mostly helpless to recover the ETS costs. Fonterra can adjust their wholesale prices or their payout, Air NZ can charge extra for a carbon footprint and ordinary businesses set or negotiate higher prices as costs increase.

But farmers’ selling prices are dictated by the auction system. They can neither alter the prices nor reduce their emissions. It’s like shooting trout in a barrel. Hardly fair. Unless they’re on a canning or a supermarket contract, and we know how easy it is for the farmer to dictate terms to the buyer…

Responsibility?

The farmer bears the same responsibility for his animal’s “emissions” as Australia bears for the fumes from Chinese power stations burning Australian lignite.

Which is none, of course – China takes responsibility for those emissions; or it would, if it joined the game.

The farmer’s final customers should take responsibility for the products they select, for without their purchase, the farmer would not produce it. Still, it’s far too hard to levy every user of mutton, bacon or milk; much easier to attack the helpless farmer.

And everyone knows the ETS won’t repair the environment anyway.

It’s all symbolic. What a sham.

And we call ourselves grown-ups.

12 Thoughts on “Blame or repair?

  1. Its a pity the editor of the Herald hasn’t paid more attention to real things, like how is it this country (the only one) got sucked into having farming included in a dumb fart tax scheme. Even more important, a scientific agency of the government (NIWA) using unscientific methods to advise temperature changes to the Government who then taxes us for it.
    Leave the farmers alone, as these are the people who produce some real wealth to this country.
    Sorry forgot the editor of the Herald is a journalist, it sounds like too much work to investigate and check the facts.

  2. Interesting comments on the article, mostly sceptical of the science or the reason for an ETS

    The usually warmist “Gandalf” doesn’t support the agricultural ETS either:

    You cant simply treat agriculture the same, instead it should be phased in more gradulally or have less stringent requirements. It faces larger hurdles than industry in terms of reducing emissions. You cant simply impose a discipline and assume there will be an answer, it has to be feasable or the costs may outweigh the benefits.

    There are likely to be hidden benefits of pushing the industrial part of the economy to reduced emissions, its less clear that you can say the same about agriculture.

    I have to agree with a lot of that.

  3. Douglas Field on September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am said:

    Journalist? Don’t make me laugh.

    Douglas

  4. The Blog is indeed interesting – virtually universally opposed. The “editorial” would seem to have been written by Brian Fallows as he uses the same phrases elsewhere. He obviously knows he is out of touch with public opinion as he says:

    “Most fundamentally of all, scientific concerns over the catastrophic impact of climate change remain, even if public perception has been dulled by recession and the failure of the Copenhagen summit.”

    Who has these ‘scientific concerns’? Apparently not the public, I suppose it must be the author as he does not cite anyone else. No doubt journalists can have genuine ‘scientific concerns’.

    However I object to the journalist arrogantly attributing the public change of heart to the economy and a talk fest no one was interested in (besides its excessive cost), rather than to bad science and a realisation that the country was shooting itself in the foot.

  5. Yes, I agree too. Farming is in a different category on several levels and there’s wide support in the community for the sector. Key and Smith are being cautious while talking a tough enough line to keep the greenies on their side.

  6. I object to the journalist arrogantly attributing the public change of heart to the economy and a talk fest

    Yes, it’s effective in trivialising the probity of the thinking and the importance of the issues. The answer, of course, is to point out that very fact each time you see it and occasionally (or frequently) write to the paper concerned.

    How glad I am for the “citizen journalists”. Blogs like this one record the opposing views of numerous intelligent people. Intelligent politicians and scientists alike keep a close eye on what we are saying. Our server logs confirm this.

  7. Clarence Kay on September 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm said:

    Why does the Herald believe New Zealand farmers should pay a fine for producing food which is to be consumed in other countries?

    Our largest imports are petrol, diesel, and naptha. These originated as crude oil from the Gulf, and were processed in Singapore refineries then shipped here. When we CONSUME those products we have to pay ETS levies.

    When we export coal mined on the West Coast, we don’t pay ETS levies because the coal isn’t being CONSUMED here.

    But when we export a lamb farmed on the West Coast, we pay ETS levies even though the meat is NOT CONSUMED here.

    This ETS legislation is a complete mish-mash, with no internal consistency or logic.

  8. The concept of fairness and all sectors sharing the burden is a curious one. It possibly could be arguable if the whole world was taxed as one. Fallow clearly sees himself as the flag bearer and spokesman for the great global cause.

    But narrowing the thinking to New Zealand for a minute, any taxes on Agricultural Gases will not reduce taxes on other sectors. There is no sharing of the burden here. Including AG’s in our system just increases the total tax on New Zealanders which must feed through to all sectors.

    The Herald attempt to set New Zealand farmer against non farmer is just another dishonest propaganda tactic.

  9. It’s the same kind of logic that says we should tax “rich people” more than the poor, when we already tax rich people more than the poor by dint of the fact that they earn more and therefore pay more tax.

    So the idea of “being fair”, in leftist speak, is that we need to be unfair in charging farmers for emissions of methane, over and above the charges that they and the rest of us are paying for under increased prices for fuel and electricity.

    A similar argument applies, when you are being “racist” if you don’t agree with singling out a racial group for special treatment.

    After a while, you just shrug at all the doublethink.

  10. Huub Bakker on September 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm said:

    For those of you in Wellington, you may wish to write this into your diaries.

    Speaker: Dr David Wratt, Director, NZ Climate Change Centre; Chief Scientist (Climate), NIWA; Adjunct Professor, Climate Change Research Institute, VUW.

    Date: Thursday 6 October 2011
    Time: 12 – 1pm
    Venue: Cotton Building 304, Kelburn Campus, VUW

    Work has now begun on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment, due for completion in 2014. This presentation will summarise significant findings from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment completed in 2006 followed by a discussion of some areas of active scientific interest and research since 2006, including polar ice sheets and sea level rise, ocean acidification and its impacts, geoengineering, and ways of accounting for non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases (“metrics”). Key results from the IPCC’s 2010 Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation will be described. The final part of the presentation will address the Fifth Assessment, including an outline of report preparation and review procedures.

  11. Mike Jowsey on September 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm said:

    AAAAArrrggghh!!

  12. Not sure if this image really fits Dr Wratt, but these are the finalists for Donna Laframboise’s new book on the IPCC

    http://99designs.com/print-design/contests/book-cover-vintage-pulp-fiction-style-96207

    By all accounts, this book will be pretty eye-opening

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