No treaty, no ETS

Treaty of Versailles

The NZ Climate Science Coalition has lodged its submission on the government’s proposed amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme. The submission is unemotional, even subdued, yet it makes compelling reading.

Readers of the Climate Conversation Group will not be surprised to hear that the Coalition thinks New Zealand’s response to so-called Anthropogenic Global Warming should strictly follow international agreements.

The Coalition does not like the extreme green idea that we should be an inspiration to the rest of the world — light some kind of beacon, stick our necks out.

So, it recommends that at the end of this year, when the Kyoto Protocol expires, our involvement should expire with it. Kiwis should stop paying for a reduction in global temperatures. Full stop. That’s as far as it goes, chaps. The party’s over, you know?

No more easy money. We weren’t measurably lowering the temperature anyway.

The Coalition suggests leaving open the option to reinstate the ETS if some new international treaty is later ratified by the NZ government. And fair enough, if everyone else is going to nobble their industry, we’ll nobble ours too. But not alone. Especially in these hard times. No thank you.

We need to survive.

Oddly, our current global warming bureaucracy, toiling hard as it is to count our emissions of greenhouse gases, calculate the effects on the atmosphere of our land use changes and model the effects of growing more forests or felling existing ones, tells us that New Zealand is certain to be obligated by a future treaty to reduce its emissions. It’s inevitable, they say. Our own public servants want us to keep paying for some undetermined, not to mention indeterminate, future global temperature reduction.

That is entirely predictable, since if a new treaty fails to eventuate, the current bureaucracy will be out of a job. So they fervently hope for a replacement agreement momentarily, ignoring the sheer impossibility of any number of countries agreeing to a serious reduction in productive capacity, which is what reducing emissions amounts to.

The only nations sucked in so far are those governed by unelected officials not answerable to any electorate (Europe) and us. No other sovereign nation has so far put their trust in the global warming deception. Canada has pulled out of it and Australia is almost tearing itself apart over it.

Why do they think nations haven’t signed up to a new treaty? What else could it be but a lack of will to pay a high price? From China to the USA, only the price stands in the way. My, that sentence has a good rhythm. Please remember it.

Thus the innocent people of New Zealand are fed by our own faceless functionaries the fiction, in an ever-perplexing complexity of contexts, that our ETS will always be necessary. That the need to fight global warming is real and growing, even overwhelming.

From universities offering endless seminars on the psychological challenges of global warming publicity (as if it mattered) to local bodies’ battles allowing for sea level rise in resource consents, and from “Planning for Climate Change” courses for civil engineers put on by NIWA to the interminable “Energy Spot” TV campaign funded by taxes, the taxpayers have the wool pulled over their eyes.

The bureaucrats say “the science is settled”, but they never tell us what the science actually says. Ask them!

The Coalition, virtually alone among Kiwi institutions, cries “Hold, enough!” Yet, cleverly, and unpredicted by its opponents, the Coalition argues this position not on the “anti-science” of climate change “denial” but on the practical political science of what is good for the country and what is reasonable in the current international arena.

Will it sway the government?

Still to come: in examining the future of the ETS, a look at the costs to families of our modern green dreamtime.

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24 Thoughts on “No treaty, no ETS

  1. Mike Jowsey on 19/05/2012 at 9:17 am said:

    “Will it sway the government?” Ah, that would be a No.

    The machinery is far too big now to dismantle it. Tinker, yes. An oil change, perhaps. Deferring the agriculture sector, at a stretch. Nothing short of a popular uprising by the silent majority will behead this monster.

    That said, I applaud the Coalition’s efforts to present level-headed logic (sans-science-debate) in the midst of runaway gravy-train bureaucracy, corporate band-wagoning and political closed-door shenanigans.

    • I agree. Still, this is the right thing to do. We must abandon the so-called threat of AGW and get on with doing real work — like putting together a good water supply, fighting malaria and cleaning up and preventing actual pollution. So I’ll never give up telling our leaders to give up AGW.

    • Huub Bakker on 19/05/2012 at 9:35 pm said:

      You are correct I think Mike. It would be too damaging politically to wind it up and there is still political mileage to be made in keeping it going.

      When the number of people who care about global warming ceases to outnumber those, like farmers, who are deadset against the ETS, only then will you see it finally removed. This is in line with the results of other scams. There is a paper by Krestin Green looking at the similarities (Can’t remember all the details and they are not at hand at the moment.)

  2. Gary on 19/05/2012 at 9:57 am said:

    Here is What China thinks of the EU ETS for Airlines. Chinese compliance appears unlikely, however, as Beijing in February banned the country’s carriers from participating in the scheme, which brings aviation into the European Emissions Trading Scheme — the world’s largest carbon trading platform.
    Where will this one end? Chinese Airlines will be banned from Europe, China will ban European Airlines from their airspace, and when Europe comes along wanting a loan to bail them out of the mess they have created, China will refuse a loan. Watch this – the EU will lose this one.

  3. bulaman on 19/05/2012 at 10:16 am said:

    My submission

    9 May 2012

    To: ETS Review Consultation
    Ministry For the Environment
    P.O. Box 10362

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    The Boondoggle that is Emissions Trading is unsustainable and unsupportable. The only justification that remains is, to quote Minister Groser “that we are seen to be doing our bit”. Unfortunately the world we trade with does not care what we do. We should be focussed on eliminating the hand brakes from our economy rather than pulling them on harder.

    The Kyoto protocol expires at the end of 2012. There is little if any global political will for a similar process to be adopted. Canada, Japan, USA, China, India have or are distancing themselves from any new accord. In Australia an almost certain change of government will see an immediate repeal of Carbon pricing.

    The “science” (or more correctly politics) of climate is unwinding in the face of continuing failures of prediction in the face of reality. There has been no statistically significant warming for more than a decade in the face of increasing levels of CO2. There are no temperature series that are not subject to “adjustments”. Freedom of Information releases continue to expose the venal “Science for hire” that surrounds climate research grants.

    The latest release of information on the use of Dendrochronology by the University of East Anglia (holder of the CRU temperature series) shows that a crucial support for the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change (IPCC climate modeling based on historical temperature reconstruction using tree growth rings as a metric for temperature) is biased/skewed by the use of the Yamal reconstruction and in particular on 1 tree (Yamal YAD06 see “The most Influential Tree in the World”).

    The Group Think in Climate Science is being exposed in the harsh sunlight of media exposure. The spin of statistics by advocates of climate doom parallel the worst excesses of Lysenkoism where black becomes white. The science of Climate is most certainly not settled.

    The burgeoning bureaucracy is unaffordable. Prices of traded carbon are now less than 6 Euros and have been predicted to fall to 3 Euros (UBS) or zero (Reuters). In Australia ;
    “The ballooning (climate) bureaucracy is not only a growing direct cost to taxpayers. It retards the Australian labour market too, sucking the intelligent and educated into roles that add zero or negative value to society. Most public servants would be far better deployed in jobs that provide goods and services people want to buy. This cost is difficult to calculate but it is massive because the public sector has grown so large.”
    In New Zealand we have deforested and converted approximately 200,000 hectares of forest prior to 2008 for the triumphant post ETS new planting of 12,000 hectares. In any assessment, if ETS was supposed to incentivise new planting it can only be seen as an abject failure. Hundreds of millions of dollars churned to line some consultants pockets for a nett loss of well over 100,000 hectares of productive forest.

    To create new Plantation Forest we must provide a mechanism that is not at the whim of market manipulations by rent seekers and the unscrupulous. There is potential to expand land based productivity over at least a million hectares of low value pasture and scrubland with new plantations. Creating joint ventures between the crown and land owners can create a resource that is certainly “doing our bit” for global sustainability.

    The final hand brake effect of ETS is to investment and jobs in wood processing occurs in a long term and insidious way. Entering into a carbon contract and selling sequestered carbon give’s up part of the owner’s sovereignty over those trees. The effects are seen at harvest time when the carbon has to be repaid. Under an ETS factors completely beyond our borders will determine what that carbon cost is. No rational processing investment will occur when the raw material can be priced out of reach by factors beyond normal market risk.

    An example might be:
    A large fire in a Eurozone nation forces this nation to purchase a vast number of offsets. This pushes the price of carbon to (say) $50 per tonne. The NZ forest owner cannot fund this additional cost and so leaves the trees standing. The processor cannot get the trees they need to keep operating. This risk drives investment away.

    In Summary:
    The science of climate change is not settled. Major trading partners are either not involved or moving further away from the use of Carbon indulgences as economic levers. In New Zealand we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars that can we cannot afford to support the unsustainable. Did we not learn from SMP’s? If we want forestry to “do our bit” then there are more cost effective ways to spend our money.

    It is time now to dump Emissions Trading.

  4. Flipper on 19/05/2012 at 10:46 am said:


  5. PeterM on 19/05/2012 at 2:12 pm said:

    Well done Bulaman.

    Last month Muriel Newman at NZCPR wrote an article on the Government’s heralded intention to convert the ETS into an Energy Tax that is worth reading.

    Submissions to the ETS consultation are limited to 4 questions that can be found at
    If they are like my local MP they will not even acknowlege receipt of your letter but the more we ram it into their political thick skulls that we do not like their damn ETS the better. Where will we be when the lady, who runs the show across the ditch, is turfed out together with her carbon tax?

  6. Jim McK on 19/05/2012 at 3:01 pm said:

    The National Government is not and never has been philosophically based – it is simply based on pragmatism. I don’t think it gives a damn about AGW. Its view as expressed to me by one of the senior ministers is “time will tell on the CO2 debate and in the meantime if we tax fuels and redirect resource into growing more trees, even if it’s a bit inefficient, that can’t be all bad. As a bonus we keep the green element onside.”

    Who believes that trees are going to be sequestered permanently or that there will be punitive taxes at the time they are milled? Not me. So this is just a windfall for land-holders.

  7. Bulaman,

    Can you help me to reconcile the figures you use? You say:

    In New Zealand we have deforested and converted approximately 200,000 hectares of forest prior to 2008 for the triumphant post ETS new planting of 12,000 hectares. In any assessment, if ETS was supposed to incentivise new planting it can only be seen as an abject failure. Hundreds of millions of dollars churned to line some consultants pockets for a nett loss of well over 100,000 hectares of productive forest.

    In the MAF report National Exotic Forest Description of 2011, the figures are similar but the timing doesn’t line up. On p 21 a graph shows total NZ planted forest from 1921 to 2011. It rises to 2003, peaking at 1,827,000 ha, then drops back 121,000 ha to 2011. The previous page shows annual plantings, which experience a steep drop from 1996 to 2008, then recover a little since.

    It shows the forests declined, but the amount differs. Does this match your sources or contradict them?

  8. bulaman on 19/05/2012 at 4:41 pm said:

    Ever lied on a government form? NEFD is only as good as the data supplied and if there are a few hundred hectares not growing trees the owners are unlikely to admit it.
    Total is a bit of a best guess based on information that we had “nearly” made 2 million hectares at one point, but not quite close enough for a razzamatazz announcement. The forest removals are unlikely to ever be caught out as there is no expertise remaining to do anything other than collate data sent in. If you could be bothered the increased dairy in central north island might give a hint as to how much land went back to pasture. One owner did 35,000 + hectares alone. Selwyn plantation board cleared most of their plains blocks. Small blocks and the on going removals by Ngai Tahu (with carbon exemption) of Eyrewell and Balmoral (about 8,000 hectares) about break even with new forest plnting at the new lower level.
    Satellite imagery will eventually catch up but why keep paying 10’s of millions to carbon cops instead of actively working to get trees onto marginal land in partnership with farmers. To clear and plant and get through the first few years will cost around $2,000 per hectare so that’s 500 hectares for every $million. Would love a question in the house..
    How much money is spent on public servants with Climate Change in their job title or job description? $20 million? $50 million? lots of new forest potential squandered I suspect.

    At $6 to $7 per tonne the overhead takes all the money. Windfall equals zero at the moment

    They acknowledged my submission.

    • Yes, I see what you mean. Good thinking. I’ll look a bit further, there might be something to embarrass the government with. I mean, the only ETS benefit I’ve heard about from members of the cabinet is increased forestry activity. If that’s not true, there’s been nothing good come out of the ETS.

    • Clarence Kay on 20/05/2012 at 12:59 pm said:

      There is no “increased forest activity”.

      When Pete Hodgson announced that the Government was going to use carbon credits from (privately-owned) forests to meet its Kyoto commitments, the forestry industry sued the Government. Then the Government realised that the Crown would be liable for the Kyoto costs when the trees were eventually cut down. Hodgson was sacked, and the Government declared that the forest owners would be liable for deforestation costs.

      Tree-owners knew they could escape the whole confiscation if they got rid of their trees before the commitment period began in 2008. So 2004-8 saw the fastest deforestation in recent history.

      Eventually, the Government entered a “grand bargain” with the forestry industry. The industry dropped its Court action in return for an ETS which would tax the energy sector and transfer the proceeds (credits) to the forestry sector.

      With the threat removed, the deforestation stopped. Big companies even started planting again, but at a much lower rate than in the 1990s before Kyoto began.

      The ETS was certainly a forestry benefit. But the tree owners will be fully paid out ($1.7bn) by December 2012, when Kyoto expires. There’s no further need for the ETS after that.

      That’s why the bureaucrats have seen an opportunity to turn the ETS into a carbon tax. Better than losing it, they reason.

    • Thanks, Clarence, you always have a handle on the history, it’s great! But I cannot reconcile this with the statistics I’ve found. MAF’s report National Exotic Forest Description as at 1 April 2011 includes two graphs on pages 20 and 21, as mentioned above to Bulaman.

      New plantings


      Total area planted

      There’s no sign of a rush to deforest, but it is the only time the area in plantation forest ever declined. Since it’s the only deforestation, I guess it’s also the fastest. But it doesn’t look fast – the slope isn’t steep.

      Curiously, there’s a catastrophic plunge in new plantings — it practically wiped them out. Since 2008 they’ve increased modestly but nobody could claim they’ve recovered. It looks as though forestry has been destroyed. I mean, if trees aren’t planted, harvesting must permanently stop at some point!

      The deforestation hasn’t stopped, even with the modest resumption of planting. Unless the last 12 months have shown a real surge to overcome the harvesting (I presume).

    • Jim McK on 20/05/2012 at 12:50 pm said:

      I thought I read that the Wellington City Council was putting its existing stands into perpetual ‘sequestering’ and expecting to pick up credits for doing so. Not much overhead in that.

    • No, and it shouldn’t be possible. It’s only growing forests that are reckoned to permanently sequester carbon; once they’re mature they’re part of the carbon cycle, like breathing it in and out.

    • Marian on 20/05/2012 at 3:05 pm said:


      I was nearly peeing myself with laughter when I was coming back from a trip to Northland recently.

      There’s these billboards on the side of the road in some of the forest blocks. Basically on the lines of claiming how the trees are carbon sinks and saving the world. Well the trees weren’t there in some of the blocks i drove past. All felled for timber. Just the billboard left. So much for the claims on the billboard 🙂

    • Ha ha, most amusing. If anyone goes past there again, a photo would be handy.

    • Andy on 20/05/2012 at 4:00 pm said:

      Yes, almost worthy of a Tui billboard. We’re saving the world with forest, yeah Right.

      Oh hang on, Mr Christie will be along in a minute…

    • Whatever you do, don’t mention the Tui!

  9. Alexander K on 20/05/2012 at 5:18 pm said:

    Good one, Bulaman.
    The ETS is, as far as I can ascertain, a bribe by the last Labour government to stay on side with the international and local ecoloons, the UN and also to assist Helen Clark to tie down her retirement sinecure in the UN. Trying to rationalise the ETS on any other basis fails before the rationalisation gets far from the starting blocks.
    I was dismayed to discover, while teaching in London, that the majority of Brit politicians do not realise that half of any statistic must, by definition, be ‘below average’. I was sad to come home after a decade of defending our pollies to my Brit friends and colleagues, to discover that our lot are not even that smart.

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