Tweaks to the Emissions Trading Scheme

James Shaw calls them reforms but these look more like tweaks to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

It’s hard to know what the ETS is actually achieving.


Latest Emissions Trading Scheme reforms target transparency and compliance

The second set of improvements to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) have been announced to further encourage greenhouse gas emissions reductions and increase forestry planting, said the Minister for Climate Change.

These latest changes will:

  • improve transparency within the NZ ETS,
  • increase rates of compliance with the scheme,
  • pave the way for robust NZ ETS auctions,
  • ensure that the fixed price option is removed no later than the end of 2022,
  • enable a price floor to be added to the NZ ETS if necessary in future.

From 2021, changes designed to increase transparency of the NZ ETS will let the public access more information about the scheme, including the emissions of individual NZ ETS participants.

“It’s critical for public trust in the NZ ETS that information is readily available,” James Shaw said.

“It’s also crucial that participants comply with their obligations”.

NZ ETS compliance rates are expected to increase as a result of planned changes to the existing penalty regime which will see penalties separated into two categories; one related to reporting compliance and the other related to surrender/repayment obligations.

NZ ETS auctions, which are planned to begin in late 2020, will also be strengthened by these changes.

“We have enabled the appointment of an auction monitor to independently oversee NZ ETS auctions. An auction monitor will minimise anti-competitive behaviour and promote fair access to auctions,” said Mr Shaw.

Under the latest changes the current $25 fixed price option price ceiling (FPO) will be removed when auctioning begins, or no later than 31 December 2022.

“This ensures that the FPO will be removed while also allowing for any unexpected events, such as a delay to the introduction of auctioning,” Mr Shaw said.

As previously announced, the FPO will retain its current $25 level for surrenders due in 2019 in order to support ongoing regulatory predictability.

“It’s not out of the question that a price floor might be introduced in future,” Mr Shaw said.

“Submitters called for a price floor so their confidence in the NZ ETS would increase. We will enable a price floor if it’s necessary in future to protect against unacceptably low prices.

Both sets of improvements to the NZ ETS; along with further decisions expected over the coming months on industrial allocation, will form a single bill to amend the Climate Change Response Act 2002.

Parliament will consider this bill alongside the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament last week and is expected to pass into law at the end of this year. Both bills will support New Zealand’s aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to levels that help limit global warming to 1.5o Celsius above pre-industrial level.

The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the Bill when it is referred to select committee.

The Government also plans to consult, in due, course on regulations for auctioning and NZ ETS settings (including supply volumes and price ceiling levels), amongst other topics.

In addition, the Government is considering its response to recommendations from the Interim Climate Change Committee on setting up a system to reduce agricultural emissions and transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.

Proposals to introduce a broader market governance framework for the NZ ETS will be developed over a longer time-frame and will not form part of the amendment bill to be introduced later this year.

“It is worth taking more time to develop a market governance framework for the NZ ETS that is comprehensive and coherent, and to ensure the impacts of any proposals on market participants are fully understood,” James Shaw said.

“Landmark action on climate change” bill introduced to parliament

The Government has announced today that the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament:


Landmark climate change bill goes to Parliament

The Government is today delivering landmark action on climate change – the biggest challenge facing the international community and New Zealand.

“To address the long-term challenge of climate change, today we introduce the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to Parliament,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“We’ve built a practical consensus across Government that creates a plan for the next 30 years, which provides the certainty industries need to get in front of this challenge.

“In March this year, tens of thousands of New Zealand school students went on strike to protest the lack of decisive action on climate change. We hear them. The Zero Carbon Bill outlines our plan to safeguard the future that those school students will inherit,” Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said.

“The critical thing is to do everything we can over the next 30 years to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and the Zero Carbon Bill makes that a legally binding objective.

“Carbon dioxide is the most important thing we need to tackle – that’s why we’ve taken a net zero carbon approach.

“Agriculture is incredibly important to New Zealand, but it also needs to be part of the solution. That is why we have listened to the science and also heard the industry and created a specific target for biogenic methane.

“The split gases approach we’ve agreed on is consistent with that commitment.

“The Bill sets a target for 10 per cent reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, and aims for a provisional reduction ranging from 24 per cent to 47 per cent by 2050.

“That provisional range will be subject to review by the independent Climate Change Commission in 2024, to take account of changes in scientific knowledge and other developments.

“The independent Climate Change Commission, established by the Bill, will support our emissions reduction targets through advice, guidance, and regular five-yearly “emissions budgets”.

“The Bill also creates a legal obligation on the Government to plan for how it will support New Zealand towns and cities, business, farmers and Iwi to adapt to the increasingly severe storms, floods, fires and droughts we are experiencing as a result of climate change.

“New Zealanders have made it clear they want leadership and consensus on climate change legislation.

“We’re delighted that the three Government partners have reached an agreement over such a significant piece of legislation after lengthy consultation.

“I also want to acknowledge National Party leader, Simon Bridges, and National’s Climate Change spokesperson, for conducting negotiations in good faith and setting politics to one side while we’ve worked through the Bill.

“The fact that, across Parliament, all parties have engaged constructively in this process signals mutual interest in creating enduring climate change legislation that will stand the test of time and deliver long-lasting commitment to action on climate change for future generations.

“But the work’s not finished. I urge people to engage with the Zero Carbon Bill as it passes through Parliament. Have your say in the select committee process.

“All of us have a part to play our part in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global temperature increases.

“That includes New Zealanders making their contribution to see the Zero Carbon Bill become law by the end of this year,” James Shaw said.

 

Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa hits 415 ppm as NZ waits for Government action

The carbon dioxide data measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average readings reached 400 ppm in 2015 and have continued to trend upwards.

Mauna Loa CO2

Mauna Loa — Carbon Dioxide levels reach 400 ppm, a danger sign to scientists

Global concentration of CO2 in the air — the primary cause of global warming — has been increasing in recent years at record amounts, and it has now reached a level unprecedented in more than two million years. In March 2015, for the first time the average of all of NOAA’s 40 CO2 measuring sites showed a concentration above 400 parts per million (ppm). This follows the individual observatory high points of 400 ppm in the spring of 2012 at the Barrow, Alaska, observatory, and the April 2013 high of 400 as measured by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA on the upper flanks of the Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii. In 2015 Mauna Loa is running consistently above 400 ppm month after month.

This is a concentration never before reached in modern measurements. It is measurably the highest concentration of CO2 for more than 800,000 years and probably the highest in several million years. Levels in the atmosphere result from natural and human emissions, but human emissions far exceed natural ones, such as from volcanoes. The concentration in the air varies through the year, because the oceans and the earth’s plant life absorb carbon dioxide at varying rates. CO2 is responsible for 63 percent of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases, and many scientists have recommended the world should act to keep the CO2 levels below 400-450 ppm in order to prevent even more irreversible and disastrous climate change effects.

Hawaii is remote from major direct human emissions, but is an active volcanic zone.

from New Zealand’s Climate Cghange Minister last month: Rising greenhouse gas emissions show the need for action on climate change

New Zealand’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows emissions are on the rise, underscoring why the Government is taking action on climate change.

The Inventory shows New Zealand’s gross emissions increased 2.2 per cent between 2016 and 2017, and have increased by 23.1 per cent between 1990 and 2017.

“That shows why we need the kind of clear policies and actions the Government’s proposing on climate change,” Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said.

“New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions need to start coming down and we will see that happen over time with the Government’s list of action on climate change, which also includes:

  • the ban on future off-shore oil and gas exploration,
  • $100 million start-up funding that’s established New Zealand Green Investment Finance Limited,
  • $20 million a year invested in reducing agricultural emissions,
  • transitioning the government fleet to electric vehicles
  • $14 billion dollars into public transport, cycle-ways and walk-ways.”

They seem relatively minor and hardly game changing (the offshore exploration ban may increase emissions in the medium term as dirtier energy is used). Major Government announcements on climate change have been delayed.

Stuff: Methane emissions deal kick starts climate change legislation

The government is close to announcing a deal on its contentious climate change legislation, striking a deal over agricultural emissions.

Stuff understands Climate Change Minister James Shaw and NZ First have negotiated a “split gas” target, which would see methane treated differently from other long-lived gases, like carbon.

It comes as Shaw took delivery on Tuesday of two reports – on agriculture and on transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 – from the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC).

But instead of immediately releasing them publicly, as expected, the reports will be held back until the Government decides how to respond.

Shaw said: “We have delayed release of reports to give Government time to consider the reports so that when they are released for public consultation people will have a clear idea of the Government’s thinking around the recommendations.

That seems to be standard practice from this Government – holding back reports until they decide what to do. Or until they work out their PR approach.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, New Zealand agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Scientists have long argued delays and inaction will increase costs and reduce chances of limiting temperature increase.

One report recently says New Zealand’s climate change policy too reliant on tree planting

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a heavy hitting report that says New Zealand is too reliant on forest offsets, calling it a “risky” short term fix to climate change challenges.

However, despite calling the report “thought-provoking”, the Government said it is “committed to retaining the use of forestry off-sets for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions”.

We are waiting to find out if this Government is tweaking or transformative on climate change.

Little ‘transformational’ about Government so far

Jacinda Ardern promoted her Government as being transformational, but apart from transforming Winston Peters and Shane Jones into well funded promoters of their own interests these is not much transforming going on.

Ardern opened her year claiming that this would be her Government’s year of delivery, but what they have delivered so far has been underwhelming.

The just announced welfare ‘reforms’ have been paltry – see Welfare advisory group – 42 recommendations, 3 to be implemented.

Tim Watkin: Government is running out of chances to be ‘transformational’

Strike one: Capital Gains Tax. Strike two: Welfare reform. The Labour-led government is running out of chances to be the “transformational” administration Jacinda Ardern promised in the 2017 election campaign.

Today the Welfare Expert Advisory Group handed the government a radical blueprint to not just tinker with welfare, but – in their words – to make “urgent and fundamental change”.

It was scathing about sanctions against beneficiaries, saying evidence shows they do little but create more harm to those already at the bottom of society. And it recommended a massive 47 percent increase in current benefit levels.

Those would be hugely controversial reforms… or, you could say, transformational. And they are not of the cuff ideas.

The current and previous Children’s Commissioners have urged such substantial benefit increases as the most effective way to tackle child poverty.

What people seldom consider though is that since then wages and salaries have continued to grow. Super, linked to wages, has grown to. But other benefits – with any increases linked to inflation, not wage growth – have not been increased nearly as much. Until, that is, Sir John Key and Bill English famously raised them in 2015. So the gap between work and welfare has grown since the 1990s.

That’s why the report today says, “The level of financial support is now so low that too many New Zealanders are living in desperate situations”.

In sum, the argument in support of this radical prescription is that you can raise abatements here and offer support there, but the best and least bureaucratic way to tackle poverty is to – wait for it – give the poor more money.

So as part of their coalition deal, Labour and the Greens commission this report. They get the transformational advice most of them would have wanted. How do they respond?

Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni agrees the welfare system is not working.

Marama Davidson agrees the welfare system is not working.

And then they commit to ignore the report’s big recommendations.

They say no to up to 47 percent benefit increases, preferring “a staged implementation”. The call for “urgent change” is rejected. Remarkably, Ms Davidson has put her quotes into the same press release, tying the Greens to this approach, when they could have been dissenting from the rafters.

The political and institutional reality is that no government can make these changes overnight. But the cold water thrown on this report underlines what we’ve learnt about this government in its handling of tax, its debt level, labour reform and more.

It is not just incremental, it looks timid.

If the Ardern administration wants to be the transformational government she and her allies think they are in their hearts, they are running out of issues.

A lot of transformation has been limited by NZ First, who seem to have got most of what they want while limiting Labour initiatives (like the CGT) and hobbling the Greens.

Much may depend on what the Government come sup with on climate change, the issue Ardern describe as the nuclear free issue of the present time. Announcements on climate change have been delayed months already. There have been further delays, but promises for next week.

RNZ: NZ First voters will be happy with Zero Carbon Bill deal – Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says his party’s voters will be happy with the deal he’s struck with the Green Party over the Zero Carbon Bill.

Climate Change Minister and Green Party co-leader James Shaw this week delayed the release of two reports from the Interim Climate Change Committee until the government makes a decision on how to respond, which will contribute to the final climate change legislation.

Mr Peters wouldn’t be drawn on what the specifics of the bill are but did give an inch when RNZ asked whether his voters would be happy with the legislation, replying, “yes”.

That won’t be encouraging for those wanting transformative action on climate change.

Mr Peters said he couldn’t comment on when the bill would go to Cabinet because that was a matter for the Prime Minister but he understood it would be “sooner rather than later”.

Asked if it would be on the agenda at Cabinet on Monday, Mr Peters said he couldn’t answer that question.

Ardern and Shaw will have a lot of questions to answer if they fail to measure up on climate change. Their reputations are depending on actual transformation.

The future of the Greens in parliament may well depend on this one.

 

Census failures and political accusations

The 2018 census has been a bit of a disaster, with the first use of extensive online responses, and a large reduction on the number of people who took part. This had led to significant delays in releasing what data they have gathered as Stats NZ has been doing what they can to fill the gaps in data.

The problems may impact on things like health funding, education planning and electoral boundary fixing.

And political accusations are flying, with National blaming the Minister of Statistics James Shaw, and Shaw and PM Jacinda Ardern blaming the last National government for underfunding the budget.

But this has been questioned – the 2013 census budget was $72 million, while the 2018 census budget was $117 million.

Planning for the census started while National were still in Government, but the actual census was done after Labour-Greens-NZ First took over.

RNZ – Census 2018: Stats NZ sets September release for ‘robust’ data

Stats NZ says it has plugged enough of the gaps in last year’s census to be able to start releasing data from September, but some data – including iwi statistics – are too incomplete to be regarded as official statistics.

Using a methodology that combines 89 percent of real census data and 11 percent of other government administrative data, Stats NZ said it now had records for 4.7 million people in the dataset.

In a statement, government statistician Liz MacPherson said the data now met the quality criteria for population structure information, meaning it could be used for planning, population-based funding for DHBs, and electorate boundaries.

“This means Stats NZ will use 2018 Census data to update the official population estimates and projections that many organisations use for their planning,” Ms MacPherson said.

Earlier this month, Ms MacPherson admitted that nearly one in seven people did not complete the census. The low response rate has delayed the data release twice.

“The release of data has been delayed twice because of the complex and careful work required to lift the quality of the census dataset,” Ms MacPherson said.

She said she wanted to make it clear this dataset was reliable, robust, and based on maths, not guesswork.

While government records helped to fill in gaps, Stats NZ said it could not be used for all the census topics and as a result some data might not be released as official statistics.

Newsroom:  Māori miss out in Census 2018

Data relating to iwi affiliation, for example, will not be available for the 2018 Census.

A lack of iwi affiliation data could have an impact on Treaty settlements.

A Te Arawhiti spokesperson told Newsroom it used iwi affiliation to build understanding of the groups it was negotiating with and to create regional profiles and help the public sector with iwi information.

The data was also a “secondary” factor the Crown considered when developing its Treaty settlement offers.

The spokesperson said Te Arawhiti would work with Statistics NZ and iwi to gather the best usable data from 2018.

Data on Māori ethnicity had been collected accurately, and would be able to be used – just not at the level of iwi.

The Government has announced extra funding, and has slammed the last Government for cutting funding.

James Shaw:  Stats Minister confirms funding for Census fix

Extra funding has been confirmed in this year’s Budget to fix issues arising from the 2018 Census and to ensure the next one is the best it can be, the Minister of Statistics announced today.

“Stats NZ has now confirmed it will provide reliable, quality 2018 census data to calculate how many electorates will be needed for next year’s General Election and to revise electorate boundaries where necessary,” James Shaw said.

“It had to delay other work and re-allocate funds to do it.  As a result there’s a shortfall of $5.76 million needed to complete the delayed work, and that’s being covered in this year’s Budget,” James Shaw said.

“There’s also Budget approval this year of $10.36 million to enable Stats NZ to get ahead of the next census. The money will develop the business case for the 2023 Census and start development work on it.

“The previous National-led Government decided to shift the Census to a mostly online survey and, at the same time, directed Stats NZ to cut costs over two census cycles,” Mr Shaw said.

Moving to a mostly online survey has been contentious. It appears that not enough effort was put into making it easy for people to still do it offline.

But the cost cutting accusations have been challenged.

The way data was collated was changing, and that rate of change is being accelerated.

Newsroom:  Annual census could replace five-year form-filling

The five-yearly national census could become an annual affair as the official statistics agency uses more of the data constantly collected by government agencies rather than rely on declining response rates from individual citizens.

The agency had been testing and refining models for use of administrative data for seven years already. It had intended to use an increasing amount of such data from the 2023 census onwards and instead accelerated its modelling processes to create a statistically robust 2018 census result, McPherson said.

Some 1.2 percent fewer people participated in the census than anticipated. Data gaps left by people not completely filling in their forms meant partial information equivalent to around 500,000 citizens was drawn from administrative data sources rather than census forms filled in on census night, March 6 last year.

“The team at Stats NZ has risen to the challenge and delivered a new way of confidently combining the strengths of census and administrative records to create the 2018 census dataset.

“There are now records for approximately 4.7 million people in the census dataset. The number of records is 1.2 percent, or 58,000 people, less than our best estimate of the population on Census Day 6 March 2018. In 2013, the official census undercount was 2.4 percent, or 103,800 people.

McPherson said the 2018 data was robust enough to allow the re-setting of electoral boundaries for the 2020 election and the population funding models used by public hospitals to determine their budgets, contrary to speculation from critics of the census process.

Change was inevitable. The transition seems to have been stuffed up.

 

No sign of Zero Carbon Bill yet

A Zero Carbon act was supposed to be in force this month, but a draft bill hasn’t even been presented to Parliament yet.

This was the number one item in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

Sustainable Economy

  1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050,
    with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form,
    energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent
    Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions
    and industries.

a.   Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission
b.   All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.
c.   A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.
d.   A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

So an April introduction of the bill is now ‘mid-2019’.

There has been speculation that the Zero Carbon Bill may be progressed as a quid pro quo for NZ First stopping any CGT. James Shaw has denied this – see James Shaw on “do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?” – but as Shaw seems to have been shut out of discussions over the CGT he may not know what Ardern and Peters may have agreed on.

 

Shaw contradicts Peters on timing of CGT decision

On the day it was announced that the Capital Gains Tax implementation would be dumped, Winston Peters said the decision was made “in the last few hours, but James Shaw has said “We knew about this last week and had been preparing for it,”

Stuff Apr 17, 2019 3:00 PM:

NZ First leader Winston Peters says the decision on CGT was reached in the last few hours, but the direction of travel had been clear for a long while.

NBR today on Twitter:

Who to believe?

James Shaw on “do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?”

In his opening speech in Parliament this year Green co-leader James Shaw suggested that ‘we’ – the Green Party at least – may not deserve to be re-elected unless a more comprehensive Capital Gains Taax – “tax income from capital the same way that we tax income from work” – is introduced.

Green Party Economic Policy:

Capital Gains Tax

  • In order to treat all income the same, introduce a comprehensive capital gains tax on inflation adjusted capital gains at the time the capital gains are realised.
  • Exempt the family home from capital gains tax.

Now Jacinda Ardern has said that not only will the Government not be proceeding with plans to introduce a CGT, but that it will never happen while she leads the Government, Shaw is left looking silly and impotent, again.

And Shaw has made things worse by they do deserve to be re-elected because of other things they are doing on climate change, tackling homelessness, and cleaning up rivers – but progress on those issues is hardly worthy of self praise.

Shaw was interviewed on RNZ Morning Report: Capital gains tax plan dropped – James Shaw responds

The Green Party co-leader James Shaw has been dealt two hefty blows – not only the confirmation the capital gains tax has been ditched but that Jacinda Ardern has also taken it off the table as long as she is Prime Minister.

In February he suggested on this programme that the government didn’t deserved to be re-elected if it didn’t follow through with a capital gains tax. Now he’s changed his mind saying they do deserve to be re-elected for their work on climate change, tackling homelessness, and cleaning up rivers.

Suzie Ferguson: New Zealand First pulled this down, didn’t they.

James Shaw: Well as the prime Minister said they couldn’t form a consensus in Cabinet around that um recommendation on the Capital Gains Tax and so the pulled it.

Suzie Ferguson: And so you are outside Cabinet but clearly were supportive.

James Shaw: Well, you know we were consulted on the indecision, um and so you know we just got to a point where we said well, you know this is clearly not going to go any further so Government has to proceed.

Suzie Ferguson: But the Prime Minister ultimately must have buckled under pressure from Winston Peters, because Labour supported it, and the Greens supported it, so who’s left?

James Shaw: Well, I mean that’s a question for her and the Deputy Prime Minister. I wasn’t privy to those conversations. Um, you know our relationship primarily was through Grant, you know we were talking to him on a regular basis about where we were hoping it might go. Um but it is a coalition government and ultimately in coalition governments not everyone gets everything they want all the time.

Labour and NZ First have a coalition agreement, Greens are outside of this arrangement providing ‘confidence and supply’. It sounds hear like Shaw was not a part of the CGT discussions at all, he was merely being informed by Grant Robertson of the lack of progress. So sitting on the sidelines, impotent.

Suzie Ferguson: Indeed, but what is the quid pro quo?

James Shaw: Ah there isn’t a quid pro quo. I think the, um, you know the thing about this government actually is that you actually look at each issue, um, by issue, and and each thing stands or falls on it’s merits.

This issue fell seemingly without Greens having a say.

Suzie Ferguson: Mmm, but you’re having to swallow quite a dead rat on this one, so are you saying you’re not getting anything in return?

James Shaw: Well like, we’re getting to be in government, ah and along with that ah comes a substantial ah set of policy gains that we wouldn’t have if we weren’t in government.

Greens have achieved or are trying to achieve some policy gains, but these are dwarfed by the policy gains that NZ First have been able to achieve – which must be with Green approval. it looks like Greens give a lot, and get little. Word is that Shaw is struggling to get his Climate Change policy past NZ First. These are big impediments to core Green policies.

Suzie Ferguson: Mmm, but what is the point in being in government if you don’t get some of the major wins?

James Shaw: Well we are getting some of the major wins. So I’ll give you some examples. Um we’ve put fourteen and a half billion dollars into a rapid transit um buses, light rail, aah walking and cycling over the next ten years.

That’s proposed, not done. Greens will struggle to be in Parliament let alone Government for anywhere near that long. Recently the Minister of Transport conceded that light rail is likely top be scaled back. And the Auckland City rail loop cost has just jumped by a billion dollars, this must put pressure on other transport spending.

James Shaw: We’ve had the largest funding in conservation in the last sixteen years.

The funding of most things goes up over time, so it is only a gain if funding increases are significantly above inflation (I don’t know in this case if it is).

James Shaw: Um we’re about to introduce the zero carbon bill into Parliament. So you’ve got you know across the whole range of areas huge progress, more progress than we were able to make in  the last twenty years we were in opposition.

Suzie Ferguson: It’s been reported though this morning on Politik that New Zealand First will be folding their opposition to Labour’s climate change policies, and that is the price. Is that not the case?

James Shaw: I haven’t read Politik this morning, sorry.

Suzie Ferguson: But is that something you know about or not?

James Shaw: Look I’m not aware of that report so I can’t comment on it.

Suzie Ferguson: So there is no quid pro quo as far as you know? That’s what that report would seem to indicate.

James Shaw: Well like I said I haven’t seen it so I couldn’t, it’s hard for me to comment on something I haven’t seen.

Suzie Ferguson: Mmm but it’s not anything you’ve heard from the Prime Minister or indeed as these final negotiations have been taking place?

James Shaw: No it’s not.

This is what was said at Politik:

Jacinda Ardern claimed to her press conference yesterday that the decision to dump the tax was made without any sort of a deal with NZ First.

But nothing comes for nothing in politics.

And NZ First must surely expect there will be a price to pay. Most likely this will be in them folding their opposition to Labour’s climate change policies.

That may just be speculation.

Suzie Ferguson: Can the Government still claim to be transformational?

James Shaw: Yes, I think we can…

Suzie Ferguson: Why?

James Shaw: Well because like I said, on so many areas, and Grant Robertson was talking about that earlier this morning, the work that we’re doing on ending homelessness, on lifting people out of poverty, ending child poverty, on mental health, on climate change, on conservation, on cleaning up our water, those are the areas that really tipped the election in 2017, and those are the areas we are making progress on.

Most of those are being worked on rather than making notable changes. It may take another year (or longer) to judge how successful they have actually been.

James Shaw: Now, I’m not saying that I’m not disappointed about this decision, I am, and Green party policy hasn’t changed on that, but you know as with anything. You’ve got to take it all in the round, and when I said aah that I think that we should you know be questioning ourselves, we should always be questioning ourselves about how transformational our Government is.

And actually I think that we’re doing in fact have done more in the last eighteen months than the previous government did in nine years, and so I would choose it every time.

That’s a tired old comparison that Labour and Greens keep trotting out. It’s rhetoric with no factual basis.

Suzie Ferguson: To achieve targets around lifting children out of poverty and social justice, the only way to achieve those targets now is going to be with borrowing isn’t it.

James Shaw: (deep breath) Ah well that is a question for the Minister of Finance, um and…

Suzie Ferguson: But I’m asking you because it’s Green Party policy as well, so how would you be wanting to achieve those targets. You’re going to need extra money coming from somewhere. Are you going to borrow it?

James Shaw: Yes we are. Um but but I can’t comment on this year’s budget obviously because that’s about to be announced.

This year’s budget has nothing to do with the future plans that will be affected by no longer being able to get on previously relied on tax from a CGT.

Suzie Ferguson: But you’ve been talking about relaxation, or possible relaxation of the fiscal rules you signed up to. Is that how you get these over the table.

James Shaw: I believe so, yes.

Suzie Ferguson: So there is going to be extra borrowing.

James Shaw: I can’t tell you that.

Shaw is Associate Minister of Finance so must be privy to some sort of discussions on how policy promise might be funded without having a CGT.

Suzie Ferguson: But you believe so.

James Shaw: Well well look no ultimately I think that if you look at the long term fiscal strategy ah of ah Government um you know we have said that we think that needs to be reviewed, and we intend to do so.

Um at the moment actually the economy is doing very well, ah and we’ve got revenue coming in, so you know we are able to invest in things we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to invest in otherwise.

Suzie Ferguson: You famously said that the government didn’t deserve to be re-elected if you didn’t follow through with a capital gains tax…

James Shaw: …that’s not strictly true…

Suzie Ferguson: …hang on a minute. Um why did you say that?

James Shaw: What I said was we should be asking ourselves the question of whether or not we deserved to be, and we should be asking ourselves that question al the time, on the basis that at the last election ah you know a majority of New Zealanders voted for change, they voted for bold change.

I don’t see how he can claim that. People vote the way they do for a wide variety of reasons. Some may even have voted for NZ First hoping they would go into Government with National. The party wanting the most radical change, the Greens, got substantially fewer votes than they got in the previous election.

James Shaw: Now you know tax reform was…

Suzie Ferguson: And now you say they’re not getting it as of yesterday.

James Shaw: …well no tax reform is a part of that picture but it’s only a part of that picture. And like I said if you look at everything that we’re doing, whether it’s in the domain of lifting people out of poverty or ending homelessness or cleaning up the environment, ah you know action on climate change.

We have taken some really big calls and we will be taking some really big calls over the course of the coming eighteen months before the next election.

Depending on what Winston allows them to call.

James Shaw: And so in the round yes, I do believe that we deserve to be re-elected, but we should never stop asking ourselves that question.

On the basis of losing the CGT battle, and the big calls to be made over the next 18 months, I think it is premature to claim the Greens deserve to be re-elected.

From Shaw’s big speech to start the year in Parliament in February:

Now, the Green Party has long been calling for that fundamental imbalance to be addressed, and every single expert working group in living memory has agreed with us, but no Government—no Government—has been bold enough to actually do it. But if we are to be the Government of change that New Zealanders wanted and elected, we must be bold.

The crises that we face on multiple fronts—the wealth gap, climate change, the housing crisis—we cannot solve without fundamental reform. These crises have been allowed to metastasise because generations of politicians have timidly tinkered rather than actually cut to the core of the problem.

And the consequences of that timidity—the consequences of that timidity—are being felt by Karen and by hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders just like her, trapped in “Generation Rent”. So when the commentators pontificate about whether this Government can politically afford to do what no other Government before it has done, I ask “Can we afford not to?”

Can we afford not to?

We were elected on the promise of change. If we want to reduce the wealth gap, if we want to fix the housing crisis and to build a productive high-wage economy, we need to tax income from capital the same way that we tax income from work.

The very last question that we should be asking ourselves is: can we be re-elected if we do this? The only question we really ought to be asking ourselves is: do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?

That’s a question that voters will answer in 18 months.

See James Shaw slams tax timidity, calls on Labour, NZ First to be bold with CGT

 

 

Climate change report “thought-provoking” but Government action seems weak

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton has put out a report that Climate Change Minister says is thought provoking, but Shaw doesn’t seem to have been provoked into taking much action.

Climate Change Minister thanks the environment watchdog for his ‘landscape’ emissions report

“Commissioner, Simon Upton, has provided a thought-provoking document, as I would expect, and the Government welcomes it as part of our overall consideration of climate strategies,” James Shaw says.

“The Commissioner’s report questions some of the fundamental design principles of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS).

“However, for the sake of providing policy stability and predictability for emitters and the forestry sector, the Government is committed to retaining the use of forestry off-sets for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions.

“As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says, there is a narrowing window of opportunity to stay within 1.5o Celsius of global warming. It is because that window is so narrow that planting trees to offset emissions is a necessity; at least in the coming decades.

“Nevertheless, Commissioner Upton is correct that trees only retain sequestered carbon for the life of the tree whereas emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

“I agree that the priority must be actual gross reductions in emissions,” says James Shaw.

“The NZ ETS reforms we consulted on last year, and which we will introduce this year, will provide necessary incentives to bring down domestic emissions. The ETS reforms being introduced are the result of consultation, review, and decisions made over the past five years.

“The Government believes those sets of reforms are the best range of policies available at this time.

“Fundamental changes, such as those proposed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, would need to go through the same processes that have brought us to where we are now with the current ETS reforms being put in place,” Mr Shaw says.

In other words, at best it would take years to make fundamental changes for what is said by the Government to be an urgent issue, and the biggest issue of the moment facing the world.

In an interview on RNZ yesterday Shaw struggled to demonstrate he was on top of this – Trees still best short term option on emissions – Climate Change Minister James Shaw

The government won’t change the way forestry is used to offset carbon dioxide emissions despite advice by the Parliamentary Commissioner, Climate Change Minister James Shaw says.

Mr Shaw told Morning Report he agreed with Environment Parliamentary Commissioner Simon Upton’s report that tree planting was only a short term fix but said it was the only option while ways of bringing down CO2 emissions were worked out.

“The emphasis has to be in bringing down your actual emissions not just in buying your way out by getting forestry offsets.”

The commissioner’s report, Farms, Forests and Fossil Fuels: The Next Great Landscape Debate said too much focus was being put on planting trees and businesses would be better off investing in new technology.

It concluded using trees as a carbon sink could only buy a little more time as CO2 lasted hundreds of years in the atmosphere but could be quickly released from trees at the end of their life or in the event of fires.

Mr Shaw said the government would stick to the strategy of allowing people to use trees to offset CO2 emissions they can’t bring down.

“It buys us time to work out how to bring down our gross emissions … and also to develop other solutions for longer term storage.”

Buys us time? How much time?

Shaw may not have much time – if he can’t get the Government to make major moves to address climate change by next year he and the Green Party may find it hard to get enough voters to return them to Parliament.

 

Twitter reaction to political violence

The attack on James Shaw prompted many and varied comments on Twitter. It has been claimed and reported there were some despicable tweets. This one got a lot of attention:

That’s an awful attempt to justify the attack on Shaw. There have probably been others, but I’m not going to go looking for them.

But that tweet raised another string of condemnations. It was pointed out that @MattKingMP followed the above account, and that was questioned and condemned.

Should MPs (or anyone) be criticised for who they follow on Twitter? In some cases that would be justified. But some people go out of there way to find some way of linking political opponents to negative news.

I follow about 400 people on Twitter. Some of those have probably at some time said crappy things. I used to follow @WhaleOil and @laudafinem (until they blocked me), not because I support them but because I wanted to track what they were saying. I still follow @kiwiblog and @thestandard, things have been said at the related blogs that I have condemned.

It’s difficult to monitor everything that is said on Twitter by people you follow. It depends on time (I don’t have Twitter available all the time) and it also depends on what Twitter displays on your feed.

I think that MPs have greater problems with this. The aim of social media is to connect to as many people as possible, some people rate popularity depending on number of follows and followers and tweets. It’s a flawed measurement, but it happens.

And most MPs won’t have the time to carefully check Twitter and especially check or know what every account they follow  is saying and has said.

But MPs leave themselves open to criticism because some people will look for whatever they can to dump on them.

There are no easy answers.

Another angle on Twitter to the Shaw assault was this thread from Neale Jones:

He may make some fair points (and possibly some unfair ones. Important issues are raised but the timing and link to Shaw makes it look like political opportunism to attack those politicians he frequently and strongly criticises.