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Local Government

Are the Greens helpful with ETS?

Recently the Green Party, through outgoing ex-leader James Shaw, have been arguing that the government should be taking on an extra liability in the country’s accounts.

This liability is not small, about $24 billion, and is for the cost to the taxpayer of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The Greens would like this in the books as then the government is forced to cover this which will reduce the ability to spend on much needed infrastructure etc.

The reason that it is not in the books is that Treasury doesn’t classify it as a real figure; at best it is a guess, and it can be removed by changes to government policy.

This article is not about climate change, it is not arguing for or against this theory. This article is about the dodgy logic of politicians which hits all of us in the back pocket.

Let us start with the first aspect of this issue the ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme). Simplistically if you produce carbon through your business, you can offset this by buying carbon credits from somebody who produces more than they use (a foreign owned forestry company perhaps). As most of us cannot be bothered buying carbon credits, the government is left with the bill, in theory.

To get an idea of how the bill is calculated, let us look at figures from 2022 where 78.8 million tonnes of CO2 were produced in New Zealand. This was partially offset by the absorbing effect of plantation forests which absorbed 23.3 million tonnes leaving 55.5 to be paid for through the ETS or by the taxpayer.

“What does plantation forest mean?” I can hear you ask. This is basically a measured bit of forest planted by a company or entity of some sort. It is relatively small, NZ’s total area being 290 million hectares, whereas the total forest area is 4060 million hectares.

The offset measurement is a calculation where you multiply a constant by the area to get your total offset. Obviously, the bigger the area the higher the offset value.

A country can select whether to use plantation forests as their offset measurement or not; they have a choice. If they do not, they use the so-called Hedgerow measurement where all greenery is counted as an offset.

“We have lots of other forests so what would be the effect of counting them?” came the question from the back. “Good question,” I thought. The full forest area could absorb 326.2 million tonnes which is far more than the 55.5 we are short.

Climate fanatics throughout the peninsula will be writing to say my mathematics is simplistic and they do have a point as I am assuming all forests are the same, but even if the figure is looked at differently, taking into account age and growth, you still end up with confirmation that forests absorb all CO2 produced in this country.

So, if we counted things properly it becomes obvious that the Green’s apparent desire to ruin bovine farming is pointless. Take the pressure off farmers and let them clear up their waterways while feeding the world.

“Why don’t we use the Hedgerow method?” came the follow up question from the same person. Obviously a bright lad and one to keep an eye on. The answer is that they either were not thinking properly or had some ulterior motives which were helped by exaggerated bad figures for New Zealand.

Unfortunately, I think the ulterior motive is that the ‘Green’ movement wants to get rid of oil powered transport and feels that things like dodgy mathematics are justified as their end goal is so good and holy.

We as a nation are suffering and spending unnecessarily on theoretical carbon emissions. The $24 billion liability the Greens claim we should accept is just rubbish and will quite rightly be ignored.

The situation of measurement needs correction however, and this is something the government can do. They just need to focus on this.

With regards to the question I posed being, “Are the Greens helpful with ETS?” The answer is quite clearly no, quite the opposite, they argue against the interests of our country which helps no one.