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SMELLIE SNIFFS THE BREEZE: A crap deal for Maori

Article – Businesswire

Nov. 27 (BusinessWire) – Everywhere the Government is being flayed by its supporters for doing some sweetheart deal with “bloody Maoris” over the emissions trading scheme.

SMELLIE SNIFFS THE BREEZE: A crap deal for Maori

By Pattrick Smellie

Nov. 27 (BusinessWire) – Everywhere the Government is being flayed by its supporters for doing some sweetheart deal with “bloody Maoris” over the emissions trading scheme.

As if the crumbs from the table and the equitable settlement of Ngai Tahu’s legitimate gripe are really some big win for Maori.

Give me a break.

Look at the 12 points covered in the deal between National and the Maori Party on the ETS and ask yourself, was this very hard to get? Here they are:

• Measures to halve the price impact on households – such an easy win that the Government would probably have done it anyway and was happy to give the Maori Party a free hit. The halving effect only lasts till 2013, and while welcome for the general populace, is a short term transition measure. Everyone, eventually, will face the cost of carbon;

• Enhancement of energy efficiency assistance – i.e., there will be an extra 8000 low income homes included in the massively popular insulation and heating scheme that the Government has already announced will barrel along this year with next year’s funding. More funding would have been needed anyway, and it’s a no-brainer preventive health investment that will make no difference to climate change. People will just be warmer, healthier and more productive;

• Inclusion of a Treaty of Waitangi clause – another no-brainer that simply recognises the Treaty and carries no significant implications for the ETS;

• Treaty settlements pre-ETS unknowingly disadvantaged. This is where the rubber’s met the road. Ngai Tahu’s late 90’s forestry deal – and a few other tiddler settlements involving North Island tribes – valued forests as if they had been converted from forests to dairy land, which is much more valuable until you include the Kyoto Protocol cost of felling without replanting. By the time of the deal, New Zealand was a signatory to Kyoto, so the Government has decided to avoid time in court by agreeing to compensate. Not one cent will go to the beneficiaries of the much larger Central North Island Forests settlement from earlier this decade, when an ETS was clearly on the cards and the deal done accordingly. So, yes, the $25million price tag for affected Maori settlement forests is a lot of money in anyone’s book, but it’s a lot less than the $70 million-plus Ngai Tahu was after, and it’s stopped a long, messy court case that the Crown would probably have lost. Enraged whiteys: move on;

• Involvement in ongoing international negotiations – not something the Maori Party even needed to ask for. The Maori delegation next month’s Copenhagen climate change summit has the potential to be an authentic bridge of the sort New Zealand needs as it navigates its own odd path to a climate change response. As a rich country with the agricultural greenhouse gas emissions profile of a poor country, we will be looking to connect with the developing world. A hand-picked crew of not-born-yesterday indigenous assistants should do the country no harm at all, especially as Maori are highly focused on new forestry rules post-Kyoto. This is a sideshow issue for the most powerful developed countries, but a vital issue for the likes of Brazil and other heavily forested nations. We need to get whatever help we can however we can get it, and Maori involvement simply makes sense;

• Crown/Iwi partnerships in afforestation programmes – in other words, Maori businesses will be invited like anyone else, including foreign investors, to plant permanent native forests on Department of Conservation marginal lands. The deal on this for Maori appears indistinguishable from the deal available to a bloke from Singapore, Malaysia or Sydney. The real issue here is that the current rules say permanent native forests are only 1/15th as efficient as a pine plantation for carbon sequestration. One of the goals at Copenhagen is to bump that up substantially so that native and plantation forests are more comparable as carbon sinks. To lobby for this at Copenhagen, see above re “bring on the Maoris”…

• Review of the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative -complicated, was likely to happen anyway, big deal;

• Fishing industry allocation – the fishing industry gets a sweetheart deal under the ETS transitional arrangements, but that’s the whole fishing industry, large chunks of which are owned by pakeha. How is that a special deal for Maori?

• Iwi involvement in Agricultural Advisory Group – no surprises there, would have happened anyway;

• National Policy Statement on Bio-Diversity – see previous entry. Nothing to see here;

• Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions Research – see previous two entries;

• Broader environmental policy – that’s the 12th point of the deal? Pull the other one. Maori involvement in broader environmental policy is already happening. The challenge is whether it is making a positive difference at this stage.

So, forgive me my outraged pale-skinned compatriots. What is the fuss about?

If anyone should be grumpy, it’s Maori, and the only reason more Maori aren’t grumpy about it is that virtually nobody – Maori or pakeha – understands the ETS.

And therein lies the real problem.

This week, New Zealand passed a law that it doesn’t really understand or believe will work, based on a massive, multi-year process that was always likely to produce a camel of a policy.

Across the Ditch in Australia – the country we’re trying to be in synch with on climate change policy – the Opposition is imploding rather than support the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Australia’s ETS-equivalent. It’s not clear what Australian PM Kevin Rudd will take to Copenhagen.

At least if John Key decides to go, which looks increasingly likely for a leaders’ love-in for the last couple of days of the 11 day summit, he can brandish the tatty rag that is New Zealand’s new ETS. In all likelihood, it will scrub up well enough in the company of all the other compromises that other countries will be bringing along too.

The important thing, whether or not you agree that climate change is real, is that there is momentum for a deal at Copenhagen. As US President Barack Obama has put it, there is the prospect for a politically binding agreement that will have “immediate effect”, even if the details aren’t nailed down for a few months yet.

That suggests something like big, global commitments to GHG emissions reductions over the long haul, with end dates identified.

Messy, inadequate, incomplete and compromised, it is pretty much the outcome you’d expect from a process involving human beings. In fact, this week’s passage of the New Zealand ETS conforms almost perfectly to that judgement.

Take it as a guide, but also recognise what an act of global leadership an agreement at Copenhagen represents. The human race is being asked to do something painful, difficult and unwelcome on an unprecedented collective scale, in the face of legitimately brandished scientific uncertainty.

That we are even this far along in attempting to take a prudent, risk management approach to a multi-generational problem that appears to be spiralling out of control, is in itself a miracle of sorts.


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  1. Consumerant, 28. November 2009, 14:20

    But Pattrick this( global warming shenanigan ) is not the public ideology needed at this time-not in any form .
    Lets all dig for fossil fuel and runs around like headless chickens looking for Al gores “man bear pig”- develop a carbon fixated consciousness?
    The emotional pleas to simpletons “its your fault, your responsibility you pay for all our mistakes”. “You want to play your part”.

    And no I don’t believe the Maori Party got anything of value for their Mana sellout. (You are right 1 Billion is nothing in the scope of the ETS).
    I am allowed to be saddened by the passing of the ETS bill and outraged by the lack of integrity of the scientists actively involved.
    Both issues are failures of personal responsibility, a recipe for furthering and fostering a social culture of “blame game,PR deceit and self interest”.
    Its too big to fail Myth?
    Its not and it has.
    No we have not adapted well to our environment we haven’t even tried.
    To compensate for Corporate driven over consumption all we artfully sprinkling the words ‘sustainable’ on everything that isn’t. Nice sentiments & words replacing action- but we have a physical reality that requires more than just words.
    So hurry up and say its broken so we can fix it, denial and change resistance is not appropriate.

  2. Barry Munro, 29. November 2009, 14:48

    And just who will take our carbon credit’s/debits money? No mention of how this CC/CD horse-trading will take place, or who will cream off the profits as commission. Not one dollar of NZer’s money will go towards solving the problems in our own country. Better that the money is spent solving problems not going into another internation bureaucratic sink-hole.

    Rip-off? Oh, yeah! Cynical? Oh, yeah!

  3. angus, 30. November 2009, 15:05

    Take it as a guide, but also recognise what an act of global leadership an agreement at Copenhagen represents. The human race is being asked to do something painful, difficult and unwelcome on an unprecedented collective scale, in the face of legitimately brandished scientific uncertainty.

    The world will recognise our contribution

    The OECD is demanding a worldwide price for carbon. Each person (rich or poor) will equally shoulder the burden of climate change through a regressive tax, the level of which to be determined by traders in London or Frankfurt or Paris or NY. Agreement looks unlikely as the developing world is not supportative of paying for the OECDs wasteful excesses.

    Obviously the nature of an ETS system greatly benefits the OECD, but rich world exploits poor world is not news – what is amazing is the thought that somehow the poor world is going to sign up.

  4. Buster Carbon, 1. December 2009, 10:52

    Strap a pair on the OECD should have be told( should have known) that this is not sustainable and the cost is an unfair burden on us following the ” credit crisis”. This harmed us and we have given more than enough in bailouts and subsidies to greatly benefit the increasing wealth of the crisis manufacturers(& It was no ordinary thing).

    Each person will not equally shoulder the costs of Carbon trading.
    Man made Climate Change has been found to be a Myth, so why isn’t the name changed to Myth trading?

    I am suppose to be glad or proud that the world will recognize that the people of New Zealand created more debt and made financial contributions to promote and support (heavily funded) myths?

  5. Hungry puppy, 1. December 2009, 19:30

    Angus here are a couple of reasons why I would be wary of the OECD “great” economic advise.
    1)The OECD admitted the credit crisis had taken it by surprise.
    2) “What we had not forecast was the extent of the spread of this financial risk”
    Lets all be realistic about the ETS.

  6. Buster Carbon, 6. December 2009, 10:30

    Angus now I am puzzled Australia didn’t go for the ETS.
    We have the whole wannabe thing happening (& Key is trying to merge countries),so how come Oz don’t have to be seen by the World as Carbon Zoombies and we do?
    Did you read the Copenhagen treaty.

    Is it all part of the complex “fall behind further” B plan?
    A wage increase due to ETS generated inflation?
    Does it smell like realism to you.

    Sorry about the request for a strap-on Angus… that was
    impolite, not “ripping off investors then building a $30 million dollar mansion” impolite.