Why Winston Peters should be paying heed to the outcome of Australia’s climate change election

Winston Peters is too astute a  politician to be oblivious to the outcome  in what Opposition  parties  across  the  Tasman labelled  the  “climate change  election”.   Almost  certainly,  when he spoke   in the debate    of  the  Climate  Change Response  (Zero Carbon)  Amendment  Bill  on  Tuesday  afternoon,  he  was  thinking  of  how  the  Australian Federal  Labor  Party  lost the  “unloseable” election simply because  it  campaigned so hard  on   what  voters  assessed  as  too demanding,  and too costly, measures to  combat  global  warming.

How  else to explain   his  rambling  defence  of   NZ First’s  support  for  the  bill?    It  was,  almost   word  by word, as if   he  could feel  support  for  NZ   First in the rural  regions  evaporating.

He  started by   asking  why the House  was  having the  debate.  His  answer:  because the previous National  government had  signed up to the  Paris  Agreement.

He  went  on to  say  the  bill  fulfills NZ First’s agreement with Labour to establish a Climate Change Commission, “but one that does not resemble the statutory or arbitrary or final powers of the Reserve Bank”\,

He drew attention  to  the process where the Climate Change Commission will provide the free allocation to agriculture with all revenues cycled back into agriculture for mitigation, for the additional planting of forestry, and for research innovation—“also part of our coalition agreement”

NZ  First  regards that as “critical”.  He  says in recognition of NZ’s methane profile, it splits methane from the more longer-living greenhouse gases.

The bill,  according to Peters, establishes an initial gross methane target of 10% from 2017 levels from 2020 to 2030, which it projected, all the way to 2050, corresponds with a 26.7% methane target.

Peters  dismisses  as  Federated  Farmers   “alarmism” the complaint that  these  targets   are too stringent.

He  went  on to  offer  this   prediction:

“I am confident that farming will be more wealthy than ever before because it will also have this about it: not only being sustainable; it’ll finally get to added value, which is a policy that this country should have been pursuing a long, long time ago.

“No, no—all they worry about is cow hoof numbers. It’s what you do with the cow that’s important”.

 The  problem  for Peters   is  that  dairy farmers  regard the methane  targets  as impossible  to  meet   without   substantially  culling  herds.    But  for  many farmers,   it’s  the  last  30  or  40  cows in their herds  which produce the  volumes of  milk  sufficient to  determine  whether the season outcome is  profit or  loss.

National,  like   the farmers,  argues the targets for 2030 and 2050 are too high. The 2030 target is negative 10% and the 2050 target is negative 24%  to  47%.

The  difficulty  for   Peters,  and   the  government  he is part  of,  is that the  biotechnology  which  could  ensure  agriculture  meets  its methane targets has been  ruled  out.

Former  chief  science  adviser  Sir Peter  Gluckman made it  clear  genetic   engineering  is  an essential  tool  to  combat high emissions.

But  as  Opposition  Leader  Simon Bridges  noted in  the debate, if  biotech  is an important  part  of the answer  “it’s a tragedy the Green Party  rules it out”.

As  in   Australia,  where the Green  vote  was  vital for  Labor to  win   the  Treasury benches,  Peters   in  effect  depends on  Green   support to  hold his post as   deputy  PM.  But  because agriculture  is  the   source of the bulk of its exports,  when will  the rural  regions  forgive   him  if    dairy herds have to be culled  and incomes fall?

A  report  in the  NZ  Herald  this  week noted  NZ’s economy could miss out on up to $50bn worth of economic growth because of the Zero Carbon Bill, according to official analysis.

The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), written by officials at the Ministry for the Environment, reveals that NZ’s economy will grow to $522bn by 2050 if the zero carbon legislation is not adopted and the status quo is maintained.  However, if the legislation does come into force – as it is expected to do later this year – the RIS showed NZ’s GDP in 2050 will be between $472bn and $476bn, a difference of $45 – 49bn.  In  effect each NZ household would be around $20,000 worse off.

Peters  may  not  care   about what  could happen by  2050 — but he should care about  the  next  election.  Point of Order suggests  he looks even harder  at what happened  across the Tasman last Saturday.




4 thoughts on “Why Winston Peters should be paying heed to the outcome of Australia’s climate change election

  1. A politician that campaigns for and with policies that reduce the size of the economy by $45 billion is nuts. A political party that signs up to that policy is insane. No matter how much pin head dancing you do it will be impossible to sell this as a good idea and one the people will have to just lump. The electorate collectively and singly are just not going to buy that ticket – especially when it’s explained that even if the climate change mitigation works (and there are huge doubts of either need or effect) it will reduce global emissions by 0.17% …. 0.17%? really? The sooner this lunacy is called out the better. I think the Nats see the peril and are “doing their bit” as ScoMo suggests. Their strategy is to look supportive but set the Climate Commission a sisyphian task by demanding their work is science based and within an economic framework. The more I think about it the reference to Sisyphus is apposite. Sisyphus’ father, Aeolus, was the Ruler of the Winds – given the Greens’ pagan worship of wind power as a solution they are most surely set for a sisyphian struggle. We know how that went

    Winston Peters has started his run as well. Far, far, far away.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes completely crazy stuff. To boot the National Party is a spineless disgrace wanting a bob each way just in case. I think they believe the last election was stolen from them and they just need to wait and justice will prevail. We desperately need an opposition who stand for sanity

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mate we did not have a climate change election. If we had it would have been the number one issue. It wasn’t. The Liberals did not run any anti-climate change ads.
    you are clutching at straws.


  4. Peters is a charlatan. Come 2020 he will be tugging at the heart strings of bewildered old widows in rest homes around the country yet again. “He can always leave his shoes under my bed” they will coo.


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