Hypocrisy on fossil fuel subsidies?

The sun needs to set on both fossil fuel production and consumption, yet National only talks about one side of the equation (by Pete Markham, CC-BY-SA)

It has recently been reported that New Zealand has been part of an international coalition of countries, including Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, who want to crack down on fossil fuel consumption subsidies. Radio New Zealand reports that they’ve recently released a memorandum:

[the] memorandum calls for the elimination of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, citing environmental, economic and social grounds, and has the full support of the United States and France.

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said the end of subsidies was the missing piece in the climate change jigsaw with more than a third of global carbon emissions between 1980 and 2010 believed to be driven by subsidies.

He said keeping prices artificially low encouraged wasteful fuel consumption and discouraged the development of new, greener technologies.

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the agreement saying the memorandum was significant.

“It’s one thing to have actually a price on emissions, like New Zealand has through our ETS, but some countries actually are going the other way, they’re actually subsidising those fossil fuels, our argument is that if they were made to pay the real price it would have some impact on demand.”

First of all, I think this is a great initiative. Although you can see why developing countries might want to subsidise fossil fuels so people can afford energy, it really makes no sense at a time when we need to be cutting down our emissions in order to mitigate climate change. As Groser says, subsidising fossil fuel consumption is getting in the way of transitioning to a green economy where we don’t need these polluting fuels any more.

That brings me to National’s hypocrisy. Continue reading “Hypocrisy on fossil fuel subsidies?”

the weak case for inaction on climate change

Although there was quite a positive reception for the Green Party’s ‘climate tax cut’ policy a while back (see a roundup on their blog), the National Party continues to tread out the same old arguments against doing anything substantial to reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

A lot has been said recently in the media by those sceptical of mitigating climate change, along the lines of ‘New Zealand is a such a small proportion of the world’s emissions, therefore we shouldn’t do anything’. What I want to argue here is that while the first part of this argument is (somewhat) true, the second part that we shouldn’t do anything doesn’t follow at all.
Continue reading “the weak case for inaction on climate change”