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An Issue of Major Concern

16/11/2018

Homepaddock had a post recently on how the move to so called carbon zero, championed by NZ Greens and the Ardern omnishambles  had potentially very negative economic, social and indeed environmental consequences.

Quoting an article in Farmers Weekly, Homepaddock drew attention to :

Becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2050 could result in a 16% drop in production from sheep and beef farms as livestock is replaced by trees to sequester carbon.

The Productivity Commission’s report, Low Emissions Economy, said up to 17% of sheep and beef farmland Otago, Canterbury and Manawatu-Wanganui will convert to forestry as part of plans to plant the 2.8 million hectares of new forestry needed for New Zealand to be carbon neutral.

A shift to horticulture and forestry could reduce the dairy area in Taranaki by between 35% and 57% and Waikato by 8% and 22%.

Commission chairman Murray Sherwin acknowledged such a change will affect rural communities.

Now this government purposrts to have the interests of the provinces as a central plank of it’s agenda. Indeed, we have Shane Jones, self anointed lion of the provinces, dishing out millions from the Provincial Growth Fund to boost the economies of the regions and thus employment and growth.

As Homepaddock noted:-

The financial and social impacts will be huge.

While some jobs will be created, more will be lost and people who work on sheep and beef farms and in businesses which service and supply them may not be willing, or able, to work in horticulture and forestry.

Totally at odds with Ardern’s professed intents. even more at odds, with the loudly proclaimed focus of NZ first, especially Winston Peters and Shane jones.

Homepaddock went on to mke this excellent point:

Science will play a part. It could play an even bigger part if the illogical opposition to genetic modification could be overcome.

But politics and emotion too often trump science.

Unfortunately rational thought, regard for science and rigourous analysis are all attributes that are strangers to this government. Especially science when it comes to the Greens. To be fair though, National’s record was not stellar in this area.

All too often though, compliant media seem to accept what the government says, without questioning the assumptions made and the bases for the solutions proposed.

it is especially concerning when one considers the readiness of Ministers to disregard official advice, especially if it cuts across their views/perceptions Megan Woods, Sgane Jones and Phil Twyford immediately come to mind in this regard.

Then Homepaddock went on:-

In this case politics dictates that New Zealand should reduce stock numbers without taking into account of what will replace the food that we don’t produce if sheep and cattle are replaced by trees.

Most of that meat is exported and if beef and lamb no longer produced here are replaced by meat from less efficient producers elsewhere the global environmental cost will be added to the local financial and social costs.

That is a major factor, but seems to have been totally ignored by much of the MSM. indeed, it is concerning that there appears to have been little reported on this matter at all.

Now this post from Homepaddock struck a chord with aomething else Adam had read some weeks ago. The memory was of a series of excellent posts from Michael Reddell, an economist, who writes the Croaking Cassandra blog.

June 8, 2018 Mr Reddell looked at the government’s papers regarding the impact of moving to carbon zero or variants thereof. The post is detailed and repays study. A key comment for Adam was this:

  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement.

Then on June 21,2018 he had a follow-up post, again well worth taking the time toread carefully:

A couple of days ago NZIER’s final report itself was released, making it a bit easier to make sense of the reported modelling results.    There is a great deal of detail (the report is 90 pages), a considerable number of (necessary and inevitable) caveats, as well as quite a bit of editorial advocacy for their client’s wishes

Note well the comment re editorial advocacy. To Adam there is an inference that perhaps this report is possibly written such as to suggest a degree of bias.

Mr Reddell concluded that post with this:-

Perhaps there is a legitimate moral cause at work here, but the government is inviting citizens to offer up a fearsome price –  in lost incomes and opportunities –  all while refusing to even consider the lowest cost option for substantially reducing the volume of emissions in New Zealand.   For a country that has done so badly as regard productivity, under successive governments over many decades, it seems breathtakingly reckless.  It seems all the weirder to be proposing to take some global moral lead in a country where, as even the IPCC reports have noted, there are both gains (eg better crop yields in many areas) and losses apparently on offer from rising global temperatures.

Then on August 6, 2018 Michael Reddell looked at another aspect of the issue, again reading the entire post is strongly recommended.

James Shaw had given an interview where he had made various statements such as

This is what he says about the economics of his proposed net-zero target

He says investing in meeting our climate change goals will be a massive economic boost, rather than a burden.

“What we’re talking about here is a more productive economy, with higher-tech, higher-valued, higher-paid jobs. It’s clearly a cleaner economy where you’ve got lower health care costs, people living in warmer homes, congestion-free streets in Auckland.

“It’s an upgrade to our economy. It’s an investment, you’ve got to put something in, in order to generate that return. If we don’t, the clean-up costs from the impacts of climate change will well exceed the costs of the investment we’ve got to make to avoid the problem in the first place.”

But Mr Reddell remarks:

But where is his analysis?  Where are his numbers in support of this?   There is nothing of the sort in the consultation document, or in the NZIER modelling.   Without something of that sort –  tracing through the mechanisms he expcts to see these effects –  this is all dreamtime stuff, arguably either delusional or worse.   There is nothing to demonstrate why we should take seriously the Minister’s claim that markedly shifting pricing (or using regulation to the same end) against key sources of energy, and skewing pricing against our handful of large internationally competitive industries (even, unlikely at this stage, if our competitors were going to do the same thing) would mean we’d all end richer (“massively” so apparently) than if the government hadn’t adopted such policies.  It simply doesn’t ring true

In the post Mr Reddell makes some excellent and to Adam’s mind, damning remarks on the process followed and the conclusions drawn.

He concludes:-

Setting out to, in some sense, “lead the world” in this area is a recipe for severely impairing the future living standards of our own people.   Perhaps the warm inner glow of the “feel good” –  which would no doubt linger long among Greens supporters, well after most New Zealanders were living with the economic consequences –  should be added to Treasury wellbeing dashboard?  But it is likely to take an awfully large amount of “feel good” to compensate for the lost opportunities –  for rich and poor alike –  of wilfully giving up 10 to 22 per cent of future GDP (on the government’s own numbers)

Unfortunately, humans cannot live on moral rectitude. The regrettable fact is that this issue has not been highlighted by National nor by the MSM.

Far too much attention has been paid to Ardern’s baby, Jami-Lee Ross and who’s been sleeping with who, rather than the impact of this transformation that will destroy the economy, erase quite possibly budgetary surpuses and possibly render our current economic and social welfare models unviable.

Then on September 5, Mr Reddell took a further look at the validity of the approach championed by the Ardern omnishambles.

After noting the absurd claims made by James Shaw, he remarks:-

Believe all this, and there are no hard choices, no trade-offs, just stepping into the sunlit uplands in which enhanced prosperity and feeling good go hand in hand.

He goes on to consider this paper by Ian Harrison of Tailrisk

He looks at the key conclusion of Mr Harrison and concludes his post:-

Food for thought.  And no sign –  not in the consultative document, not in the Productivity Commission report –  of any “massive economic boost” in prospect.

So yes, the government is embarked on the process of being transformational. Yet it is predicated, so it seems to Adam on taking a moral lead, but with no analysis, no idea of what will be the real cost, a complete absence of public debate. If the factors at play here were taken into account, what wold be the impact of the much vaunted ‘wellebing’ budget touted by Grant Robertson and Ardern

Suspect there would be highly negative feelings across the workforce and community at large.

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