Upton: We need new middle ground on climate change

Simon Upton on the way forward for tackling climate change. Read in full here.

“…for the sake of environmental credibility and business certainty, the plea now has surely to be that our legislators try to build some constructive middle ground. This is not just a domestic issue. Our exporters will increasingly have to disclose their carbon footprints. If they are based in a country that just can’t get its policy sorted out, it won’t make market access any easier.

“The Government will have to work much harder than its predecessors if the select committee hearing is to assist a more consensual approach emerge. The first thing it should do is try to find a senior MP who is not associated with some of the extreme things that have been said along the way.

“Secondly, it should go nowhere near reopening a debate on the science. That may be ACT’s wish but the supply and confidence agreement does not promise it – the terms of reference have yet to be agreed. What fresh insights can a select committee of New Zealand politicians add to a subject that has been exhaustively canvassed elsewhere? Anyone who has studied the issue in good faith knows that there are no certainties and that it is a risk management issue. Picking holes in computer models or climate data is a path to nowhere and would make New Zealand a laughing stock.

“While reconsidering a carbon tax may be interesting, it won’t prove any easier to implement than an ETS. Whatever the policy instrument, there will be no shortage of businesses whose analysis will show that, at least for them, now is not the right time to act. (If it wasn’t the right time during the long boom years, you can bet it won’t be the right time now.)”