New Zealand could have gotten a Climate Change Commission that is rational and hard-nosed about the problem it is there to solve. Emissions cause climate change. We need lower emissions. Period.
Instead, we have been lumped with an activist Commission.
Its agenda is to transform the economy. And not just any transformation. The Commission wants more EVs, more solar and wind, fewer cows, less gas, and no coal. The Commission thinks lower net emissions should mostly mean lower gross emissions.
This prescription might as well have been written by Greenpeace. This Commission’s plan does not fall out of solving for effectiveness. Its preferred technologies do not give us the best chance of reaching our targets. No, the Commission’s plan is all about politics.
The Commission expressly rejects a least cost approach to reducing emissions. Under its plan, will pay vastly more than necessary to achieve our emissions targets. The Commission’s analysis shows we could get to net zero emissions with existing policies and a carbon price of $50 per tonne. Under the Commission’s plan, however, we will pay somewhere between $250 per tonne and more than $500 per tonne of carbon.
Those extra costs pay for the privilege of reducing greenhouse gas emissions via the particular channels preferred by the Commission, rather than what is most effective. That difference – between a least cost approach versus the Commission’s plan – has nothing to do with emissions or climate change. Emissions come down by about the same amount either way. The extra cost for the Commission’s plan is solely about reshaping society to the Commission’s preferred vision.
The huge added cost of the Commission’s plan means it is pursuing its vision vision at the expense of our emissions targets. Making our ambitious targets up to ten times more expensive threatens the successful delivery of those targets. That is a fundamental problem for a Climate Change Commission whose statutory objective is mitigation. It has made the mistake of pursuing non-emissions objectives at the expense of core business.
That is one reason why I believe the Climate Change Commission is an activist body.