Paying incentives to companies growing trees assumes that trees are the answer. How do you reliably quantify the positive contribution of trees to offset carbon emissions? Do we really want our country planted out with Pinus Radiata? Each time a tree is cut down it releases carbon. Younger trees apparently absorb more carbon than older trees. To grow trees we use Nitrogen fertiliser which leeches into waterways. It is a fact that our use of Nitrogen Fertiliser has increased 6 fold since 1990 and that by 2010 we will be using 433,000 tonnes of the stuff. The other problem with forests is that they burn - remember forest fires? So, if you have been given carbon credits for a forest you own do you lose the credits if the forest burns down? All it takes is a pyromaniac with a can of petrol, a zippo and a grudge to cause havoc. In the future if forests are our meal ticket to reducing carbon will we see all our forests surrounded by high electric fences with 24 hour camera surveillance?
Then we have the farmers who for years have been clearing forests and scrub land to create more dairy blocks. Planting forests means less land for farming. How do we balance our desire to increase out GDP through farming with our apparent need to offset carbon with trees?
One day in the distant future when we are carbon neutral or in carbon credit we will be able to sell our credits to the Chinese so that they can keep burning coal to provide electricity to all those little factories that pump out all those cheap products we import and consume. It is ironic really that our policies will not make one iota of difference in the bigger scheme of things while we continue to consume and use products made in countries that really don't give a shit about the environment.
The approach of government is not supposed to make the individual (you and I) responsible to reduce any emissions with the liability squarely aimed higher up the food chain at 'big business'. As we all know, any financial pain to 'big business' is filtered down as higher costs to you and I. So, we may as individuals not be liable but we will certainly pay. The problem with the 'top down' approach is that there is no direct incentive being paid to the consumer to generate their own electricity, to install solar water heating, to drive a smaller car or to think about what we throw into land fill. As an individual our hands are tied. We will pay and there is not a lot we can do about it. The government is essentially controlling the purse strings. They will eventually force us to drive electric cars that must be charged using government generated electricity. As our reliance on petrol decreases the government will need to find new ways to make up the short fall from petrol taxes. This shortfall will no doubt be in the form of higher electricity costs. Do not be surprised if in the future you buy an electric car but you do not own the batteries. It is possible and highly likely that government will own the batteries and that they will lease the batteries to you at a fee equivalent to what we now pay in petrol tax.
I have lots of trees in my garden and I live next to the botanical gardens in Wellington. Does this make me carbon neutral? If it does make me carbon neutral or at least more 'friendly' to the environment than your average apartment dweller then why do I not get any rebate or tax relief? If we all have to suffer in the name of reducing emissions because our government signed up to Kyoto why do we not all share in the profits of the carbon credits? Again, it is a rort.
Other related posts:
I Smell a Conspiracy
Disposal of Eco-bulbs
Welcome to Vuestar
Comment by sbiddle, on 21-Sep-2007 13:06
All I want to know if whether I'll be able to go into Shell and refuse to pay the extra 4c government tax (remembering Helen told us there would be new taxes) because I don't give a crap about the Kyoto agreement and believe carbon credits are a sham?
One source of emissions you also forgot to mention is volcanic eruptions - what happens when White Island next erupts and pumps tonnes of Co2 into the atmosphere?
What about the fact humans emit huge quantities of Co2? Will NZ have to stop accepting new immigrants or refugees or tell them they have to bring their own credits with them before they can be granted citizenship? :-)
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