This morning's Dominion-Post carries an excellent editorial on the dilemma facing Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and their colleagues over the proposed Emmissions Trading Scheme - here's the link: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/4509592a6483.html
The leader writer begins:
"Kiwis love the idea of clean, green New Zealand leading the world on controlling carbon emissions. It's the reality of achieving it that causes problems. They do not love the idea of paying still more for petrol or electricity, or of seeing their jobs disappear overseas, especially if they feel that others, here and overseas, are not sharing the burden, writes The Dominion Post.
Prime Minister Helen Clark tapped into the first feeling when she proclaimed in 2006 that New Zealand should become a carbon-neutral country, receiving accolades.
Now she is facing the consequences of the second, and must be considering whether to make saving the Labour Government today a higher priority than contributing a minuscule amount to saving the world tomorrow.
Certainly the Government will not want more pressure on inflation because of the emissions-trading increases in the cost of fuel next year, which could delay the Reserve Bank's easing pressure on voters in the mortgage belt."
I'm sure that we all remember "sustainability" - the buzz-word in the PM's speech upon the opening of Parliament in 2006. Even then, Labour was positioning itself to make New Zealand's response to climate change the key issue for the 2008 election. Such was Labour's determination to push forward on this issue that the Ministry for the Environment became an adjunct of the 9th Floor. The politicisation of the Environment Ministry cost Madeleine Setchell, Erin Leigh, Hugh Logan and David Benson-Pope their respective jobs, and has backfired on Labour.
Now Labour faces significant pressure to water down the ETS, especially its impact on fuel prices, and as yet, Labour does not have the numbers to pass the proposed legislation. A compromise, based on election-year pragmatism seems inevitable, as the Dom-Post notes in its conclusion:
"Against that background, rushing to lock in New Zealand's policy is foolish. A more measured approach, with targets linked to what others do, rather than stand-alone statements of ecological purity, is more sensible."
Remember the editorial's comment earlier - "Now she is facing the consequences of the second, and must be considering whether to make saving the Labour Government today a higher priority than contributing a minuscule amount to saving the world tomorrow." - no prizes for guessing what Helen Clark will choose!