The Herald today fumes over fumes from farming.
There’s so much in their editorial with which to take issue, but a single point glares out from the page. They say:
The whole point of the ETS is that emitters take financial responsibility.
The Herald appears to replace concern for the environment with a vindictive crusade to lay blame. And I thought they just wanted to repair the environment.
Who is the emitter?
Is it the farmer or his customer? Or the customer’s customer? Surely everyone who eats butter or cheese shares a slice of the “blame” for the emissions caused in producing what he eats.
So the final customer should pay a share.
You think they do? But, in an auction, how does the farmer ensure extra on top of the auction price for his milk or meat or whatever, to compensate him for the ETS tax? That’s not going to happen.
Farming is unique in being mostly helpless to recover the ETS costs. Fonterra can adjust their wholesale prices or their payout, Air NZ can charge extra for a carbon footprint and ordinary businesses set or negotiate higher prices as costs increase.
But farmers’ selling prices are dictated by the auction system. They can neither alter the prices nor reduce their emissions. It’s like shooting trout in a barrel. Hardly fair. Unless they’re on a canning or a supermarket contract, and we know how easy it is for the farmer to dictate terms to the buyer…
The farmer bears the same responsibility for his animal’s “emissions” as Australia bears for the fumes from Chinese power stations burning Australian lignite.
Which is none, of course – China takes responsibility for those emissions; or it would, if it joined the game.
The farmer’s final customers should take responsibility for the products they select, for without their purchase, the farmer would not produce it. Still, it’s far too hard to levy every user of mutton, bacon or milk; much easier to attack the helpless farmer.
And everyone knows the ETS won’t repair the environment anyway.
It’s all symbolic. What a sham.
And we call ourselves grown-ups.