ETS. an Emissions Trading Scheme

There is a great op/ed piece in the ODT today from an NZ Herald writer, one Brian Fallow. I couldn’t have beaten it, and the Colin James one alongside is a reasonable support act. Both well worth reading.

That said, yet again we are looking at it from a Business as Usual political point of view. This is the old ‘who gets which slice of the cake’ thing, with the traditional left/right standoff.

The whole thing about an ETS is that there is not the genuine underwriting of the sink, anywhere on the planet. Early bits of nonense included designing a building with coal-fired boilers, changing to heat-pumps, and claiming the change as an ‘improvement’, deserving of credits. Others were non-existent forest plantings in various African countries.

Once they are weeded out, there won’t be enough real left. The price will go up. It has to be remembered that mature forests are a zero-sum game – their biomass does not change. You can of course, chop them, burn them or clear them, and you go backwards. Keeping them only maintains the status-quo. Then there is carbon sequestration – the thing Al Gore was so keen on. Only in the lab at this point, and not in the real world – and with an EROEI issue.

That leaves new-planted forests. With a lead-time of 20 years to any biomass worth contemplating, they will get there just as the oil-driven society ceases. The question, then, is coal. If we burn it, our kids are dead. If we don’t, out way of life is dead. Ah, decisions….. I think they’ll burn it, pretent sequestration but cheat, and deny until it is too late.

Either way, an ETS is a stop-gap to attempt to keep our way of life keep going. Neither version will make it – given the lack of sink available. Whether the cost of carbon would kill economic activity is doubtful, greed would just  – temporarily of course – set the charge to one side. The bigger likelihood is that the unavailability of oil is the king-hit, being uncircumventable.

This ETS, if it goes, will last less than three years.


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