JUST GOOD BUSINESS - SUSTAINABILITY: The Roar of Business on Climate Change: Get on with It

By Neilson, Peter | New Zealand Management, April 2009 | Go to article overview

JUST GOOD BUSINESS - SUSTAINABILITY: The Roar of Business on Climate Change: Get on with It


Neilson, Peter, New Zealand Management


Byline: Peter Neilson

If youCOre seeing a renewed effort by special interests around the world to avoid paying their carbon pollution bills bear in mind how out of touch they are with the broader view of business people.

The Parliamentary Select Committee review of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which has been enjoying ever-later reporting back times, will be urged by some to excuse them from facing a marginal price on their excess emissions. Some want taxpayers to pick up the whole cost funded by an interim carbon tax to cover the countryCOs excess emissions between 2008 and 2018.

A truly representative national survey of business people by ShapeNZ in February this year shows they believe:

Co the time has passed for doubts over climate change being caused by human activities (63 percent)

Co climate change impacts have already begun (66 percent)

Co itCOs a problem to be dealt with now (72 percent)

Co New Zealand isnCOt doing enough to manage it (46 percent agree, compared with 40 percent who disagree), and

Co the country should get in behind a new international treaty to manage climate change, even if some large emitting developing countries donCOt.

While the current Government has been scoring well on overall performance since taking office, on climate change only 13 percent of business people give the new administration a four-plus rating on a one to five scale, where one means poor and five excellent. ThatCOs about the same as for the previous government.

Importantly, business people are much more likely to think New Zealand has more, rather than fewer, economic opportunities as a result of climate change: 42 percent of business people believe this, compared with 20 percent of all respondents. Only 16 percent of business people believe it will cost economic opportunity, while 26 percent say it will make no difference.

ThereCOs a C[pounds sterling]letCOs get on with itC[yen] mood on climate change.

The weighted sample of 574 business people (maximum margin of error +/- 4.1 percent) also shows thereCOs very little tolerance for any move to excuse major emitters from facing a bill (at the margin) for their emissions in excess of 2005 levels, now provided for in 2008 ETS law.

When asked, in principle, if they would prefer a policy under which polluters (businesses, industry) pay for their own emissions costs, or where the government pays, a resounding 80 percent of business people say polluters (77 percent for the general population). Only three percent think the Government (actually taxpayers) should pay.

Which presents MPs with a dilemma: current ETS law allows for Government to pay 90 percent of emissions in excess of 2005 levels between 2008 and 2012, with free allocations reducing in a straight line by eight percent a year until 2030.

There is just one percent support among business people for the current law giving assistance until 2030. …

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