It’s rare that we get the opportunity to say this about this government, but this is a good decision, the decision to let farmers avoid the ETS is a good decision.
It’s not letting farmers off scot-free. They’re not going to be able to let their cows fart the climate into a furnace. They’re still going to have to pay like everyone else is.
But what’s been decided is that they can design their own system instead of the ETS, and that’s smart.
Because, look, the ETS is too blunt for the farmers. What was going to happen was that farmers would pay a tax based on how much milk or meat they’re producing on the farm.
But that doesn’t actually encourage them to change their behaviour, right?
It doesn’t take into account how many trees they’ve planted or solar power they’ve installed, they don’t get a discount for that. The ETS would just tax them, it wouldn’t actually encourage them to change their behaviour.
The new system they help design? Well, they get to include stuff like trees and solar power, so farmers can get a rebate if they’re helping the environment out.
How can you argue with that? It’s sensible.
And that’s where this government deserves credit, because sensible is not a description we’ve used a lot for them and it’s taken guts to do this.
That’s because they’re backing down on an election promise. They said they’d put farmers in the ETS, and now they’re not.
It’ll make some climate change obsessives angry, and there are a fair bit of them among Labour voters. The anger’s already started; Russel Norman’s called it a backflip, Greenpeace has called it a sellout.
But some Labour supporters will hopefully understand that this new plan is still doing the same job, which is to bring emissions down - it’s just that way of getting there that’s different.
Good on the government for being grown up enough to be pragmatic.