Jun 27, 2008

All Is Well Within Business Council

A member of the Business Council For Sustainable Development has kindly seen to it that the attached letter, that was sent yesterday to all members of the Council, ended up in our inbox. Many thanks to that member. We thought that it only fair that we share it with all of our readers as there seems to be great interest from the media and others in the Council's "internal processes". Sean Plunket, for one, certainly seemed more than interested in this issue on Morning Report the other day.

26 June 2008
Dear Member,
I would like to clarify some of the recent comments on the background to the recent
report issued by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development on
the likely scale of the economic opportunities forgone and threats caused by any
delay in the implementation of an emissions trading scheme.
The Business Council has long been a supporter of the use of economic instruments,
and specifically a cap and trade system, for helping manage and reduce greenhouse
gas emissions. Our first significant piece of work in this area was published in 2003
and we have been a consistent advocate of this approach since then.
In the recent debate over the proposed Emissions Trading System as set out in the
Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill there have been
many comments about the risks to New Zealand business from the impact of the
proposals and the potential for job losses and economic decline. While acknowledging
there are risks (and we believe we contributed positively to the changes needed to
help mitigate those risks) the Executive Committee was concerned that the debate
was not considering the opportunities that a low carbon economy would present and
the impact of the reputational risks for New Zealand of doing nothing. We therefore
asked Peter Neilson to commission a small piece of work to investigate these issues.
The report identified potential gains which could arise form [sic] business opportunities that
were in the public domain. In many ways the approach taken in the report is
conservative – we have since heard it probably understates the opportunity from
forestry, many new opportunities are not in the public domain as they are
commercially sensitive and clearly the impact of innovation, one of the major benefits
of cap and trade systems, cannot be modeled.
As an organisation we decided long ago that not every member had to agree with
every piece of work and we continue to respect the right of members to do so. The
research should stimulate debate and open up discussion about the potential upsides
from the scheme and the risks of delay as we were concerned that these were not
being properly discussed. It has not sought to counter the specific arguments by
individual entities about the challenges the Bill would present to them, nor would that
be helpful. It is a view of the other side of the coin.
I thought this background note would be helpful to members. Unfortunately the media
are speculating about the propriety of our internal processes which is not helpful, but
the process described above was followed and the position is entirely consistent with
our past position on this issue.
Finally, please accept my apologies for the late delivery of the report. We started to
deliver this electronically at 11.00am Tuesday but it seems to have been ‘drip fed’ out
by the system with some members not receiving the report until yesterday. This was
not our intention.
Nick Main