Catholics will recognise the system as being similar to the sale of indulgences as a church fund-raiser back in the days before Luther nailed his theses to the cathedral door at Wittenberg.
And it is, to put it mildly, somewhat premature, since as Brian Leyland of the Climate Science Coalition points out the sin of emitting carbon is still not provably Satanic.
Suddenly the debate is all about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and not about whether or not dangerous man-made warming is happening, or likely to happen in New Zealand or anywhere else.I think the answer, as if we didn't know, is 'politics.'
Temperature records for New Zealand and for the world show that there has been no warming in this country since the El Nino peak of 1998, in spite of continuing rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The New Zealand experience is conclusive: in this country, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is not causing warming.
That being so, why is the country being saddled with disruption of our economy and increased costs for energy and fuel?
In their wisdom, the Clark Government figures they need a flagship policy on which to hang their 'sustainable nation' claptrap, meaning (it would appear) they intend to go into next year's election on a policy of shackling industry and raising food, fuel and power prices.
Sounds like a winner.
As I've said before, if you're going to shackle industry in the name of better weather, then a carbon tax that at least offers some certainty to producers is better than a system whereby production is capped by bureaucratic fiat-- and a carbon tax whose rate is linked to actual global temperatures and that is a substitute for another tax is even better.
Writing in the New York Times yesterday, economist Greg Mankiw argues that cap-and-trade systems are inherently flawed, not least because of the international dimension of the carbon indulgence market -- which Sp!ked's Brendan O'Neil characterises as a form of third world eco-enslavement -- and particularly once one factors in the emerging economies of China and India which will keep on emitting regardless, and which are going to be almost impossible to integrate with any system devised by NZ's bureaucrats.
Even if it were true that the highly priced indulgence market could change the weather in the way desired, the carbon indulgences paid for by long-suffering NZ consumers here and now may be entirely worthless once some other international system develops, and once the science on the subject is finally in.
But this doesn't bother a government in election mode who are blind to anything but electoral advantage -- even if that perceived advantage is based on nothing more sophisticated than rising prices, a shackled industry and a pipe dream.
And you can be damn sure it won't bother John Boy Walton and his Labour-Lite friends either, who if elected wouldn't lift a finger to change a thing.