While we suffer a surfeit of disaster news through media so awash with words and pictures that there is little room for everyday events, the conduct of Government carries on.

And one of the activities being conducted right now is the Emissions Trading Scheme review panel. This month the panel, chaired by former Labour finance minister David Caygill, published an issues statement and a call for submissions.

The review is required under the Climate Change Response Act 2002 and must be completed this year. The panel proposes to have a draft report ready for Environment Minister Nick Smith by June 3 and to issue its complete report by June 30. Submissions close on April 6.

However, those of us who would seek to argue that the emissions trading scheme is based on fallacious science and is a total waste of time and money, that man-made emissions - particularly New Zealand's - contribute nothing whatsoever to global warming in particular and climate change in general, aren't going to get a look in.

Because the Ministry of the Environment, which produced the agenda for the review, tells us quite plainly: "In light of the panel's terms of reference, the review will not be revisiting the need for an emissions trading scheme, or other responses to climate change outside the ETS".

So, as Australian geologist and environmental scientist Professor Bob Carter, a prominent critic of emissions trading schemes, says: "Control the language and you control the outcome of any debate".

The panel's refusal to consider new scientific evidence of the futility of trying to lower emissions of gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane by imposing taxes on them has infuriated the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition which has protested most strongly at "the cowardice of the present Government ... in its decision".

The coalition submits that "There is no proven, valid scientific evidence supporting the hypothesis that human emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane can, or are now, or may in future cause dangerous global warming, or indeed any climate variation beyond the bounds of natural cooling and warming cycles recorded for centuries past".

"To exclude the need for ETS or other responses to climate change would be like reviewing GST while denying the existence of the goods or services that are taxed."

On the panel's desire to ensure that beyond 2012 the ETS "helps New Zealand to do its fair share to reduce global emissions and meet any international obligations", the coalition says that according to the Environment Ministry, New Zealand's share of global emissions in 2007 was 0.2 per cent.

New Zealand's percentage of global CO2 emissions is 0.0078 per cent. That, says the coalition, "is so far inside even the most parsimonious margin for error as to be incapable of measurement".

Such a minute contribution, the coalition says, "has no real relevance whatsoever to 'international obligations', especially when those 'obligations' are being ignored everywhere in the world, except for partial and very selective observance in Europe".

On the panel's question on whether the ETS "delivers emissions reductions in the most cost-effective manner" the coalition says: "Leaving aside the issue of whether emissions have any effect on climate variation, the reductions in emissions in New Zealand are so minuscule as to be unnoticeable and probably incapable of measurement, so any cost is too much and therefore cannot, by definition, be cost-effective".

As to whether the ETS "supports the long-term economic resilience of the New Zealand economy at least cost", the coalition says that for a small nation so dependent for its "economic resilience" on trade with other countries, competitiveness is vital.

In a separate submission, Barry Brill, the coalition chairman and a former Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Energy, points out that the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia have rejected proposed ETS mechanisms.

No other country, he says, has enacted any form of ETS since the highly selective European Union scheme in 2004 and no other country has sought to suppress emissions by putting a price on motor spirits or on any greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide.

The trouble with all this is that these submissions are unlikely to be accepted because the panel's agenda specifically excludes any arguments over the ETS itself.

That is a shame, for the panel could save itself time, and the country millions of dollars, by simply accepting them and issuing Dr Smith with a one-sentence report: "For tiny, sparsely populated New Zealand an emissions trading scheme is nonsense - either repeal the 2004 act, or keep it and set its rates at zero until other countries catch up with us".

Because even a modified travesty remains a travesty.