The Labour Party says it is making the single biggest environmental promise this election by saying it would start taxing animal emissions in 2013.
The party announced its environment policy at Wynyard Quarter in central Auckland on Sunday.
Labour's environment spokesperson Charles Chauvel says it is wrong that agriculture has been excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
He admits it won't be a popular policy with farmers, but says it is time that the sector bore some of the costs of the ETS.[image:3645:half:right]
"Nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions at the moment don't get treated as part of the ETS and aren't dealt with in any other way in an environmentally responsible fashion.
"This promise brings those in and deals with them in that way - that's why it's so significant."
Mr Chauvel says the money earned from taxing animal emissions would be used to fund private sector research and development.
Labour says having agriculture in the ETS, and paying its fair share, is essential for the integrity of the scheme. It believes the agriculture exemption (and extended phase-in) is unfair, a disincentive to reduce emissions and economically distorting. It also discourages productivity improvements and innovation.
Labour says restoring the 2013 entry date for agriculture to come into the emissions scheme means farmers will initially pay for just 10% of their 2005 agricultural emissions, plus any growth since then.
From 2019, the party proposes to begin phasing out free allocation to agriculture. However, this will be subject to periodic reviews before then. If the interests of our rural sector were being undermined, it says the rate of phase-out could be moderated.
The National Party has said agriculture's inclusion in the ETS would be reviewed in 2014, and if no other country has made a commitment to bring in animal emissions, then New Zealand would not either.