Parliament is considering the proposed scheme, which is on track to become law next week.
James Lovelock, who was one of the first to warn the world about climate change, says trying to stop global warming is almost a certain waste of time.
Dr Lovelock told Morning Report some businesses are making a lot of profit out of carbon credit systems, and think they are doing something positive, but in practice they are not.
He says the role of New Zealand should be similar to other island nations - to lead the world by acting as a perfect lifeboat.
Dr Lovelock says that includes taking the right number of people that the country can support and feed, and building proper cities, which will take money and effort.