31 Aug 2009

Emissions Trading Scheme for NZ favoured

10:18 pm on 31 August 2009

An Emissions Trading Scheme should remain the primary economic mechanism in New Zealand's response to climate change, a parliamentary select committee report recommends.

The committee is reviewing the Emissions Trading Scheme and accepts it should cover all sectors and all gases.

However, it is less clear about when some sectors should be covered by the scheme and how much they should pay.

Labour, the Greens, ACT and the Maori Party submitted minority reports on the issue.

Opposition parties Labour and the Greens argue the looseness around when agriculture might be introduced and the placing of a price cap on emissions units will undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand.

Labour says it would be prepared to delay when the energy, industrial process and transport sectors come into the scheme by six months.

But it says all other sectors, including agriculture, should then come in from January 2013 - the date under the current law.

The Green Party believes the committee did not have enough time to discuss the issues.

It points out minority views and the select committee report specifically state the need to set clear rules for forestry - otherwise forests will continue to be cut down without being replanted.

ACT and the Maori Party oppose an Emissions Trading Scheme and favour a carbon tax.

Broad support for scheme - Dunne

Emissions Trading Review select committee chair Peter Dunne says the report provides a platform for the Government to have amending legislation through Parliament by the end of this year.

Mr Dunne says the fact that there were four minority reports indicates not only the political differences involved in the issue, but also the complexity.

However, the United Future leader told Checkpoint on Monday there was broad support for an Emissions Trading Scheme on the committee and it is now up to the Government to translate that into a majority in Parliament.

Mr Dunne denies that the review was a waste of time, despite it not giving specific recommendations for when some sectors should enter the scheme and how much they should pay.

Agriculture must be included early - Maori Party

The Maori Party says bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme early will be a bottom line in its negotiations with the Government over amending legislation.

Maori MP Rahui Katene told Checkpoint that agriculture should be included in the scheme within the next two years, not 2013.

"When you look at how many emissions we have (and) where the emissions are coming from, agriculture is around 50 percent of our emissions.

"We really need to be pushing the line that everybody needs to be taking this seriously," Ms Katene says.