3 Sep 2015

Govt kept climate target information from public

8:20 am on 3 September 2015

The Green Party is upset that the Government withheld some information when it was consulting on a new climate change target.

no caption

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the public has been denied information. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The target was announced in July before a major United Nations climate change conference in Paris later this year.

When the Government consulted on the target, it released economic modelling on the costs involved, but withheld analysis of the cost of including agricultural emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

It also left out emissions and removals from forestry.

Economic modelling was done by both Landcare and Infometrics, but a cabinet paper obtained by the Green Party showed only special public versions were released.

The paper stated that some of the modelling results were sensitive, so reports were commissioned from the two agencies that were suitable to be made public.

Radio New Zealand asked the Ministry for the Environment why information was withheld from the public.

The agency said that forestry was left out because rules used to account for forestry activities were still being negotiated internationally and were therefore sensitive.

It said disclosing New Zealand's potential approach to forestry accounting could compromise its position in the negotiations.

The Ministry also said the results of the agricultural modelling was not included because the two reports came back with conflicting results, so it would not have been useful to make it public.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw said all available information should have been provided so that the public could have made an informed choice.

"I think that they should have been transparent with us, and if they had some numbers then they should have told us what those numbers were.

"Even if those numbers were completely different and they just weren't sure, they should have just told us that and allowed the public to decide."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs