16 Sep 2011

ETS review recommends slower phase-in

2:45 pm on 16 September 2011

A statutory review of the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) supports agriculture being brought under the scheme from 2015, but is recommending it be phased in more slowly.

When the scheme came into effect three years ago, the Government said agriculture would be included in it from 2015 provided there were practical technologies available to farmers and New Zealand's competitors had implemented similar schemes for their agriculture.

The review supports inclusion from that date but suggests agriculture - along with energy, transport and the industrial sector - be phased in gradually.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith says the Government is open to that approach, but other issues are affecting the final decision.

He says the Government is yet to receive a report from the Agriculture Advisory Group on agricultural emissions and the ETS. and the 2015 date also remains subject to the provisions of practical technologies being available and international action.

Federated Farmers has welcomed the thrust of the review and the Government response so far, and wants it put into legislation.

Climate change spokesperson William Rolleston says the report has recognised that farm productivity has been improving year by year, meaning the carbon footprint of New Zealand agriculture has been diminishing.

The proposed slowdown in implementing the ETS would have an estimated fiscal cost of $455 million over three years. The Green Party says that would effectively increase subsidies to climate polluters, at a cost to the taxpayer as well as the global climate.