4 Jul 2012

Exporters back Government on ETS

7:44 am on 4 July 2012

Exporters dispute claims that delays in changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will damage New Zealand's green reputation and hold up developments in clean technology.

Businesses in the ETS were to face higher costs from next year but most sectors will now continue to pay half the cost of their emissions.

The Government says it will hold off on making farmers accountable for the greenhouse gas emissions from their properties until at least 2015.

Export NZ executive director Catherine Beard says firms will continue to invest in research into green technology and any breakthroughs will do more to reduce global emissions than imposing a carbon tax on farmers.

"There is a big investment going on around the world into clean technology and there's nothing to stop New Zealand companies already investing in looking for those sorts of solutions."

Ms Beard says continuing a one-for-two obligation and maintaining the $25/tonne fixed price of carbon gives exporters comfort that they will remain internationally competitive.

It is important to exporters that New Zealand does not move ahead of other countries on carbon pricing, she says.

"They have to be competitive in global markets. It is very important to our competitiveness that we don't move ahead of other countries (in terms of cost). Outside the European Union, there are no other comprehensive trading schemes."

Prime Minister John Key says the Government will wait for other countries to follow suit before introducing agriculture into the ETS.

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser told Morning Report on Tuesday there is no point in New Zealand leading the way if other countries such as the United States and China are doing nothing.

He rejected claims agriculture is being subsidised and said New Zealand is the most carbon efficient major farming country in the world.

But an Economist Cath Wallace of ECO said that not making farmers pay for their emissions is deeply inefficient, unfair and New Zealand has to pull its weight.

Ms Wallace says the scheme is being significantly weakened at a time when the science is calling for urgent action.