15 Sep 2009

Agriculture's entry into ETS put back two years

10:51 am on 15 September 2009

The Government plans to delay the entry of agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) by two years, until 2015.

Under proposed changes, the entry dates of the electricity sector and industrial processes will also be pushed out by six months to July next year.

But transport fuels will be brought forward from the beginning of 2011 to the middle of next year.

Under the revised scheme, until 2013 those sectors will only be liable for one tonne out of every two tonnes emitted.

Thanks to an agreement with the Maori Party, announced on Monday, the National-led government has the numbers to pass amending legislation through its first reading. The legislation will be introduced next week.

Talks are off, says Goff

Mr Key says talks will continue with other parties, including Labour, to get as a broad a consensus as possible. But Labour leader Phil Goff says the talks are off, as the Government has acted in bad faith, making it impossible for negotiations to continue.

Mr Goff says he believed National and Labour were close to reaching a deal.

Labour's climate change spokesperson Charles Chauvel says the party will not support the scheme because it would be bad for both the environment and taxpayers. He accused the Maori Party of caving in and being prepared to do an easy deal.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith says he would have preferred to have Labour on board, but he's working to a very tight timetable.

He says however that he's not ruling out further compromise on changes to the scheme in order to get broad political support.

Dr Smith told Morning Report it is in New Zealand's interests that Labour should continue discussions as the bill goes through the select committee stage.

Maori Party claims gains from deal

The Maori Party had previously said it wanted agriculture brought in early, as a bottom line.

Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the party's view changed during discussions with Maori in the dairy industry, who explained why it would be hard for them if agriculture was brought in earlier.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says that, as a result of negotiations, the impact of power and petrol price charges will be halved. She says the party has also won a specific proposal to enhance the Government's energy-efficiency assistance programme for low-income households.

Mrs Turia says a Treaty clause in the legislation will ensure that the Crown's obligations to its Treaty partner are not compromised by the ETS.

The scheme puts a price on greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, to provide an incentive to reduce emissions and allow the country to meet its international obligations on climate change.