16 Aug 2013

Labour wants to give ETS and forestry CPR

1:48 pm on 16 August 2013

The Labour Party is proposing to breathe some life back into the Emissions Trading Scheme which it says has drowned in a sea of cheap foreign carbon credits.

Labour climate change spokesperson Moana Mackey has a private members bill in the ballot which she says would greatly help New Zealand's forest owners.

Moana Mackey.

Moana Mackey. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

She says it would limit the amount of cheap carbon credits allowed into the country - simultaneously benefiting the climate and the forestry industry.

"We are the only scheme that is allowing these cheap International units to flood in completely unrestricted the government promised they would fix this last year - so far they've refused to do so."

Ms Mackey says the forestry industry is the biggest mitigation tool New Zealand has when it comes to reducing emissions and the Government's actions have left it stumped.

"What's happening is they're getting out of the game, they're saying it's no longer economically viable for us to stay in the scheme."

She says information obtained under the Official Information Act shows that the Government was told by its officials that the changes they were making to the ETS would reduce the demand for forestry by 60% from 2013 to 2015 and by 90% thereafter.

"So the Government made those changes fully cognisant of the fact that this was going to devastate our forestry sector."

Ms Mackey says while the Government is not concerned about the burden they are creating for future generations of New Zealanders - Labour is.

Ms Mackey says a Labour government will not only strengthen the Emissions Trading Scheme but also sign New Zealand back up to the Kyoto Protocol.

Some agricultural scientists have said the Government's ditching of the Kyoto protocol has made New Zealand a laughing stock

Govt commits to emissions target

The Government, meanwhile, has announced its goal to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below where they were in 1990, by the year 2020.

Climate change minister Tim Groser says the reduction in emissions will show the world that New Zealand is doing its bit for the planet.

Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Trade Minister Tim Groser. Photo: NZ GOVERNMENT

He says it is an easy target to meet that won't require much, if any, effort on our part.

"New Zealand will meet this, I would think, quite easily. I would be quite surprised if we don't over-achieve it. But it was felt necessary for negotiating purposes to make an unconditional statement to sit underneath our conditional offer."

Mr Groser says accusations that New Zealand is not doing enough on climate and has damaged our reputation by walking away from the Kyoto Protocol are naive.

"This constant emphasis on Kyoto, as if only Kyoto matters, is being used quite clearly - deliberately in my opinion - by some, to deflect attention from where the attention needs to be which is the 87% of emissions that will never, ever take commitments under Kyoto."