14, Sep, 2009

Emissions Trading System changes major reversal

Category: ECO Inc

The National and Maori Parties’ agreed changes to the New Zealand Emissions Trading System are a major disappointment and will more than halve the effectiveness of the control of climate and ocean damaging pollution, the Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO) says.

Emissions will climb, but the scientists are urgently telling us we must reduce emissions fast says ECO co-chair, Cath Wallace, who is also a Senior Lecturer in Economics. “This is not going to help New Zealand meet greenhouse pollution reduction targets needed by 2020 or the 90 percent cut required by 2050.”

“The changes allow 65 large companies long periods of subsidisation by taxpayers, particularly households, right out to 2050, with farmers and the fishing industry getting especially large subsidies.”

”Farmers do not have to even start paying part of the costs of their pollution until 2015, while the subsidy to the fishing industry rises from 50% to 90% of the costs of its emissions.”

“Struggling households and small businesses will have either to pay for these subsidies in their taxes or to forego public services like health care and education. The government’s own figures show an increase in taxpayer subsidy to polluters by at least $400 million.

“The new subsidies will have trade implications too because they mean New Zealand will no longer be able to claim that farming and fishing are not subsidised. These subsidies are set to continue right out to 2050 rather than to 2030 as previously set by Labour, which was already too long.

“Not only do these subsidies lead to inefficiency and unfairness, they will also send wrong price signals to investors which will result in a deadweight loss to society as well as harming the climate.”

“New Zealand’s international standing, especially in Europe and the Pacific, will be seriously damaged by the failure to take a strong stand to reduce emissions and by this back tracking and subsidization. The effectiveness of the scheme will be at least halved.”

For further information contact Cath Wallace 021-891-994 or 463-5713, Or Barry Weeber, 021-738-807 or 04-389-1696

  1. ECO – the Environment and Conservation Organisations was established in 1972 and represents 66 groups with a concern for the environment.
  2. The key points on climate change by ECO are:
    • Action must be taken as soon as possible to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is about time New Zealand acted since it is 15 years since the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) was signed and 10 years since the Kyoto Protocol was signed.
    • Targets and timetables: Government must make strong commitments in the legislation, with staged milestones. New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80-90 percent by 2050.
    • Taxpayers should not be left paying for the costs for polluters for the Kyoto and future obligations. All sectors should do their share of emissions reductions including methane and nitrous oxide reduction, and this includes agriculture and the New Zealand fishing industry in New Zealand waters and globally.
    • There should be no subsidies to various sectors through providing free allocations or delaying the introduction of sectors into the ETS. It is essential that all sectors are introduced into the system.
    • The ETS should ensure environmental integrity of the system by not allowing the bringing of eastern Europe hot air allocations or nuclear energy into the system. The environmental integrity requirements should be included in the legislation.
  3. The New Zealand Forest Accord and the New Zealand Climate Change Accord are agreements between the forest sector and environmental interests, including ECO, to protect biodiversity and regenerating native forests and support plantation forestry.
  4. The fishing industry is likely to be one of the most affected industries from ocean acidification caused by increased carbon dioxide levels and should be leading moves to reduce emissions. Shellfish fisheries (eg oysters, mussels and scallops) are likely to be among the most affected as ocean acidification reduces sea life's ability to make shells.