20, Sep, 2007

ECO Welcomes Greenhouse Gas Control Measures, disappointed by delays, allocation

Category: ECO Inc

The greenhouse gas control measures including the proposed emissions trading scheme announced by ministers today are very welcome, says the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand, ECO.

An emissions trading scheme will set a price on greenhouse gases and give people incentives to cut back their emissions, or to buy permits in New Zealand or overseas. "Either way we will face an incentive to do the right thing and to reduce our climate damaging behaviour," says Cath Wallace, for ECO.

"The disappointing thing about the policy announced today is the delay in the application of the policies which are staged to affect different sectors of the economy at different dates, almost all after the next election."

"The stand out disappointment is that agriculture, which accounts for half of the emissions in the form of methane and emissions from nitrogen fertilisers, is given a free ride until 2013. This reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy and violates principles of equity."

"Taxpayers will end up subsidising the agriculture sector for the first round of Kyoto commitments."

ECO welcomes the commitment to targets in the policy for "carbon neutrality" but these are fragmented and we would like to see clear national targets for emissions reductions. New Zealand must support clear early time-bound targets for emissions reductions internationally for the second Kyoto commitment period."

"It is essential that New Zealand does reduce emissions rather than just buying what may be questionable credits in the international markets."

The key issue now, is will this policy actually be implemented if the government were to change? Where does National stand on these policies? Will they agree to keep the expectations of these policy measures firm by publicly backing these measures?

"ECO is also concerned that the policy proposes huge wealth transfers to some sectors including agriculture and some large polluters such as NZ Steel, the aluminium smelter, milk and cement producers and other "stationary" polluters.

"Giving these interests free emissions credits to match their polluting history violates the polluter pays principle, and puts new entrants to these industries at a disadvantage and gives them wealth to further plead for special treatment."

"Overall the policy measures represent a significant step forward. The government is to be congratulated for getting this far - but it will take commitment on the part of future governments to make it happen."

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For further information, contact Cath Wallace 021-891-994

or Barry Weeber 021-738-807

ECO has 65 member organizations with a shared concern for the environment.