Issues for Candidates and Parties

Election issues - a blueprint for environmental improvement

New Zealanders have a strong attachment to the land and sea. We like to think of ourselves as 100% pure, clean and green.  Unfortunately, the reality is that New Zealand is not the clean green place we would like it to be.

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, our oceans are being depleted of fish, our rivers, lakes and streams are becoming more polluted, and treasured native plants and animals face extinction.

ECO has developed a portfolio of policies that we consider would help the environment.  We invite you to ask the parties and politicians whether they will support these. Let us know what they say!

What political parties have done to fund conservation and environment activities is one indicator of commitment.  For example in the last three years the Department of Conservation has had its funding cut by $54m while the Ministry for the Environment has also faced significant funding cuts.  In contrast the minerals section of the Ministry of Economic Development has had its funding doubled.

The record of voting in parliament is another indicator of party commitment.  The Marine Reserves Bill is still stalled in Parliament but we have a new Environmental Protection Agency and new gap filling law to cover activities on the EEZ and Continental Shelf has been introduced.

We have developed a range of policy suggestions under the following headings:

A. Climate responsibility

• Increase investment in rail and other public transport options by 30% and reduce investment in new roads by 15%?

• Strengthen the Emissions Trading Scheme to:

– Remove the price cap;

– Remove the 2:1 emissions unit rule;

– Bring agriculture into the scheme by the end   of 2012;

– Require that New Zealand reduces our emissions below 1990 levels;

– Remove the taxpayer subsidies from the free allocations to agriculture and others.

• Commit to developing and implementing a low carbon action plan for NZ as agreed in late 2010.

• Adopt a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 40% by 2020 and 85% by 2050.

• Impose a 10 year moratorium on any new coal mines.

• Prohibit lignite mining and processing.

• Prohibit methane hydrate mining.

B. Treat conservation as an investment in our future

• Restore $54m/pa of DoC funding and expand DoC funding to enable it to:

  • raise the proportion of actively managed conservation areas from:

-          2-3% to 8% by 2014

–        From 8% to 15% by 2017

–        From 15%-25% by 2020

• Restore DoC’s technical and marine capacity.

 

C. Integrated ecosystem based marine management

• Reform the Fisheries Act by January 2013 to better protect the marine environment and maintain healthy fisheries and include a genuine precautionary principle.

• Adopt measures by January 2013 to reduce bycatch of seabirds, marine mammals, invertebrates and fish and strengthen the Marine Mammals Protection Act and the Wildlife Act.

• Ensure that all planning for activities in the marine environment is open to public input and to Strategic Environmental Assessment, and that any oil and gas, marine minerals activity and other such are subject to prior public consenting processes within spatial management regimes, and are subject to bonds.

• Amend the Marine Reserves Act, largely along the lines of the Bill currently before the House, to allow marine reserves to be created in the Exclusive Economic Zone for conservation reasons.

• Amend the EEZ and Continental Shelf Bill to ensure that protection of the marine environment has priority over economic goals, and to protect existing values.

D. Coastal and Catchment Matters

• Cap nitrogen use by catchment and introduce a significant charge on nitrogenous fertilisers by 2012.

• Protect the McKenzie basin from dairy intensification.

• Protect the Mohikinui River from hydroelectric development.

• Commit to a 10 year clean up of lakes and rivers.


E. Environmental Leadership & Management

• Make protection of the environment the purpose of the Environmental Protection Agency.

• Introduce regular and ministerially independent environmental reporting with adequate funding.

• Develop a national Genuine Progress Indicator and ecological footprint reporting to complement existing indicators and statistical “dashboards”.

• Adopt the Precautionary Principle to protect the environment.

F. Open & engaged society & governance

• Release the texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and require three months for public and Parliamentary scrutiny before making any decision to sign it. Do the same for all international agreements.

G.  Good global citizen

• Work for a large marine protected area over the Ross Sea area to protect biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

• Implement by 2012 a ban on the import of any product from illegally logged forests.

• Ban the import of palm kernel.

• Take a leadership role at UN climate meetings by promoting an ambitious, fair legally binding global climate agreement and support special funding mechanisms that protect tropical forests and assist developing countries to lower emissions.

• Support measures to protect tuna stocks in the Pacific including large protected areas on the high seas.

H.  Social Justice – cross cutting

• Support vulnerable households, people and communities to adapt while the economy re-gears to a low carbon future.

I.  Economic Management for wellbeing

• Require that GDP be accompanied by a companion index adjusted for losses of natural capital.

• Re-gear the economy to a high native biodiversity, low carbon path, with economic and regulatory instruments and other measures to achieve this.

• Foster environmentally sound innovation and investment, and ensure that environmentally unsound production does not crowd out the former.



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