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Forest industry to remain engaged on Kyoto policy


Forest industry to remain engaged on Kyoto policy

The New Zealand forest industry says it continues to be concerned about the implications of today's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, but it would continue to engage with the Government on climate change policy.

Forest Industries Council Chairman Devon McLean says it is now clear that with the withdrawal of the US and Australia, none of New Zealand's Pacific Rim trade competitors will take on binding obligations under the Protocol.

"Furthermore, at the most recent conference of the Kyoto parties in New Delhi last month, all of our developing country competitors, including those in Latin America, bluntly rejected calls from developed countries to take on such obligations under any future timeframe."

Mr McLean said New Zealand wood processors would face medium-term increases in the relative cost of both wood fibre and energy.

"Meanwhile, competitors will avoid those cost increases and developing countries can access subsidies for forest growing under the so-called 'flexibility mechanisms' of the Kyoto Protocol.

"This could seriously undermine our chances of encouraging new investment to process New Zealand's rapidly increasing wood supply, and could also undermine the competitiveness of our existing export businesses.

"There are a number of sensible things Government and business can do together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but in the context of global action on climate change. These should not be at the expense of our economy and New Zealanders' jobs."

Farm Forestry Association Spokesperson Mike Halliday says forestry had made a major contribution to New Zealand's environmental gains on several fronts including carbon sequestration, low energy renewable wood products and soil conservation.

"Farm foresters have been leading the way in developing environmentally sustainable land use and this vital contribution has yet to be acknowledged."

Forest Owners Association President Peter Berg confirmed that the industry was continuing to engage with Government on a Forestry Framework Agreement. The objectives of the Agreement would be to recognise the industry's contribution to climate change policy through the provision of forest sinks and to create an environment that encourages future planting.

"The Government has the opportunity through the Framework to recognise the role of private investment in forest planting in assisting it to meet its emission reduction targets now and in the future.

"The effective 'nationalisation' of forest sinks, which the Government has said is necessary to ensure New Zealand can meet its international obligations, should be accompanied by a package of mutually agreed initiatives to promote both the industry's competitiveness and its ongoing contribution to climate change policy.

"The proposed Forestry Framework Agreement, if it can be concluded, will be important to help mitigate the serious potential downsides from Kyoto ratification for the forest industry and for New Zealand as a whole," Mr Berg said.


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