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Sack Minister And Kyoto Could Be Back On Track

Friday 17 June 2005

The Kyoto Forestry Association says New Zealand’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol can be upheld but only with a new Climate Change Minister prepared to implement it as intended, without cost to the taxpayer.

“Climate change is widely believed to be a major threat to the planet and the Kyoto Protocol offers a way to address it,” Kyoto Forestry Association Spokesman Roger Dickie said today.

“Unfortunately, Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson has decided to implement Kyoto by introducing new taxes, confiscating carbon credits from foresters, subsidising polluting Big Business and SOEs, and creating billion dollar risks to the taxpayer.

“The more intelligent way to implement Kyoto is simply to require polluting industries to buy carbon credits from those who have earned them by planting trees or reducing pollution. This creates financial incentives to plant trees or reduce pollution, and financial disincentives against investing in polluting industries. The Government’s role would simply be one of regulator, with no risk to the taxpayer.”

Mr Dickie said this was the system envisaged by the world’s leaders when they developed the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s. He said the carbon credit market was already up and running in Europe and elsewhere, and can be seen at European carbon prices are today at record highs, magnifying financial incentives and disincentives in a positive way for the environment.

Such an approach would also allow the Government to drop its unpopular and unnecessary carbon tax, Mr Dickie said.

Mr Dickie said the Kyoto Forestry Association believed New Zealanders had now lost confidence in Mr Hodgson and that he should resign to restore public confidence in the Kyoto process.

“Prime Minister Helen Clark needs to appoint a new Climate Change Minister able to seek a third way between Mr Hodgson’s failing model and the other extreme of simply pulling out of Kyoto,” he said.

The association is planning to announce next month the first stage of a $2 million advertising campaign to expose the Government’s incompetent approach to Kyoto and explain a better path forward.

The Kyoto Forestry Association represents tens of thousands of environmentally-aware New Zealanders who have planted more than 200,000 hectares of forestry since 1990. Based on statements made by government officials at the time, they believed that part of their return would arise from the value of the carbon credits stored in their forests. Since the government announced that it intends to take forest-owners’ credits without compensation (which no other country has done), investors have voted with their feet and new planting has plummeted to almost zero.

“Those of us committed to the forest industry could rescue the government from its present Kyoto predicament by doubling the size of New Zealand’s Kyoto forest estate before the end of the first commitment period. However, for this to happen the government must devolve the forest sink credits to the rightful owners – those who risk their capital to plant trees,” Mr Dickie said.


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