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Incompetence Collapses Public Support For Kyoto

MEDIA STATEMENT

Thursday 23 June 2005

For Immediate Release

Government Incompetence Collapses Public Support For Kyoto

Public support for the Kyoto Protocol will crumble unless it is implemented without putting funding for schools and hospitals at risk, the Kyoto Forestry Association told the Commerce Select Committee at Parliament today.

“New Zealanders strongly support the Kyoto Protocol and are concerned about climate change,” association spokesman Roger Dickie told the committee.

“But the Government has implemented the Protocol incompetently. It will now end up writing large cheques to industry in Chernobyl, Gdansk and Lake Baikal instead of investing in energy conservation, social services, tax relief and economic development at home. Public support for Kyoto will crumble, putting the environment and New Zealand’s international reputation at risk.”

Mr Dickie said the Government’s approach was tragic given evidence of strong public support for the Kyoto Protocol until now.

He quoted a February 2005 study by UMR Research which found that 70 percent of New Zealanders knew New Zealand was a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and, of these, 68 percent favoured New Zealand signing up. On a party vote basis, 88 percent of Labour voters, 85 percent of Green voters, 55 percent of New Zealand First voters and 54 percent of National voters supported New Zealand ratification.

The results were unsurprising, Mr Dickie said, given a January 2005 study by UMR Research that showed 74 percent of New Zealanders regard climate change as a serious or extremely serious environmental issue facing New Zealand. Nearly 40 percent believe it is the most important environmental problem facing the world, and nearly 70 percent of New Zealanders believe climate change is caused by human activity.

Mr Dickie told the committee that public support for the Protocol could be maintained if the Government implemented in a free-market way. This would simply require polluting industries to buy carbon credits from those who earned them by planting trees, reducing their own carbon emissions or investing in projects in the developing world to reduce carbon emissions. The unpopular and unnecessary carbon tax could be dropped. Tree plantings, which have plummeted to nearly zero in 2005, would return to 1990s levels of more than 50,000 hectares a year.

“The system we are recommending is the one intended by the world’s leaders when they developed the Protocol,” Mr Dickie said. “It would create no risk to the taxpayer. It would create economic incentives in favour of the environment and against pollution. The Government’s only role would be to regulate the domestic carbon credit market, instead of taking on risks and liabilities itself.”

Today’s presentation to the Commerce Select Committee is one of Kyoto Forestry Association’s approaches to achieving sound Kyoto policy. Another is a NZ$2 million advertising campaign to expose the Government’s incompetent approach to Kyoto and explain a better path forward, the first stage of which the association plans to announce next month.

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 relying on statements made by government officials at the time that part of their return would arise from the value of the carbon credits stored in their forests.

END

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