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Parker Statement on Cap at odds with Assurances

MEDIA STATEMENT

Friday 10 February 2006

For Immediate Release

Parker’s Public Statement on Deforestation Cap at Odds with Private Assurances

Climate Change Minister David Parker’s statement that lifting the controversial deforestation cap is not under consideration, as reported by the New Zealand Press Association in newspapers this morning, is at odds with private assurances given by government ministers and officials to the forestry industry, the Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) revealed today.

“The Government’s six-year record of bungling climate change and forestry policy seems to be continuing with the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing,” KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said.

“It is also a matter of transparency. Detailed discussions about changes to the deforestation cap were part of last year’s ‘dialogue’ between the industry and officials, established by Forestry Minister Jim Anderton – the details of which the Government appears to want to keep secret.

“Unless the Government starts to listen to the industry – and its economic advisors in the Treasury – about the need to leave in private ownership the assets and liabilities associated with the Kyoto Protocol, its climate change and forestry circus will continue, to the detriment of the environment and the economy.”

Mr Dickie was referring to last year’s Sustaining Growth: Briefing to the Incoming Government (pp 13-15), where the Treasury said that the Government’s current Kyoto implementation policies “make only a limited contribution to meeting our Kyoto obligations but at a relatively high cost”.

Instead of the Government’s old tax-and-subsidise approach, the Treasury urged more market-based approaches to implementing Kyoto, as was intended by its original signatories. Specifically, the Treasury said there should be:

- Increased reliance on price-based measures – either through emissions trading or a reconfigured carbon tax, applying to as many greenhouse emitters as possible, and with no or few exemptions. The effect of such price-based measures will be to bring about structural change in the economy towards activities with lower carbon emissions. In the medium term, it is likely that it will be most efficient for New Zealand to adopt some form of emissions trading.

- Devolution of a very large part of New Zealand’s climate change obligations to firms and individuals, and allowing markets to determine the most efficient way for New Zealand to meet its emission reduction goals. This could include the devolution of forest sink credits, and all international obligations for deforestation to the forestry sector.

- A strategy for appropriate use of international emissions trading and the other Kyoto flexible mechanisms. Using emissions trading early would allow New Zealand to buy the time to plan for long-term mitigation strategies.

“Needless to say, this all makes good sense, and would protect the taxpayer from the Kyoto deficit – which is now believed to be $600 million and rising,” Mr Dickie said.

ENDS

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