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Queen's Speech: seize climate change benefits

Queen's Speech sends New Zealand another signal to act boldly to seize climate change benefits

The Queen's Speech announcing the British Government will legislate to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60% sends another strong signal to New Zealand that sustainable development policies will be needed here if the country is to remain globally competitive.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says Britain's proposed Climate Change Bill, announced in the Queens Speech yesterday, which will legislate to cut emissions by 60% by 2050, increases the pressure on this country to do its share to help avoid the potential chaos threatened by climate change.

The Business Council's Chief Executive, Peter Neilson, says the country has much to gain from taking a commonsense and practical approach to achieve long-term emission reduction targets.

The state of California also recently legislated to cut CO2 emissions by 25% by 2025.

Mr Neilson says the Prime Minister has now driven climate change and sustainable management onto centre stage to address what she calls a mounting threat, which can spill over into dangerous trade restrictions and biosecurity, flooding and other issues.

"When New Zealanders abandoned subsidies for farming the local doomsayers said the world was coming to an end. The result of those changes has been a buoyant farming sector that is the most competitive in the world.

"If the world is going green, further confirmed by the latest UK announcement, then a move to position New Zealand as the most sustainable country on the planet would set us up for the next 20 years."

Mr Neilson says businesses and the country can actually profit from mainstreaming sustainable management and development, which results in a better quality of life here while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Kiwis will overwhelmingly back practical down-to-earth policies, like cash incentives to people buying fuel-efficient, low emission cars; mass insulation of 400,000 unhealthy homes; moves to incentivise forestry planting and develop the right mix of energy during the next 40 years.

New Zealanders will back policies to personally reward people who reduce carbon emissions, and putting a price of carbon.

"When we have a price on carbon, with multi party support, businesses and others will appreciate the real cost of emissions, and begin adopting lower-carbon technologies. Just as combined cycle gas turbines and hybrid vehicles came out of the oil shocks, major new technologies and opportunities are emerging which will help manage the serious emerging risks from climate change.

"These issues will increasingly dominate the national agenda during the next few years. The question is how bold Ministers will be in producing a practical policy platform during the next few months. Done the right way, it will see the vast majority of New Zealanders wholeheartedly supporting it."

The Business Council – whose 50 member companies' $40 billion in annual sales equate to about 30% of gross domestic product - has put a package of measures to Ministers and political party leaders which will give the country a powerful way forward through mainstreaming sustainability.

Mr Neilson says businesses and New Zealanders have a lot to protect and gain from bold management of climate change.

"Political leaders managing this properly earn the support of 49% of current party voters who say they are prepared to switch support to a party which acts to preserve the New Zealand quality of life.

"And the world has just sent us another signal, via Britain, that it's going green and we need to be there, not only to protect our quality of life, but our trade and potential to grow sustainably while doing the right things for the environment," Mr Neilson says.


Editors note:

Business Council polling results on proposed climate change measures are available at A summary on mainstreaming measures and ShapeNZ panel polling on them is available at

New Zealand's total emissions each year are 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Of this, almost half (37Mt) is from agriculture (livestock and fertiliser emissions) and almost one fifth (14Mt) is from transport. The latest (2008-2012) forecast of our emissions position in the Kyoto first commitment period, when binding commitments apply, predicts that New Zealand's emission will exceed our 1990 baseline emissions by 36 million tonnes.
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