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No need for NZ to drag feet on biofuels

For Immediate Release: March 29

No need for NZ to drag feet on biofuels

New Zealand shouldn’t delay bringing in biofuel sales obligations and miss out on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels says a major potential investor.

Dickon Posnett, Managing Director of Argent Energy NZ, says if New Zealand wants a sustainable biofuel manufacturing sector, it is going to have to become a ‘quick follower’ of the United Kingdom and Europe.

“New Zealand is not a leader in this,” Mr Posnett says. ”The UK is implementing its Renewable Fuels Transport Obligation on April 15 and it includes sustainability clauses. There are mountains of research done on all the issues New Zealand has to consider. The European Commission has a directive about sustainable biofuels that sets levels for reducing carbon emissions.”

Climate Change Minister David Parker said on Friday the government may delay for several months the start date of legislation that will mean oil companies have to start selling biofuel blends from July this year.

Major concerns have arisen among political parties after submitters to the Select Committee hearing the Biofuels Bill this month pointed out that some biofuels produced internationally were not sustainable or environmentally sound.

Some submitters told the committee that there was a danger some biofuels that could end up at New Zealand pumps did not reduced carbon emissions. They also pointed to growing international concern about the competition between using some crops such as corn as a human food source or to make biofuels, or forests being cleared for biofuel crop production.

The New Zealand Biofuel Manufacturers Association called for a level playing field pointing to US biodiesel that received substantial tax subsidies against which New Zealand manufacturers could not hope to compete.

National’s spokesman Nick Smith has warned National may not support the Biofuels Bill unless the issues were sorted out and it was made clear the fuels coming into New Zealand were from sustainable sources.

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said officials had been urged to get things sorted out more quickly than they had indicated they would.

Mr Posnett says New Zealand has to make its mind up whether it wants to remain largely import dependent for its fuels. If it wants to have a sustainable renewable energy sector it could achieve that within the current Biofuels Bill framework as long as sustainability standards were included.

“This framework for ensuring sustainable biofuels is already available internationally. New Zealand could easily adopt the elements it requires and get on with it now. There is no reason to delay.”


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