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Garnaut report shows New Zealand on right track

Australian Garnaut report shows New Zealand on right track with emissions trading


A new independent report prepared for the Australian government on emissions trading shows New Zealand is on the right track.

It also shows there is no argument for delay and Australia could learn from us.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says the Garnaut Climate Change Review draft report affirms New Zealand is on the right track with its proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The Garnaut report also indicates New Zealand has no reason to delay its scheme to align with Australia's – and author Professor Ross Garnaut says instead "we should also be looking at what others are doing and New Zealand's doing quite a lot."

The Business Council says comments by Professor Garnaut about the direction Australia should follow as giving a huge tick to the course the Business Council advocates here including:

• Having a scheme grounded in firm principle, not subject to pressures from particular interests. Garnaut says: "The whole scheme will unravel in a very dangerous way if it becomes subject to arbitrary change because of particular political interests. It will all be built around clear trajectories, which once they're announced will be firm for five years." • Developing a scheme which can be "highly influential" in climate change negotiations during the next year, the success of which is essential if the world is to have any hope of avoiding what Garnaut describes as "diabolical" climate change impacts • It's less costly to move with the pack than to have a panicky reaction later on.

The Business Council says Garnaut's comments also vindicate its research published on June 24 showing there are major economic opportunities to also be gained from using emissions trading to help the economy become a low-carbon one and creating new industries and new jobs.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says Garnaut's report highlights major investment opportunities arising from new clean-energy technologies and advocates major investment in research by developed countries, including Australia.

Professor Garnaut also points to major potential losses in food and tourism sales, as the Business Council does, if there is any delay in trying to avoid major impacts of climate change.

"Professor Garnaut says there are reports of superannuation funds making huge investments in clean technology, sunrise industries.

"He also thinks Australia should be looking to learn from New Zealand on the inclusion of forestry and agriculture in its emissions trading scheme.

"What this highlights is the fact that New Zealand can get ahead of Australia and other competitors if we pass the emissions trading bill this year – and start the adjustment ahead of others.

"While our trade exposed industries are given a gentle entry to the scheme, and generous free emission credits support all the way to 2030, we can get on with developing even lower-emission products and services. When it comes to the New Zealand bottle of wine or block of cheese with a carbon footprint label on a supermarket shelf in Europe or the United States – we want it to show we're still the best.

"Garnaut confirms our view that we are deluding ourselves if we want to delay any further.

"Garnaut says: 'The most inappropriate response would be to delude ourselves, taking small steps that create an appearance of action but which do not solve the problem. Such an approach would risk the integrity of our market economy and political processes to no good effect. We will delude ourselves if we think that scientific uncertainties are cause for delay. Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower cost options. Delaying now is not postponing a decision, it's making a decision. To delay is deliberately to choose to avoid effective steps to reduce the risks of climate change to acceptable levels'." The draft proposal for Australia also suggests New Zealand is planning to be more generous with support for trade-exposed high emissions businesses. Garnaut's report proposes large emitters in Australia, exposed to trade competition when they face a price on carbon, should be given 30% of that country's emissions credits. In New Zealand 79% of the country's overall emissions units will be given free to trade exposed industries by 2013.

Mr Neilson says multi party support for the bill here is needed.

"They can get quick agreement on an anti smacking law, and it would be good to see equally quick agreement on the ETS bill which is of huge long-term national importance.

"No-one is waiting for New Zealand. It is perverse to think we are leading the world. We are well behind Europe, California, British Columbia, Tokyo – and next year may be behind the United States. Passing our bill now will let us take part in the crucial climate change talks during the next year with the authority bestowed by showing real leadership," Mr Neilson says.

ENDS

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