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Kyoto Lobby To Attack Govt. With $2 Mn Campaign

Lobbyists Attack Govt With Two Million Dollar Campaign

By Scoop Chief Reporter Kevin List

A forestry lobby group is planning a $2 million dollar election year advertising campaign attacking the Government’s handling of forestry in regard to the Kyoto protocol.

The budget for the anti-Government campaign is nearly twice that spent by the largest opposition party last election. In 2002 the National Party’s (privately-funded) election expense returns showed they had spent around one million dollars on their failed election campaign.

“We tried to engage in dialogue with the Minister (Pete Hodgson). He basically told us to go to hell, wouldn’t talk to us – wasn’t interested in us. So we then decided we don’t have unlimited funds we’ll wait till election year,” Kyoto Forestry Association Spokesman Roger Dickie, told Scoop.

Mr Dickie considers that the Government has stolen forest owners carbon credits.

“At the moment they (the Government) are going to be in deficit by around $500 million dollars. Most of their credits are coming from the carbon sinks in the forests. If they hadn’t started out in this manner of stealing from New Zealander’s– if they hadn’t done that by the time the first accounting period ends in 2012 we would have doubled the Kyoto Forest Estate in New Zealand.”

This view is regarded as ridiculous by a spokesperson for the Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson, who pointed out – fairly excitedly - that, “No country has devolved its carbon credits to foresters – none – not one!”

This view was supported by the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) in a press release from late 2003 in relation to the same argument being put forward by the Kyoto Forestry Association.

“They [the Kyoto Forest Owners] are quite wrong to suggest that government stole forest owners' rights.

The fact is that forest sinks are created under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement between governments. If the New Zealand government had not agreed to ratify the Protocol, there would be zero value from sinks. So nothing has been taken away from forest owners. The value of their forests has not changed.”

The EDS also pointed out that should the Government give carbon credits to forest owners then overseas companies would end up being the greatest beneficiaries of the Government’s largesse. The EDS pointed out that one of the largest forest owners (The Harvard Endowment) is based in the United States - a non-ratifying country.

Regardless of who is correct regarding the morality of who should gain access to the carbon credits at present the forestry industry has a very strong bargaining position.

“Until they return the credits to the rightful owners no-one is going to plant trees. They reckon this year there will be virtually zero plantings,” explained Mr Dickie. When pushed by Scoop as to what further actions his group planned he replied conspiratorially, “ I couldn’t possibly tell you.”

National Party environment spokesperson Nick Smith wasn’t convinced that a slow down in forest planting was behind the new forecast showing New Zealand facing a large Kyoto carbon deficit.

"The scale of this error cannot be explained by changes in forest plantings or increased emissions. The reality is that Labour has made a gross miscalculation that will cost New Zealand dearly in growth in jobs and incomes,” Dr Smith said in a press statement.

The National Party’s forestry spokesperson Brian Connell suggested in a recent press release that a National-led Government would take a markedly different (but unspecified) approach to forest owner’s and their concerns. Mr Connell considered in his press release that the Government had in fact ‘nationalised’ forest owners carbon credits.


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