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Green accounting counts the environment

15 June 2000

Green accounting counts the environment

Until government and business start counting environmental costs in their bottom line, the environment will continue to bear the brunt of development, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

Ms Fitzsimons announced the Green Party has negotiated $730,000 from the Green Budget Package to pilot work on green national and business accounts. The impact of this work will be far reaching and is central to Green economic thinking, she said.

The money will pay for the development of a social and environmental audit programme in partnership with business and community groups, as well as supporting work with Statistics New Zealand on alternative national accounts.

“Accounting can seem a bit dry at times, but the profit and loss figures at the bottom affect every decision that businesses and government make,” said Ms Fitzsimons. “I am delighted that Environment Minister Marian Hobbs has had the foresight to agree to an investigation into how we can better measure economic activity.”

“GDP currently includes many negative costs such as pollution and biosecurity invasions in its measure of economic activity, and excludes constructive voluntary activities such as parenting and skill-learning.”

“Modified national accounts would measure progress in a more sensible way, by including positive activities such as voluntary work and unpaid childcare, and deducting negatives such as pollution and biosecurity clean-ups.”

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand businesses were lagging behind Europe and other trading partners by keeping silent on the environmental impacts of their business.

“Ignoring the trend towards environmental reporting will damage New Zealand’s clean green image and close doors on markets in the long run,” she said. “This programme is a crucial first step towards measuring genuine progress and ensuring that economic activity is sustainable rather than destructive.”


Ends

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068
Gina Dempster (press secretary): 04 470 6724, 021 126 5289

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