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Government on Climate Policy: All Words, No Action

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the Government has failed the first test of its climate policy in action.

Ms Fitzsimons said the decision not to call in the consent application by Contact Energy for a new fossil fuel-fired power station plant at Otahuhu made a mockery of the Government's climate change rhetoric and commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. It also runs contrary to the the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.

If the Otahuhu station was built, along with proposed new gas-fired power stations at Huntly and Taranaki, the three together would result in a total increase in thermal power station capacity of about 50 percent. As well they would have a design life of up to 30 years. This would result in a significant long term increase in CO2 emissions from thermal power stations in New Zealand, Ms Fitzsimons said.

Ms Fitzsimons said Environment Minister Ms Hobbs' claim this morning that these new stations will replace older, less efficient thermal stations lacked credibility. There is no proposal to close down equivalent old plant, and the only way to achieve this would have been to call them in and impose a condition that they do this.

"The policy issues in the current situation are no different from when National Environment Minister Simon Upton used the Resource Management Act to call in the Stratford thermal power station application in the mid 1990s, and imposed climate change mitigation conditions (albeit ineffective ones)."

"By abdicating her responsibilities Ms Hobbs is effectively asking the Auckland Regional council to decide matters of national significance, in particular our international obligations to the Kyoto Protocol, which they have already said they cannot in fact do," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"To argue that the call-in would result in excessive costs to the taxpayer is also wrong. Under the Resource Management Act, the applicants have to pay the costs of the hearing."

Ends


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