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Kyoto concessions dangerous - Greens

11 November 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today that the concessions made to get the Kyoto Protocol deal signed were dangerous because they could lead to a false sense of security.

"Of course I am relieved and happy that a deal to combat climate change has finally been signed off.

"But to get the deal, enormous concessions have been made to Russia, which now has a huge stack of carbon credits to sell off to other countries.

"It is pleasing to see that New Zealand did not vote with the four countries of the 'umbrella group', with which we are usually associated, to weaken the treaty with these concesssions."

Ms Fitzsimons said one implication for New Zealand was that credits from our pine forests would be undervalued, because of the flood of cheap carbon credits on the market.

"Polluting countries will be able to go out and buy cheap carbon credits to meet their quotas, instead of taking the hard decisions to reduce their greenhouse gases. Later on, that could lead to huge problems."

"It's a dangerous situation, because in about another ten years, the second round of emissions cuts will bite and suddenly the surfeit of cheap carbon credits will dry up.

"Unless some serious steps have been taken to reduce emissions by then, the price of carbon credits will sky-rocket and we could get a 'carbon shock' with similar impacts on the world economy to the oil shocks in the 1970s."

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand has to use the next decade to tackle is transport emissions, as well as using energy more efficiently and employing more renewable sources of energy.

"Our crumbling rail network is more valuable that we realise, because it saves on greenhouse gas emissions.

"To meet our Kyoto targets, the Government needs a strong, viable rail system. The Government has to step in to stop further disintegration of the rail network, before it's too late."

ENDS

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