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NZ Should Not Go Into Cold Alone On Kyoto

"Government is putting thousands of New Zealanders jobs in agriculture and heavy industry at risk by rushing ahead of Australia in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol," says National leader Bill English.

Mr English issued this warning in outlining National's position on the Kyoto Protocol at the EMA's Northern summit in Auckland today.

"If New Zealand is legally bound by Kyoto and Australia is not, there will be a strong incentive for industry like steel and cement manufacturing as well as oil refining to jump the Tasman - leaving New Zealanders having to import these products.

"The tragedy for New Zealand is we will have sacrificed jobs and wealth for no benefit to the environment. This is no recipe to lift New Zealand back to the top of the OECD standings."

Mr English says the Government has put the cart before the horse on climate change.

"Firstly, it announced the decision to ratify Kyoto and then decides it will put on a roadshow to 'consult' the public on whether it should ratify. Then it tries to analyse the cost of ratifying before determining its domestic policy response.

"There is no justification for this rushed and botched process when the agreement does not take effect until 2008. It seems the need for a good photo opportunity in Johannesburg for the Prime Minister is more important than developing a policy that will work for New Zealand's environment and economy.

"New Zealand should not be going out into the cold alone on climate change."

Mr English says National would put New Zealand's interests first and take a more cautious approach.

"We would move to ratify only after developing a viable domestic policy and an open assessment of the costs. We would also ensure New Zealand moved in parallel with our Asian-Pacific trading partners.

"I challenge Ms Clark to hold off ratification and make it an election issue. We are confident New Zealanders will support this more balanced and thoughtful approach from National," Mr English concluded.


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