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Govt Wants to Take Carbon Credit Property Rights

Govt Wants to Take Carbon Credit Property Rights

Thursday 21 Feb 2002 Ken Shirley Press Releases -- Environment & Conservation

"It is clear from Minister Pete Hodgson's reply to my questions in Parliament today that he intends the state to assume ownership of any carbon credits created should the Kyoto Protocol come into force" says Ken Shirley, Deputy Leader, ACT New Zealand.

"Such action amounts to state theft of inherent private property rights and will defeat the very purpose of carbon credits acting as a tradable market instrument.

"It seems this government is determined to choose which industries will be exposed to the full costs of the Kyoto Protocol and which ones will be sheltered from it. Government can only do this by confiscating the ownership of the carbon credits.

"We have learned through our history that the economy suffers massive distortion and costs when governments attempt to pick winners and losers.

"It is the Government intention to manipulate the Kyoto Protocol and use these credits as a tool for greater state intervention in the economy. The Minister intimates that the agricultural pastoral sector will be protected from meeting the costs of methane emissions which amount to 61% of New Zealands greenhouse gas emissions and we can only assume that the inherent carbon credits associated with pine trees will be used to offset this cost.

"In essence the government will be stealing from forest owners to protect farmers. With the state assuming ownership of the carbon credits inevitably a Treaty of Waitangi claim will be initiated and Maori resource owners will rightly share the outrage of other resource owning New Zealanders.



Hon. Dr Nick Smith: Noting that indeed the Kyoto protocol does require 55 percent of annex 1 emission countries to ratify it in order for it to come into force, and that this can be achieved by Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Japan ratifying--all of which countries have heavily protected and subsidised agriculture--how will New Zealand agriculture be able to compete in that environment, when Australia, Canada, and the United States may well not ratify?

Hon. PETE HODGSON: For the umpteenth time, the Government has yet to make any decisions on a preferred policy outline. But it is the personal view of myself and of the Hon. Jim Sutton--and of anyone else in Cabinet whom the member may care to ask--that the idea of taxing the agricultural industry into submission is not one that is likely to gain currency. That, of course, is the major threat behind the question that the member asks. I might just say--

Mr SPEAKER: No, that is too long.

Hon. Ken Shirley: Given the Minister's answer, can he assure the House that any carbon credits pertaining to privately owned resources will not be nationalised by his Government, thereby distorting activity, with the Government favouring some sectors over others?

Hon. PETE HODGSON: It seems that the ACT party is inviting us to privatise the gains and socialise the losses. Can I remind him that the Kyoto protocol takes the approximate form of an international, multilateral legal contract between parties, which, in Kyoto-speak, means ``nations''. It is the Crown that has the liability; it is the Crown that will be obliged to meet the conditions of the protocol. As a result of that, all emissions that are accorded us, and all sink credits that are accorded us, become the property of the Crown until the Crown decides otherwise. The Crown will announce its preferred policy position in April.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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