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Greens Launch Policy On Environment

4 July 2002

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today released the Green Party's policy on the environment, saying the policy aimed to put New Zealand's industry, environment and economy on a sustainable footing.

"The Green thinking on the environment acknowledges that humans cannot survive if we continue to degrade our environment. We are a part of our environment. We eat, breathe and drink from our environment and the health of human beings is inextricably linked to the health of the planet," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Sustainability is the principle that underpins Green policy in all areas. We do not have a 'clip-on' environment policy and today's launch addresses issues of environmental sustainability in a wide range of areas such as transport, agriculture, fisheries and trade.

Ms Fitzsimons said the party would launch a stand-alone policy on ecological tax reform on July 11 at Mapua but the focus on 'polluter pays', such as holding importers accountable for biosecurity breaches from contaminated imports, was a key aspect of Green environment policy.

"We want to clean up our air with new emission standards for all vehicles, mandatory emissions testing as part of a warrant of fitness, the cutting of compounds in vehicle fuels that contribute to air degradation and setting fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions and save fuel costs to motorists."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green position on keeping GE out of our environment was a cornerstone of the Green environment policy. The policy also aimed to clean up farming with a pesticide reduction programme, a requirement for regional councils to address water quality issues - especially relating to dairying - with specific targets and mechanisms, pass the Chemical Trespass Bill and assist farmers wishing to switch to organic production.

"As already released in our Policy on the Sea the Greens have a comprehensive plan to protect our oceans and the species that live there. We want to see the Ministry of Fisheries adopt an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management and quota setting and we must set close-to-zero by-catch limits for threatened species such as albatrosses, petrels, sea lions and Hector's dolphins."

Ms Fitzsimons said today's policy set the Greens apart from all other parties in terms of commitment to the environment and would go a long way towards 'greening' a future Labour-led Government.

A bullet point summary of the Green policy is attached

Bullet points on Green Environment policy

The Green Party core principles recognise the need for ecological wisdom to underpin everything we do. Our environment policy is found in all our policies, not as an add-on. An overall policy on sustainable development would be developed to integrate all of them under a whole of government approach.

Brief highlights of the policy are:

Trade

* international trade agreements and the rules of the WTO must be subject to any international environmental and labour treaties and must not over-ride them;
* the desire to remove obstacles to trade must not override strict biosecurity standards necessary to protect our primary industries and our natural environment.

Biosecurity

* develop a faster response mechanism to incursions when they are discovered - including an emergency response fund;
* continue and extend the public education and biosecurity awareness programmes for which the Greens obtained funding in recent budgets;
* give equal importance to biosecurity threats to the sea as to land, and to native ecosystems as to primary production;
* biosecurity assessments will be funded from taxation but costs of responding to incursions or illegal imports will be recovered from importers;
* develop automatic six-sided inspection and cleaning for all incoming sea containers along with x-ray inspection of interiors of containers coming from origins of risk;

Farming

* review the effectiveness of regional councils in protecting fresh water quality, especially from 'dirty dairying' and other farm runoff;
* require regional councils to set targets and mechanisms to reach targets for improved water quality (for example councils might make the fencing off and planting of stream banks, and the adoption of a nutrient budget approach to fertiliser use a condition of land use consents to convert to dairying);
* support and encourage landcare groups and urban and rural stream protection groups;
* develop a pesticide reduction strategy with clear, early targets;
* restrict the registration of pesticides where a less toxic alternative exists;
* encourage organic growing through assistance with an advisory service and mortgage support during transition to full organic certification;
* maintain a moratorium on GE crops and animals outside a contained laboratory.

Fisheries and the sea

* implement sections eight and nine of the Fisheries Act by insisting that the Ministry of Fisheries adopt an ecosystem approach rather than a species specific approach in managing fisheries and setting quota. This requires more ecological research to provide the information base;
* require an environmental assessment process for new fishing technologies;
* require an environmental assessment process similar to the RMA for industrial activity such as mining within the 200 mile EEZ;
* set close to zero by-catch limits for threatened species such as albatrosses, petrels, sea lions and Hector's dolphins and be prepared to close a fishery if these limits are exceeded.

Climate Change (energy and transport)

* increase funding and commitment to implement the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy;
* implement energy performance standards for energy-using products including new-to-New Zealand vehicles (whether second hand or new);
* put in place measures to cap thermal generation capacity at current levels while allowing new more-efficient stations to be built as replacements for existing power stations - energy efficiency programmes will not be effective if we keep increasing fossil-fuel fired generating capacity;
* review current energy market structures to ensure best configuration for a sustainable energy future;
* regain public control of the rail track, maintain it properly and investigate extensions where they meet the overall objectives of the new Transport Strategy;
* develop a cycling strategy for New Zealand and measures to implement it;
* pass the Road Traffic Reduction Bill which requires councils to adopt measures to meet targets for reducing road traffic - for example by land use planning to reduce the need to travel, and fostering ride-sharing, public transport, cycling and walking;
* impose a carbon tax of $10/tonne CO2 ($36/tonne of carbon) as part of a package of ecological tax reform. The policy would allow negotiated exemptions for binding emissions reductions proportional to New Zealand's target or which achieve world's best practice for that industry;
* support agricultural sector research into ways of decreasing methane emissions by ruminants, without releasing GE organisms into the environment.

Air Quality

* set emission standards for all classes of vehicles and introduce mandatory emissions testing as part of warrant of fitness;
* require vehicle fuel to meet strict standards for compounds that contribute to air quality degradation.
* support the development of national and regional air quality standards under the RMA.

Waste and toxic materials

* set a target of a waste-free New Zealand by 2020 with clear and significant progress by 2010;
* set a timeframe for local government waste management plans under the Local Government Act and require them investigate source separation, exclusion of organic waste from landfills and establishment of resource recovery enterprises as ways to decrease waste;
* set a timetable for moving towards mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility for products;
* impose levies on tonnes of waste to landfill as part of a package of ecological tax reform;
* establish a government agency (possibly similar to EECA) to facilitate transition to a waste free state;
* support industry to eliminate hazardous substances from production processes;
* ban the incineration of unsorted waste and move to a total ban on incineration of waste.
* continue to work for the identification, isolation and remediation of contaminated sites;
* set a levy on hazardous substances in proportion to their toxicity and persistence;
* progress the Chemical Trespass Act to make chemical drift across boundaries illegal.

Resource Management Act

* Support passage of the Resource Management Amendment Bill as reported back in May 2002;
* Reject limited notification;
* Increase resourcing to support improved implementation by councils with training for councillors on hearings committees;
* Increased use of National Policy Statements and national environmental standards.

Protected habitats

* ensure high country tenure review leads to a network of protected areas with public access representing all types of high country ecosystem.
* increase the establishment of mainland islands with intensive pest control to protect threatened species and ecosystems;
* work with local fishers, iwi and conservationists to establish new marine reserves with the eventual goal of protecting 20 per cent of coastal waters and some deep sea reserves.

Te Tiriti

* Support an increased role for tangata whenua as kaitiaki of their rohe;
* develop models for shared guardianship with iwi of protected areas, building on successful models which already exist;
* Reject use of the Conservation Estate as a cheap source of land for Treaty settlements;
* However, support the present practice of returning sites of high value to tangata whenua, such as waahi tapu within the Conservation Estate.

Environmental Education

* build on the resources negotiated by the Green Party in the 2002/3 Budget to increase capacity in colleges of education and schools so that environmental education can be delivered in all schools, to implement the National Environmental Education Strategy and Guidelines;
* emphasise understanding of ecosystem function and human impacts, through direct experience as well as classroom learning.

Sustainable Development

* integrate all the above policies through a national policy on Sustainable Development which builds on Agenda 21 and is compatible with international reporting frameworks;
* model and promote the methodology for Triple Bottom Line reporting by government departments, local government, NGOs and businesses.

Ends


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