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Carbon charge welcomed but more action needed

04 May 2005 - Wellington

Carbon charge welcomed but more action needed

Forest and Bird today welcomed as a step in the right direction the Government's announcement that it will introduce a carbon charge.

"Forest and Bird is pleased the Government will introduce a modest carbon charge in 2007. It is an important step but the charge will need to be increased to achieve even greater reductions in emissions," said Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher Barry Weeber.

"New Zealanders are amongst the most wasteful users of energy on the planet. If the rest of the world used energy like we do in New Zealand, the planet would be wrecked. We may not be big on the world stage, but we do set an example. At the moment it is a bad one," he said.

"The solution is to use energy more efficiently and generate new electricity without creating greenhouse gas emissions. This modest charge on climate-changing pollution is a welcome start," he said. "The Government could also do more to reduce emissions and promote energy efficiency by putting stronger provisions in the building code for energy efficiency and reducing coal use."

"The current wave of enthusiasm for infrastructure development and environmentally harmful coal mining is doing nothing to limit New Zealand's impact on the climate," he said.

"It is a great shame the charge was not implemented in the early 1990s when the then Government ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change," he said.

"This is to be welcomed as the first significant move by any New Zealand Government to cap greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand and meet the Kyoto Protocol obligations."

"The carbon charge needs to be implemented early and we look forward to all political parties supporting action on climate change."

New Zealand needs to reduce emissions by 50 to 60 percent if we are to stabilise greenhouse gas levels.

The carbon charge is proposed to be set at $15 per tonne of carbon which will raise about $360 million. This will increase the price of petrol by about four cents a litre and of power by about one cent per unit of electricity.

Climate change has serious consequences for New Zealand. These include:
* Reductions in agricultural output from a destabilised and more extreme climate
* Increased severity and frequency of natural hazards such as coastal erosion, sea level rise, flooding and cyclones
* New pests and diseases that threaten agriculture, biodiversity and human health
* Increased pressure on New Zealand's threatened species

The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by over 145 countries and New Zealand committed to stabilise 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. In contrast, European countries are committed to a 5 percent reduction.

It is important that the reductions in taxes and charges elsewhere to offset the carbon charge do not undermine the charge's effectiveness.


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