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Kyoto: trend is not destiny

16 June 2005

Kyoto: trend is not destiny

New Zealand's carbon emissions between 2008 and 2012 are not set in concrete, says Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, Pete Hodgson, today released an update on New Zealand's projected net carbon emissions for 2008-2012. Using new calculations methods, it is being predicted for the first time that New Zealand will miss its 2012 'Kyoto target' - to return C02 emissions to 1990 levels - by 36.2 million tonnes.

"This gloomy forecast is one that we are more than capable of avoiding," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Greens' Climate Change Spokesperson.

"It hasn't actually happened yet. Right up to 2012 we have the opportunity to avoid the cost to our economy and climate of allowing these predictions to come to pass.

"The assumptions underpinning the Government's estimates are very pessimistic.

"A huge rise in emissions from transport is the main driver of the new figures. This is based on rising numbers of both vehicles and kilometres travelled. However, I don't believe their assumption that the price of oil will fall to $30/bbl and stay there until 2012. Many experts are predicting oil shortages and huge price rises before that. The price of oil will affect how much people use.

"But we must not leave it to the market, in the form of the price of petrol, to tell people that they will not be able to afford to run their new cars. We need energy efficiency standards for cars now. Not just labelling, as the Minister is offering some time in the future, but standards. Cars are still being imported that use three times as much fuel as they need to. That must stop.

"We need to spend less on building new roads and more on public transport and rail. It will save us hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run.

"Another major prediction we can avoid is the claim that there will be no improvement in New Zealand's energy efficiency. We need to improve the efficiency of all our buildings; we will save money in the process. We need to accelerate the development of solar and wind energy. And we need to develop a wood-for-energy programme that will soak up carbon and replace some fossil fuel.

"As the Pentagon has stated, climate change is a bigger threat to global security than terrorism. We need to be part of the global action to restrain it. The Kyoto-nay sayers need to realise that no other country ratified the Protocol because they thought they were going to make a profit out of it. All were committed to making some changes for the sake of the climate; we need to be prepared to do that too" said Ms Fitzsimons.


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