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Greens launch climate change proposals

27 March 2006

Greens launch climate change proposals

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is launching a set of major proposals to address climate change in New Zealand today, on the eve of a major international conference on climate change in Wellington.

"Since the proposed carbon tax was axed in December, NZ is in a policy vacuum, yet we have less than two years before our Kyoto obligations begin," Ms Fitzsimons says.

The document, entitled Turn Down the Heat, outlines a detailed set of goals and practical measures New Zealand could undertake to meet its Kyoto Protocol and general moral obligations to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and slow the already apparent impact of harmful climate disruption.

"It is now widely accepted that climate change is happening, fast. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher now than they have been in the last 650,000 years. The West Antarctic ice sheet is breaking up at an unprecedented rate, and glaciers are in retreat in most parts of the world.

"New Zealand, while we produce only 0.2% of global green house emissions, has a high rate of per capita emissions - 4.5 times the world average. We cannot expect other countries to address the problem of climate change without taking serious action ourselves.

"The Green Party has taken a pragmatic response, and come up with a range of goals and measures to reduce emissions and increase carbon storage, using economic incentives where practical," Ms Fitzsimons says.

Some of the main new ideas in the document are:

* carbon storage payments should be made to owners of "Kyoto forests" with penalties for deforesting;
* methane emissions from livestock should be capped at the present level, with any increases in livestock numbers requiring an offset in carbon reduction projects;
* carbon dioxide emissions from air transport should be capped, with offsets required for increases;
* a goal should be set of a fully renewable electricity generation system by 2027, through a 2% increase in renewables each year, and demand should be stabilised through energy efficiency;
* a goal should be set of improving the efficiency of the New Zealand vehicle fleet by 15% by 2012.

Ms Fitzsimons will be circulating copies of the document at the Climate Change and Governance Conference to be hosted by Victoria University at Te Papa in Wellington tomorrow and on Wednesday.

"These proposed measures are practical, solutions-focussed, and achievable. It is my hope that the Government will take these proposals very seriously," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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