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Green climate change bill must proceed ASAP

12 December 2007

Green climate change bill must proceed ASAP

Yesterday's Court of Appeal ruling over Genesis Energy's proposed gas-fired power station on the Kaipara harbour highlights the need for Parliament to urgently pass Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons's Resource Management (Climate Protection) Bill.

"This case settled a question over the meaning of the 2004 amendment to the RMA. It overturned an earlier decision by the High Court, which had found in favour of Greenpeace, and determined instead that climate change cannot be considered at all in issuing discharge consents for projects that will emit greenhouse gases," Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

The decision could see the power station get the go-ahead if it can find a way round the rules in the new legislation.

"This flies in the face of New Zealand's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The Government's logic is that with an emissions trading scheme putting a price on carbon we need no other mechanisms. But just because a company calculates that it can make money out of polluting despite paying a price for carbon does not mean it is in the national interest.

"It is not just about power stations. A new dairy factory or wood processing plant wanting to use coal for its energy should have to argue in its consent hearing that they have no alternative renewable fuel. It is commonsense that greenhouse gas emissions should be included in the Resource Management Act as the impact of heavy emitting projects will be felt by all New Zealanders, and in fact by the whole world.

"Submissions on my Bill made a strong case to strengthen it by adding a requirement for National Environmental Standards for greenhouse emissions from new plants so that regional councils could either require renewable energy to be used, or if that were not feasible, could require forest planting to offset emissions.

"Renewable energy generators submitted that they have to go through a very stringent process to get permission to use their fuel (water or wind) while users of fossil fuels like coal and gas need no permission. This is a distortion which leads us away from sustainability.

"My Bill has been stalled in select committee while the implications of the new Emissions Trading Scheme are considered. But thanks to this decision, I will be arguing for it to proceed as soon as possible, before any more schemes such as the Genesis power station can fall through this gaping loophole.


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