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Labour buckles under pressure from big polluters

6th May 2008

Labour buckles under pressure from big polluters

The Prime Minister's announcement on the Emissions Trading Scheme this afternoon is a hastily-constructed panic reaction to pressure in election year, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"A cornerstone of sustainability is that polluters pay the true cost to the environment of their actions. Under this seriously weakened scheme hardly any of the cost to New Zealand will be paid by polluters. Instead taxpayers will be picking up the tab for most of the Kyoto period.

"One of the major problems with the ETS as it stands now is that it ties us to old technology by 'grandparenting' today's polluters by giving them free pollution credits but requires smart, energy efficient industries to cover the full cost of their emissions.

"With today's announcement, that lock out is to continue for 10 years before those free carbon credits begin to reduce. By then energy-efficient industry will have passed New Zealand by and we will be a technological backwater.

"I challenge the PM to admit she is not interested in sustainability or carbon neutrality, and give back her UN award for being a "champion of the environment", Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Households will now face the cost of emissions on their power bills before they face it on their travel. Yet transport is one of the easiest ways to reduce fuel use.

"Motorists can now wait another two years before choosing a more efficient car, saving 20 percent of their fuel through careful driving, organising a car pool, getting a bike or finding out about bus and train routes.

"It is clear that this Government is not interested in the environment or the future if it thinks there is a short term political gain to be made," Ms Fitzsimons says.

In summary: - agriculture will be protected from paying anything for the whole five years of the Kyoto period - transport will be protected for three of the five years - energy users will still be protected for two years, but highly polluting big industry will be protected for 10 years, and for some of their emissions for another 12 years after that. - almost all the carbon savings claimed for the ETS will come from preventing deforestation of pre-1990 forests. This means the forestry sector is being left to compensate for everyone else.

ENDS

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