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John Key fails leadership test on climate change

18 May 2008 Media Statement

John Key fails the leadership test on climate change

National has shown its true colours today, Climate Change Minister David Parker said, in response to John Key’s announcement that National is pulling its support for emissions trading and biofuel legislation.

“They have not only abandoned any pretense at responsibly dealing with environmental challenges, but have shown again that on tough issues they remain bereft of leadership.

“It's a pathetic stance that shows once again National cares only about costly point scoring and cannot take difficult decisions.

“This is a continuation of National’s prior record of poor judgement. John Key said follow Australia into Iraq, and was wrong. He said follow Australia and don’t ratify Kyoto. Both decisions were reversed by the new Australian government. New Zealand’s Labour-led government was right.

“Yet again, Mr Key has made a fundamental error. Delay to follow Australia is not in New Zealand's economic or environmental interests.

“John Key is willing to watch emissions climb without an ETS. Delay costs. It not only increases emissions and the cost for New Zealand by hundreds of millions of dollars, it also leaves all costs with mum and dad taxpayers and none on the emitters who can control emissions.

“Everybody knows climate change demands a response now, but National prefers to play petty politics and find excuses to delay taking action until the never never.

“This is not the balance between the environment and the economy that he claims to seek.

“It's pretty embarrassing for Mr Key, given that both an emissions trading scheme and biofuels are part of National's own environmental manifesto, but even then they haven't got the guts to support them.”

As for the other five 'principles' John Key claims to require in order to support the ETS bill, they are either details already under active consideration, or only of tangential importance to the bill itself, David Parker said. (See notes below)

“The fact is, the emissions trading scheme is well designed, and in line with similar schemes either already in place or under development around the world. There is no fundamental flaw National can point to, therefore their demand that it must be delayed can only be because they can't bear Labour to succeed.
“National is now out on a limb. New Zealanders want action on climate change, and National has abdicated its responsibility.

Labour will continue to work with other parties in parliament on the details of the emissions trading scheme, David Parker concluded.

Notes on National's six 'key principles' on emissions trading :

1. The ETS is designed to balance environmental and economic interests. The government's recent delay of the entry of the fuel sector until 2011, and extension of the phase out of free allocation until 2018 – a decade ahead - are examples of balancing economic imperatives with the environment.

2. The ETS would not result in a surplus of credits for the government in the short term, and any surplus that might result in future decades depends upon New Zealand’s target under future international agreements. The five yearly reviews of the scheme are the way to take account of that.

3. New Zealand officials are already in close contact with Australian officials as both sides develop their ETS. The schemes are very likely to be compatible, but New Zealand's first priority is to design a scheme that is best suited to our strengths and weaknesses, not Australia's.

4. The select committee and the govt are already considering intensity based allocation within a cap.

5. This matter is under consideration by the select committee already.

6. This has already been achieved, by way of a five yearly review that's proposed on the phase out of free allocation.

Note on biofuels

1. The select committee is already working on the principles of a sustainability standard. NZ's biodiesel from tallow and ethanol from whey are already sustainable.
2. Biofuels are unlikely to add much to the cost of fuel. Gull Petroleum is already selling a biofuel blend, which is between 3 and 7 cents cheaper than its rival's non-biofuel alternatives. Biodiesel sources are expected to have an effect on prices of around 1cent per litre.


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