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Backroom deal guts agricultural targets: Greens

12th June 2008

Backroom deal guts agricultural targets: Greens

A backroom deal between the Government and the agriculture sector has gutted the industry's voluntary emissions targets and directly contradicts Government policy, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has revealed.

In the original memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the farming sector the Government agreed there would be no charge for farming emissions until 2013. In return the sector agreed to do their best to voluntarily reduce emissions by 20 percent below business-as-usual, by 2013.

Minister David Parker recently admitted in the House that they had not carried out this part of the agreement and were not on track to reach this target.

"Now we find that the targets have been slashed by a massive 50 percent, shifting the goal posts with no explanation or formal review as required in the MOU," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Not only that, but the MOU sets intensity-based targets, where emissions are allowed to grow as the industry grows. This is explicitly contrary to Government policy as agreed by Cabinet and expressed in the Emissions Trading Scheme, which adopts absolute targets in line with the Kyoto Protocol.

"The MOU has been completely discredited by this shady closed-door deal. It is not worth the paper it is written on and should be scrapped, and agriculture - which produces half of our emissions - brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2010 along with the energy and industrial sectors," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"When the MOU was signed there were few known options for reducing emissions from farm animals. This is no longer true, and the select committee heard evidence that farmers have as many options as the steel industry to reduce emissions. There is no longer any good reason to exempt agriculture from the ETS.

"Taxpayers will subsidise agriculture by hundreds of millions of dollars if the ETS is passed in its current form, and the farming sector has not honoured its agreement in return.

"It's time the sacred cow paid its way."


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