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Greens challenge Key to reveal National's ETS

20 June 2008

Greens challenge Key to reveal National's version of ETS

The Green Party is challenging National Leader John Key to come clean on what kind of emissions trading scheme his party would introduce if it becomes Government later this year.

National opposes the Government's proposed Emissions Trading Scheme, but has been silent on what kind of scheme it would propose instead, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Ms Fitzsimons yesterday wrote to Mr Key, challenging him to disclose National's plans for reducing climate change and meeting New Zealand's obligations under the Kyoto agreement.

"The Green Party has been working very hard to ensure that the Government's proposed scheme will be effective against climate change, fair to New Zealand businesses and affordable for Kiwi families.

In her letter Ms Fitzsimons said: "We agree with you that we should explore earlier entry for nitrous oxide, because there are cost-effective options for farmers in this area, and because better control of nitrates is required for water quality reasons too. So, what earlier date would you set?

"We share your concern that the delay in entry for the transport sector devalues forestry credits by reducing their market. Can we assume then that you would bring transport in on the original timetable, in 2009? Or perhaps that you agree with our proposal to phase it in over several years?"

The Green Party believes the need for action is urgent and agrees with National that the Bill before the House, as it stands, has major flaws, but parties and the public need to know what alternative proposals National has to meet that challenge, Ms Fitzsimons says.

--

Note a copy of the letter follows:


John Key
Leader, NZ National Party
Parliament
19 June 2008

Dear John,

You indicated on Radio New Zealand this week that you would like to meet the Green Party to discuss the environmental implications of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). I would be interested in discussing your views.

In particular I would like to ask you to place on the record what your party would do about climate change if you were to become the government at this election, and if the current Bill is not passed.

National has said for some time that it favours an emissions trading scheme. National's minority report makes many criticisms of the current Bill, some of which we share, but does not say what you would do instead. We would like to know how soon after the election, if you were government, you would introduce emissions trading legislation, and what it would contain.

We agree with you that the Bill leaves too many substantive decisions, on allocation, points of obligation, and thresholds for allocations of credits, to regulations, beyond the scrutiny of Parliament. So we would like to know how National would resolve these issues - for example, where should the point of obligation be for agriculture, what should be the threshold for free allocation?

We also agree with you that we should explore earlier entry for nitrous oxide, because there are cost-effective options for farmers in this area, and because better control of nitrates is required for water quality reasons too. So, what earlier date would you set?

We share your concern that the delay in entry for the transport sector devalues forestry credits by reducing their market. Can we assume then that you would bring transport in on the original timetable, in 2009? Or perhaps that you agree with our proposal to phase it in over several years?

Many of your other criticisms allege that the obligations are too tough - industry free allocations, at 90% of 2005 levels, are too little; phase out of free credits between 2019 and 2030 is too early; effects on households are too stringent. While we disagree with these criticisms, we think it is important that you tell the country how much additional taxpayer subsidy you think is needed to reduce those costs, and how much you would weaken those obligations. In particular, we are interested in how you think your target of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 can be achieved if obligations are delayed even further than the government currently proposes.

For forestry, you want the rules to be different from those specified in the Kyoto Protocol. What is your concrete proposal here? As your minority report says, global climate change is the most important environmental challenge of our time.

A National government signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 making non-binding commitments to reduce emissions.

A National government negotiated the Kyoto Protocol to this convention in 1997.

Neither government took any steps to reduce our emissions. A Labour government ratified the protocol in 2001 but still our emissions climb, and all the science warns us that climate change is proceeding faster than any models predicted.

I believe the need for action is urgent and that with a major but flawed bill before the House, parties and the public need to know with some specificity what alternative proposals National has to meet that challenge.

Sincerely
Jeanette Fitzsimons
Green Party Co-leader

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