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Turia: Climate Change (Emissions Trading) Bill

Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preferences) Bill

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Thursday 28 March 2008

Tena koe Madam Speaker, tena tatou.

First of all the Maori Party would like to thank the Hon David Parker for the briefings which he has provided to us and while we are not supporting the bill today, we look forward to learning more about this matter.

Three months ago, two executives of Genesis Energy flew to Europe on a shopping trip to buy carbon credits.

The writing was on the wall – how will Genesis respond to the challenge of paying for up to $100 million a year of fossil fuel it burns at the Huntly power station every year?

How will the company address the environmental problem of around three to six million tonnes of carbon emissions per annum?

The answer, Madam Speaker, lies in the power of the purse.

The crux of this Bill rests in its name. Fundamentally the Emissions Trading Scheme is limited by being nothing more than an Emissions Trading Scheme, when what we really required was an Emissions Reduction Programme.

The Maori Party knows that how this nation curbs greenhouse gas emissions, will define this moment in our history.

Meeting our obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases – is vitally important.

But this is much more than an issue of compliance with United Nations goals to cut emissions and stabilise the climate system.

It is far more simple than that.

Reducing our emissions is about honouring our commitment to those who have passed on, that we will leave this planet in a better state for those who come after us.

The government acknowledges that this scheme will make almost no difference - it will cut emissions by two percent over ten years which will be far short of our Kyoto commitments even.

To make the world a better place, we need to live differently.

We ALL need to live differently.

One of the fundamental issues that has troubled us in the passage of this Bill, has been the issues of inequity.

The inequity exists at several levels.

We would suggest that the Emissions Trading Scheme is only politically sustainable if it is seen to share the Kyoto burden fairly across all sectors at each stage; and all starting at the same time.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development has highlighted the inconsistency of business agreeing to forego compensation for electricity price spikes, while accepting the vast bulk of the free credits they are offered.

And the Maori Party has suggested that the free credits to assist export-exposed industries would be better allocated on the basis of need.

The New Zealand Institute for Economic Research predicts that the real cost of this scheme for New Zealanders will be about $58 a week.

For the 13% of our population living in poverty, losing another $58 a week will shave even more off the weekly grocery budget.

The costs of this scheme will fall heavily on house-holders, with low income families being hardest hit by rising consequential living costs.

While the Greens and NZ First will no doubt jostle to lay claim to the unspecified one-off payment that households receive to adjust to the higher energy costs of the Emissions Trading Scheme, it is unlikely that such a concession will soften the long term impacts on the family budget.

The ShapeNZ poll taken just over a month ago of some 3000 New Zealanders, recommended rebates on monthly household electricity bills were favoured.

We think it is an excellent idea to spend a billion dollars to make homes more energy-efficient. But why did this concession have to be wrung from a reluctant government? The Government, I thought, supported energy efficiency and conservation anyway.

A billion dollars is the price of Green Party support for a scheme that achieves almost nothing. We predict that a billion dollars will come to seem like thirty pieces of silver, once the full impacts of climate change start to be felt.

No such concessions appear to address what the Wairongomai Incorporation described as the disproportionate negative effects on Maori.

A view endorsed by one of the incorporations, a large incorporation in my electorate, Morikaunui, which stated that while the scheme is inequitable generally, it is even more so for Maori land owners.

They believe that the Bill, as drafted, conflicts with the principles and provisions of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 and breaches the Treaty of Waitangi by imposing an encumbrance over Maori land, which is effectively an alienation.

Their recommendation to the Select Committee was that Maori land should be excluded from the Bill at this stage and a timetable set to consult with Maori on how to include Maori land without transgressing the basic principles set out in the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.

In their view, the Emissions Trading Scheme Bill must require no greater contribution or sacrifices from the owners of Maori land than the owners of privately owned non-Maori land; indeed it is a view that the Maori Party endorses with all of our heart.

The Federation of Maori Authorities believe that locking Maori land into this regime, compares to the actions of the Crown in the 1880s converting Maori land to perpetual leases and leaving Maori with peppercorn rentals. In 2008, this regime goes even further by legislating how tangata whenua are to use our lands.

Another fundamental failing of this Bill is, as Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu advised, the provisions for the forest sector are so flawed that they need to be totally redrafted to be fair and equitable.

Ngai Tahu stated that they will suffer a disproportionate and significant liability as a result of this Bill, amounting to overwhelming financial cost and opportunity loss. Indeed, their submission contended that the reduction in future asset value will probably and possibly exceed their entire Treaty settlement.

Madam Speaker, the Maori Party is profoundly in accord with the global concern of needing to prepare for an emerging post-carbon world.

The last thing we want to suggest is that we are the authority on the Emissions Trading Scheme, because clearly we are not, but we do care passionately about leaving this world in a better state for the generations that follow us.

We must halt the relentless pursuit of unsustainable growth.

Allowing big business to continue their polluting practices by buying carbon credits is not the solution.

The market model creates a new currency of carbon credits, a currency disproportionately dispensed to business elites. It will deliver economic benefit, but it will not save the world.

The Federation of Maori Authorities submission revealed that Maori have constantly recognized and demonstrated the need for climate change policy and the importance of changing our behaviour to mitigate human impacts on the climate.

This acknowledgement is manifest in their belief in kaitiakitanga, the nurturing of our spiritual, cultural and environmental protection of te ao märama.

Madam Speaker, we do not support this Bill.

We are of the view that what is needed is a radical rethink of the whole approach. We are opposed to the concept of paying the polluters; of rewarding the corporate lobbyists with huge exemptions; the very nature of trading rather than reducing emissions.

But we will take forward the concerns of so many submitters who believe that this Bill, once more, breaches the Treaty of Waitangi in failing to uphold our rangatiratanga.

In the committee stages of this Bill we will be presenting an amendment to include a clause requiring the Act to be consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Na reira, tena tatou katoa.


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