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From denial to delay – I guess that’s progress

                                                                               6 September 2008

From denial to delay – I guess that’s progress

The Greens are welcoming the National Party’s movement away from denying environmental problems, as revealed in their environment policy announcement today, but are concerned that it seems to be replaced with an attempt to delay any progress to address these environmental problems.

“The Greens have consistently encouraged environmentalists to engage in the environment debate within National, even though it is clearly a hard slog,” says Greens Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman. “They do seem to have moved the Nats on from denial, which is great, but denial seems to be replaced by delay in addressing environmental issues.”

“The announcements today by National would actually result in our greenhouse emissions increasing due to new motorways, unconstrained dairy expansion, and new fossil fuel generation.

“It’s a bit silly to adopt a target of 50 percent emission reduction target by 2050 while at the same time abolishing metropolitan urban limits and following Labour in building more motorways. Urban sprawl and induced traffic flows increase greenhouse emissions.

“John Key has finally acknowledged that oil prices will only go up. But National says nothing about the most sensible and cost-effective way to reduce emissions and oil consumption now – public transport. Electric cars may play a role in the future but not much and not for many years.

“Meanwhile, the industrial dairy sector is left free to produce more emissions. National says price signals will lead to innovation in reducing emissions, which is true, but, like Labour, they won’t put a price on emissions from the burgeoning dairy sector during the Kyoto period. So taxpayers will continue to subsidise the dairy sector by paying for its Kyoto credits, and industrial dairy corporations will have no reason to investigate ways to reduce emissions.

“If they were true right wing environmentalists they would courageously adopt market signals for industrial dairy, but they have not.

On involving the community in environmental protection and conservation, John Key claims to “get alongside the initiatives of volunteers and dozens of organisations involved in community conservation projects”.

“However, National plans to tilt the balance against community conservation groups in favour of developers in resource consent hearings and Environment Court cases. National announced previously they plan to make community environment groups lodge a bond before they can go to the Environment Court. And they have previously talked of limiting environmental legal aid which the Greens won from the Labour Government in 2000.

“Community groups are the front line of resistance against, for example, out-of-control coastal development right around this country, and National plans to tie them up in legal fees and costs.

“On the positive side we welcome more regular reporting in State of the Environment reports by an independent body.

“The idea of splitting up the policy and regulatory functions between Ministry for the Environment and the new Environmental Protection Agency is worth considering. However, it seems odd to give the development of National Policy Statements to the EPA as these are policy instruments and should stay under MfE even in their model.

“They plan to establish 20 national environmental goals. However, while the idea of sitting down for a cup of tea with their industry mates to formulate 20 national environmental goals sounds lovely, the Green Party says they are rather obvious.

The Greens suggest National could start with these half dozen:

First do no environmental harm
Stabilise emissions now, and reduce to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020
Kiwis will be able to swim in any NZ river or lakes
No new coal mines and no inappropriate hydro dams
Do not lessen environmental protection and community participation in the Resource Management Act
Invest much more in smart public transport and much less in expensive dirty motorways


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