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ETS a first step, time for some big strides now

11 September 2008

ETS a first step, time for some big strides now - Greens

The passing of the Emissions Trading Scheme is the first small step towards getting New Zealand's carbon emissions under control - there is still much work to be done, the Green Party says.

"The Greens supported the passage of this legislation after negotiating a range of important changes (see http://www.greens.org.nz/node/19642 ), but the important thing is that New Zealanders do not to get the idea that, because we now have an emissions trading scheme, climate change is fixed," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said in speech on the third reading of the Bill.

"So what do we need to do now in climate change policy to build on the emissions trading scheme and to make sure we have genuine emission reductions?

"First, New Zealand must sign up to an international target of limiting warming to no more than two degrees. Then we need to adopt real targets within New Zealand. The most important target of all is the date at which emissions within New Zealand level off and start to fall. That turn-round point is incredibly important. The later it happens, the more ground we will have to make up in the future.

"We must also work in international forums to get the United States and the larger developing countries to sign up to an international agreement on climate change," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"There are many steps we can take to reduce emissions and make cost-effective energy savings out in the community. Improving the efficiency of vehicles coming over the border is an easy step. We need to invest in rail, public transport, and safe cycling, because a tax on petrol will not encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport if public transport is full and people cannot get on it at rush hour.

"We need to work towards zero-energy buildings, which are not only super efficient in their energy use, but also feed energy into the grid. We need more research and development for new green technologies, particularly ways to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions in agriculture. We have made a start in marine energy with wave and tidal power-and with second generation biofuels, such as those developed from waste wood, and algae from sewage, which will help us as oil becomes increasingly expensive.

"We fought to make the ETS as fair as we could for all New Zealanders. The $1 billion green homes fund that the Green Party secured during the negotiations will make real reductions to household energy use, as well as improve health. We know that household use about a third of our electricity and health research shows that hospitalizations for asthma and winter flus drop by more than half once a house is insulated warm and dry. This is a win win all around."

A copy of Ms Fitzsimons speech is here:


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