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Nats silent on crucial climate change questions

20 October 2008

Nats silent on crucial climate change questions

Labour's climate change spokesperson David Parker says it's not good enough that National is refusing to say what its real intentions are for the emissions trading scheme.

Carbon News reports that National's environment spokesperson Nick Smith refuses to answer some fundamental questions regarding the emissions trading scheme.

"Labour is happy to answer those questions. They are crucial to the making the scheme work, and striking a fair balance between a manageable transition for greenhouse gas emitters, and the cost to the taxpayer," David Parker said.

"Is National refusing to answer because they have in mind changes that would gut the ETS and make it nothing more than a costly administrative exercise with no benefit to the environment whatsoever? We all need to know the answer to that."

Here are some of the questions National refused to answer, but that Labour will answer:

1. Does National favour a cap on the price of carbon? (Labour: Linking the scheme internationally provides a safety valve on the price. Anyone who wants to cap their price can already buy emission rights to 2012 on the international market that already exists. A cap on the price of carbon indicates a mistrust of the market. If set high it is meaningless, if set low, it both discourages emission reductions and passes the cost onto the taxpayer)

2. Will National opt for a emissions-intensity based measurement system, and if so, with or without an emissions cap? (Labour: The ETS allows for intensity based allocation within a cap. Having no cap would see New Zealand's emissions continue to rise at cost to the taxpayer)

3. How will National encourage research and development, given it wants to remove the R&D tax credit? (Labour would not remove the R&D tax credit, nor the $700m Fast Forward fund for agriculture)

4. Will National follow the existing timetable for establishing regulations for overseas carbon credits and how will this fit in with National's proposed review of the ETS legislation? (Labour is putting in place regulations for accepting overseas carbon credits to give businesses certainty)

5. Has National's position on the timing of sectors entering the ETS changed? (Labour supports the present timetable)

6. How will National help businesses and households adjust to rising power prices, given their intention to scrap the billion dollar energy efficiency Household Fund? (Labour is committed to the Household Fund as an important long term investment that will help New Zealanders adjust to rising electricity prices)

7. National says the ETS should be fiscally neutral. How will National achieve this? (Labour: The Household Fund is a way of recycling additional revenue accruing to the government from electricity companies as a result of the ETS. What will National do with that money instead?)

8. How can companies plan, if there is no fixed schedule for allocation phase out, as National is suggesting? (Labour: The existing schedule would see free allocation for trade-exposed sectors continue to 2018, then phase out over the period to 2030. Five-yearly reviews are built in.)


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