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Farmers urge Minister to remove the rose glasses

26 September 2001 PR146/01

Farmers urge Minister to remove the rose-coloured glasses

The Minister of Energy Hon Pete Hodgson fails to recognise the potential implications to the New Zealand economy of the Government's approach to the Kyoto Protocol says Federated Farmers President Alistair Polson.

In a speech to the Environmental Defence Society seminar in Auckland last night, Minister of Energy Hon Pete Hodgson suggested that calls to delay ratification and reduce the extremely high prevalence of uncertainties would do nothing to help the policy process.

"Farmers, who rely on the climate for their livelihoods and deal with climate change on a daily basis, do not believe that the Kyoto Protocol offers them a fair solution," said Mr Polson.

"While climate change must be addressed we need to ensure the agriculture sector is in a position to decide for itself the least cost way to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions."

"In claiming that doing nothing about climate change given New Zealand's dependence on primary production would be nothing short of negligence, the Minister fails to recognise the carelessness of committing New Zealand to the Kyoto Protocol with little analysis of the economic impacts on the primary sectors."

"Identifying new business opportunities that will arise from climate change is all very well, but not when New Zealand's primary sectors faces losing its competitive advantage to developing countries not bound by the Protocol." said Mr Polson.

"Addressing the world's distorted agricultural trade patterns that promote energy intensive, high nitrogen input production systems would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture than the Protocol itself."

The Minister also commented on the significance of securing sink credits for New Zealand's post-1990 forest plantings at Bonn earlier this year. Mr Polson responded by saying, "the NZIER report released earlier today seriously undermines the Government's belief that forestry will be a winner."

"Federated Farmers welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Government's policy consultation round, but it is concerning to note that policy does not appear to have been sufficiently developed to allow for full and informed consultation."

"It is vital that the Government undertake rigorous analysis of the potential economic threats to the New Zealand economy, rather than focus on the questionable environmental benefits the Kyoto Protocol might deliver."

ENDS

For more information: Alistair Polson, PH 06 342 2856 or 025 370 085 Jacob Haronga, PH 04 473 7269 or 021 1262219

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