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Govt should help business over Kyoto - union

Govt should help business over Kyoto - union

The country’s largest union is calling on the Government to encourage manufacturers to adopt cleaner processes through “carrots” as well as “sticks.”

The EPMU, most of whom’s 55,000 workers are in the manufacturing sector, says that opportunity to avoid carbon charges under the climate change legislation should not be limited to selected large industrial sites.

The Government is to today sign documents ratifying the Kyoto protocols, which aim to reduce world greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to address climate change problems.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said that the union supported the ratification of the Kyoto agreement, but was concerned about the effects its implementation could have on small and medium-sized manufacturers.

“Large companies will be able to have Negotiated Greenhouse Agreements, in which they will be given exemptions from carbon charges in exchange for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emisions

Mr Little was a member a recent study tour by Government and industry of Europe and the United States to examine ways of controlling emissions of greenhouse gases.

He said that the Government should be offering to reduce the carbon tax, due to come in in 2008, for all companies that made substantial improvements in their efficiency over the next few years.

“In the United States and Europe, companies who are given the opportunity to come up with their own initiatives come on board more quickly than those who are simply taxed,” he said.

“Companies will get around the carbon tax by simply getting rid of that part of the operation, or will accept the tax as a cost and pass it on to consumers,” he said.

“Either way, the country suffers. It’s better to encourage them to buy in to the whole concept of clean production now than to simply threaten to tax them further down the track.”

Mr Little said that workers could play an important part in improving production and energy efficiency.

“They are the people who run the factories,” he said. “They can help to run it better.”

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