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Use markets to move economy to sustainability

Dr. Russel Norman
Spokesperson on economics, electoral matters and trade

Let’s use market mechanisms to move our whole economy towards sustainability

13th July 2005

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Morgan Williams' excellent report on changing our behaviour when it comes to waste has provided us with another opportunity to look at ways of bringing about the ecological transformation of the economy, Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

"The Government talks a lot about economic transformation, well this transformation needs to be an environmental economic transformation," Dr Norman says.

Dr Williams identifies that economic instruments such as taxes, levies, charges, tradable permits, deposit schemes, subsidies, and credits, are effective policy tools for changing consumer and business behaviour.

"The mechanisms can be used in other areas of our economy to ensure that we move towards becoming more sustainable. We need to use market mechanisms in order to direct economic activities away from things that destroy the environment towards things that protect the environment.

"By acknowledging and internalising the environmental costs currently externalised, the market price will include the true environmental cost of pollution and resource use. And hence the market will allocate resources in a more environmentally sensible way.

"If we use ecological tax reform to shift tax off work and employment and onto resource use and pollution, New Zealanders will reap the rewards. Revenue raised from ecological tax reform should then be used in a fiscally neutral way to reduce income taxes by removing tax from the first $5000 of income," Dr Norman says.


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