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Carbon Credit Confiscation Costs Gisborne 1.3b

Media Statement

Monday 12 February 2006

For Immediate Release

Carbon Credit Confiscation Costs Gisborne District $1.3 Billion

The Government’s planned confiscation of Kyoto carbon credits is likely to cost the Gisborne District at least $1.3 billion, the Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) revealed today.

The association released the calculation on the eve of the Government’s first consultation meeting on its confiscation plans, to be held at Gisborne’s Lawson Field Centre at 9.45 am on Tuesday 12 February. The calculation is based on official MAF forest area data by age class and territorial authority and an estimate of carbon credit values of between $13,000 and $20,000 per hectare.

“Everyone with an interest in the forestry industry must attend the Government’s meeting and tell them in no uncertain terms that the people of Gisborne will never accept $1.3 billion of their property being confiscated by the Government without compensation,” KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said today.

“Forest owners are the environmental good guys, yet we seem to be the victims of punitive government policies that have caused new plantings to plummet and New Zealand’s total forest cover to fall for the first time in a century.”

Kyoto carbon credits, which the Government plans to confiscate, are earned by those who sequestered carbon by planting new trees since 1990, and by those industries which have cut their carbon emissions since then.

Through the 1990s, 30,000 ordinary New Zealanders and forestry companies planted more than 500,000 hectares of new forest, risking their capital both for the wood that would come from their forests and for the opportunity to earn the carbon credits. Government officials through the 1990s made clear that forestry investors would gain financially from the credits, which are a clear property right, as confirmed by the Treasury. This fuelled a planting boom.

Since the Government first indicated that it intended to confiscate the credits, tree planting in New Zealand has plunged and New Zealand is now experiencing deforestation for the first time in living memory.

Mr Dickie said the Government has previously indicated it would limit its confiscation of the credits to those associated with the First Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol, costing forest owners nationwide as much as $2.5 billion. However, officials are now indicating it may extend the confiscation to the Second Commitment Period, putting the losses nationwide at between $8 billion and $15 billion.

“For the Gisborne region – with its 105,000 hectares of post-1990 forests, according to official MAF data – the losses are estimated at $1.3 billion to $2 billion, depending on the market value of the carbon credits in future years,” Mr Dickie said.

“Gisborne can’t afford to have $1.3 billion ripped out of its economy by the Government.”

Mr Dickie said the Government was also considering a $13,000 per hectare tax on land owners wanting to convert from forestry to other land uses, which would devalue all existing forestry land.

Mr Dickie said it was up to people in Gisborne to be the first to say no to the confiscation.

“The Government has decided not to hold consultation meetings in Wellington or Auckland – where up to 80% of forestry investors live – so it is up to people in Gisborne and elsewhere to stop these mad proposals that attack the one industry actually capable of sequestered carbon in the fight against global climate change,” he said.

The KFA and other forestry industry organisations plan to attend all the Government’s meetings around the country to ensure officials could not claim any support for the confiscation plans, Mr Dickie said.

ENDS

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