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Teensy-weensy steps towards sustainability

17 May 2007

Budget takes teensy-weensy steps towards sustainability

The Labour Government's 2007 Budget smacks of 'greenwash', with the only
concessions to carbon neutrality and sustainability stemming from
pressure from the Green Party, Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"This Budget will make us just a teensy-weensy bit more sustainable in a
few years, with carbon emissions growing only slightly slower than they
are now. This is very far from reaching the Prime Minister's
aspirational goal of a carbon neutral New Zealand,

"Without pressure from the Green Party, genuine changes such as the
electrification of the Auckland Rail system, improvements to Wellington
rail, an energy efficient homes package, serious biodiversity protection
in three wetland areas and a solar water heating initiative would have
been absent from today's Budget.

"However, the Government has all but ignored the Stern report and other
warnings that the dangers of ignoring climate change will be hugely
costly.

"If the Prime Minister's aspiration is serious we might have expected a
price on carbon this year, linked to the world price, and a fairly rapid
transition to polluters taking responsibility for their carbon
emissions. But that is not there.

"If the Government was truly committed to sustainability, we would have
seen the much lauded business tax cuts given to those who invested in
reducing their carbon footprint. Instead, these are being
indiscriminately handed out to polluters and conservers, fossil and
renewable energy suppliers and users, organic and highly chemical
farmers, good employers and bad, innovators and laggards in technology.
They will produce no change in behaviour and serve no public goal except
lining a few pockets.

"We could have expected a substantial fund to invest in cleaner
technology, better planning and design, sustainable infrastructure like
public transport a decent rail system and coastal shipping and planting
of steep eroding land.

"The Greens revelations about the way our Super Fund savings were being
invested in nuclear weapons, uranium mining, cluster bombs and tobacco
have led to a requirement for transparency in the way managed funds are
invested - but no change in the way public funds are invested.

"This Budget suggests the Government is trying to bolster its failing
support by tapping into the New Zealanders' growing concern for the
environment and the future of the planet. But scratch the surface, and
you find it largely greenwash," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ends


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