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Business people back emissions trading

Nearly six out of 10 business people back emissions trading.

The final result of nationwide ShapeNZ research covering views on the Government's climate change policies, announced in late September, shows 56% of business people agree with the decision to introduce emissions trading.

Some 59% of business people agree that having an emissions price will encourage businesses to reduce their emissions.

The final poll result, which covers 974 people nationwide, including a sub set of 276 business managers, proprietors and self employed, also shows 60% of business people think an emissions price of $20 a tonne (equivalent to an extra 4c per litre of petrol) is reasonable. Only 29% of business people think this is unreasonable.

The research, conducted for the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development between September 29 and October 31 this year, is published as major energy user groups, through organisations like the Greenhouse Policy Coalition, launch reports arguing for delaying the start of the country's world-leading emissions trading system.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says the high energy users are effectively arguing for continuation of taxpayer subsidies to cover their emission costs, while asserting the country could face competitiveness issues even though, for some sectors, a carbon price does not impact until 2013 and assistance doesn't phase out until 2025.

"While some argue to extend the state subsidy for the cost of their carbon emissions, it is very clear that the majority of business people think emissions trading will be fair, reasonable and effective," Mr Neilson says.

"When we take the result of a properly conducted and weighted survey like ShapeNZ's, we find more business people agree (30%) than disagree (20%) when asked if they are more or less confident that the latest policies will help New Zealand manage climate change and protect the country's trading position.(44% are neither more nor less confident and 6% don't know)."

Mr Neilson says the significant announcement today that leading Democrat Presidential nominee candidate Hillary Clinton had pledged to introduce emissions trading, the likely change of Government in Australia to one supporting the Kyoto treaty and emissions trading, and the pursuit of emissions trading plans in 27 states in the United States mean New Zealand will soon be running only slightly ahead or with the world pack. In addition, the Queen announced in her speech from the throne to the British Parliament yesterday that her government would be introducing the world's first climate change bill legislating emissions reduction targets. At the same time companies were voluntarily entering emissions trading programmes in the US.

"Those who argue we should tell the world we'll stay right behind them, while also trying to maintain a position where all taxpayers fund any emissions deficit, rather than the emitters and their customers, must already be congratulating themselves on our current position in the field.

"What we really need to do, however, is get on quickly to exploit new research findings, which show dairy farmers alone could grow more grass, produce more, earn more and also nearly eliminate New Zealand's total emissions deficit by using new nitrogen inhibitors. Farmers could bank hundreds of millions in emissions credits, without waiting until 2013 when they formally enter the emissions trading system.

"It's patently silly to argue, without detailed evidence, that New Zealand will be disadvantaged by cutting emissions early and in exciting new ways like this. It can only enhance our competitiveness."
Big energy users are enjoying major bottom line benefits from cutting energy use and emissions. Rio Tinto has cut emissions at its Bluff aluminium smelter and achieved annual emissions savings of over 420,000 tonnes of CO2 per year since 1990 a 40 per cent reduction - during which time aluminium production has gone up by 25 per cent. The energy and process savings are worth more than $10 million a year.
Fonterra's energy saving programme has seen the company's manufacturing sites save the annual equivalent of the total energy demand of Hamilton cutting emissions by 150,000 tonnes a year.

"It is award and market-beating performances like this that New Zealanders admire and know the country is capable of delivering. Kiwis want to lead the world on climate change, not fade through the pack and lose immense competitiveness and trading advantages."

The full ShapeNZ result on climate change policy reactions is available now at http://www.nzbcsd.org.nz/story.asp?id=835


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