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NZers back tax on no-carbon-charge countries

Embargoed until 3pm 5 March 2008

New Zealanders will support imposing a carbon tax on imports from countries which don't impose carbon charges on their own emitters.

A major new nationwide poll released today, covering 3377 New Zealanders, also shows people support giving this country's large greenhouse gas emitters special emission credits until 2020 or until their competitors overseas also pay a price on carbon.

A ShapeNZ poll of 3377 people, conducted between February 26 and March 3, shows New Zealanders strongly support taking action on climate change, want the country to be a global leader on the issue, and they believe the proposed emissions trading scheme will result in businesses cutting their emissions.

Support for the emissions trading scheme policy has firmed up from 46% in November 2007 to 57%.

Support for New Zealand becoming a global leader in responding to climate change is up from 54% in November to 56%, and support for the idea of moving at the same pace as other countries has slipped from 35% to 31%.

However Kiwis back an idea, being advanced in the European Union and the United States, to put a tax on imports from countries which do not impose a carbon tax on their own emitters.

Fifty five per cent of New Zealanders say this country should impose the green tax at the border (21% say no, 23% don't know.)

The idea is supported by voters of every party now in Parliament.

Emissions trading and support for large emitters:

Kiwis also support emissions trading, even when advised that a new domestic price on carbon, imposed through the proposed emissions trading scheme, could make large emitting companies uncompetitive and cost investment and jobs. Some 64% agree large emitters should still pay this new price on carbon. 20% disagree, 16% don't know.

Asked how long special assistance to large emitters should continue, through special emission credits, 21% say they should not be given any special assistance, while 36% say assistance should be given until other competitors pay a price for carbon. The Government proposes providing 90% of credits at 2005 levels of emissions until 2025. Only 4% want assistance to run that long. 19% say it should be given until 2012, 13% until 2020, 2% until 2050.

More New Zealanders also continue to see more economic opportunities arising as from climate change than fewer economic opportunities: 33% say it will create more opportunity, 24% say it will create fewer opportunities will 35% say it will make no difference.

Concern of climate change grows:

Kiwis are growing more concerned about climate change: 82% say it is a problem to be dealt with urgently (41%) and now (41%). Only 6% say it is a problem for later, and 6% say it is not a problem. 3% don't know.

The number who think it is a problem for now or urgent is up from 73% in November last year to 82% now, while those who say it's not a problem or problem for later have dropped from 25% in November to 15% now.

The poll has a maximum margin of error of 1.7% at a 95% confidence interval.

The results are weighted by age, gender, personal income, employment status and party vote at the 2005 election.

The research was conducted for the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. Its Chief Executive, Peter Neilson, in a speech to the Institute of Charted Accountants at Auckland today, says New Zealanders are deeply concerned about climate change, want New Zealand to response and show leadership, think the local emissions trading system will work – and want to tax other countries that won't play their part.

"The border tax idea is on the agenda as a negotiating stick for the international agreement which must replace the Kyoto agreement after 2012.

"Kiwis are quite subtle about what they want. They want climate change addressed. They're happy to be fair to large emitters as we transition to a lower carbon economy, but they don't think assistance should go on forever.

It's heartening to see Kiwis believe a carbon market will work: a price of emissions will encourage emitters to lower emissions and those continuing to emit should pay the price, while receiving a degree of shelter from overseas competitors who want a free ride."

Reports on the ShapeNZ Emission Trading and Climate Change Survey are online at www.nzbcsd.org.nz

Mr Neilson says ShapeNZ findings on the country's most preferred energy sources for the next 10 years (including nuclear), and New Zealanders' views on the state of the national grid, and whether or not the national versus local interest should prevail when new power projects are being planned – even when a power project is proposed on or near their own land – will be released during the next few weeks.


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