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Greenpeace: Don't subsidise polluting industries

Auckland May 7, 2008 –

Don't subsidise polluting industries at the expense of ordinary New Zealanders and the planet.

That's the message Greenpeace took to Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee today when it presented its submission on the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Renewables Preference Bill (1).

"We said very clearly that we support the general principle of the ETS, and that it can be rendered fair and effective by making polluters pay instead of taxpayers," said Greenpeace Political Advisor Geoff Keey.

Greenpeace's call for fairness follows the announcement of Government plans to water down the ETS by giving away more free pollution credits to the loudest business lobbies. It will do so by delaying the start of the phase-out period for the free pollution credits and delaying the transport sector's introduction into the scheme.

"Every tax dollar spent by the Government to appease big business polluters by giving them free credits to pollute is money taken away from spending on public transport, hospitals and schools," said Keey.

"Yesterday's announcement shook our confidence in the Government's commitment to tackling climate change.

"It is scandalous that the people who'll suffer the most from this extraordinary backdown are ordinary New Zealanders, because they'll the ones who'll have to pay for a weak ETS via taxes to cover a skyrocketing Kyoto bill.

"The ETS needs adjustment to make it fairer. All those worrying about the unfair burden placed on householders should back Greenpeace's call for greater auctioning of pollution credits. As the scheme currently stands, the Government is giving away too many free credits to big business and the farming sector."

Mr Keey said if credits were auctioned instead, the money made- as well as windfall profits from SOEs - could enable the Government to invest in households, where the support is really needed.

This point was raised in March in a Greenpeace report into the ETS released in March (2) and presented to the Committee today. The report also warned that, in its current form, the scheme would be unlikely to actually achieve emission reductions.

For it to actually make any credible impact on climate change, credits would need to be auctioned, agriculture would need to be brought in earlier and an overall emissions reduction target would need to be set (3).

"Greenpeace's ETS report showed the delayed entry is another subsidy to the agriculture sector worth an estimated $1.2 billion; the cost of which will instead fall on householders.

"It's time New Zealand got on with earning the title of a leader when it comes to climate change. For the government to cave in to business pressure now would be not only an insult to New Zealanders willingness to tackle this crisis, but also an embarrassment on the international stage."


(1) For full submission, go to: http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press/releases/submission-on-ets/submission-on-climate-change

(2) New Zealand's Expanding Carbon Footprint - Analysis of New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme; major flaws and barriers to emission cuts www.greenpeace.org.nz/ets-report.

(3) Emission reduction targets in themselves don't stop climate change. They do however set the scene for what needs to be achieved, and give a clear signal to policy makers that they should formulate policies capable of achieving the target set.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified a range of 25-40% reductions by 2020 for developed countries like New Zealand as necessary in order to put the world on track to avoid climate catastrophe. Greenpeace is calling for the New Zealand Government and all political parties to set an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020. Countries that are serious about taking a leadership position on climate change have set national targets. The UK has set a target of 20% by 2010 – this is above and beyond its Kyoto commitment.

It is expected to achieve a reduction of almost 17% as a result. Germany has a domestic target of 40% reductions from 1990 levels by 2020, which it's on track to meet.

Even Australia, a forme r laggard when it comes to climate, now has a long term overall emission reduction target. Sweden recently agreed on an emission reduction range of 75-90% by 2050. The National Party has set a policy of 50 per cent emission reductions by 2050. This is not nearly enough. By 2050 we need to have reduced our emissions by a minimum of 80 per cent.


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