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McCain emissions trading pledge important for NZ

McCain emissions trading pledge important for New Zealand's heavy emitters

A pledge overnight by US Republican presidential candidate John McCain to present a cap and trade emissions trading law to Congress to "change the dynamic of the American economy" will be reassuring to heavy emitters in New Zealand.

In remarks he prepared to give at a wind technology firm in Portland, Oregon, Mr Cain said he would produce a plan setting goals on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including a return by 2012 to 2005 levels of emission, and by 2020 to 1990s levels.

In saying "the facts of global warming demand our urgent attention" and "good stewardship, prudence, and simple common sense demand that we act to meet the challenge, and act quickly," Mr McCain was sending a signal that the US will be firmly behind global cap and trade regimes, like New Zealand's, after November's election.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, which last night told MPs considering New Zealand's emissions trading system, that it was the preferred mechanism worldwide to manage climate change, and had support in Australia, the US, Japan and Europe, says Mr McCain's announcement will provide comfort to major emitters they will not stand exposed on world markets to competitors who don't face a price on carbon.

"It has to be remembered that every potential presidential candidate in the US has pledged to bring in a cap and trade scheme. Cap and trade bills now before the US Congress provide for that country to impose border taxes on our exports if we don't have a price on carbon," Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson, says.

"France is also proposing Europe impose a border tax on imports from countries who don't price carbon. The New Zealand public also supports such a move, and New Zealand has not yet officially ruled it out.

"The world agreement negotiated in the next year and finalised in 2010, to replace Kyoto from 2012, will most likely include all major emitting nations and there will be no place for heavy emitters here to relocate without facing a price on carbon. And there will be no chance of major emitters' competitors overseas stealing a trade advantage by free-riding on emissions.

"While the global systems settle down to put a price on carbon, our major emitters will get special protection from unfair competition," Mr Neilson says.

Mr McCain's full speech is at his web site [link]

Mr Neilson says it is significant that Mr McCain also says he knows other big emitting nations, China and India, also need to be included in a new world agreement and will work toward that.


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