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National – weak in the face of anti-climate lobby

National – weak in the face of anti-climate business lobby

Auckland 18 May 2008 – National's attempt to delay the emissions trading scheme (ETS) and undermine a partial ban on thermal power stations is unacceptable, and a strong indication the party puts big business backers ahead of tackling climate change, says Greenpeace.

This follows National Party John Key's speech at the party's regional conference in Wellington this morning. "National appears to lack the courage to vote on climate change legislation prior to the election. We have to ask why," said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer.

"Today's speech reads like propaganda from the Greenhouse Policy Coalition. It seems National is caving in to big business against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders who want action on climate change.

"Rarely has a piece of legislation been so heavily analysed and widely consulted over as the ETS. For National to now call "wait!" says more about National's lack of commitment to tackling the issue than it does about the robustness of the legislation.

"To push the legislation back until after the election is completely unacceptable. Given that the National Party's position on climate change is so woolly, voters deserve to see it put to the test through a vote on this bill.

"John Key talks like he's taking this stance on behalf of ordinary New Zealanders. The irony is that the more the scheme is delayed, the more those ordinary New Zealanders will pay. Every time the scheme is delayed or weakened, big polluting businesses get more time and leniency to keep on polluting. And it's taxpayers who must pay for this pollution under Kyoto.

"John Key also claims our ETS is an attempt to make us a world leader on climate change. This is a fallacy. The ETS won't make New Zealand a climate-change world leader, but it is one step towards making a credible contribution.

"There's a global movement to tackle climate change and New Zealand's already being left behind. We'll lose international credibility, negotiating power, trading partners, political allies and our clean green brand if we don't act now."

Mr Boxer said National's opposition to a moratorium on new thermal generation was equally unacceptable. "New fossil fuel power stations are being lined up right around New Zealand, for example the proposed Genesis gas power station in John Key's own electorate of Helensville. No doubt his constituents will be very disappointed by the news he supports such projects.

"John Key is either confused or just being misleading when he claims the proposed partial ban will undermine security of supply. It won't. New Zealand has enough renewable energy coming on stream and there are exemptions in the legislation to allow new gas-fired power stations if they're genuinely needed.

"Scrapping the moratorium will mean more costs for the taxpayer, because our Kyoto bill will just keep skyrocketing until we switch to low carbon energy options. Again, big business wins, ordinary Kiwis lose."


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