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Minister announces climate change consultation

26 June 2009 –Wellington

Forest & Bird media release


Forest & Bird AGM - Minister announces climate change consultation

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced at Forest & Bird’s AGM today that the Government will hold a whirlwind round of consultation over the next month before setting New Zealand's 2020 greenhouse gas emissions target.

The minister told the AGM in Wellington that the Government intends to table New Zealand’s 2020 target at international climate change negotiations in Bonn in August.  Before setting that target the Government will consult the public, iwi, business and environmental groups, including Forest & Bird, in a series of meetings and hui in nine centres around New Zealand from July 6-17.

Dr Smith said climate change was the number one environmental challenge facing New Zealand. “We need to start applying a price on carbon so there is incentive to make changes to our emissions profile.”

While other countries had improved the proportion of power generated from renewable sources, New Zealand had gone backwards over the last decade, and that had to change, Dr Smith said. He said if New Zealand wanted to “punch above its weight” it also had to show leadership in new technology to find solutions to reduce agricultural emissions.

Dr Smith said New Zealand did not have a choice between good environmental and good economic management as the two were intertwined, and New Zealand’s economic success depended on its clean, green brand.  He said the Government wanted to develop greater collaboration in environmental protection, bringing together key groups including Forest & Bird.

New Zealand was under-performing in water quality, and its first-in-first-served approach to water allocation was not working, the minister said.

He said the Government also wanted to make progress on marine protection.  In particular the Marine Reserves Bill had been “stranded” in Parliament for eight years, and the Government wanted to move forward with the implementation of a new Marine Reserves Act by 2011.

Another big challenge for the Government was the Waste Minimisation Act due to come into effect on July 1 with the aim of reducing the amount of waste going into landfills.  The Act Party did not want the Government to proceed with the Act, “but we are determined to do so,” Dr Smith said.

He said the Government also wanted to have legislation simplifying and streamlining the Resource Management Act in law by October 1.  He said the changes to the RMA would cut time, bureaucracy and expense of balancing environmental and economic management.

Dr Smith said restructuring to his ministry to take effect from July 1 would improve its performance. “The Ministry for the Environment is not in good shape,” he said.  What had been a relatively small ministry had suddenly been placed at the centre of “the biggest and most difficult challenges of our times” in dealing with climate change, he said.


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