B-grade ETS sets stage for chainsaw massacre sequel
Wednesday 17 October, 2012
Press release – Generation Zero
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament yesterday will have New Zealand’s climate change response looking like a bad movie, according to youth organisation Generation Zero.
The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee reported back with no significant changes to the Bill, endorsing the indefinite lock-in of the so-called “transition phase”.
“This latest episode in the never-ending story of delay and concessions to polluters will freeze the ETS at current weak settings, doing virtually nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and removing all future certainty,” said Generation Zero policy coordinator Paul Young.
The Government has also ignored the call from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, carbon foresters and environmental groups to follow other countries by putting a cap on the use of international ‘offset’ units, which will otherwise continue to flood the NZ market.
Altogether the Government’s actions will keep the effective carbon price around current lows of $1.50 per tonne, and experts have warned of a sequel to the ‘chainsaw massacre’ that occurred as forest owners deforested their land before carbon costs were first introduced under the ETS in 2008.
“By choosing to give polluters such an easy ride, the Government has even managed to bring the spectre of deforestation back from the dead,” said Mr Young.
“If the ETS were doing its job it would be shifting investment from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and companies like Fonterra would be looking to install wood-powered boilers rather than opening major new coal mines.
“Instead, all it is likely to do is have New Zealanders’ money flowing overseas to buy cheap emissions offsets of highly dubious benefit to the climate.
“It was already too weak from the outset, but with these changes it is arguably worse than nothing – the ETS needs to phone home.
“The saddest thing about the Government’s B-grade climate response is that with ambition and commitment New Zealand has the potential to be an international star.
“Other countries are offering real and feasible solutions to climate change – like Norway, which has just doubled its carbon tax on oil companies to about $88/tonne and will put $7.5 billion into its climate and energy fund in 2013.
“When it comes to climate change, our Government seems to have lost the plot.
“We urge the Maori Party and UnitedFuture to take a good hard look at the implications of these changes and use their power to stop this bill from passing."