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Green Party Carbon Tax a mixed message

Green Party Carbon Tax a mixed message

Farmers will be confused by the Green Party’s decision to abandon the world’s most stringent Emissions Trading Scheme in favour of a Carbon Tax.

“There are mixed messages the Green Party are sending the primary industries,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Climate Change spokesperson.

“The rhetoric around the ETS maintains the illusion that agriculture is not in the ETS when we most definitely are. From fuel to electricity to the ubiquitous number eight wire, all farming inputs are in the current ETS.

“While it is true biological emissions account for half of our emissions, we mustn’t forget that some 90 percent of the food we produce is exported.

“Climate change does not end at New Zealand’s borders, yet New Zealand’s role as a net exporter of food in a world of increasing food shortage rates barely a mention.

“Penalising our farmers for being the world’s most carbon efficient will only reduce production when that production will be picked up by less productive farmers offshore.

“This apparent paradox is a concept the Greens are struggling to grasp – penalising New Zealand farmers will increase global biological emissions.

“While the Green’s say sheep and beef biological emissions will be initially excluded that seemingly is a sweetener and one designed to drive a wedge between the farming sectors.

“The reality is that sheep and beef farmers would still pay what they are doing now under the ETS and making them pay later would only be a matter of twiddling the regulatory knobs.

“Given New Zealand farming has been cutting emissions in each unit of agricultural output by 1.3 percent each year and is leading the world in agricultural greenhouse gas research, it seems a strange message to send.

“The differential tax treatment for biological emissions proposed may reflect that the Greens are starting to understand our farming system is world-leading in low carbon protein production. It is a pity they are not yet ready to admit it.

“As it stands, they are telling us that you will be taxed for being successful but given a break if you are less so. That is not a good aspirational message to send.

“Moreover, the reference to the cost of this economy of drought will stick in the craw of farmers who have been stung by Green Party opposition to rainwater storage. That includes the sheep and beef sector who are looking to water storage to reduce climate risk.

“Meeting the challenge of climate change demands more than a tax or blind adherence to headline local reduction targets. It demands policy with global benefits and infrastructure to meet it,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

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