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Big polluters capture climate change policy

Monday 27 February 2006

Big polluters capture climate change policy

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has sharply criticised the Ministry for the Environment for allowing big business to capture the climate change policy process.

“The Ministry is consulting the big polluters, all of which would prefer the new policy to focus on voluntary measures,” said Gary Taylor, chairman of EDS.

“But it is not adequately consulting environmental groups, many of which have specialist knowledge of climate change policy and advocate harder measures including the use of economic instruments.

“Earlier this month government officials held an exclusive, closed meeting with the big polluters. This is of great concern as big emitters have a vested interest in delaying action on climate change. If this happens, the costs of future emissions will ultimately be shifted onto the taxpayer and the environment. The policy development process has become captured by big business.

“In the week before Christmas the government axed the carbon tax. The formulation of that tax was subject to 18 months consultation with all sectors of society. But it did a u-turn after consulting the big polluters and no one else and buried the decision in the Christmas rush.

“That was bad policy and we look set to have the dose repeated.

“By early next month (March) the Ministry is reporting to Ministers on the work program for the policy review. The scope of the program will determine the range of potential policy mixes so this is a critical time for climate change policy.

“The Ministry has a statutory duty to consult widely and effectively and failing to do so will result in biased information and ineffective outcomes. Climate Change is the biggest threat facing the planet and we need to get the policy right. It is quite wrong for officials to only engage with the people who are causing the problem.

“The 3 public meetings it is holding in the main centres are not places where this complex issue can be properly discussed.

“I would like the Minister for Climate Change Issues, Hon David Parker, to instruct officials to ensure that all interests across civil society have a substantive chance to be involved in the policy formulation process. If that means that more time should be made available then it should be,” Mr Taylor concluded. “The issue is too important to allow it to be captured by narrow sectoral interests.”


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