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Business Seeks Strategy For Kyoto Protocol

Business Seeks Communication Strategy For Kyoto Protocol Commitments

Despite Government's communication efforts to date, New Zealand business is still far from understanding how our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol can be met, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"Business wants to get over the wall of political correctness that has surrounded climate change issues and it needs to deal early with the practical challenges they present," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"There are large gaps of understanding to bridge between what the Kyoto Protocol will require in New Zealand, and how we are to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions without also lowering our standards of living.

"New Zealand contributes 0.1 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. It is foolhardy to put our economy at risk to reduce this contribution in the global context of such as the continuous burning of rainforests in Brazil and Indonesia.

"We need far more consultation at all levels. Its not enough for only the large emitters to be represented in the discussions. Equally the agriculture and transport sectors must be treated equitably with traditional industry.

"The communication strategies of both the present and past governments have been deficient in canvassing business views over the likely impacts and in explaining the need for attending to these issues.

"With an early warning communication strategy, job growth opportunities in our cities need not be sacrificed to rural and agricultural commodity dependence as they were in pursuit of unilateral tariff reductions in advance of all our trading partners.

"The result of being first in the world on free trade has been a hollowing out of our manufacturing and jobs creation base, an excessive dependence on imports, and the burden of our hugely expensive current account deficit.

"Examples of what Government must make much clearer over the Kyoto Protocol include: * The lack of agreement internationally on the mechanisms that individual countries are able to adopt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

* The affects of the different options for mitigating emissions including tradeable rights, carbon taxes and carbons sinks

* Ways to achieve cross-sectoral equity between traditional industry, the transport fleet and the agricultural sectors in New Zealand. Traditional industry has been targeted for climate change mitigation and has developed a voluntary reduction programme, but transport and agriculture are by far the largest climate change causes.

* The confusion on whether carbon sinks (new forest plantings) will be able to be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions, or if so, to what extent.

* Details on how the absorption from carbon sinks are to be measured, monitored and used to offset other emissions, if they are to be.

* Details on tradeable emission rights, how these are to be calculated, who owns them and how they may be traded.

* Credibility issues indicating for example, that once proposed measures are in place that there will be any less problems from greenhouse gases.

* How all of these issues will affect investment and growth.

"Business is pleased to hear Minister Pete Hodgson's reassurance that New Zealand is not taking on the mantle of "world leadership" on climate change issues, for example by adopting carbon taxes and charges in advance of our trading partners. We don't need to be the world's guinea pig."

Further comment: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911 (bus)

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