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Taking steps on climate change

7 December 2006

Taking steps on climate change

The Green Party MPs are marking the 7th Green Day - the day the Green Party first came to Parliament - by agreeing to pay personally for foresting land to offset the carbon from their Parliamentary air travel.

"Offsetting the carbon from our air travel is just a small first step towards addressing climate change. The nature of our work requires all MPs, regardless of party, to travel by air, and this is a simple step that everyone can take," Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"Carbon dioxide emissions from air travel are responsible for 3.4 percent of New Zealand's emissions and are growing. Roughly speaking a kilometre of domestic travel releases 180g of CO2, so a return trip from Invercargill to Auckland, emits half a tonne of CO2.

"We have investigated various offsetting options and have decided to go with the Government accredited CarboNZero programme, which is managed by Landcare," Ms Fitzsimons says.

This programme is a New Zealand initiative supporting landowners to regenerate land initially to native trees and shrubs such as Kanuka and Manuka eventually progressing to mature forest. Trees are grown on marginal land retired from agriculture and are not harvested. There is no animal grazing, land areas are fenced and there are weed and pest control measures employed. All land in the scheme meets Kyoto Protocol definitions such as not being forested at 1 Jan 1990. Participants pay $20 to offset a tonne of CO2.

"Carbon offsets are not a long-term solution by themselves, but until a more permanent and effective solution is found they are a start.

"The Green MPs use communications technology, such as telephone and video-conferencing and schedule multiple events in a trip to reduce the need for getting on a plane.

"The Green Parliamentary staff are also working to reduce the office's carbon foot print. In addition to recycling and composting office waste and turning off lights and computers when not needed, a paper waste audit is to be held in an effort to reduce use even further. We have also asked for separate electricity use figures for our floor so we can monitor our progress.

"It will take a combined effort from all inhabitants of the planet to address climate change, but we have to start somewhere," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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