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Guardian criticism reality check on climate policy

Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for Climate Change Issues

13 November 2009
Media Statement

Guardian criticism a reality check on climate change policy

Criticism in today’s Guardian is a reminder of the risk to New Zealand of not taking climate change seriously and ensuring our actions match our words, Minister for Climate Change Issues Nick Smith says.

“The climate change policy the Government inherited from Labour was not credible,” Dr Smith said. “The rhetoric of New Zealand being a world leader on climate change has been at odds with a trebling in coal-generated electricity, record felling of trees, and large increases in our gross emissions over the past decade.

“We have had to give New Zealand’s climate change policy a reality check. We are not claiming New Zealand can be a world leader in emissions cuts or the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Our policy is for New Zealand to do its fair share and this will be challenging given our unique emission profile dominated by agriculture.

“We are about less talk and more action. That is why we’ve advanced policies to insulate 180,000 homes, encouraged solar water heating, funded bio-fuel development, exempted electric cars from road user charges and facilitated renewable energy projects.

“New Zealand does need to get on and implement an emissions trading scheme that encourages energy efficiency and afforestation. The debate on an ETS has raged for more than a decade and we need to make a start. That is why the Government is determined to pass its legislation by Christmas and introduce a carbon price on 1 July 2010.

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“It is unfortunate the Guardian was not fully informed of New Zealand’s position. I will be providing information to the Guardian to ensure the full facts are known. For example, I will be clarifying that New Zealand is on track to meet its Kyoto commitments as a result of tree planting in the 1990s. I hope the Guardian will update the information in the on-line column.

”However, the broad message of New Zealand having to be careful that our actions must match our words needs to be heard.”

ENDS

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