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Government pollution policy takes chainsaw to local forests

3 May 2015

Government pollution policy takes chainsaw to local forests

The Government should listen to forest owners and fix their climate change policies, which are driving trees to be cut down rather than planted, meaning New Zealand’s polluting greenhouse gas emissions will increase says the Green Party.

The Forest Owners Association today called on the Government to fix the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to encourage more tree planting that can act as a carbon sink and help reduce our net greenhouse gas emissions.

“By making it easy for polluters to buy cheap carbon credits offshore, the Government has kneecapped local forest planting,” said Green Party climate change spokesperson Russel Norman.

“The Government’s public consultation on our emissions reduction target for the UN climate conference in Paris start today. This is a perfect opportunity for the Government to fix their forestry mess.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries most recent deforestation intentions survey shows forest owners were planning to chop down 80,000 hectares of trees between 2008 and 2020. Losing that carbon sink will hit our emissions out of the ball park.

“86 percent of forests chopped down are intended to be converted to dairy farms. National is thus incentivising both the destruction of our precious carbon sinks and their replacement with polluting dairy farms. It is a farcical policy.

“National’s failed ETS is taking a chainsaw to the local permanent forest industry. Farmers can buy cheap offshore credits for 10-30 cents per unit to offset their emissions, whereas buying local forestry offsets will cost them $3-4.

“The price of carbon needs to be more than $10 a tonne to encourage tree planting, but National has gutted the ETS.

“New Zealanders need to know that National’s ETS actually increases pollution and undermines our local forestry industry.

“It is galling to read National’s consultation document on New Zealand’s emissions reduction target bemoaning how hard it is for us to reduce our emissions, while they pursue policies, like destroying forestry, that would dramatically help to bring our emissions down.

“The Government needs to set a proper price on carbon that encourages permanent local planting, stops polluting dairy conversions, and ensures we can meet a 40% emissions reduction target.”


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