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Kyoto Forest Owners misleading NZ over sink credit

Kyoto Forest Owners misleading NZ over sink credits

Kyoto Forest Owners are making "grossly misleading and self-delusional statements" about alleged nationalisation of forest sinks, according to the Environmental Defence Society (EDS).

Kyoto Forest Owners spokesperson Roger Dickie said in a statement yesterday that the government has "nationalised" and "stolen" forest sinks, thus depriving forest owners of some billions of dollars of value.

"This is the mantra the forest sector has been chanting now for some time. But they are quite wrong to suggest that government stole forest owners' rights.

"The fact is that forest sinks are created under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement between governments. If the New Zealand government had not agreed to ratify the Protocol, there would be zero value from sinks. So nothing has been taken away from forest owners. The value of their forests has not changed.

"Furthermore, the sink credits created under the Kyoto Protocol provide New Zealand with a least cost pathway into its Kyoto obligations. New Zealand is likely to be a net seller on the Kyoto market because it has more sink credits than it has emission debits. It is perfectly appropriate for the credits, which have been created by the government, to be used to encourage energy efficiency and emission reduction projects, as well as new forest planting, as they are.

"But to devolve sink credits would be handing over much of the value created under the Protocol to foreign owners of New Zealand forests. One of the largest forest owners is based in the USA - a non-ratifying country. Why should the New Zealand government hand over value to them?

"In our opinion, forestry leaders are misleading their constituency and fanning the flames of dispute in the same way that farming leaders did over the research levy. They are doing this to gain leverage for further state support for the industry - for matters such as roading infrastructure.

This is the real issue that warrants closer attention: to what extent should the government continue to subsidise the forest industry? Mr Taylor concluded.

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