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Huge support for extra climate change measures

Embargoed until 6am
Monday May 4, 2009

Media Release

New Zealanders give MPs huge support for extra climate change measures

New Zealanders overwhelmingly support a range of policies to manage climate change in addition to the emissions trading scheme (ETS).

These policies would help cut emissions - and deliver other cost savings, health and quality of life benefits.

Details of majority public support for 17 of 19 policy options to help cut emissions while stimulating investment and the economy will be presented this afternoon to MPs reviewing the ETS.

One of the committee's terms of reference asks it to look at adapting to or mitigating the impact of climate change.

Results of the biggest recent survey of New Zealanders' attitudes to climate change, released today, show massive support for new policy initiatives, many of which have already been implemented overseas.

Ranked most popular, in the ShapeNZ survey of 2,851 New Zealanders are:

• More incentives for households to improve energy efficiency, 87% support/ 2% oppose
• Incentives for businesses developing renewable energy projects (like wind, solar, wave, geothermal, hydro power) 82%/ 2%
• Lower vehicle registration fees for fuel efficient and low-emission vehicles, 80%/ 6%
• A cash incentive to encourage replacement of energy inefficient home appliances with energy efficient ones, 78%/ 8%
• Financial incentives to purchase fuel efficient, low emission vehicles 75%/ 8%
• Incentives for landowners to plant more carbon sink forests, 74%/ 4%
• New Government investment funds to help quickly commercialise new lower-emission technology invented in New Zealand ( e.g. biofuel made from industrial process emissions, biofuel made from algae; bio fuel made from wood waste and woody residues), 74%/ 3%
• Lower road user charges for diesel vehicles using lower-emission bio fuels, 73%/ 8%
• A Government information programme to advise businesses and households about climate change policies and ways to help manage it, 71%/ 7%
• Increasing goods transportation by rail and coastal shipping, 71%/ 4%
• Increased spending on research to produce technology to help reduce emissions, 70%/ 5%
• Subsidies for farmers to use fertilisers which inhibit the release of nitrogen, lowering emissions and improving water quality, 67%/ 8%
• Assistance to sell New Zealand emissions reduction technology to other countries, 66%/ 5%
• Replacing road user tax with a lower vehicle licensing levy for light diesel vehicles, including cars, 65%/ 7%
• Allowing forest owners to cut their trees and replant substitute carbon-sink forests on other marginal land without incurring any emissions penalty, 63%/ 6%
• Higher road user charges for vehicles which are not fuel and emissions efficient, 54%/ 18%
• Higher road user charges for diesel vehicles which do not use lower-emission bio fuels, 53%/ 19%

Even the mandatory phase out of inefficient light bulbs, dropped as a policy by the new National-led Government, enjoys more support than opposition (45% for, 27% against), while the mandatory phase out of all high emission heavy vehicles 10 years or older (a policy adopted in Mexico) has 44% support while 21% oppose.

The weighted survey, commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, has a maximum margin of error of + or - 1.8%.

The Business Council says it is estimated the Government will make at least $1.6 billion a year from selling emission credits after 2012 and this revenue should be recycled into policies which drive investment, job growth, energy efficiency, boost new technology exports, and clean tech development. At the same time they deliver better health and quality-of-life benefits at home - while helping manage climate change, which nearly eight out of every 10 New Zealanders believe is a problem.

In an oral submission to the ETS review committee this afternoon, the Business Council will assert the lack of ETS policy certainty - 15 years after formally committing to control emissions at 1990 levels - is causing "investment blight" and stalling hundreds of millions in investments.

"Our research shows the country is for getting on with the ETS, and backing it up with a range of exciting policies which will help the economy grow while also securing our quality of life," Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says. "The message couldn't be stronger and we hope the Government seizes some of these and other opportunities to supercharge the impact of the ETS in the next few years."

The full report on "New Zealanders' attitudes to climate change" is available at www.nzbcsd.org.nz


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