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Emissions: farmers want out, NZ wants them in

August 10, 2009

Media Release

Emissions trading: farmers want out, New Zealand wants them in

Nearly nine out of 10 farm owners and managers want to stay out of the emissions trading scheme.

Some 25% of New Zealanders agree with them. However, 47% want them in the scheme, including 67% of farm workers.

Business managers and executives and professionals and senior Government officials, also strongly support agriculture being included in the scheme, now subject to a select committee review and background multi-party deal-making talks.

A nationwide online ShapeNZ survey of 2,369 people, commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, also shows that if agriculture is kept in the scheme, 31% of New Zealanders think they should receive no free taxpayer emissions assistance at all.

Only 1% of farm owners and managers, on the other hand, say they don't want any of their emissions paid for by taxpayers during the first four years of the ETS is operating.

Among farm owners and managers, 40% want 80 to 90% of their excess emissions paid for by taxpayers (the current law provides for 90% assistance for emissions above 2005 levels for four years from 2013, then a phase out at 8% per year). Some 24% of farm owners and managers say they want 100% assistance.

More voters for parties currently in the Parliament want agriculture in the scheme than out, except Act. National voters want agriculture covered by 40% to 37% (23% don't know), Greens are 82% for inclusion (7% against), Labour 57% (19%), Maori Party 73% (10%); United Future 67% (nil), and Jim Anderton's Progressives 64% (8%).

Voters for Act, which wants the ETS repealed and replaced by a carbon tax, oppose agriculture being in the scheme by 64% to 19%, with 17% unsure.

Perhaps of concern to National's policymakers, 36% of their voters think agriculture should get no taxpayer emissions assistance at all. This compares with 27% of Labour voters.

Asked to nominate the level of support agriculture should receive, more than half the country either wants no support given, or no more than 10 to 20%.

Business people and professionals specially want agriculture to play its part in reducing emissions and meeting its bills for excess emissions under the scheme.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says the results show New Zealanders believe agriculture, as the largest emitting sector, should play its part in cutting emissions.

"Farm owners clearly don't want the scheme. If they have to have it they want taxpayers to pay the bill for between 80 and 100% of their emissions.

"There's clearly a divide between farmers and the rest of the country. Business people obviously know if agriculture pays less, their sectors or the taxpayer has to pick up the bill.

"We can all benefit from more agricultural exports, and producing them in a way that is acceptable to New Zealanders and final consumers if that growth is to continue.

"We need to reduce emissions. We need to make sure agriculture faces a carbon price signal and has incentives to reduce emissions, while being helped to adjust. We also need to cut emissions so we retain market access and carbon-content competitiveness," Mr Neilson says. "These results show the tough decisions our MPs will have to make on the scheme and agriculture's emissions reduction role during the next few weeks."

The ShapeNZ survey, covering 2,369 respondents and weighted by age, gender, ethnicity, personal income, employment status and party vote 2008, to provide a representative population sample, has a maximum margin of error of +/- 2%.

Results tables are available from the Business Council.


ENDS

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