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Public says no to copying key parts of Aus ETS

August 28 2009
Media Release

Public says no to copying key parts of Australia’s emissions trading scheme

The public – and specially senior business decision makers – do not want to copy key parts of Australia’s emissions trading policy.

A nationwide survey this week finds New Zealanders do not want the Australian policy to cap the price of emissions – and ban their trade internationally – for five years.

Such a move will stop New Zealand foresters selling their carbon credits for the best world price and could result in less carbon sink forests being planted.

There is also strong opposition to adopting an Australian policy which would provide large emitters with more taxpayer-funded assistance over a longer period. One estimate is that this could cost New Zealand taxpayers $1 billion extra over five years.

More New Zealanders agree than disagree that New Zealand is doing enough about climate change (up 10% since February).

The weighted ShapeNZ online survey of 1118 people, commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and undertaken between Monday evening and Thursday morning this week (maximum margin of error +/- 2.9%) finds:


• More support than oppose retaining free trade in emissions units without a cap on price (35% support, 20% for a ban on trade and a cap, while 40% don’t know)

• Among senior decision makers support for international trade without a price cap is 52%, while only 18% support a price cap and ban on international trading.


• While there is initially more support than opposition (44% to 23%) for harmonising Australia and New Zealand’s schemes if it meant providing large emitters with more assistance for longer, views run strongly against this when costs and forestry implications are raised:

• 45% oppose a price cap being placed on emissions prices in New Zealand if this means fewer carbon sink forests are planted (18% support)

• 56% of senior decision makers oppose a price cap if this reduces forestry planting (22% support)

• Supporters of all parties in the Parliament oppose a price cap if it means less forest sink planting (including National 40% to 19%, Labour 46% to 21%, Act 47% to 33%, Green 72% to 8% and the Maori Party 46% to 13%)


There is marginally more support for a cap on emissions prices in New Zealand if this meant large emitting companies and their trade and workforce were protected by a lower carbon price for longer (29% for a cap, 26% against).

However, when asked about paying for the assistance, the mood shifts strongly.

Asked if they would support or oppose a cap being placed on emissions prices in New Zealand if this meant businesses and taxpayers which are not large emitters have to pay more in subsidies for heavy emitters:

• 62% oppose the cap, including 76% of senior decision makers. Support for a price cap falls to 7% and 5% respectively

Asked if harmonising the two schemes meant phasing out assistance to large emitters more slowly over a longer period, at an extra cost to taxpayers of about $1 billion over the first five years

• 51% oppose the extra phase out assistance (13% support). Among senior decision makers 57% oppose, while 14% support.


Agriculture causes about half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and is currently due to fully enter the trading scheme from January 1, 2013.

• 43% believe agriculture should be included in the scheme (31% oppose)
• 57% of senior decision makers believe agriculture should be in the scheme (25% oppose)

In the United States a proposed emissions trading law provides for farmers to receive emissions units when they reduce emissions. It does not require them to be in the emissions trading scheme.

Asked if they supported or opposed farmers being given free credits before they fully enter the ETS, as an incentive to start reducing emissions immediately

• 31% support, 35% oppose
• 32% of senior decision makers support, 39% oppose
• ACT, Green, Labour, Maori, United Future and Jim Anderton’s’ Progressive voters support the idea, while National voters oppose it 49% to 30%.

(Note, the question does not explicitly say that farmers would receive free credits in return for reducing their emissions. This may have influenced some responses).


Asked if, overall, New Zealand is doing enough to manage climate change

• 44% say yes, 39% no and 17% don’t know. This compares with 41% no, 34% yes and 25% don’t know when this question was last asked in February 2009.

Asked to rate the current Government’s management of climate change, on a scale where 1 equals poor and five excellent

• 27% rate it poor (10% choose 1, 17% 2)
• 42% are neutral (3)
• 15% approve (4 and 5), of which
• 2% rate it excellent (5 )

Full results and an executive summary are available at http://www.nzbcsd.org.nz/story.asp?StoryID=1020

ShapeNZ was established by the Business Council in July 2006 to allow public input on major issues. The panel has more than 14,000 members, and is built from purchased e-mail lists to match the population as a whole, compared with the 2006 census. Results are accurately weighted to reflect the New Zealand population. A report is available here on ShapeNZ methodology. Registration is also available at www.shapenz.org.nz. ShapeNZ is a member of the Market Research Society of New Zealand and follows its code of ethnics.


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