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ETS changes will cost taxpayers

ETS changes will cost taxpayers – Government fiddling while the Planet burns

Auckland, 31 August 2009 - Greenpeace is warning that taxpayers will pay if there’s a price cap added to the current emissions trading scheme, but welcomed agreement by most Members of Parliament that climate change is real and action needs to be taken now.

“After nearly eight months of fiddling the proposal now to add a price cap to the emissions trading scheme is a triple whammy, bad for taxpayers, bad for New Zealand’s credibility and bad for the planet,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Geoff Keey. “If that's all they can come up with after nearly eight months in a select committee we are in big trouble.”

A price cap means the Government will guarantee to big polluters that if the international price on greenhouse gas pollution goes above an agreed level, polluters won't have to pay the higher price the taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

“The whopping subsidy to polluters implied by the price cap means that the public will have to forgo things like health services and school funding to make up the difference. Taxpayers will pay twice: first for their share of emissions and then for big business’s share.”

“With a price cap polluters are protected from the real price of carbon and will therefore face little incentive to change their ways. Emissions under a price cap will keep going up – the Government will have to use taxpayer’s money to buy carbon credits off shore to make up the shortfall.”

“A price cap will also be the death knell of the forestry sector.”

“It’s no wonder one of the conditions for New Zealand signing onto a climate change deal is access to cheap international carbon credits. The Government needs this to be able to afford the corporate welfare that a price cap on carbon will cost.”

Greenpeace commissioned an economic analysis of the original ETS that found it was seriously flawed and wouldn’t sufficiently reduce emissions. (1) “The Government appears to have decided to keep the flaws in the original and add new ones,” he said.

“We’re pleased that all parties except for ACT agree that climate change is real and action needs to be taken now. An Emissions trading scheme on its own was never going to be enough to address climate change and with these changes it has been made even less effective, it really amounts to fiddling while the Planet burns.”

“Greenpeace hopes the Government will respond by committing to a 40% target and putting in place the policies needed to reduce New Zealand’s emissions as much as possible, as soon as possible,” concluded Keey.

Notes to editors

(1) New Zealand's expanding carbon footprint http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press/reports/expanding-carbon-footprint-report March 04, 2008

Analysis of New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme; major flaws and barriers to emission cuts.

http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/new-zealand/press/reports/expanding-carbon-footprint-report.pdf

ENDS

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