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NZers oppose most policy changes in climate bill

Embargoed until 6am
Monday, November 2, 2009

Media Release

New Zealanders oppose most policy changes in climate bill

New Zealanders oppose nearly all the major changes the Government proposes to make to emissions trading and climate policy.

More are opposed than support proposals in the Climate Change Response (Moderated Emissions Trading) Amendment Bill, now before Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee, to

• Extend assistance to large emitters for up to about 70 years
• Allow large emitters to lift production and keep increasing emissions without a cap on overall emissions, provided emissions intensity is maintained
• Impose a three year domestic price cap on emissions
• Make any deal which would treat Maori owned forests differently
• Keep subsidy payments to individual firms secret
• Carry on with subsidies to large emitters for five years after a review finds they are not needed because competitors overseas face an emissions price.

A ShapeNZ nationwide online survey of 2,118 New Zealanders between October 21 and 28, finds the country is evenly split on the proposal to delay agriculture’s entry into the emissions trading scheme by two years to January 1, 2015, and the Government’s overall performance in managing climate change policy.

The weighted survey, with a margin of error of 2.1% on the national sample, finds strong support for a proposal to copy UK law and set up an independent committee to advise on future changes in climate change policies.

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Summary of main policy results:

• 44% want New Zealand to lead on climate change – only 15% think we’re doing that and 22% now think we’re moving slower than other countries

• 82% want emitters to pay for their excess emissions, not taxpayers (3%)

• There is an even split on delaying agriculture’s entry to the emissions trading scheme from 1 January 2013 to I January 2015 with 33% for and 29% against, though among business decision makers 37% disagree with the delay, 35% support

• 55% oppose the proposed slower phase out of assistance to large emitters, being extended to possibly 70 years (17% support)

• 44% don’t want a three year domestic cap on the price on emission units (23% for). Among business people opposition rises to 58% and support falls to 19%

• 40% oppose emissions being able to rise without a cap, provided it is at the same emissions intensity (emissions per unit of production) while 22% support. Opposition rises to 46% among business people and support rises to 27%

• Most popular option for assistance phase out, after a review finds that large emitters’ competitors face a price on emissions, is 1 year (37%, 46% among business people), rather than five years as proposed in the bill

• 82% want like treatment for like forestry assets when it comes to making any deals with Maori (90% of National voters, 59% of Maori party voters want like treatment for forestry assets regardless of who owns them)

• 68% want emissions credit payments made to individual emitting firms made public. A proposal in the bill to report payments in total by sector only is supported by only 17%. Among business people support for publication by individual firm rises to 72%

• 70% say large businesses are having most influence on Government’s climate change policy, and Business New Zealand, Federated Farmers and the Greenhouse Policy Coalition (representing large emitters) are believed to exercise the most influence. Only 9% believe small to medium businesses are influencing the policy, while 17% believe voters in general and 6% believe wage and salary earners are having the most influence

• 70% support creating an independent Climate Change policy advisory committee to provide independent advice on future climate change policy changes

• 68% want an ETS designed to suit New Zealand, not one based on the proposed Australian scheme (20%)

• 50% support New Zealand signing a new international agreement to manage climate change, even if major developing emitter nations don’t sign up

• 40% say New Zealand is not doing enough to manage climate change (33% say it is). Among business people 48% say the country is not doing enough, 35% say it is

• New Zealanders are evenly split on Government’s climate change management: 31% approve, 32% disapprove (29% of business people approve, 41% disapprove)

Large majorities of National and Maori parties’ voters do not want them to do any special deals on Maori owned forests:

• 82% of New Zealanders want like treatment for like forestry assets for forestry assets regardless of who owns them. This view is held by 90% of National and 59% of Maori Party voters.

Commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, the survey also finds Maori in general also do not want any special deal made on Maori owned forests: Among the 10% of respondents identifying their ethnicity as Maori only, 72% want like treatment for like assets while only 7% support a special arrangement for Maori forests. (The margin of error on this sub sample only is ± 6.8%.)

Voters for the three parties which have voted so far for the bill to amend climate change law, National, the Maori Party and United Future, do not support most of the proposed changes.

Awareness and the need for a proposed communications campaign

While 71% are aware New Zealand has an ETS, only 3% feel well informed on emissions trading and 12% informed. 23% feel informed but want to know more. 58% feel not well informed.

Business people are feeling slightly better informed: 7% say they are well informed, 18% informed, 27% informed but would like to know more and 47% not well informed.

Among those respondents in work, 18% say their organisation will be a point of obligation under the ETS, but only 17% feel their organisation has sufficient information on emissions reduction measures (only 22% of business decision makers). The ETS is being taken into account in investment decisions by 14% of organisations.

Asked about the expected affect the ETS will have on their organisations, 14% think the ETS will be positive, 15% negative and 39% no effect at all, while 32% are not sure. Among business decision makers 17% think it will be positive, 16% negative, 36% say it will have no effect at all and 31% are not sure.

There is strong support for the Government’s announcement that it will undertake an ETS communications campaign: 77% of those in work want a Government campaign to inform them on emissions reduction measures, 34% saying it will benefit their organisation. Among all respondents (in work and not in work), 69% want a campaign.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says the survey sends a clear signal to MPs to change the bill to make sure subsidies to emitters are fair, paid only until needed, put a total limit on emissions – and to improve the way climate change policy is developed.

The Government also gets a strong green light to go ahead with its idea for a communications campaign, to advise businesses and households how to cut emissions.

A full report on the survey’s findings, including results by party vote on main policy change proposals, is available at

The Business Council’s full submission on the bill is at


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