New Zealand falling behind Australia on climate action
Wednesday 22 August. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press release – Generation Zero
The Emissions Trading Scheme amendment bill tabled by the Government yesterday will see New Zealand falling behind Australia in the low carbon race and shifting more costs onto young Kiwis in the future, says youth organisation Generation Zero.
The amendments will prolong the current ‘transition period’ of the ETS, keeping the carbon price signal weak and giving more subsidies to polluters while removing any clear timeframe for phase-out.
These moves come at a time when Australia’s newly introduced Emissions Trading Scheme has polluters across the ditch paying a fixed carbon price close to NZD$30 per tonne of CO2 – more than ten times the current effective carbon price in New Zealand.
“While many other countries including Australia are making strides forward on climate policy, New Zealand is at best treading water and in many cases moving backwards,” said Generation Zero policy coordinator Paul Young.
Extending the transition period will maintain the ‘2 for 1’ deal on emissions units as well as the $25 ‘fixed price option’, which will mean the effective carbon price cannot rise above $12.50 per tonne.
With international carbon prices having collapsed to record lows, the current effective carbon price in New Zealand is a paltry $2.50 per tonne.
“That the Government is most worried about the carbon price getting too high, rather than the fact that it is currently too low to do anything about reducing emissions, shows that the reasoning behind the ETS is all wrong,” said Mr Young.
Amongst many other differences between the schemes, the Australian Government is raising revenue through sale of emissions units, which it is reinvesting in clean energy projects as well as compensation measures to low-income households.
“Australia is now taking domestic climate action seriously, and with a carbon price more than ten times stronger than ours, they are spurring innovation and creating clean energy jobs while we risk being left in the dust,” said Mr Young.
Generation Zero says the cost of the proposed amendments will fall mostly on young New Zealanders and future taxpayers.
“Analysis by the International Energy Agency and others shows that delaying doesn’t make the costs go away – it actually just makes them larger in the future,” said Mr Young.
The direct fiscal cost of the changes to June 2016 is estimated as at least $328 million according to Treasury, and as much as $1.3 billion according to the Sustainability Council.
“We need agreement on a low carbon plan for our country, and as part of that we need a strong carbon price to incentivise emissions reductions, shift investment to low carbon industry, and ensure that polluters are paying their fair share,” said Mr Young.