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Court Decision Backs The Need For Forestry In Combatting Climate Change

The Forest Owners Association says the successful judicial review of the workings of the Emissions Trading Scheme shows government attitudes and actions are jeopardising New Zealand reaching its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The High Court in Wellington has ruled the government had failed to take into account a number of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emission obligations when the Minister of Climate Change set ETS unit numbers and price controls.

Forest Owners Association President, Grant Dodson, says when the government ignored Climate Change Commission advice and then put the role of forestry in the ETS up for review, it sent a negative signal to all potential forest investors.

“The price of units has collapsed. The review has come up right in the middle of this year’s planting season. Sowing for 2025 planting will begin within another couple of months.”

“Unless confidence is restored by then, which is most unlikely given there is still a month to go on receiving submissions, and no implementation of a new ETS policy ‘until at least 2025’ according to Climate Change Minister James Shaw, then two to four years of forest planting will be heading backwards, just when it is needed the most.”

“Pending an outcome, emitters will pay less for their carbon penalty – which is the opposite of what the scheme is meant to achieve.”

Grant Dodson says forests are the only scale and cost-efficient way of reducing New Zealand’s net emissions at the present time.

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“The important point is removing CO2 from the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter to the climate whether that CO2 is stored in oil underground or in a growing pine tree. The important thing is it is not in the atmosphere.

“Our forests are re-absorbing most of the carbon emissions the rest of the economy produces. But the government is presently treating that reality as a problem and not a solution.”

“Of course, we can’t plant new areas for ever, and of course our emitters need to get their emissions down.”

“But New Zealand’s gross emissions are no less than they were when New Zealand legislated its Paris Agreement obligations more than twenty years ago. That side of the equation isn’t working.”

“As much as I would wish the opposite, there’s no sign I see of much reduction in the next seven years to 2030 either.”

“So, everyone needs a clearer message from the government that it is committed in the meantime to a scheme to make foresters confident enough to resume making sufficiently meaningful investments in fighting climate change.”

Grant Dodson say forest planting contributes massively to net emission reductions and New Zealand has a net emissions target to meet.

“As a country we should be looking for the lowest cost way to achieve those targets.”

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