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Supplementary Questions: Dr Kennedy Graham to the Prime Minister on Emissions—Reductions and Subsidies

Dr Kennedy Graham's supplementary questions begin at 8:18

Dr Kennedy Graham: Has the Government made any estimate of the percentage reduction required in our emissions in order for New Zealand to have its fair share of the global carbon budget consistent with 2 degrees?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I suspect that calculation may well have been done, but I do not have the numbers to hand. The Government is satisfied that the targets we are talking about at the conference in Paris represent an adequate balance of our contribution to reducing both climate change and temperature increase with the fact that for New Zealand the cost of reducing another tonne of carbon emissions is higher than for any other developed country.

Dr Kennedy Graham: What are the principles of fairness that his Government has used when it decided on its self-described “fair reduction target” of 11 percent of 1990 levels?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Pretty much what I have just said and that is carrying our share of the burden of reducing carbon emissions across the globe on the one hand, and on the other hand balancing it up with recognising that it costs New Zealand more than pretty much every other developed country to reduce carbon emissions by another tonne because of the unique mix of carbon emissions that New Zealand produces.

Dr Kennedy Graham: With full regard to that unique mix, would he agree that if one takes account of New Zealand’s per capita emissions, our relative wealth, and our historical emissions, our target would be at least 40 percent below 1990 levels, not 11 percent?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: All those things have, I am sure, been taken into account, and some of them may be at a detailed level, but, just by way of an example, a very high proportion of our energy is from renewable sources already. I note that other countries that are, on the face of it, promoting more aggressive targets than New Zealand are at the same time, for instance, shutting down low-carbon-emitting energy sources such as nuclear energy and expanding their coal energy, and it is going to be pretty difficult for them to reconcile those kinds of conflicting objectives.