Failing to take action on climate change, by cutting New Zealand’s emissions, will be extremely expensive to the New Zealand economy, says the Green Party, in response the release of an unbalanced and inaccurate Government discussion document on the target they will take to the critical global climate conference in Paris later this year.
The Green Party is calling on the Government to at least match the European Union’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
“The Government’s consultation document is seriously flawed. It treats action on climate change as a cost, whereas, in fact, failure to take action is actually the cost,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“The New Zealand Treasury found that if New Zealand continues on its current trajectory of increasing emissions, the cost to taxpayers of even a modest 5% reduction target will be up to $52 billion. Reducing our emissions will lower this cost.
“But beyond the fiscal cost of inaction, report after report has found that moving to a low carbon economy is a major economic opportunity, yet this Government continues with its twentieth century mindset of seeing emission reductions as a cost.
“The New Climate Economy Report released in 2014 by a team of internationally renowned economists, led by Lord Nicholas Stern, found that countries can improve their economic performance while cutting emissions. The Chair of the Bank of America, the head of the OECD, the World Bank, the Vice Chair of Deutsche Bank, and many others, endorsed this finding.
“Numbers in the New Zealand consultation paper that look at the cost to households of stopping climate change totally ignore the huge economic benefits of cutting emissions, the cost to taxpayers of not cutting emissions, and of different policy options, such as the Greens Carbon Tax that recycles revenues raised back to households to reduce their tax bill.
“Fighting climate change need not cost households. The Government is trying to make New Zealand pledging a decent target look expensive to suit its political goal of doing nothing.
“The Government has written a consultation document to suit its head in the sand approach to protecting our economy and environment from the threat of climate change.
“The reality is that the Government’s farming, roading, forestry and energy policies are driving dramatic increases in our greenhouse gas emissions, projected to grow by a massive 50 percent in the next decade.
“The Government’s discussion document tries to paint them as victims of a unique set of circumstances outside of their control, as opposed to being the actual authors of the policies that have led to massive emissions increases.
“The Green Party is committed to at least a 40% emissions reduction by 2030, and that number is the minimum the Government needs to commit to protect New Zealand from dangerous temperature rises.
“New Zealand has much higher emissions per person than the European Union, but the EU target is a sensible place to start.
“Our politicians are lagging behind the changes many New Zealanders are already making and are failing to seize the huge opportunities a cleaner greener future offers our country.
“I urge people to take part in this consultation and put pressure on the Government to get into the twenty first century and set an emissions reduction target we can be proud of.”