Price on carbon key to a sustainable future

The Government’s failure to place a price on agriculture emissions, as recommended by Ministry for the Environment officials, is hurting New Zealand’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and also hurting farmers who must plan for the future, the Green Party said today.

Carbon News has today released  information gained through an OIA that shows the Ministry for the Environment officials advised the Government to include agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) when it is reviewed later this year.

“National’s apparent attempt to protect farmers now will only hurt them in the long run. Farmers and businesses rely on price predictability. If they don’t have a carbon price they can rely on, it actually makes it very difficult to plan five, ten, twenty years into the future,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“It’s up to the Government to make the conditions right for this transition. Without a reliable plan to bring agriculture into the ETS, businesses will continue to delay investing in the transition – but will then face steep costs in the future when they do come in.

“There’s some very encouraging early research that shows that agriculture can both dramatically reduce emissions and increase profitability by focusing on productivity measures, rather than just growth of milk production.

“New Zealand should aim to future-proof the industry and be more productive in a low-emissions environment, rather than churning out as much low-value commodity milk powder as we possibly can. 

“If New Zealand is serious about playing its part in the global effort to reduce emissions, the National Government can’t keep using agriculture as an excuse. The Green Party has released a plan showing how New Zealand can reduce its emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030 – even giving agriculture a five year lead-in time to allow them to invest in the transition.

“The ETS review is an opportunity to put in place a proper regime that actually achieves the objective that the ETS was originally supposed to achieve – reducing emissions. Under its watered down version of the ETS, the National Government has set the price of carbon so low that it has actually been encouraging businesses to continue to pollute.

“The ETS isn’t working and should be replaced with a transparent and predictable carbon tax – one that ensures industry pays a fair price for its emissions and recycles the revenue back to families and small businesses in the form of a tax cut,” said Mr. Shaw.

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