Govt's climate change response in tatters

Published: Thu 16 Jun 2005 04:11 PM
Govt's climate change response in tatters
Ken Shirley Thursday, 16 June 2005
Press Releases - Environment & Conservation
Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson has confirmed to Parliament’s Environment and Local Government Select Committee that his Government’s latest projection on carbon balances show a deficit for the first Kyoto reporting period 2008/12, ACT Energy spokesman Ken Shirley said today.
“Regrettably the Government’s excessively bold climate change response measures have been developed in a cavalier way on the false assumption of a significant surplus,” Mr Shirley said.
“From the outset ACT has been saying that it is foolish for New Zealand to embrace and adhere to the fundamentally flawed Kyoto Protocol. It is an international political document that is unfair, distortionery and does not achieve its stated objective.
“The Minister confirmed to the Select Committee this morning:
 That New Zealand is the only southern hemisphere nation with a commitment in the first reporting period.
 That New Zealand is the only ASEAN nation with an obligation.
 That New Zealand stands alone with Japan and Canada as the only APEC nations with an obligation.
“It is absurd that New Zealand is also the first nation to introduce a comprehensive carbon tax. If the Government was so determined to wear the thickest hair shirt amongst the international community, the adoption of a true market instrument would have been far sounder public policy response.
“Under a market instrument the carbon credits for absorbing atmosphere carbon would have been left with the forest owner to encourage more forest planting. Instead this government nationalised carbon credits. The theft of property rights is never a good starting point.
“On the other side of the ledger the Government dishes out largesse to selected industries under their negotiated greenhouse gas agreements whereby the energy efficient subsidise the energy inefficient. This also leads to a process of politicisation with intensive lobbying and plea bargaining. It also places governments’ hands on the economic levers.
“In the electricity market the Government’s carbon tax of $15 a ton will result in a mass distortion with windfall profits by the Government-owned hydro generators Meridian, Genesis and Mighty River. Their super profits will be paid back to government as a dividend. The result is instead of a tradable market instrument that might change behaviour we have a cost imposition on the economy through this carbon tax, which will distort commercial decisions with the government reaping most of the carbon tax back in revenue.
“ACT is committed to ending New Zealand’s foolish adherence to the Kyoto Protocol,” Mr Shirley said.

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