New Zealand Still Being Misled Over ETS

ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Leader and Climate Change Spokesman John Boscawen today accused the Government of continuing to mislead the New Zealand public over the effects of the Emissions Trading Scheme as it released the scheme’s first annual report and has said there are a number of ETS myths that need to be debunked.

“Minister for Climate Change Issues Dr Nick Smith today claimed that the ETS was ‘working as intended’, had resulted in reduced emissions and greater investment in forestry.  Each claim amounts to a continuation of the spin and deception from the Government over the ETS,” Mr Boscawen said.

“The Minister attributed the ETS with turning around the deforestation that occurred between 2005 and 2008.  While that is true in part, what he fails to mention is that it was precisely because of the impending introduction of an ETS that the aggressive deforestation occurred.  Land owners wishing to more productively use their land, for both their own benefit and that of New Zealand, converted their land from forestry to dairy – by felling in record numbers – before 1 January 2008 because of the costs that the ETS imposed on deforestation.

“To boast that the ETS turned around the very aggressive deforestation it created is disingenuous and downright misleading.  If New Zealand had had the foresight to negotiate a Kyoto Protocol treaty that allowed for planting offsets on low value marginal land none of this aggressive deforestation would have occurred in the first place.

“Similarly the Minister refers to an increase in afforestation since the scheme was implemented.  This has only occurred because the subsidies provided by the ETS are so generous they are sufficient for foresters to be able to purchase high country marginal land, plant it with trees and take advantage of the one off benefit of approximately 200 tons of carbon per hectare afforded by the scheme.  The Government is effectively giving away ‘free forests’ paid for by all New Zealanders through higher electricity, petrol and food prices.  For Dr Smith to claim that this represents the ETS ‘working as intended’ reveals the true folly of the scheme.

“The fact that Dr Smith wishes to refer the report back to the review group in light of proposed Australian legislation should be a very ominous and worrying sign to all New Zealanders.  It has generally been expected that the ‘2 for 1’ obligation would be extended beyond 1 January 2013 but Dr Smith now seems to be sending a signal that he is likely to proceed with the second five percent increase in electricity prices and 3.5 cent per litre increase in petrol prices from 1 January 2013.

“ACT campaigned strongly against the scheme when proposed under Labour and we have continued to campaign against its implementation under National.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the only solution is to suspend or scrap the scheme altogether – a policy ACT will continue to promote over the coming months,” Mr Boscawen said.