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Green Stimulus Package Will Reframe Policy Debate: A Lot More Can Be Done At Less Cost

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Green Stimulus Package Will Reframe Policy Debate: A Lot More Can Be Done At Less Cost

15 MAY 2009 - Business leaders are welcoming the debate on the Green Party's economic stimulus package.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says the package announced today, involving home insulation, farm waterway fencing and planting, transport and energy efficiency programmes and home building, will help focus policy debate here on win-win solutions to improve both our economy and the country's quality of life.

The package indicates some of the job-rich opportunities the country has by looking for policies which lower energy use and emissions, while delivering large savings and other benefits, like improved health and productivity, Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says.

"Our research shows New Zealanders overwhelmingly embrace solutions like this," he says.

However, the policies could go further: the country has a million poorly insulated homes, 433,000 of them said to be making their occupants sick.

"So we'd like to see policies go further than, say, the $164 million on home efficiency over three years. We have a $22 billion housing performance infrastructure problem. The state can never pay to fix that on its own. So we need innovative private-public funding packages to fix the million homes over the next 10 years. Our latest research shows 670,000 homeowners will take up specific funding options we've proposed during the next decade. We hope the National-Green programme for action on improved home performance will be announced in the May 28 Budget.

"A complete package will also include speeding up the implementation of the emissions trading scheme. A price on carbon will be a more powerful stimulus to redirect investment into cleaner more efficient and competitive investments, products and services and secure our overseas trade and tourism income.

"Alongside fencing streams, we also need to look at allowing the easier transfer of water available for commercial use from one user to another, pricing water so it goes to its best-value use, and introducing trading of nutrients within a limit.

"Similarly, we need to increase the levy on solid waste to landfill, based on accurate measurements of the cost of all of its real impacts, to stimulate more efficient business practices, and new cleaner business.

"Policy makers also need to look at other very low-cost initiatives. For example, the cheapest quickest measure to improve transport efficiency would be to allow high-occupancy vehicles to use bus-only lanes. There is also vast overseas experience of and New Zealander voter support for cash incentives to buy fuel and emission-efficient cars - and to take the most polluting vehicles out of the fleet," Mr Neilson says.

"While the Greens have a preference for community based solutions, it's legitimate to ask if having a preference for a provider provides the best way to provide the lowest-cost solution. Emissions, waste and water pricing, for example, may provide the most cost efficient stimulus for mass forestry planting, stimulating billions in clean energy investment and new clean technology development, and efficient water use while protecting the environment."

A February study by the HSBC bank of economic stimulus packages worldwide found US$430 billion allocated to climate change-related measures in 20 countries, with the US and China leading the way.

"The Greens' package today helps focus this debate. We're convinced we could go a lot further, at less cost, for much larger benefits - for both our trading future, quality of life and the planet," Mr Neilson says.

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