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Prime minister 'fails to honour ETS promises'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Why exactly does New Zealand have an Emissions Trading Scheme? Isn't it supposed to discourage emissions and encourage forestry and other low-carbon products and technologies?"

Those are the questions forest owners are asking about the ETS, which has turned their world upside down and inside out in recent years. All for no real benefit to the environment or to the country’s reputation.

"The prime minister promised before taking office in 2007 to decisively confront what he described as the biggest environmental challenge of our time: global climate change," says Roger Dickie of the Kyoto Forest Owners Association.

"John Key promised policies to encourage ‘climate friendly’ choices ‘like windmills, hydro power and tree planting’, and to reduce the desire for climate unfriendly behaviours, like burning coal. He promised to give clear signals about where climate change policy was headed in the long-run so that businesses and land owners could can plan and invest with confidence.

"Mr Key’s promises were so unequivocal that many land owners and investors acted on those promises soon after National came to office and began planting forestry."

Mr Dickie says the reality is that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are spiralling out of control, deforestation of land capable of being converted to dairy is underway again, and the concept of planting of forests for carbon is a bad joke.

"The fact that Climate Change Response Amendment Bill has been reported back to parliament with no significant changes means New Zealand will continue to have an ETS in name only.

"New Zealand emitters will still have access to some of the dodgiest and cheapest carbon credits in the world and these will be 50% subsidised by the taxpayer. The area of plantation forest will continue to go backwards," he says.

On 13 May 2007, Mr Key announced National’s climate change policies, saying that tackling climate change required global action - and, as a responsible international citizen, New Zealand should stand up and be counted.

He emphasised that credible action on climate change was needed to defend the economy from "food miles bullies" and to create new markets for Kiwi industries, tourism, and technology. He said a strong New Zealand voice on climate change was vital to the brand exporters rely on.

He strongly criticised the then Labour Government for using taxpayer cheques to pay for its failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a policy that National has now confirmed it will continue indefinitely.

Mr Key said, "The most damaging area of Labour’s climate change policy is what happened in forestry. In the 50 years to 2003, New Zealand each year planted an average 30,000 hectares of new forests. After Labour broke its word on forestry credits, we’ve had deforestation for the first time since those records began."

In 2007 the media was describing this as a "chainsaw massacre. We will encourage tree planting." said the PM.

Mr Dickie said "Because of John Key and the National Party's broken promises we are now seeing deforestation taking place on an unprecedented scale, the National Party's environmental legacy will be a massive bill for all New Zealand taxpayers.

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