Worries over carbon strategy

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 16:00 25/10/2012

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Carbon emissions and deforestation will increase and New Zealand's pure image will be tarnished if proposed changes to the emissions trading scheme go ahead, consultant Geoff Thompson says.

Mr Thompson, of Duncan Cotterill Lawyers, spoke to about 50 foresters and business people from Marlborough and Nelson at Blenheim's Marlborough Club yesterday.

He was appointed by the Government to the trading scheme's 2011 review panel for his expertise and interest in forestry, farming, climate- change issues and the scheme.

The Emissions Trading Scheme Act 2008 aimed to cut climate-changing emission levels. However, scheme changes had since removed incentives for polluters to develop better methods and foresters to re-plant, he said.

New Zealand had once been a world leader in managing carbon emissions but had fallen behind other countries. "Our international reputation will be eroded . . . our trade reputation, our clean green image will be undermined," he said.

The two key changes proposed by the Government were to continue the $25 cap on the price of carbon and indefinitely delaying the agriculture industry from entering the scheme.

The amendment bill will also allow polluters to continue to meet all their obligations by buying cheap offshore credits, effectively boosting economies in eastern Europe, he said.

The Government had failed to grasp the importance of forestry to New Zealand's economy and had removed the incentive for people to continue re-planting, he said.

Forestry was the nation's second-largest export. "Until recently, forestry was acknowledged as a very important part of New Zealand's carbon profile. Earnings were seen as a cashflow supplement to boost new plantings and a new industry of carbon forestry was developed."

With the Kyoto agreement running out at the end of the year, the legislation would be put through its second reading in Parliament quickly, and this was the time to lobby MPs, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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