Emissions trading scheme – credits, biodiversity and agriculture

by frog

Jeanette gave her second reading speech on the Emissions Trading Scheme last week and it’s worth pulling out a few quotes to discuss some of the technical details.  First let’s look at one of the changes the Greens made to the free credit allocations for trade exposed industries:

In a further amendment, the Minister must consider the extent to which firms are trade exposed, so that, if a firm is trade exposed for only part of its production, it will not be grandparented free credits for the whole of its production. I said in the first reading debate that I would work to get coal-seam methane included, because that was a completely unacceptable subsidy to the coal industry, which officials were proposing would never be remedied. We did that in the Finance and Expenditure Committee and that is now in the reported-back version of the bill.

That’s still not an ideal situation but it will create significantly more incentives for industries to move reduce their carbon emissions than the earlier version of the bill.

Protecting biodiversity was also, and remains a significant concern for the Greens in the legislation.  This is where the situation currently stands:

Like the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Cawthron Institute’s report, and many environmentalists, we were concerned that the incentive to plant pines for credits might be at the expense of important New Zealand biodiversity, such as regenerating native forest or tussock land.

We wanted conditions in the Act and we were told that this is a matter for the Resource Management Act. So the Resource Management Act will fix it! The Government has committed to a national policy statement on biodiversity under the Resource Management Act with a gazetted timetable to achieve that. That will give needed protection to important areas of biodiversity in New Zealand.

Finally one of the debates around the scheme and agriculture has come from some in the industry saying that it is too hard to reduce emissions. That ignores significant opportunities, not just from changes to existing farming practices, but from potential innovative scientific fixes that now just need the research and technological investment to bring them to fruition:

The most important thing for agriculture will be where the research money goes in the meantime. We do not think it should all be poured down the single chemical channel of nitrification inhibitors. There is agreement that the other sustainable solutions that can reduce nitrous oxide from soils will be pursued at least equally. One of the emails we received when we called for public input on our decision was from someone saying: “I’ve been working for some time to set up a business where I’m going to produce wood from waste wood fuels to replace coal. If there is no price on carbon, this business will fail.? We need a price on carbon so that innovative solutions like this can be adopted throughout the country. The biggest risk is that we think this bill has fixed climate change. It has not. There is a great deal more we need to do, and the Green Party is committed to doing it.

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management | Parliament by frog on Tue, September 2nd, 2008   

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