A frog reader suggested we remind readers of the Green MPs carbon offsetting arrangements. Yesterday, they declared their travel spending since the beginning of the year, and committed to do it annually. Parliament is considering standardising such disclosure – great!
In 2006 the MPs measured their emissions from air travel to create a baseline. Air travel makes up the vast bulk of emissions from travel for the MPs, and was easier to calculate than other forms of travel – although by no means simple or quick to measure!
Since 1 Jan 2007, the Green MPs have been paying to offset their air travel emissions. They pay from their own pockets – it is not paid for by Parliament. They are currently paid up to the end of 2008, with emissions for 2009 to date still being collected and calculated.
Offsetting is not perfect. In a Green world, there would be alternatives to fossil-fuelled air travel, such as much better provision of video-conferencing facilities, biofuelled aircraft, other swift transport options for inter-city travel, and MP life may even be a little less frenetic. But to a great extent, our MPs represent New Zealanders all over the country and the public needs access to them, so they need to travel. Our MPs continually advocate and work for a low emission transport system, and alternatives to travelling such as flexible working hours that reduce flight demand. We’ve also long advocated a carbon price (either via tax or ETS) that prices domestic flight emissions, and for international emission to come into Kyoto. A price on liquid fuel emissions in the ETS, which was due to come into effect 1 Jan 2009 when first mooted by Government in 2007, is effectively a compulsary offset. However, it is now uncertain whether it will even come into effect in 2011 as provided for in the ETS Act.
We use one of the most credible offsetting companies, carboNZero. It is owned by the CRI Landcare Research, is Kyoto compliant, enables the money to go to native forest sequestration, and has won many awards.
We also continue to pressure other MPs into making offsetting common practice across parliament, and to get better access to video conferencing facilities. The MPs’ secretaries go to considerable effort to make an MPs visit to a particular place as efficient and productive as possible.