15 October 2009

New bill "weakens ETS" says Environment Commissioner

"Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time," said Dr Wright the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment said upon releasing her submission on the amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) today.

"The changes I have recommended are intended to prevent weakening the ETS to help achieve its stated goal – [to reduce] New Zealand's net emissions below business-as-usual levels."

The ETS will work by putting a price on the carbon you emit, encouraging a move to a low carbon economy. Unfortunately, some proposed amendments reduce its effectiveness by almost removing the price signal altogether for some.

"My greatest concern with the proposed amendments is the changes to allocation - or subsidies - after 2012. The allocation of free carbon credits to industrial processes is extremely generous and removes the carbon price signal where New Zealand needs one the most."

"When we give free credits to heavily carbon emitting industry the taxpayer will end up picking up the tab," said Dr Wright, "and without the incentive to invest in low carbon-intensive technologies, emissions will continue to rise."

"The public deserves transparency around how many free credits are given away and who's getting them. My other major recommendations will ensure greater transparency and accountability of the scheme through regular reporting and reassessment," said Dr Wright.

The full submission and list of recommendations can be downloaded at www.pce.parliament.nz or phone 04 471 1669 to request a copy.

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