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The Green Party is calling for the National Government to drop its proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) today said would render the scheme toothless.
The PCE has slammed the National Government's Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill in its submission released today.
"The Government's changes mean polluters will pay less, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab," Green Party climate change spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham said.
"The PCE has highlighted that the Government is crippling the New Zealand carbon market by hiding the price signal the ETS generates - the essence of the Government's plan to reduce carbon pollution.
"Worse than simply making the ETS useless, the PCE indicates that the outcome will actually be taxpayers subsidising pollution.
"The point of the ETS is supposed to be to reduce our emissions - not paying polluters to pollute.
"While previous legislation has weakened the scheme, the changes proposed in this bill render it toothless.
"Climate change is the biggest issue of our time. Yet the Government has given up any pretence of trying to address the problem.
"That is why it allowed just two weeks for submissions on its new measures - it would be embarrassing for such a failure to be given a proper public debate," said Dr Graham.
"The PCE raised serious concerns about how the bill would continue to exclude agriculture from the scheme, and continue to allow low prices for emissions and discounts for many polluters.
Dr Graham said the Government places economic growth and trade above sustainability. And it treats the ETS as an inconvenience rather than a vital tool to combat climate change.
"The amended ETS will not deliver change. The Government has its head in the sand over climate change.
"It is leaving a mounting problem for future generations to tackle. If it cared about our children, the Government would act now.
"Not only was the submission period extremely short, but hearings were also being truncated, and the select committee was required to report back in mid-October," said Dr Graham.
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