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"The fall in carbon prices, both in New Zealand and overseas, shows the Government's blind faith in the market is wrong," said Green Party climate change spokesperson Kennedy Graham.
Figures out last week showed New Zealand emitters were mostly buying cheap offshore units to meet their Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) obligations over the past year.
"The Government has chipped away at Labour's barely adequately ETS ever since it got into office to make it almost useless.
"The NZ price has slumped even below the European price, trading at under $5 last week, compared with $20 at the start of the scheme. The famed 'price signal', always simply background noise, has now become completely inaudible.
"On top of that, the Government makes no real effort to prevent cheap European credits from being purchased, with the result that nearly three-quarters were bought offshore.
"By way of comparison, Sweden has a carbon tax of about $175 per tonne. Its citizens know that, if they pay now for their future security, it will cost less overall.
"Our Minister, Tim Groser, has conceded that on present prices, the impact of the ETS will be very low. That is the understatement of all time, even for this Government.
"What the Minister fails to acknowledge is that, until a framework is in place for New Zealand to meet a minimum of its Kyoto obligations through reductions in domestic tonnage, rather than buying cheap indulgences from Europe without restriction, we shall continue to welch on our obligation to our children's generation," said Dr Graham.