The Flexible Land Use Alliance has advised the Green and New Zealand First parties, whose votes in Parliament will decide whether the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) becomes law, that they should not support any ETS that does not include a Forestry Offset Scheme.
Under a Forestry Offset Scheme, forest owners harvesting their land would be able to meet their liabilities under the ETS either by replanting the exact same land, as is allowed for in the original proposal, or by planting an equivalent area of land elsewhere in New Zealand that is not currently in forestry.
The scheme would be carbon neutral, with the Flexible Land Use Alliance pointing out that the atmosphere benefits in exactly the same way whether the trees are planted on previously-forested land or newly-forested land.
However, the group says that by allowing the trees to be replanted on new land instead of demanding they be replanted on the exact same land, there would be an incentive for investors to plant the 600,000 to 800,000 hectares of eroding hill country land which is not currently in forestry but for which forestry would be the best use. At the same time, land use flexibility would be maintained, which has been the backbone of New Zealand’s economy for more than one hundred years.
The concept has been supported in principle by parties representing a majority of Parliament, including National, the Greens, the Maori Party, ACT, United Future and the Kiwi Party.
The Flexible Land Use Alliance, which consists of Blakely Pacific Ltd, Carter Holt Harvey Ltd, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, Forest Enterprises Ltd, the New Zealand Forest Owners’ Association Inc., PF Olsen Ltd and Wairakei Pastoral Ltd, has drafted the attached Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) that would give effect to a carbon-neutral Forestry Offset Scheme.
A spokesman for the Flexible Land Use Alliance, Ross Green, said the National Party had agreed to introduce the SOP if the Bill is further debated in Parliament.
``We urge all parties to support a Forestry Offset Scheme because it is carbon neutral and makes economic sense,’’ Mr Green said.
Supplementary Order Paper
[Day], [date] August 2008
Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill
[Name], in Committee, to move the following amendments:
To omit clause 2 (lines 5 to 14 on page 12, lines 1 to 5 on page 13) and substitute the following clause:
(1) Part 2 of this Act comes into force on a day to be appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council.
(2) The rest of this Act comes into force on 1 September 2008.
To insert in clause 43 (after line 20 on page 163):
(aa) The prescribed criteria in subsection (a) must include criteria requiring that the offset forestry land will sequester the carbon dioxide equivalent of the pre-1990 forestry land over time.
To omit this clause (lines 16 to 34 on page 216).
This Supplementary Order Paper sets out proposed amendments to the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill, which amends the Climate Change Response Act 2002 (the principal Act).
The proposed amendments are intended to allow forestry offsetting proposals to be considered from 1 September 2008.
The proposed amendments:
allow the provisions at clauses 148B and 158A relating to the forestry offset proposal to come into force on 1 September 2008 along with the rest of the Act.
Makes it a prescribed condition that any forestry offset proposal must be carbon neutral.
Removes clause 44A (which delays the provision for forestry offsetting indefinitely).
The effect of the proposed amendments would be to bring sections 148B and 158A into effect with the rest of the act on 1 September 2008.