The Prime Minister’s statement that the Government intends implementing the emissions trading scheme (ETS) in its current form and on time has been welcomed by a business leadership group.
The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says it is appropriate to stay on track and start reducing emissions because “nature isn’t waiting”.
Our major trading partners are also moving to forms of emissions pricing.
Legislation to price emissions is expected in the United States Senate this month. The Senate in Australia is likely to move after its federal election later this year. The European Union, which has an ETS, the UK and Japan are setting significant emission reduction targets. China has also indicated plans to reduce the carbon intensity of its production.
Billions are also being invested globally in clean technology and it is important New Zealand continues to move to a lower-carbon economy.
“It is important to stay on track because in the long run we are going to have to make an adjustment anyway,” the Business Council’s Chief Executive, Peter Neilson, says.
“The longer the world delays, the higher the cost.”
Mr Key says “the scheme is being phased in very slowly and export businesses will enjoy up to 95% relief on their carbon costs under the ETS, so the impact is very, very small on those export-facing businesses".
The ETS law provides for a review in 2011 and the rate at which we put a price on carbon can be examined as part of that.
Mr Neilson says the Business Council has supported pricing emissions since 2003 to make the external costs of doing business transparent. This acts as an incentive to reduce emissions and introduce cleaner ways of doing business which will be more competitive long term. The Business Council has also always supported transitional assistance to trade-exposed sectors until competitors face a price on carbon.
“So we concur with the Prime Minister when he says ‘it's important that New Zealand gets started in terms of dealing with climate change’," Mr Neilson says.
Seventy-five countries accounting for more than 80% of greenhouse gases from energy use have filed pledges to cut or limit carbon emissions by 2020.
ETS details are available at http://www.climatechange.govt.nz/emissions-trading-scheme/questions-and-answers-amendment-act.html#whatchanges