There are four reasons why the Government's announcement of a better-than-expected carbon emissions position should be treated with caution Labour's Climate Change Issues Spokesperson Charles Chauvel said today.
“Number 1, the figures show New Zealand's gross greenhouse gas emissions are still 23% above 1990 levels. The effort required to get real emissions down is still going to be huge,” Charles Chauvel said.
“All National's policy settings so far – stalling the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), scrapping the ban on thermal generation, doing away with the biofuels obligation, and failing to include in the stimulus package measures to help New Zealand transition to a lower polluting economy - are heading in exactly the wrong direction.
"Number 2, the figures estimate New Zealand’s net position, not the Government's position. And it is the Government - in other words, the taxpayer - who bears Kyoto liability.
“When the final sums are done, the taxpayer will probably be in a net loss position under Kyoto. So it's almost certain the Government will write out a cheque for carbon credits this year.
"Number 3, the figures show a very low uptake of forestry credits by foresters - who are the only sector currently bound by the ETS. They are the only ones who can obtain domestic carbon credits to sell to emitters.
Charles Chauvel says the uncertainty surrounding the ETS is a major problem. New Zealand urgently needs to get its domestic carbon credits market up and running so foresters can feel confident in taking up their entitlements, and so emitters feel confident in buying those credits.
“The ETS needs to be implemented without any further delay,” Charles Chauvel said.
"Number 4, the figures contain only one year of actual data (for the 2008 year), and 4 years of projections. In the past, estimates of our Kyoto liabilities have varied widely. Those projections need to be independently audited before we can be confident they are accurate.
"I'm not knocking the good news contained in today's announcement. But let's not kid ourselves.
“Climate Change remains a pressing problem. And the detail in today's figures show that there is no room for complacency - anyone suggesting otherwise has their head firmly in the sand," Charles Chauvel said.