Halting ETS is 'absolute bottom line' for supporting National - ACT

Jamie Whyte on Q+A

ACT wants the Emissions Trading Scheme abolished immediately, and will make the ETS a bottom line in coalition negotiations, leader Jamie Whyte said this morning.

“Our absolute bottom line to provide National with ongoing support on confidence and supply is that there be no expansion of the ETS until China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada take similar material steps to implement ETSs across their economies, including agriculture,” Mr Whyte said.  

The ACT leader's comments came as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fifth major Assessment Report this morning NZ time, following a draft made public last October (read NBR's analysis here).

The report's headline findings include "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased" and "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years."

National has delayed or indefinitely postponed introducing the ETS to several sectors. Farming is exempt until at least 2018. Mr Whyte wants no further expansion, and favours the scheme being scrapped. 

He says even if the climate change model used by the IPCC is correct, the ETS is the wrong mechanism for NZ.

“New Zealand is well ahead of any other country in imposing climate change costs on our economy – and we are the only ones even considering including agricultural emissions. We should not move any further ahead until the world’s top ten emitters follow," Mr White said.

"We need a responsible climate change policy that sees us move in line with the rest of the world on mitigation and which focuses on any adaptation policies that are needed. 

China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada are together responsible for over 70% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, while New Zealand’s share of global emissions has fallen over the last decade from around 0.19% to around 0.14%, the ACT leader says.

Emissions in China and India are expected to keep increasing over the next few decades, with China expected to become by far the world’s largest economy by the middle of the century, and India is expected to become equal to the United States.  

No country outside the European Union currently operates an ETS. The EU ETS excludes most of its economy, and does not cover agricultural emissions, Mr Whyte says.

Earlier, Mr White told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that there’s no point in New Zealand cutting its emissions if we know other countries won’t do it. 

‘It's irresponsible of us towards our children to waste money on a futile gesture, when we could be using that money to adapt future climate change.’

Mr Whyte told Q+A that adaptation can be achieved through private means.

Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman says the report is very much a call to action.

‘So it's about whether we take our responsibility as human beings seriously to our children or not.  I mean it's pretty straightforward.  So this is about do we have the ability to act together, both in New Zealand and around the world, to reduce our emissions.’

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