Kei te hari koa a ia ki te mārō o te noho here a te Kāwanatanga, ki tana kaupapa whakaheke hau kino tukunga ki te rangi; meina āe, he aha ai?
[Is he happy with the Government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; if so, why?]
Yes, but the recently re-released figures on emissions levels reinforce the need for more action.
Can the Minister please explain to the House what that action might be, given the findings that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions per capita have actually increased dramatically, from 69 million tonnes in 1999 to 77 million tonnes in 2007—a 12 percent increase over the term of this Labour Government?
Yes, I can tell the member what more action from the Government means. I am pleased to be able to tell the member that the Government has signalled its intention to introduce legislation for an emissions trading system before the year is out. The Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues, on whose behalf I am answering this, has said that he is confident that the current projected deficit can be halved through the implementation of an emissions trading scheme and associated complementary measures. I look forward to the Māori Party’s support for that legislation to go to the select committee.
When the Prime Minister said that New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change, did she mean that we would lead the world in increasing greenhouse gas emissions; if not, how does the Minister explain yesterday’s United Nations report that showed that New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 12 percent from 1999 to 2005—compared with 8 percent for Australia, 5 percent for the US, 2 percent for Japan, and minus 2 percent for the UK over the same period—and the United Nations projections that, under current policy, by 2010 New Zealand’s percentage increase in emissions would be greater than that of any other developed country?
Let me try to answer the member’s question by quoting the Prime Minister from this morning. She said: “the economy [has] kept growing rather faster than predicted.” She also referred to the fact that we have had “deforestation, largely driven by the fact that dairy for example was a much more prosperous land use, … There’s a whole lot of reasons for it. But we now have a substantial and comprehensive program to deal with it, which is considerably in advance of many countries.” I look forward to the National Party voting for the forthcoming legislation to proceed to the select committee; 121 votes in favour of that legislation would be good.
Is the Minister aware that the Castalia report on the emissions trading scheme that he has just referred to stipulates a number of worrying concerns, such as that “substantial economic risk would be imposed on the New Zealand economy and businesses”; if he is aware of that report and the concerns, can he advise what the Government will do in regard to addressing them, or is it simply a case of dismissing them?
I am afraid to say that, in the case of Castalia reports over the years, it has often been a case of our dismissing them. From time to time the Government has taken this, that, or the other Castalia report and subjected it to peer review; it rarely turns out to be good for Castalia.
With this Labour Government’s record of actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions by 9 million tonnes during its term in office, can the Minister understand the concern of Greenpeace that this Government seems more concerned about meeting international obligations than actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
In the case of the Kyoto Protocol, meeting international obligations and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are pretty much one and the same. The whole idea of an emissions trading scheme is to reduce emissions growth from what it would otherwise be, and the obligations under Kyoto are to take responsibility for emissions no matter what they are.
With this Labour Government’s record of increasing air pollution during its term in office, what response does the Minister have to comments from the Independent Motor Vehicle Dealers Association that Labour’s vehicle policy will increase the average age of the vehicle fleet and actually further increase air pollution; and what steps will the Minister be taking either to reverse the Government’s high-pollution vehicle policy or to abandon its plans to reduce emissions?
The answer to the member’s question—with respect—is that I simply do not agree with the way the question has been framed or with the claims that lie behind it. You see, when one is trying to improve environmental standards, it is often the case that those who want no change will use an environmental argument to fight it. The environmental arguments are usually junk, and, in this case, most certainly are.
Will the Government further demonstrate its commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions by supporting my member’s bill—the Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill, which was drawn from the ballot this morning—which would gradually change transport funding priorities in order to achieve the Government’s target in the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy to reduce by 10 percent the number of single-occupant vehicle trips in cities on weekdays?
I am sorry but I am not able to give the member a straight answer to that question. I have not yet had the privilege of reading her legislation. However, in my experience, it is usually the case that the member’s legislation is at least thoughtful in the way that it is put together.