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Emissions—Greenhouse Gas

Thursday 6 September 2007 Hansard source (external site)

Smith2. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) Link to this
to the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues

Is he proud of the Government’s record on greenhouse gas emissions since 1999?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER (Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues) Link to this

I am proud of the many steps this Government has taken towards carbon neutrality. We have brought wind power forward by many years. We have saved enough electricity to power a medium-sized city through our light bulb initiative. We have encouraged biofuels, drafted an energy strategy that is already influencing our energy companies to go green, and announced a $4 million per annum low carbon fund to bring forward new technologies. The full effect of all of these and other measures will be felt over many years to come, and at the end of this question I will seek leave to table a 15-page list of all of the initiatives we have under way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

Does the Minister accept the official United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, which shows that New Zealand’s emissions from 1999 have increased by 12 percent—at a faster rate than Australia’s at 8 percent, the United States’ at 4 percent, and Japan’s at 2 percent—and that New Zealand has the 18th worst emission figures in the OECD; and how can the Prime Minister go to Sydney saying she will call on other countries to cut emissions, when at home emissions are growing like there is no tomorrow?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I accept the statistics of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I also record again, as I did yesterday, that Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita have been growing faster than New Zealand’s—

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

Carbon dioxide.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

What about methane?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I will come to that. Of course, Australia’s livestock emissions have come down because its livestock has been dying as a consequence of a drought. The Government, in addition to the measures that I have previously set out, is the first in the developed world to devolve Kyoto carbon credits for our permanent forests. We have set up a marine energy fund; we have changed Government procurement initiatives; we are strengthening our national grid, which was neglected by the National Government; we are facilitating distributed generation; we have ramped up solar hot water heating; we have retrofitted tens of thousands of houses with energy insulation; and, last but not least, we have had a tenfold increase in funding for public transport. The full effect of these measures will be felt for many years.

ChadwickSteve Chadwick Link to this

Can the Minister please tell the House of other recent reports on approaches to managing greenhouse gases in New Zealand and beyond?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

A 2004 article in the Nelson Mail newspaper quotes a member of this House as saying the party he belongs to would opt out of Kyoto at the first chance. I cannot reconcile this report with a subsequent report that the same member wrote to the , which claimed he had never suggested pulling out of Kyoto. Dr Smith’s statements are typical of a party whose current leader has said climate change is a hoax, and whose previous leader was equally sceptical about climate change.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

Why did he say to Parliament yesterday: “We have not grown our coal-fired power”, when his own ministry figures show that from 1999 to 2006 there was more than a trebling in the amount of electricity produced from coal, which is the dirtiest way to produce electricity?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

Yesterday I said, and it is true, that New Zealand has not built a new coal-fired power station for decades. If the member cares to hold up the graph again, he will prove the point I made yesterday that coal-related emissions are dropping.

ChadwickSteve Chadwick Link to this

Can the Minister share other reports on alternative approaches to climate change policy with the House?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

One hundred and seventy-five countries ratified Kyoto, and only three backed out of their early agreement—Australia, the United States, and Kazakhstan. We know which side the National Party was on. The National Party has attempted to block every positive step this Government has taken on climate change, and it has voted against every sensible measure this Government has put before the House. I note on the wires today a New Zealand Press Association article about Mr Key, which states: “He would not criticise Mr Howard and US President George Bush for their position on Kyoto saying they were ‘going in the right direction.’ ”—yet again today!

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

Why did the Minister, both today in the House and yesterday in a press release, when comparing New Zealand and Australian emissions, conveniently use only the figure for carbon dioxide, when everyone knows that half of New Zealand’s emissions are methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture; and is he now disputing the inclusion of all greenhouse gases in both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

The point I was making yesterday—and I am happy to repeat it; I thank the member for giving me the opportunity to do so—is that the member stated that because emissions growth in carbon dioxide and other gases was higher in percentage terms in New Zealand than Australia, Australia was more credible on climate change and doing better. In fact, because Australia has such a high rate of carbon dioxide emissions, its lower percentage growth on a per capita basis is twice as high as New Zealand’s. That is because Australia is a higher polluter, and in terms of carbon dioxide it is growing that gap fast.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

Why did the Minister yesterday, in arguing that New Zealand’s emissions had gone up by less than Australia’s, conveniently refer back to 1990 rather than 1999 when Labour came to office, given that the official figures show that between 1990 and 1999 New Zealand’s emissions grew by 1.3 percent as compared with Australia’s 2 percent, but that since 1999 New Zealand’s emissions have grown by 2 percent per annum as compared with Australia’s 1.4 percent; and does this not show that emissions under this Labour Government are growing faster than they did for the 9 years of the previous National Government and faster than those of Australia over the same period?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I have not got the table in front of me, but I recall that the statistic I was referring to yesterday was the growth in carbon dioxide emissions between 2000 and 2005. During that period New Zealand’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions grew by 0.4 tonnes per person and Australia’s grew by 0.8 tonnes per person. Clearly, New Zealand is doing better than Australia in that regard. I made the point in respect of non - carbon dioxide emissions, which in New Zealand’s case are mainly agricultural emissions, that the big difference in recent years between Australia and New Zealand is that Australia has had declining output because of the terrible drought, which has killed many of its livestock. National is scaremongering again. It is time National stopped trying to frighten the public and got along to being part of the solution.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

How can the Minister say that he is proud of this Government’s record on greenhouse gas emissions, when Labour promised that emissions would be reduced by 20 percent by 2005, but the official records show that emissions went up by 12 percent; and what credibility can Helen Clark have internationally when her own Government’s record domestically is so poor?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

The growth in New Zealand’s emissions in recent years is typical of the growth in emissions in many countries. It shows how difficult the challenge is of mitigating climate change - related emissions. But the long list of initiatives that I have already given will actually see New Zealand’s emissions going on a downward track. Indeed, in recent months we have already seen power-related emissions decreasing.

FitzsimonsJeanette Fitzsimons Link to this

When the Minister told the House on Tuesday that New Zealand’s delegation to the UN climate change talks in Vienna had said that New Zealand would commit to binding targets after 2012, what specific targets did New Zealand offer to commit to at Vienna?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

No specific figure was mentioned, and it would be premature in those negotiations to do so.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

What sort of panic is the Minister in that he is trying to hide the Government’s appalling record on climate change by, firstly, denying that coal-generated power has increased dramatically under this Government, despite his own ministry’s figures stating that it has trebled; secondly, conveniently excluding methane and nitrous oxide figures in the comparison with Australia; thirdly, using a base year of 1990 rather than when this Government came to power in 1999, knowing that emissions actually grew more slowly under the previous Government; and, finally, despite all the international conventions like Kyoto, and policy papers like the Stern report, which are based on percentage reductions emissions, he now wants to move off to a different measure; and why does he not just come clean and admit that emissions have been going up rapidly and that forests are being felled like they have never been before?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

In response to the first leg of those many questions, I say the answer is none. I would say that when it comes to credibility on climate change, it seems to me that Dr Smith is like a polar bear skating on thin ice. On 18 July he misrepresented to this House that in the last year there had been a 9.7 percent increase in coal-fired electricity, when there had been a 4.8 percent drop. Again, I am very happy to stand by the record of this Government.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

I seek the leave of the House to table the graph.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.

FitzsimonsJeanette Fitzsimons Link to this

I seek leave to table three documents. The first is a press release from Greenpeace on 3 September, stating: “New Zealand should be utterly ashamed of its performance … ”—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

FitzsimonsJeanette Fitzsimons Link to this

I seek leave to table a small piece from the transcript of Steve Maharey’s speech in the House yesterday.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

FitzsimonsJeanette Fitzsimons Link to this

I seek leave to table a press release put out by Greenpeace today about Steve Maharey telling curious tales in Parliament.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I seek leave to table a 15-page list of sensible climate change policies that the Government has—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I seek leave to table a long list of National Party votes against measures in this House relating to climate change.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I seek leave to table the two irreconcilable and contradictory statements made by Nick Smith to the Nelson Mail

Document not tabled.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

I seek leave to table the Government’s actual record of increased—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

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