Does he have confidence that the emissions trading scheme announced by the Prime Minister today will reduce New Zealand’s net domestic greenhouse gas emissions below current levels by 2012; if so, by what percent?
Yes. Further, we expect to about halve our liability under the Kyoto Protocol to about 25 million tonnes or less. We look forward to working constructively with all other parties in Parliament as we advance New Zealand towards carbon neutrality.
How can he confirm that our net emissions will be lower in 2012 than now, when the figures presented this morning suggest they will be higher?
The revision of the net projection report showed that without today’s announcement New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions would have increased for that 5-year period from 2008 to 2012, from where they were previously projected at 41.2 million tonnes up to 45.5 million, most of that because of increased dairy-related livestock and processing emissions. Of course, as a consequence of what we announced today, we expect substantial reductions in emissions, and that projection to be revised next year.
Madam Speaker, could you ask the Minister to address the question, which was about whether emissions in 2012 will be higher or lower than they are today, not higher or lower than they would have been without any action?
The member’s first word in the first answer was “Yes”, to the question of whether emissions would be lower.
Recent opinion polls show that a majority of New Zealanders are in favour of measures like emissions trading. This Government has been steadfast in its leadership on climate change and the need to tackle the challenge as a nation. Today’s announcement takes us forward to climate change solutions.
Can the Minister outline the timetable for legislation on emissions trading, and can he also tell us how the Government expects to involve other political parties in further detailed development of the policy, including the Greens?
We expect legislation to be introduced into the House by the end of the year. In terms of the process forward, as I said in my answer to the first question from Jeanette Fitzsimons, we do look forward to working constructively with all other parties in Parliament. Briefings have been offered to all parties. Detailed briefings have been taken by some parties, including the member’s own party. Requests for further involvement have been received and agreed to.
Does not today’s scheme fail to meet the test put forward by National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leading scientist James Hansen, when he said that if we continue to increase emissions “ even for another ten years, it guarantees that we will have dramatic climate changes that produce what I would call a different planet—one without sea ice in the Arctic; with worldwide, repeated coastal tragedies associated with storms and a continuously rising sea level; and with regional disruptions due to freshwater shortages and shifting climatic zones.”?
No, it does not, because for the first time in our history we will have our emissions going down.
Was a regulatory impact statement undertaken on the emissions trading regime; if so, what is the total cost to the country of the plan, compared with doing nothing, and will the plan be strict enough to achieve John Key’s stated goal of “a 50 percent reduction in carbon-equivalent net emissions by 2050”?
Carbon dioxide emissions will go down by more than 50 percent by that time. Indeed, we have said we will be carbon neutral in the whole of the energy sector by 2040. In respect of the member’s question about a regulatory impact statement, I tell him that the regulatory impact statement is there; it—or a summary of it—is in amongst the documents that have been released. The reality is that the costs of climate change are much higher than the costs of reacting to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of the effect on the New Zealand economy during the next 5 years or so, it is expected that it might knock 0.1 percent off New Zealand’s GDP growth—that is 0.1 percent over that 5 years, not 1 percent, or even 0.1 percent per annum.
Is the Minister concerned that the Labour Government’s targets for so-called carbon neutrality in the energy sector by 2040 rely heavily on purchasing emissions reductions in other countries, and is it not the case that if all countries approach carbon neutrality by paying others to reduce emissions, nobody will be able to get there?
Carbon neutrality in the electricity sector requires a modest 3 million tonnes per annum of offsets in 2025, declining thereafter. The carbon neutrality for total energy, including stationary energy, process emissions, and transport energy, requires 18 million tonnes of offsets in 2040, declining to 12 million tonnes in 2050. If the world does that, the world will get emissions on a downward track.
Is the agricultural sector on track to meet its non-binding commitment under the 2003 memorandum of understanding to reduce its emissions by 20 percent below business as usual; if not, why does the Government feel obliged to deliver on its non-binding commitment to continue to use taxpayers’ money to completely subsidise New Zealand’s most profitable industry for the whole Kyoto period?
No, the agricultural sector is not on target to meet its part of the deal under that agreement. That is one of the reasons why, despite having a proposed date of entry for agriculture of 1 January 2013, we want to have negotiations with the agricultural sector to bring forward emissions mitigation technologies like, for example, the more widespread use of nitrification inhibitors.