Why is the Government proposing an emissions trading scheme to tackle polluting greenhouse gases?
Because it will work. Climate change is real. The tragedy in Myanmar caused by tidal surges is a reminder of the kind of misery the world can expect to see more of, as the climate changes due to human activity. New Zealand signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol to work with other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions trading scheme we are proposing is an effective and fair way for New Zealand to meet our Kyoto commitments and reduce our emissions at least cost to businesses and households. It applies the same core principles as the European scheme and the proposed schemes in various states in the USA and Australia.
What does the Minister think of calls for New Zealand to delay the emissions trading scheme legislation in order to see what Australia does?
I have heard calls for New Zealand to wait for Australia to finalise its emissions trading scheme before we do anything on ours. In previous years, and from the same source, I have heard calls to follow Australia and renege on Kyoto commitments. Likewise, we have had calls to follow Australia into the disastrous Iraq war. The then Government in Australia got it wrong. This Labour-led Government got it right then and now. But once again we have people calling to say that we should let the Australians do our thinking for us and delay what we already know is good for New Zealand now.
Why would New Zealanders who are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change trust this Government, when over the adjournment the latest figures on emissions revealed that yet again emissions grew by a record amount, and that far from emissions being 20 percent less by 2005—as Labour promised—New Zealand’s increase in emissions is the 38th worst of developed countries during the 9-year record of his Government?
I rise with pleasure to respond to the half-billion-dollar bungle by Dr Smith. In fact, what happened last week was that the estimated deficit for the first Kyoto period halved: it went down from a billion dollars to half a billion dollars. In fact, the emissions deficit during the first commitment period has more than halved. Not only is that the case, but for the first time in our history our transport emissions have levelled off. Our transport emissions have been going up through time essentially since the motorcar was invented. Under this Government for the first time, as a consequence of rising petrol prices as well as of what we are doing with public transport, rail, fuel economy information at point of sale, and other things to improve people’s state of being in New Zealand, transport emissions have levelled off. We have turned the corner.
Noting those answers, does the Minister agree that in order to effectively address climate change globally it will take more than New Zealand introducing an emissions trading scheme and must involve countries such as China, India, the USA, and Brazil, and if he does agree with that, will it come as a surprise to him to learn that on the recent Speaker’s tour the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic informed the delegation that at the recent Brussels conference on climate change only he emphatically made the point that maximum effort needs to be made to bring those countries on board, otherwise all our efforts will amount to not very much; and can the Minister explain why New Zealand is not standing shoulder to shoulder with such an advocate?
I absolutely agree that all major emitters have to be part of the future action on climate change and that New Zealand cannot do it alone. None the less, it remains true that New Zealand is proportionately a far higher emitter than China, India, or any other developing country, and that it is important that we and other developed countries do what we have promised to do under Kyoto. The way we can do that at least cost is through an emissions trading scheme.
In the course of the Minister’s answer he accused me of making a $500 million mistake. I seek the leave of the House to table, firstly, the Government’s own official papers that say the liability was $1,026 million, and, secondly, a statement from 2 days later that reduces that by $500 million.