Does he intend to honour the terms of the 2008 confidence and supply arrangement with the ACT Party concerning the emissions trading scheme; if not, why not?
What is the Minister’s view of last week’s reported comments by Mr Peter Clark, Chief Executive of the forestry management and marketing firm PF Olsen Group, that the National Government has “quietly swept that [part of the coalition agreement] under the carpet. What Rodney Hide has to say about that I don’t know,”?
The confidence and supply agreement with ACT provided for the establishment of a special select committee to look at climate change. I note that that committee has been established, that its terms of reference have been agreed, that submissions have been called for, and that its important work is progressing. I also note that the confidence and supply agreement provided for the repeal of the thermal ban. That occurred prior to Christmas. In respect of the delay, I say that I and my colleague the Minister of Agriculture, Mr David Carter, issued a press release last week announcing delays to aspects of the emissions trading scheme process in respect of forestry—all as provided for in the confidence and supply agreement.
Is it still Government policy that New Zealand should be a world leader on climate change; if not, what is the new Government’s approach?
It is a very good question. The irony of the previous Government’s policy of being a world leader on climate change is that the only thing on which we seemed to lead was the fastest growth of emissions of any developed country in the world. As far as the policy of carbon neutrality is concerned, I say that emissions figures reported to the United Nations show that emissions during the Labour term of office went up by 12 million tonnes greater than they did under the previous Government of 9 years. It is this new Government’s view that climate change is incredibly challenging. Our objective is to ensure that New Zealand does its fair share as a developed nation in addressing this global problem. Frankly, that will mean doing a whole lot more than the last Government.
Apart from relying on a recession in the economy to get carbon emissions down, what are the Minister’s plans to achieve that end?
The Government has a suite of measures to address climate change. Tomorrow I will be introducing an amendment bill for the Resource Management Act. Let me explain to the member opposite why that is so important. During the course of the last Government, every year there was a decline in the proportion of renewable energy. In fact, under the previous Government there was a trebling in the amount of electricity produced from coal. By amending the Resource Management Act, National intends to make renewable energy more viable so that we can do a whole lot better—that is just one of many measures we will be taking.
Does his Resource Management Act amendment propose, then, to reverse the recent decision of the Supreme Court, which stated that climate change was not a relevant consideration when consenting generation for electricity?
The irony in that question is that the previous Government passed an amendment bill—[ Interruption] No, the previous Government passed an amendment to the Resource Management Act, and that amendment specifically removed the element of climate change being considered. The previous Government introduced and passed a bill to specifically remove climate change from being considered under the Resource Management Act. It is National’s view that the most important thing we can do under the Resource Management Act is provide timely processes for renewable energies, so that we do not get projects being delayed for 6 years, 7 years, and—in some cases—over a decade. National is confident that with those changes we will actually see an expansion of renewable energy and some show of us meeting the target of 90 percent renewables.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have not been involved at all in this question but a number of us would be extremely interested to hear that last question answered. Is the Government going to reverse that change to the Resource Management Act?
Unfortunately, the member cannot insist on a yes or no answer. My concern was that the honourable Minister’s answers are too long. They have to be reduced in length.
Why does the Minister not save jobs in New Zealand by immediately repealing the emissions trading scheme until after the Kyoto II meetings in Copenhagen later this year?
It is not the Government’s view that we would serve New Zealand’s interests well by simply backtracking. It is the Government’s view that an emissions trading scheme is the right answer. The problem is that the legislation last year was rushed. Officials have noted that there are mistakes in it that will have to be corrected. It is subject to the review that is undertaken by the select committee. It is the Government’s preference to amend the emissions trading scheme so that it better balances New Zealand’s economic and environmental interests.