What recent reports has he received confirming that New Zealand is on target to meet its Kyoto commitments as a result of its moderated emissions trading scheme?
New Zealand has just filed its latest emissions report to the United Nations Secretariat. It shows that emissions were down 3 percent from the previous year. The net position report indicates that we will comfortably meet our Kyoto commitment. These are the first 2 consecutive years of emissions reductions, and contrast with the year-on-year increase of 20 percent in net emissions during the 8 previous years. The report shows that the major gains were due to the reversal from deforestation pre - emissions trading scheme to afforestation, and a switch from thermal to renewable generation. About one-quarter of the reduction was due to lower economic activity from the recession.
What impact have these latest reports had on Budget 2011, and what would be the impact for taxpayers had the emissions trading scheme been scrapped?
The reduction in emissions is good news for Budget 2011 in that it reduces cost to the Government by $238 million. I have been advised that without the emissions trading scheme New Zealand would not meet our Kyoto target and would be facing a cost for buying emissions units internationally of about $210 million. These figures confirm that the Government’s moderated emissions trading scheme is working successfully. It has encouraged forest plantings and renewable energy investment, and it is minimising the cost to New Zealand of meeting our international climate change obligations.
What reports has he received on the investment in renewable energy since the emissions trading scheme legislation was settled in December 2009, and what other steps is the Government taking to support renewables?
More renewable generation was consented in 2010 than in any year in New Zealand’s history, amounting to 830 megawatts—42 percent geothermal, 40 percent wind, and 18 percent hydro. That is five times the average annual renewable generation consented during the previous 9 years, during which the bulk of new generation was thermal. This investment in renewables has resulted from the Government’s successful package of reforms, including the emissions trading scheme, changes to the electricity market, and reforms of the Resource Management Act. Two further steps to support renewables taken this year are the introduction of a national policy statement on renewables under the Resource Management Act and, on 1 May, New Zealand’s joining of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
What benefits for Māori have arisen as a consequence of the National Government - Māori Party agreement on the emissions trading scheme?
I acknowledge that all New Zealanders have benefited from the very responsible approach that the Māori Party has brought to the issue of climate change, which is seeing—
The Labour Party? Emissions went up 20 percent during Labour’s period in office—20 percent. We had record thermal generation and the highest period of deforestation ever. I particularly acknowledge the Māori Party initiative that has seen a further $24 million invested in home insulation for low-income households, as well as the considerable investment by a number of Māori incorporations in forestry planting.