The parties on climate change, part IIHome » Blog » Lynda Brendish » The parties on climate change, part II
Political parties weighed in on their views on climate change, and what to do about, at an Oxfam-hosted election debate in Auckland this week
Part two of our coverage of candidates' responses at a climate change election debate in Auckland last week. Part one is here.
Last week, Aucklanders had their chance to hear Nick Smith (National), David Parker (Labour) and Kennedy Graham (Green) out on their party's responses to climate change at an Oxfam-hosted debate at the Auckland University School of Business.
This is part two of two summarising the candidates' responses.
3. The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme is a key instrument to help reduce our emissions by placing a price on carbon. In relation to the NZ ETS:
Q. What changes will your Party seek to make to the NZ ETS? When will agriculture enter into the scheme? What complementary measures will your party introduce into the system?
Kennedy Graham: "The ETS is an all-sector, freely allocated trading scheme. As it is, it is not fit for purpose." The Green Party's preference is a Carbon Tax, but it feels a trading scheme can only be effective on the basis of two things. 1 - an annual fixed cap that reflects emissions reductions targets of 40% and 95%, and 2- quarterly auctions of permits that sell the annual permits according to the consequential carbon price.
Graham said the Greens intend to bring agriculture into the ETS as of January 2013, and that ways already exist for agriculture to reach reduction targets in ways that are sustainable and cost effective for farmers. He mentioned a few: changes in feed composition, breeding low methane cows and better management of wet soil, as well as the deintensification and diversification of land use.
Complementary measure mentioned included strengthening the permanent forest sink initiative, biogas usage on farms, and more electric transport.
David Parker reiterated Labour's intent to bring agriculture under an ETS that would have different allocations in different sectors. No free allocation in transport or electricity for domestic use. Some allocation in industry, and for agriculture free allocation for 90 percent of 2005 emissions, "which would effectively have them paying for all increase in their emissions above 1990 levels".
As far as complementary measures, Labour plans to take funding away from the 'Holiday Highway' and re-allocate to, among other things, the Auckland rail link. He also mentioned an R&D tax credit, and "others" - but his alloted time was up.
Nick Smith asserted New Zealanders should be applauded for the progress made on the ETS, the only country outside of Europe to have made progress in the space. He mentioned a concern that certified emissions reductions from overseas need to be looked at to verify their environmental integrity, and a plan towards a joint ANZAC emissions trading scheme.
As far as agriculture, Smith said: "The two key tests for National in including agriculture in the ETS are:
- Practical technologies that will enable farmers to reduce their emissions; and
- Progress internationally around our principle of New Zealand doing its fair share.
4. Greenhouse gas emissions from transport increased by 64 percent in the period 1990-2006 and currently make up 18 percent of New Zealand’s total emissions.
Q. How will your Party deal with reducing emissions from transport in New Zealand and in particular Auckland?
Nick Smith pointed to transport emissions' inclusion in the ETS, and that a 3.5-4c additional price on petrol would, in the longterm, help drive consumer decisions on the types and efficiencies of the cars they drive. Secondly, he made the point that where it is cost effective to do so, we should invest in public transport. In rural communities, he said personal, individual trasnport was still the best method. He also mentioned incentives for electric car transport.
Smith brought up the view that more roads necessarily equals more cars and said; "the record of the last decade is the opposite", and that cars on free flowing roads produce 40 percent less emissions than on highly congested roads.
He also mentioned more investment in electric trains for Auckland and support for the national cycle trail initiative and a desire to see more tourism focussed on lower carbon activities.
David Parker referred to the New Zealand Energy Strategy which shows one of the biggest areas of carbon reduction could come from vehicle efficiency improvements. He proposed an energy efficiency rating for imported cars, similar to the existing rating for dishwashers, fridges and similar appliances. He talked fuel substitution, and modal shifts to more efficient forms of freight and personal transport. Parker also mentioned Labour's plans to pull $1.7b of funding from the Holiday Highway (Puhoi-Wellsford) and funnel the bulk into an Auckland rail link.
Kennedy Graham referred to the Green Party's Getting There strategy, noting it plans to reduce emissions by 4.7m tonnes a year in two ways: 1) by introducing fuel economy standards on vehicles and 2) by "fully implementing" the New Zealand Energy Strategy. The fuel economy standards would see Kiwi cars brought from a current average of 210g of carbon per kilometre down to 110g/km by 2019.
Additionally, the Greens would take $1.05b away from current road plans and reapply it towards their initative to create 100,000 green jobs.
Audience question to Nick Smith: What research can you point to that building more roads leads to free flowing traffic?
Nick Smith: "Truth is that if you have traffic moving freely on well built road, emissions are substantially less than if congested." Smith referred to the belief that more roads equal more cars and used his constituency of Nelson as an example, stating more roads in that area would not result in more cars. "What you need to have is a well-designed transport system fit for purpose, and with the right capacity – and the worst thing for emissions is highly congested traffic that results in very high levels of emissions."
Audience question: How do you plan to get more investment into green technology and jobs?
Nick Smith: The government has provided a number of businesses grants for this. Additionally the establishment of a Green Growth advisory group will yield ideas when it provides a report in December.
David Parker: "We wouldn't sell the SOEs for a start, but start harnessing them for their capability in the green space." Additionally Labour would bring agriculture into the ETS and introduce a 12.5 percent R&D tax credit, funding by the agriculture industry payments under the ETS. There would be regulated minimums to encourage deployment of, for example, insulation in rental houses.
Kennedy Graham said the Green's plan for 100,000 jobs would comprise of of 73,000 direct jobs in home installation, renewable energy oriented SOEs, more state and community housing, conservation measures and forestry.
Lynda Brendish is the communications and media coordinator at Oxfam New Zealand. She also freelances for Good magazine.