NZ emission scheme should pick up some Aussie ideas

16 July 2008

Forest owners have welcomed the release by the Australian Government of its preferred policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The decision to include Kyoto forests in what the Australians are calling their ‘carbon pollution reduction scheme’ from its start in 2010, will help build investor confidence in forest carbon sequestration world-wide.

“It is good news for New Zealand owners of post-1989 forests, many of whom are eager to take part in emission unit trading,” says NZFOA chief executive David Rhodes.

“We also note that the Australians will not be imposing a land-use change tax for the deforestation of pre-1990 forests. Instead, they will be looking at incentives for land owners to retain their land in forests.”

He says this contrasts with the approach of the New Zealand Government, which has made owners of pre-1990 forests liable for large taxes if they change land-use, as well as for the costs and hassles associated with monitoring carbon stocks.

Another difference is the Australian promise of measures to maintain the international competitiveness of trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries, such as pulp & paper. This contrasts with New Zealand’s system of phasing out protection for energy intensive industries over time, regardless of what their overseas competitors are doing.

“Our timber and pulp and paper mills are already extremely energy efficient and were early adopters of co-generation. Imposing a sinking lid on their emissions in effect penalises them for having been environmentally responsible.”

Mr Rhodes says there is widespread agreement in industry and at a political level that there should be close alignment between the New Zealand emission trading scheme and its Australian counterpart.

“With the release of the Australian Green Paper, the NZ Government now has the chance to fine-tune its emission trading scheme so this alignment is maximised.

“Changes to rules relating to the treatment of Kyoto forests and the phase-out of the protection for trade-exposed industries should not be major hurdles in the context of the ETS as a whole. But they will make a huge difference to the competitiveness of the industries involved.”

For more information, please contact David Rhodes, tel 0274 955 525