The Minister for Climate Change thanks the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment for his latest report examining an alternative approach to dealing with long-term climate change targets and policies.
“Commissioner, Simon Upton, has provided a thought-provoking document, as I would expect, and the Government welcomes it as part of our overall consideration of climate strategies,” James Shaw says.
“The Commissioner’s report questions some of the fundamental design principles of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS).
“However, for the sake of providing policy stability and predictability for emitters and the forestry sector, the Government is committed to retaining the use of forestry off-sets for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions.
“As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says, there is a narrowing window of opportunity to stay within 1.5o Celsius of global warming. It is because that window is so narrow that planting trees to offset emissions is a necessity; at least in the coming decades.
“Nevertheless, Commissioner Upton is correct that trees only retain sequestered carbon for the life of the tree whereas emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.
“I agree that the priority must be actual gross reductions in emissions,” says James Shaw.
“The NZ ETS reforms we consulted on last year, and which we will introduce this year, will provide necessary incentives to bring down domestic emissions.
“The ETS reforms being introduced are the result of consultation, review, and decisions made over the past five years.
“The Government believes those sets of reforms are the best range of policies available at this time.
“Fundamental changes, such as those proposed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, would need to go through the same processes that have brought us to where we are now with the current ETS reforms being put in place,” Mr Shaw says.