InTouch: “NZ needs an ETS” – Minister

The Minister for Climate Changes Issues has told business leaders he hopes for settled emissions trading scheme attracting broad political sign up.
Hon Dr Nick Smith, also Environment Minister, says New Zealand has not been served well by policy flip-flops by both main political parties during the past 14 years, during which both firstly favoured carbon tax, then an emissions trading scheme.
Delivering the keynote address to dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, attended by more than 90 business leaders and their partners last month, Smith said: “We need resolution. And I accept that challenge.
“My ambition is for New Zealand to be able to go to the major (world climate change treaty) conference in Copenhagen with settled emission trading scheme for New Zealand, and one of which there is the capacity for broad political sign up.
“In my view, that would be tremendous achievement. We would in fact be the only country outside of the European Union that would have actually got settled legislation in that area and that is my number one focus between now and Christmas,” Smith said.
“There’s been some commentary about the fact that Australia last week had their carbon pollution scheme very similar to our own emissions trading scheme get in trouble in the senate. I would note we should not be surprised. Implementing an emissions trading scheme frankly is about as challenging as putting GST in place. It is an enormously challenging exercise in economic reform. There will be some humps and bumps in Australia as there have been some humps and bumps in New Zealand.
“I remain of the view, given the level of integration of the New Zealand and Australian economies, that it makes good sense for our response to climate change to be brought together as closely as possible.”
Smith said that while there had been some hot debate around emissions targets in recent weeks, New Zealanders should not under-estimate the challenge. “This is fundamental change on the basis of which our industrial economies have been based … I make no apologies for the fact that this Government is being realistic about what is achievable.”
Smith said the role that made the Business Council so unique was its ability to move beyond highly polarised argument involving “your greenies in one corner, and business in the other” into actually addressing the challenge.
Other speakers at the business dinner included founding chair and former Fletcher Challenge CEO Mike Andrews, founding vice-chair and The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall, and Deloitte chair Nick Main (for whom the event also served as farewell).

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