Oxfam NZ Election Debate: Climate change

By Gareth Renowden 09/11/2011

Environment minister Nick Smith, Labour’s David Parker and the Green Party’s Kennedy Graham debate climate policy in these edited highlights from the first of Oxfam NZ’s election debates, held last week in Auckland. Debate ranged from whether New Zealand can become carbon-free to the likelihood of a cross-party agreement on long-term issues that last more than an election cycle, and from the effect of investing in roads to the question of bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

More on the debate from Oxfam NZ’s Jason Garman below the fold…

For the National Party, Hon Dr Nick Smith stressed a practical approach, balancing environmental with economic needs. He touted the successes of the ETS and explained the recent decision to indefinitely delay bringing agriculture into the scheme, stating the technology to do so practically does not yet exist. As for roads, Smith favoured a ’fit for purpose’ approach – investment in public transport where cost effective, but not where more roads were deemed the more practical option, such as in rural areas.

David Parker said Labour’s approach would be to bring agriculture under the ETS as of January 2013 and use revenues to fund a 12.5 per cent R&D tax credit. As well, the party supports renewable energy sources, vehicle fuel efficiency ratings similar to those that exist already for home appliances, and re-allocation of the bulk of funding for the Puhoi-Wellsford ’Holiday Highway’ to an Auckland rail link.

Dr Kennedy Graham outlined Green Party policy, which includes climate finance provisions and a plan for reducing domestic emissions by 36 million tonnes. The Party is aiming for a fossil fuel-free economy by 2050, similar to Denmark. Graham also spoke of plans to introduce vehicle fuel efficiency standards, reducing the carbon emission per kilometre from the current average of 210g to 110g by 2019, resulting in significant carbon reductions. The Green Party also supports taking away funding from road projects to reapply elsewhere — in this case to help realise the creation of 100,000 green jobs.

[Video from last night’s debate in Wellington on Foreign Affairs and Aid will be posted to the Oxfam NZ YouTube channel in due course.]