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Emissions trading scheme on hold for agriculture

The government yesterday confirmed a delay of the extension of the emissions trading scheme to agriculture.

The government yesterday confirmed a delay of the extension of the emissions trading scheme to agriculture.

In a discussion paper following the first mandatory review of the scheme (which recommended bringing agriculture into the scheme in 2015), it said a review would be undertaken in 2014 to that end.

“With regard to agriculture’s inclusion in the ETS, the government’s position is clear. Agriculture will enter only if our trading partners make more progress on tackling climate change, and there are practical technologies for farmers to reduce emissions,” said primary industries minister David Carter. 

Yesterday's document also proposed introducing more overt powers for the government to auction New Zealand carbon units; introducing offsetting for pre-1990 forest landowners and a review of the level of compensation; and a more gradual phase out of the transition measures put in place for business.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman supported the moves to restrict the amount of overseas offsets companies can use but hit back against the other measures.

“Delaying the phase out of ‘transition measures’, holding the cap on the market price of emissions – against advice – as well as possible further delays to the introduction of agriculture is irresponsible," he said.

“When Labour introduced the ETS it was weak – National’s amendments have made it worse and led to taxpayer’s funding pollution."

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The delay on deciding when to put a price on agriculture emissions, which make up almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases, was also slammed by WWF-New Zealand.

WWF supports the proposal to limit buying credits from overseas which in theory means more emissions reduction. “However”, says climate change spokesperson Lee Barry, "this one positive step is far outweighed by the overall weakening of an already woefully weak scheme.”