The Green Party has unveiled a bold plan to tax companies
for their carbon pollution, though farmers would be charged
half-price and all revenue would be returned to households and
The party has completely lost hope in the "failed" Emissions
Trading Scheme and now wants to replace it with a carbon tax
in order to ramp up New Zealand's efforts to combat climate
In a speech at the Green party AGM this afternoon, co-leader
Russel Norman said climate change was the "biggest issue of
our time", if not "the biggest issue of all time".
"Climate change is not war. It's not a plague. It's not a
global financial crisis. There is nothing to compare it to in
human history," he told delegates.
"We have no points of reference. Because of this,
understanding what we're seeing and taking action is a
challenge, both politically and psychologically."
He said Government's failure to grasp the problem had left
New Zealand exposed.
If elected, Greens want to charge all sectors except
agriculture $25 per tonne on C02 equivalent emissions.
Farmers would be charged $12.50 per tonne and forestry, which
helps absorb carbon pollution, would be credited at a rate of
$12.50 per tonne.
Sheep and lamb farming would initially be exempt from a
All of the revenue raised from the carbon charge would be
returned to families and businesses.
All individual income under $2000 would be tax-free and
companies would get a 1 per cent tax cut.
The carbon tax would be expected to raise the cost of petrol,
food and electricity bills.
Once the increased costs of companies passing on the tax were
taken into account, Greens estimated that households would be
$319 better off every year.
The cost of a new independent Climate Commission, which would
advise government on carbon pricing, would be funded by the
savings from cutting the ETS.
At present, companies buy carbon credits through the ETS to
cover the costs of their pollution.
Agriculture is excluded from the scheme and heavy polluters
get up to 90 per cent of their credits free of charge.
Greens felt the ETS was now useless because farmers created
roughly half of all carbon emissions and cheap foreign
credits had undermined the market. The price of New Zealand
carbon units had fallen from $25 to $5, which gave less
incentive for companies to switch to low-carbon technology.
Dr Norman said climate change was already costing New
Zealanders, pointing to $174 million in insurance pay-outs
for weather-related events and $1.6 billion in damage from
drought in the first five months of last year.
The carbon tax would cost New Zealand industry around $1.1
billion a year.
The revenue would be divided into tax breaks for companies
($250 million), income tax cuts ($641 million), and credits
for forestry ($186 million).
Analysis by economic consultancy BERL said increased costs of
fuel and electricity were likely to be passed on to consumers
"with little impact on the bottom lines of these industries".
Consumers could expect to pay more in many areas under the
Offsetting the carbon emissions of a return trip between
Auckland and London would cost an airline around $97.50 per
passenger - a cost that was likely to be passed on to the
Dr Norman also noted that 30 jobs had been lost at Fox
Glacier because ice retreat caused by increased warming meant
it could only be reached by helicopter, not by walking.