National would slow emissions move

The National Party will slow down New Zealand's move to a low-carbon economy and increase protection of New Zealand's oceans, leader John Key says.

Mr Key announced his party's environment and climate change policy this morning in Nelson.

He said National would implement a law change next year to slow down implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme, in order to continue reducing emissions without hurting households and businesses.

"Our climate change policies carefully balance the costs to households and businesses with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"That is why we intend to slow the phasing in of the emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2015, at which point we will look to align our scheme with that adopted by Australia. Any change to our emissions trading scheme will be fiscally neutral."

The party promised to review the inclusion of agriculture into the ETS scheme in 2015. It would not include farmers in the ETS unless there were practical technologies available to reduce emissions.

"We need to make sure we're not putting a straitjacket on our farmers that would be unfair," Mr Key said.

Labour has promised to bring agriculture into the ETS in 2013 to help fund research and development tax credits, and Mr Key attacked that policy today.

"What they're saying is 'Farmers don't vote Labour, we'll just whack the cost on them and use it to try and buy votes somewhere else."

Another main focus will be the introduction of an Environment Reporting Act, which will aim to create greater transparency in how New Zealand matches up to its clean, green brand.

"This will enable our lakes and rivers to be ranked from the cleanest to the dirtiest. It will help us prioritise our lake and river clean up programme and monitor progress," said Mr Key.

National's environment policy also included new legislation to manage activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Extended Continental Shelf.

This will be coupled with new laws to create marine reserves in the territorial seas.

If elected, the party will also introduce a new waste management scheme and incentives for electric car users.

• National also launched its agriculture policy today, promising a $400 million boost to irrigation and water storage development if re-elected.

Mr Key announced plans to set up a Crown Water Investment Company to invest in irrigation projects, using up to $400 million from the Future Investment Fund, which would draw money from partial asset sales.

"The scheme would operate through the Crown being a minority partner, and investing with the expectation of a commercial return on that investment," Mr Key said. "The intention would be that the stake would be sold off over time."

The funding would first be available in the 2013 Budget.

- APNZ/The New Zealand Herald

 

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