Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today unveiled what she believes to be the best and most equitable way of addressing the contentious issue of putting a price on carbon.
The proposal is a central plank of the Party's long-anticipated Climate Change Policy framework paper, Kicking the Carbon Habit.
"Ever since Labour backed away from a carbon tax, it has lacked any clear sense of direction on incentives to reduce emissions. National has just come up with slogans, not workable solutions on climate change," Ms Fitzsimons says.
"The Greens have now provided a viable framework. This policy deals comprehensively with how New Zealand should relate to the international Kyoto system - and crucially, it tackles the question of who should pay. The Greens are firmly of the view that it should be emitters, not taxpayers, who meet the cost of our Kyoto liabilities in 2012," Ms Fitzsimons says.
Policies on how to reduce emissions are already in the party's Energy and Transport policies.
"The Government has to ensure that all sectors of the economy will adjust to the world price for carbon, at a managed pace. Under our policy, those who import or mine fossil fuels, and electricity companies who use them, will need to purchase and transfer to the Government sufficient Kyoto compliant emission units to cover the cost of the carbon released by their products. The proceeds will be used to soften the impact on those with few choices and to fund energy efficiency and public transport programmes.
"As we signalled in last year's 'Turn Down the Heat', farming will be protected at this stage from the cost of their emissions up to 1990 levels as they have few options, and will face only the cost of emissions above 1990 levels in 2012. Liability will lie with the processors, such as Fonterra, not with individual farmers."
"The Greens believe Kyoto foresters should receive some benefit for the carbon they store, but do not regard such forestry credits as an individual property right. The Greens would use forest credits to reward foresters for the carbon stored and provide an incentive for replanting. There would also be disincentives for de-forestation.
"By using a mixture of carrot and stick, we can gradually link the New Zealand economy to the world price of carbon, which NZ must pay in 2012," Ms Fitzsimons says.Read the Climate Change policy paper 'Kicking the Carbon Habit'
View Jeanette's presentation at the policy launch (PPT 838KB)