National Party Climate Change spokesperson, Todd Muller, has opened 2018 with a direct request to his counterpart, Minister James Shaw, to ensure the significant climate change discussions that await both Parliament and communities all across NZ this year are anchored in evidence and supported by sound reflection, not adversarial rhetoric.
“I accept Climate Change is one of the most profound challenges confronting the globe for our generation and will likely dominate domestic politics over the course of the next 12 months - particularly as the Government embarks on consultation regarding both our current targets and the establishment of an independent climate commission” Mr Muller said.
“But it is crucial that these discussions are characterised by respect for differing views and proven evidence”.
“The Government does not enter this debate with a blank sheet, but rather a detailed series of commitments and actions already committed to by the previous Government” he added.
“Incoming governments have a tendency to try and frame up their agenda and priorities in the context of previous Government neglect. Climate Change is not one of these areas”.
“The National Government had a raft of actions underway in the Climate Change space, not the least its commitment to the Paris Accord and an early commitment to a 2030 target as a major step to our demanding 2050 target of 50% less emissions than our 1990 levels”.
January 1st is a key date in New Zealand’s climate change journey as we continue the gradual phasing out of the one-for-two transitional measure in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) which allows non-forestry businesses to pay one emissions unit for every two tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
“The continued phased removal of one-for-two will allow the NZ ETS to more effectively support New Zealand to meet our climate change targets, incentivise emission reductions, and help transition New Zealand businesses, communities and families to a low emissions economy” Mr Muller said.
“This transitional measure will be phased out evenly across all relevant sectors with the current 67 percent surrender obligation increasing to 83 percent from January 1st 2018. On January 1st 2019 we will see a full surrender obligation for all sectors in the NZ ETS”.
“The gradual phasing out approach taken here is crucial when it comes to giving our businesses certainty and time to plan and adjust. It also supports a more stable market” Mr Muller added.
“How the wider climate change debate is framed up this year is important” Mr Muller said.
“An informed discussion on further ambition to current targets may well have some merit, but it must be characterised by acknowledgement of the progress already made, and a dispassionate evidence-based assessment on how change will impact day-to-day lives of everyday people”.
“I was concerned at how binary the language had become towards the end of last year around climate change”.
“The incoming Government is quite within its rights to promote climate change as an area of focus but it does itself a disservice by framing its ambition as a stark contrast to the previous National Governments record”.
“We will not progress a useful discussion if both sides quickly move to partisan defence of either its record or its ambition through cloaking its respective arguments in the failure of each other’s visions”.
“Let’s avoid battering each other with tired rhetoric, let’s avoid knowing the answers before we have posed the questions to affected communities, and above all lets listen with real intent”.
“I welcome Climate Change being front and centre in 2018” Mr Muller said.
“But it must be informed by the best available science and practice, and have the feel of proportionality” he added.
“If, in 12 months, the traditional ‘look back on the year’ demonstrates we have had a conversation with New Zealanders that is open, respectful of divergent perspectives and outlines a pathway that people feel broadly comfortable with, then 2018 will have been a successful year”.
“The National Party is up for it, I hope the Government is too” Mr Muller concluded.