Government accused of changing the rules to meet Paris Agreement target
Gareth Morgan's philanthropic group has again put the boot into the Government over plans to cheat to meet our climate change targets.
In the Morgan Foundation's third climate-focussed report, researchers Paul Young and Geoff Simmons reveal what they say is a Government plan to change forestry carbon accounting rules to meet New Zealand's 2030 climate change target.
Mr Young says the rule change will allow an estimated 79 million tonnes of excess greenhouse gas emissions - "basically wiping nearly one year's worth of New Zealand's emissions off the books".
New Zealand will claim 79 million carbon credits from pine forests planted in the 1990s up until 2020.
Under the current rules, we would be required to pay back the credits lost when those trees are harvested in 2020.
But under the proposed rules, New Zealand would only receive the credits for carbon stored in a forest up until it reaches the "long term average carbon stock" for pine after about 20 years.
If the rule was applied now we'd receive far fewer credits up until 2020 and wouldn't have to pay any back when the trees are harvested.
Mr Young says there's nothing wrong with the approach, but the timing is convenient for the Government, which is facing the challenge of paying back some of the credits for forests harvested in 2020.
"What is the Government's answer? Change the rules halfway through the game."
Economist Diego Villalobos offered this analogy:
"It's like a football team that's winning at half time deciding to change the rules such that the game ends at half time.
"Nothing wrong with having a game that lasts only half the time as long as that's agreed before the game."
Green Party co-leader James Shaw has called it "an incredibly cynical tactic" by the Government to avoid doing its fair share to tackle global climate change and reduce emissions.
"The Government is trying to avoid having to reduce the equivalent of almost a year's worth of pollution with an accounting trick.
"New Zealand has a proud history of showing leadership to solve global environmental problems. We are better than this," Mr Shaw says.
This plan would violate the forestry accounting rules agreed under the Kyoto Protocol and also the Paris Agreement's key principle of progression, Mr Young says.
Earlier this year the Foundation released a report called Climate Cheats, which showed New Zealand plans to use fraudulent carbon credits bought from Ukraine and Russia to meet the 2030 target.
Source: Morgan Foundation