Establishment parties 'too frightened' to act on climate - Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party (TOP) has announced its climate policy
Gareth Morgan (file)

Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party (TOP) has announced its climate policy in Dunedin, a location he says is "Ground Zero" for climate change due to the impact of sea level rise.

"I just think this whole climate thing is something we need to do, ethically and morally, but also the sooner we get on and do it the lower the cost and actually the bigger the benefits to New Zealand."

The Government signed up to the agreement last year, which aims to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees below pre-industrial levels.

New Zealand's current target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

But Dr Morgan says the Government has "no strategy whatsoever" to fulfill that.

"In fact, our emissions have been going completely the other way. We're one of the worst countries in the world in terms of our position since all this baseline stuff started in 1990, and these guys are saying one thing and doing the other," Dr Morgan says.

He says New Zealand is in a good position to reduce emissions with 80 percent of the country's energy already coming from renewable sources.

"This is not a tall order.

"We can actually get on and make some pretty cool business opportunities here if we get on and do the job, but there you go again, establishment parties' same old, same old, always too frightened to do anything in case they lose a vote. We're just not like that."

TOP's first step would be to cancel the surplus of emissions permits to make amends for the millions of fraudulent carbon credits New Zealand got from Russia and Ukraine.

It plans to set a carbon budget and keep the Emissions Trading Scheme closed to international credits unless they're from countries with stringent emissions targets.

TOP's policy document says there is no time for "sentimental investments", calling the Green Party's plan to subsidise solar power a "futile gesture".

The party says it's better to invest in electric vehicles.

TOP Climate Policy:

  • Immediately remove all subsidies from oil exploration
  • Consider bringing nitrous oxide into the Emissions Trading Scheme (but not methane)
  • Reforest all erosion-prone land by 2030 by expanding the Afforesting Grant Scheme and tweaking it to provide the money up front to farmers, and paying it back as carbon credits accrue
  • Bring rail infrastructure funding inside NZTA's budget to ensure government funding puts road and other transport on a level playing field
  • Review regulations biased towards cars, such as those that force retail and residential developers to provide parking spaces as part of their development
  • All government infrastructure spending and economic assessments for major consents under the RMA will assume a long-term carbon price of at least $60 per tonne of CO2.