Climate change debate: It's James Shaw's turn to listen

You won't be hearing the Climate Change Minister talk much about climate change over the next six weeks.

Instead, James Shaw says he wants to hear what you have to say on the topic as public consultation begins on the Zero Carbon Bill, which he calls a "really big deal".

"The Zero Carbon Bill is designed to set a framework for the next 30 years for our economy - it's sufficiently significant that I think every Kiwi should have their say on it," he told The AM Show.

While Mr Shaw's views are well-known - he wouldn't be co-leader of the Green Party if he was a sceptic - he plans to spend some time outside the echo chamber.

"I'm going to spend a lot of the next six weeks talking with the farmers and the farming community," which he thinks will be better off, rather than harshly punished, by the move to a zero-carbon economy.

"I know that's counter-intuitive, right, but if we're the first country in the world to get to zero-carbon food production that adds tremendous value to the brand... and the IP - the science, the technology that we've got to develop in order to be able to do that - itself becomes valuable."

Federated Farmers dairy sector chair Andrew Hoggard told The AM Show on Thursday farmers have "some trepidation" about the Bill, since it's "hard to say what's going to come out" of the consultation period.

The Government's own documents outlining how the Zero Carbon Bill might impact Kiwis suggests low-income households will be hit harder, since they spend a higher proportion of their income on products and services that may get more expensive as the price of carbon goes up.

Mr Shaw is adamant New Zealand as a whole will be better off than if we don't do anything. Transport Minister Phil Twyford agreed, telling The AM Show the costs will just have to be paid.

"If we're serious about dealing with climate change, we actually have to put the targets in place and the policies to reduce carbon emissions. It's not enough to say yes, we don't like global warming - but we're not going to do anything about it... The principle is the polluter pays, so we have to incentivise a shift to a clean energy economy."

"Pursuing this strategy, we have more to gain than to lose," added Mr Shaw. "There are huge economic opportunities moving to a clean energy economy."

National MP Judith Collins, appearing alongside Mr Twyford on The AM Show, said taxpayers would ultimately foot the bill.

"We're all polluters, so we all have to pay."

National climate spokesperson Todd Muller on the other hand said the Government's reforms will be welcomed if they happen "at the pace the country feels comfortable with".

"These are complex, long-term issues and, like the Government, National will be taking some time to digest the details before landing on a position," he said on Thursday.

"Ambition will need to be carefully weighed against the impact it will have on Kiwi families and the economy."

More information about the Bill, and how to make a submission, are on the Ministry for the Environment's website


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