Climate Change Minister James Shaw fine with making Greenpeace mad

James Shaw says he's okay with making Greenpeace angry sometimes, as long as they keep pushing the Government to implement stronger environmental policies.

Shaw, the Climate Change Minister and Green Party co-leader, is facing a barrage of criticism from the environmental group, led by former Green Party leader Russel Norman, over the Government's proposal to bring farmers into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). 

The Government put forward two short-term options for action on agriculture's climate pollution on Tuesday, one suggested by the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) and one from the farming sector. 

Farmers want to leave agriculture out of the ETS altogether, with the industry paying nothing for emissions until 2025. The agriculture sector would instead enter into a voluntary agreement with the Government. 

The ICCC's option would bring agriculture into the ETS between 2021 and 2025, and charge processors like Fonterra for 5 percent of their agriculture emissions. That money would be funnelled back into the sector. 

Post- 2025 the Government is proposing agriculture won't go into the ETS at all and will instead have a separate levy-rebate scheme for their emissions.

Norman isn't happy with either of the short-term suggestions. He wants emitters to pay, but says a five percent tax is far too low.

"Obviously it's pretty modest, 5 percent in a couple of years is a pretty modest outcome and doesn't really meet what we need to do.

"In terms of the price, I mean this is one cent per kilo of milk solids, so it's an extremely low price signal to drive the reduction in emissions that we need if we're going to have a sustainable future."

Shaw defended the proposal, saying adding agriculture into the ETS would be a big step forward globally.

"We are the first country in the world that has said we will put a price on agricultural emissions on any level, even at 5 percent, and I know other countries are looking at us and seeing how we do it before they adopt a similar system.

"We are showing leadership by doing this. What that means is we're encouraging other countries to do the same thing, and as they do so we phase these things out."

Simon Bridges backs keeping farmers out of the ETS


National Party leader Simon Bridges told The AM Show adding farmers to the ETS would be another tax they don't need.

"We have got the most efficient farmers in the world, there are no excuses for farmers; they need to keep improving. 

"There is no point whacking them with a stick; that is with more taxes, if they can't meaningfully do things to mitigate those costs."

The discussion document can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website. It's open for consultation until August 13.


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