Climate activists call on Government to accept emissions pricing advice

Activists are urging the Government to accept the Climate Change Commission's latest advice on emissions pricing after Cabinet rejected its first proposal last year.

But the National Party says rejecting it is the right thing to do during a cost of living crisis.

And it comes as a decision looms on pricing agriculture emissions.

Catching up with locals over a cuppa at the Clevedon markets, National leader Christopher Luxon posed for pictures with locals, before making his pitch as the defender of rural New Zealand.

"This Government has treated farmers as villains and not as a valued sector. There is nothing more important for New Zealand than agriculture," Luxon told Newshub

Locals Newshub spoke to were not too keen on pricing agriculture emissions.

"Absolutely not, for goodness sake!" one woman told Newshub.

"When you've got countries like China and India - mass polluters - our little contribution is so small we're killing ourselves!" a man added. 

But agriculture is the biggest contributor to our emissions profile - almost 50 percent - and it will be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme by 2025. That's unless a compromise with farmers is agreed to under a deal known as He Waka Eke Noa.

"We've been working with the farming sector over the course of the last three years and we'll be making a series of decisions over the course of this year," Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Newshub. 

Greenpeace wants action now. 

"The most simple solution is to bring agriculture, and in particular big dairy, fully into the Emissions Trading Scheme," climate campaigner Christine Rose told Newshub. 

But that's not the only thing that's frustrated climate activists. In December, the Government rejected the Climate Change Commission's advice, including to increase the price of carbon credits, which flow on to the cost of things like fuel. The overriding concern was the impact of higher carbon prices on household budgets during a cost of living crisis. 

This week the Government received the Climate Change Commission's second round of advice - it's still pushing for those higher carbon prices.

Commission chair Dr Rod Carr said: "If the Government declines the recommendations, then it will need a much stronger policy approach to achieve emissions budgets."

Shaw said he can't say what Cabinet is going to decide.

"I haven't consulted my Cabinet colleagues yet, but we do have a round of public consultation before it goes to Cabinet."

Rose urged the Government to work adopt the recommendations. 

"These are experts who've been appointed to give their best advice to the Government and that advice is being ignored," she told Newshub. 

But Luxon said rejecting the advice was the right thing to do.

"Right here, right now, there's nothing more important than the cost of living."