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National's 2005 Climate Change Policy

27 September 2004 - 18:22 - Hon Dr Nick Smith

National's Plan 
for Climate Change

(PDF 32KB)

View National's
2005 Policy
National will:
* Oppose Labour’s carbon tax, to be introduced in 2008, and will repeal any legislation passed to require it.
* Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 if New Zealand makes commitments to reduce emissions beyond those binding trading partners like Australia and the United States.
* Change New Zealand’s position in future climate change negotiations by insisting that all significant countries limit emissions particularly countries like China, Brazil and Singapore, and refuse to make any future commitments until such countries agree.
* Use New Zealand’s forest credits to offset emissions in the first commitment period until 2013 of the Kyoto Protocol and retain any surplus credits for future Commitment Periods.
* Develop a domestic policy of tradable emission permits where foresters get credits and emitters debits if all significant countries agree to emission limits.
* Protect the interests of Kyoto forest owners by ensuring they do not incur any restrictions or carbon costs from land use change except where they have enjoyed the benefits of carbon credits.
* Support cost effective voluntary measures that encourage energy efficiency, insulation and research and development investment in new energy technologies.


New Zealand’s contribution is just 0.5% of emissions by developed countries.  Our per capita emissions are half those of Australia and the United States.  That is why National’s approach is about doing our fair share at a pace similar to our major trading partners.

National’s policy on Climate Change is about ensuring New Zealand jobs and growth are not sacrificed on the basis of equivocal science or commitments that have New Zealand carrying an unfair share of the burden arising from climate change.  National wants a more balanced approach that ensures New Zealand contributes constructively to a global response to climate change but not at the expense of jobs and growth.

The Science

National acknowledges that the balance of scientific opinion supports the thesis that human activity is contributing to global warming but believes the uncertainties are being understated.  There is huge uncertainty about the extent and effect of climate change and the degree to which the climate will change with or without man-made emissions.  It is misleading of the New Zealand Government to treat ‘scenarios’ of the International Panel on Climate Change as ‘predictions’. 

National believes it is important to take a more cautious and questioning approach to the science and ensure continued investment to better understand how climate change may affect all New Zealanders.

The Kyoto Protocol

National in Government signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 alongside Australia and the United States wanting to play its part as a responsible nation.  National opposed Labour’s ratification of the Protocol in 2002 because major trading partners like Australia and the United States were not committed thereby significantly disadvantaging New Zealand.

National did secure a forestry credit regime in the Kyoto Protocol that gives New Zealand substantial credits.  These credits are estimated to be 100 million tonnes of CO2 in commitment period I (2008-2012) and are sufficient to offset the projected increases in emissions (43 million tonnes CO2).  However, this raises major public policy questions about nationalising privately owned forest credits to offset increased emissions in the industrial and transport sectors of the economy. 

The Protocol poses significantly greater risks for New Zealand in the Commitment Period II (2013-2018) and for this reason National would not sell any credits from Period I, but hold them as credits for future periods.  These credits would be reserved for the use of forestry owners for harvesting in the future.  National will further protect the interests of Kyoto forest owners by ensuring they do not incur any restrictions or carbon costs from land use change, except where they have enjoyed the benefits of carbon credits.

National puts a high value on New Zealand’s longstanding reputation of honouring international agreements.  However, we will withdraw from the Protocol as provided in article 27, if it becomes clear that New Zealand’s commitments beyond the first commitment period exceed those binding our major trading partners, notably Australia, United States, Singapore and China.

National would take a very different position to the Labour Government in negotiations over the future of the Kyoto Protocol.  The Protocol needs to be fundamentally reviewed to ensure the costs of taking action to reduce climate change are not overwhelmed by the costs of honouring Kyoto commitments.  National believes that Annex One countries like New Zealand should not make any further commitments without commitments from non-Annex One countries like China, India, Brazil and Singapore.

Domestic Policy

National is committed to policies that enhance job creation and wealth for all New Zealanders.

National is totally opposed to the introduction of a carbon tax in 2008 as proposed by Labour.  It is unnecessary to meet New Zealand’s Kyoto obligations because of the forest credits and is just an excuse for expanding Government revenue.  It will impose significant additional costs on the New Zealand economy and will undermine our competitiveness.  It is as unwise as Labour’s ‘fart tax’ and should be met by the same level of opposition.

National’s favoured approach, if emission limits are agreed to by all internationally, is a system of tradable emission permits where foresters get credits and emitters debits.  This system would give the flexibility for the economy to find the least cost way of ensuring compliance with emission targets and would provide economic incentives for activities like planting forests and greater energy efficiency that contribute positively to climate change.

National supports cost effective domestic policy responses like those in the United States and Australia that encourage energy efficiency, insulation and which support the development of new technology.  In the 1990’s National established the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and would expand its work to reduce the barriers to improved energy technologies.

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