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Greenhouse gas emissions not on target says EDS

The government's failure to tax methane emissions from animals may lead to New Zealand exceeding its allowable emissions by more than previously predicted, says Environmental Defence Society spokesman Garry Law.

Predictions of future greenhouse gas emissions made by the Government's advisors show they just keep on growing. An update of the financial impacts of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol has been released by the Government. It has been prepared by ABARE - the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics - which has given the Government advice before on climate matters.

Environmental Defence Society spokesperson Garry Law said "The sole piece of good news is that ABARE continues to show that the financial impact of Kyoto in the first commitment period (2008-12) is small, with GNP slightly up and GDP slightly down compared to the situation where Kyoto was not happening anywhere.

"However the bad news is in the predictions of greenhouse gas emissions. All of the scenarios modelled show that at the end of the first commitment period in 2012 New Zealand's emissions are still rising. The models used have sophisticated sector by sector predictions of emissions.

"The Government has set its objective to have emisisons falling by then. Now its own advisors are telling it that with the policies proposed to date, that will not happen. Rather, by 2012 they are up by at least 15% from the Kyoto base year of 1990 and growing at 1.7% a year.

"New Zealand's commitment under Kyoto is to have net emisisons no higher than they were in 1990. We will only get there by cashing in our forestry sink credits. With this performance record New Zealand will have an uphill struggle to get international agreement be able to continue to count forest sinks after 2012.

"The bad news does not end there. ABARE has also forecast New Zealand's emissions intensity - its emissions per dollar of production - where New Zealand already has a poor ranking, largely because of our agricultural emissions. While it is forecast to get better through to 2015, the EU, Australia, Canada and the USA are all predicted to outperform us with greater gains. In other words we will slide further from our already poor ranking.

"Environmentalists have been saying the Government policies on renewable energy and emissions are too little, too late," said Mr Law.

"The Government is taking soft options using its buffer of forestry sink credits. ABARE is showing us the consequences of this - it is policy failure.

"What is striking is what all the three scenarios modelled have in common - no carbon charge for agricultural methane emissions. They are over 40% of our total emisisons but have been quarantined from the proposed carbon tax.

"These emissions have to be tackled. Research may provide us with the answer for reducing ruminant digestion emissions and even yield a bonanza of emission credits, but it may not. A carbon charge for methane cannot be left off the agenda if the government is serious about climate change," said Mr Law.

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