NZ trading scheme needs changing to protect natural resources

New Zealand’s emerging emissions trading scheme needs to be changed to protect natural resources, a government-commissioned report has said. While emphasising that the cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gas emissions will bring positive effects on NZ’s environment, it could have a negative impact on biodiversity and areas for renewable energy generation, warned researchers at Cawthron. The report said that the scheme’s encouragement of planting exotic forests could threaten NZ’s biodiversity, and proposed that areas of significant biodiversity should be identified. “Such land should be ineligible for planting pines to earn emission credits,” said Cawthron Sustainable Business Group Manager Jim Sinner. It also urged the government to give preference to the expansion of renewable energy capacity at existing facilities “or on rivers already damned or diverted, rather than exploitation of new river systems”. Cawthron said that delaying the introduction of agriculture in the scheme until 2013, as is currently planned, could mean that environmental benefits in the sector are lost.

The report had been requested by the NZ Government, and has been submitted to the governmental emissions trading work group. “This report will help the government prioritise its climate change policy work. It also provides a platform from which to build a long-term climate change strategy that is better for NZ’s environment,” said NZ Climate Change Minister David Parker. The NZ ETS began this year for the forestry sector, and will be gradually expanded to cover all sectors of the economy by 2013.