18 Nov 2008

National to consider carbon tax

6:56 pm on 18 November 2008

The incoming National-led government is to consider a carbon tax as part of its reform of the emissions trading scheme.

National and ACT opposed the tax when it was put up by the Labour Government in 2005 to try to meet New Zealand's obligations under the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Incoming Prime Minister John Key says a carbon tax could be used as a transitional measure into an emissions trading scheme, or a combination of the two approaches could be employed.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says a carbon tax would be far simpler and more secure for investment.

But Ms Fitzsimons says it is unlikely that the emissions trading scheme would be thrown out after all the work that has gone into its formulation.

Earlier, incoming Environment Minister Nick Smith said figures revealing a rise in New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions showed that the Labour government was "all talk" on tackling climate change.

In a survey by the United Nations, New Zealand had the sixth-highest growth in emissions between 1990 and 2006, of 40 industrialised countries.

Dr Smith said the flaw in the previous government's approach was to have policies so bold as to be unrealistic.

He said his approach to the climate change portfolio would be less ambitious.

But Dr Smith said the figures were a reminder that a huge challenge lay ahead to bring down emissions.

He said the emissions trading scheme in its current form was rushed through Parliament and that National had agreed with ACT to have a select committee take a fresh look at the scheme.