31 Jan 2011

Green groups criticise environmental announcements

9:49 am on 31 January 2011

Green groups are criticising a raft of new environmental announcements from the Government as unimpressive and weak.

The Environment Minister's plans include making legally binding a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and pushing back local councils' air pollution targets

The Government has established a Green Growth panel to advise on ways to harness green business opportunities and move to a lower carbon economy.

The Environment and Conservation Organisations group says the plans lack long-term direction, and are especially unimpressive in an election year.

Greenpeace says it is concerned the advisory panel will become a talking shop. It says the Government needs to seize the initiative, show leadership and give appropriate support and investment to clean technology firms.

Environment minister Nick Smith says environmental groups never say governments have done enough.

Dr Smith told Morning Report he is very proud of the Government's record in balancing supporting economic growth, the clean green brand and lifestyle of New Zealanders.

He says the biggest contributor to air pollution is homes, not industry and that the smog clean-up targets are being pushed back by up to seven years because they are not realistic, and such targets need to be achieveable.

Labour unimpressed by Govt plan

Labour has dismissed the Green Growth move by the Government as a cynical political ploy, calling it "green-washing".

Labour MP Charles Chauvel says clean technology is a core part of Labour's economic agenda, but National has missed many chances to grow the "green economy" while it's been in office.

He says that although the announcement is welcome, it smacks of an election year stunt.