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NZ too focused on carbon emissions - study

Tuesday 03 Nov 2009 10:07p.m.

NZ too focused on carbon emissions - study
By Samantha Hayes

A new study says New Zealand is too focused on reducing carbon emissions and other environmental factors should take priority, like urban air quality, water quality and biodiversity.

Climate change minister Nick Smith agrees, but says the Government is not wasting time and money on an emissions trading scheme as the study suggests.

But Forest and Bird says they have both missed the point all together.

The children from Auckland's Pigeon Mountain primary school have been taught how important the environment is.

Janice Ho, 10, says “it's getting warmer and the ice bergs are melting and if the ice melts the sea level rises.

“The houses that live next to the sea will be covered with water.”

All 500 pupils have been making paper lanterns that will be exhibited in Copenhagen during the UN climate change conference next month.

Winston Zhao, 8, has a message for the suits in Copenhagen.

“I want them to hear the message that the earth is going to die if people don't start taking action.”

New Zealand hopes to strike a comprehensive deal, but a paper published by the Institute of Economic Research – the NZIER – says we are putting too much emphasis on climate change.

NZIER says it would place much greater emphasis on urban air quality, biodiversity and water quality rather than reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

NZIER says that is because our CO2 emissions account for only about 0.3 percent globally.

Climate change minister Nick Smith says while the report made some valuable points, the Government still needs to put a high priority on emissions reduction.

“What we do with our emissions trading scheme, what we do around trying to convert to cleaner energy technology is, of itself, not going to change the future of the international climate,” he says.

“What it is going to do is make plain that New Zealand is serious about doing its fair share.”

Kevin Hackwell of Forest and bird believes the think tank behind the report does not understand the issues.

“What they don't realise is that climate change is one of the key threats to biodiversity and that dealing with greenhouse gases can actually help biodiversity.”

Another critic, the World Wildlife Fund, WWF, agrees that these environmental goals "can, and should, be addressed together”.

While reducing emissions is not a priority to NZIER, they say meeting international climate change obligations are and it is the next generation that will be forced to live with the decisions this one makes.
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