In the first emissions trading to be introduced outside of Europe, the New Zealand government has just launched a cap and trade system to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 10 and 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, UPI is reporting.
New Zealand imports most of its oil, but nearly half of the emissions are agricultural, due to the volume of exports from the isolated nation, and they have increased by 25 percent over the last 20 years.
Its nearest neighbor is Australia, but much of its trading is much further away, with the EU. New Zealand has long been a land of sheep farmers, and with an economy of only 4 some million people, has a very high carbon footprint in shipping its products to customers far overseas. When you factor in the carbon footprint of ocean transport, not just exporting, but also, importing, New Zealand is actually not as green as its reputation.
And now, with oil giants like Petrobras nosing around the island nation for an off-shore killing, the announcement is timely.
Under the new plan, polluting businesses would trade in “New Zealand Units.”
Targeted industries include the oil and gas industry – the nation is dependent on imported oil. Although New Zealand gets 70% of its electricity from renewables, primarily geothermal and hydro power, it gets only only 35% of its total energy needs from clean sources. This is why former prime minister Helen Clarke had proposed a big push for electric vehicles in the nation as part of pushing for a 90% clean powered nation.
Carbon emitting companies would be required to purchase the units from the New Zealand government or from sellers whose businesses absorb carbon, such as farmers that plant trees.
With the nation’s coal industry boasting that “Coal is accepted as a secure, competitive, and environmentally sustainable energy resource contributing to New Zealand’s prosperity” and with the arrival of big oil – the cap and trade system being proposed is sure to meet with all the same drummed-up media frenzy that this sort of polluter-financed clean energy subsidy does in the US.
Expect to hear horrible stories about scams, Al Gore and the dreaded New Zealand Units!
Susan Kraemer @Twitter
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