It has been revealed in Parliament today that taxpayers are paying millions of dollars for companies to pollute under the Government’s failed emissions trading scheme (ETS), the Green Party said today.
“The Government has admitted that hundreds of millions of dollars of carbon units have been handed out for free to big polluters, who have profited from them at the taxpayers’ expense,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“Climate Change Minister Tim Groser was explicit that the ETS was designed to allow companies to ‘maximise their fiscal position’.”
Last year, 34 million free units were given away to large polluting companies under the ETS, worth, on average current market value, $165 million. A total of $1.36 billion worth of taxpayer-funded units have been given away between 2010 and June 2014.
The companies then surrender much cheaper international units to meet their emissions obligations under the ETS, either banking the more valuable NZ units or selling them for profit.
“The Government may have closed the legal loophole allowing post-1989 foresters to manipulate the ETS, but this leaves other sectors still gaming the system, and being funded by taxpayers to pollute,” said Dr Norman.
“Carbon traders tell us some of these companies have been making huge profits, with zero positive impact on the climate.
“Meanwhile this is all top secret. Taxpayers are not entitled to know which companies are receiving the hand-outs and to what tune.
“This is another example of National’s cosy back-room dealings with big business at the expense or ordinary New Zealanders.
“The Government needs to come clean and admit taxpayers are basically paying for these companies to profit from trashing the climate.”
According to the Government’s own figures, New Zealand’s net emissions are projected to rise by 50 percent in the next decade.
Experts have said the ETS is holding back New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon economy.
“The ETS has been a monumental failure. It was designed to incentivise emission reductions, investment in clean technology, and the planting of trees,” said Dr Norman.
“It has done none of these things, yet taxpayers continue to pick up the bill for it.”