'Clean, green NZ' at risk
By COLIN ESPINER - The Press | Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Government says it is close to reintroducing a revamped carbon charge, in the wake of a critical report on New Zealand's environmental performance.

Plans for a carbon charge on fossil fuels, which would have added about 4c to the price of a litre of petrol, were dumped by the Government before the 2005 election after strong political and public opposition.

The charge was part of a plan to cut New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, which are continuing to climb despite a Kyoto Protocol commitment to cut them to 1990 levels by 2012.

OECD officials this week presented the Government with a major report on New Zealand's environmental performance, which says that while the country has made progress since its last review in 1996, it is still not doing enough.

One OECD official, Lorents Lorentsen, who travelled from Paris for the report's release on Thursday, said the Government's decision to dump the carbon charge was likely to make it more difficult for New Zealand to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments.

He said that while carbon taxes and trading systems were not always popular with the business community it was perfectly possible to design systems that were fair across all sectors while still delivering the emissions the targets set.

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