Maori landowners oppose delay in ETS changes

Changes to New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme are needed now, not at the end of next year, if the Government wants Maori land owners to plant carbon-sequestering forests, says a specialist in climate change and Maori development. Climate minister James Shaw met with Iwi Leaders Forum at Waitangi last week.

The forum was highly critical of the previous government’s climate policies, threatening to take a $600 million Treaty of Waitangi claim when that government allowed carbon prices to fall. The new government has promised to get an extra billion trees planted over the next 10 years, and is actively courting landowners to go into joint ventures with it.

A specialist in climate change and Maori development, 37 Degrees South director Chris Karamea Insley, says iwi landholders are interested in what the Government is saying, and are inviting regional development minister Shane Jones to come and talk to them. But they don’t like the fact that Shaw says he won’t make any major changes to the ETS – including long-awaited changes to forestry rules - until the end of next year.

Those rules have been under view since 2015. In July, the previous climate minister, Paula Bennett, announced some changes to the scheme but said the forestry rules would not be clarified until the middle of this year. Shaw has indicated he will probably remove or adjust the current option allowing emitters to pay the Crown $25 per tonne of liable emissions instead of surrendering carbon credits, but says he is unlikely to make any changes at all to the scheme until the end of next year, as he wants to get the Zero Carbon Act and the climate commission in place first.

Insley, who has in the past been a spokesperson for the Iwi Leaders Group, says that’s a mistake, because landowners need more certainty about future rules and prices than they’ve got now. While the $21.35 spot carbon prices are trading at today is well above the $3.45 they were when the Iwi Leaders Forum threatened to lodge a $600 million Treaty of Waitangi claim for the lost value of assets received in treaty settlements, Insley says it is still a long way below what many people consider to be realistic.

Source: Carbon News 2018

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