ACT leader David Seymour and Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick faced off this morning over climate change and how much New Zealand should be doing on the world stage.
It comes as the Climate Change Commission’s final report, which provides a proposed roadmap for New Zealand to become carbon neutral, was released to the public yesterday.
Among its recommendations include the suggestion that all imported cars should be electric by 2035. It also recommended progressively deeper emissions reductions for long-lived greenhouse gases and biogenic methane.
Some criticised the report, however, saying it missed the mark on methane goals. Greenpeace said the report wasn't strict enough on the dairy industry, which was given “basically, a free pass to pollute".
Seymour, who appeared on Breakfast today alongside Swarbrick, said the report should be binned.
He said the report encouraged the Government to “micromanage” the economy in the name of climate change, despite it failing to “add any value to the environment”.
He pointed to the recommendations that said coal and boilers that burn fossil fuels should be phased out.
“You also need to be able to generate electricity … if you ban the technology you’ve got, and there’s no replacement, your prices skyrocket.
“That’s why we’re in danger of de-industrialising and losing well-paying jobs,” Seymour said, naming the Marsden Point Oil Refinery and the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter as examples.
Because of the lack of “sensible” climate policy, New Zealand was having to import coal from Indonesia, he added.
Seymour said all that was needed was a sinking cap on the number of units of carbon that can be traded within the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) each year.
He also said New Zealand should only be doing as much as its trading partners to cut down its emissions.
"If we try and lead the world, the risk is that we destroy New Zealand industry. … If the rest of the world doesn’t follow, we’re going to look pretty silly.”
Swarbrick said Seymour’s comments were, at worst, “a woeful misreading”.
“Or, at best, kind of a bit of a misleading comment,” she added.
Swarbrick said that was because the Climate Commission’s final report modelled that there would be a hefty cost if no immediate climate change action is taken. It predicted a price tag of 2.3 per cent of GDP by 2050 – almost double the cost of acting now.
"What we have here is a concrete plan that shows us how we can affordably and achievably reach our climate goals."
She said it also gave farmers in regional New Zealand a vision. One of the final report’s recommendations, which it carried over from its draft report, was that herd numbers be reduced, while keeping up production.
If investment into greener technologies started now, it would prevent long-term pain, Swarbrick said.
“Because so many [farmers] are struggling on the day to day basis where they should be investing, they have not thought into the future, 30 years down the track, what we could look like.
“This [the report] shows us what we could look like,” Swarbrick said.