Nat's Kyoto decision helps emerging consensus

15 May 2007

The decision of the National Party to honour the Kyoto protocol is "very reassuring", given its earlier commitments to forest owners says the Forest Owners Association.

All major political parties recognise how important forestry is if New Zealand is to meet its Kyoto commitments. There is also an emerging consensus that trees must be part of an emissions trading market," says chief executive David Rhodes.

"Tree planting subsidies are arbitrary, subject to political whim and may distort the economics of forests planted largely for log production.

"We are now looking for all political parties to agree to a broad-based carbon market which includes the major land-use activities — forestry and farming.

"In the first Kyoto commitment period, from 2008-2012, most of the credits in that market will come from forests planted since 1990.

"It's only fair that the owners of those forests should be able to earn an income from the credits they are creating for the nation. It is also an investment in the country's future, because those who own forests today are the people most likely to plant them in the future."

Mr Rhodes says it is good to see National firming up its Kyoto commitments.

"Their promises to abolish the deforestation penalty faced by pre-Kyoto forest owners and to incentivise more planting by giving some carbon credits to the foresters who planted the trees in the first place are very reassuring.

"We are now waiting on the government to see whether the review of their Kyoto policies will take into account the forest industry's concerns. But we are encouraged by their decision to go ahead with emissions trading.

"Our ideal is for there to be a high degree of political consensus on these issues, because forests take so long to grow. Someone planting a tree today needs to have a high level of confidence that carbon credits granted by one government won't be nationalised when another party assumes office."