Climate change is the most challenging issue of our time. How we respond to it will define the kind of future our children inherit.
New Zealand used to be a world leader on the big issues: we were the first in the world to give women the vote. We weren't afraid to say "no thanks" to nuclear armed ships visiting our ports.
Sadly, we are becoming followers when it comes to responding to climate change. Last week both China and the US announced major CO2 reduction policies. The world is turning towards a lower carbon future and we are being left behind.
It's not just a moral issue: the global race to develop clean, green technology is on. The prize is high-value jobs and sustainable economic prosperity.
The Green Party's climate protection plan will future-proof our economy and put New Zealand firmly back in the global green race, all while leaving households better off.
The failed Emissions Trading Scheme started with the right intentions, but has since been turned into more of an emissions subsidy scheme: large polluters are given taxpayer money to pollute in the form of free credits. The scheme has done nothing to reduce our emissions and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions each year.
The Green Party's plan is a balanced approach to nudge polluters in the right direction. By setting a target of being a carbon neutral country by 2050, we know where we need to be and have a plan to get there.
Emitters of greenhouse gases will pay a simple and transparent carbon tax, with all revenue being recycled back to households and business through tax cuts. The carbon tax will be revenue neutral, but shifts the cost of pollution to where it should be. Sending a clear price signal to emitters is the most efficient way to encourage the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Business and personal tax cuts will more than offset any additional costs from products and services that rely heavily on fossil fuels or greenhouse gas emissions (like petrol, some electricity etc). Households will be on average $320 per year better off, accounting for any climate-tax related price increases.
For the first time, agriculture will be included. Sending a price signal is important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but so is the ability to respond to those signals. In recognition that agriculture has some unique challenges, the carbon tax for dairy emissions will be set at half the rate of other emitters, while sheep and beef emissions will be exempt. While agricultural emissions make up half of New Zealand's total, it's important we introduce the carbon tax in a responsible way. This is about nudging behaviour, not wrecking businesses.
The move to a lower carbon economy presents a huge opportunity for our farmers. The 100% Pure brand has done well for our global marketing. Imagine what being the world's first carbon neutral country would do for our high value exports?
The Green party is the only political party going into this election with a credible plan to tackle our greenhouse gas emissions. We're also proposing the lowest company tax rate of any party. Proof that smart Green economics can be good for the planet and good for our wallets.