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Greens target key sectors in new climate change policy

Marie McNicholas, National Business Review New Zealand
The Greens have come up with a new climate change policy which rejects both a simple carbon tax and emissions trading in favour of an emitter-pays approach that does not exempt agriculture.

They say their solution is simple and fast and offers the best features of carbon charges and trading while ensuring taxpayers are not left holding the estimated $600 million bill for New Zealand’s Kyoto liabilities come 2012.

The aim is for every part of the economy to feel at least some of the international price of carbon before being exposed to international trading after 2012 and without forcing consumers and most businesses to trade directly in carbon.

Under the plan, transport and energy prices would likely rise to reflect that fuel importers, miners and power generators will be made responsible for buying Kyoto emissions units (carbon credits) to cover carbon they or their products burn.

These units would be transferred to the Government for reinvesting in measures to combat climate change.

Agriculture would lose its blanket exemption from emissions liabilities, and would have to buy Kyoto units to cover the growth in emissions since 1990, caused mainly by conversions to dairy farms.

However, the Greens propose this liability rest with the processors rather than individual farmers, which effectively means Fonterra.
( 2007)
See also Coal mines to go if climate policy is Green.

Super funds have role in climate change
Call for action on climate change policy

Christine St Anne, Investor Daily
Superannuation funds have a fiduciary role in climate change policy, University of NSW Adjunct Professor Frank Muller said at the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds yesterday.

“Super funds have a fiduciary duty not just a social responsibility in climate change policy. Their long-term liability matches the long-term nature of climate change’s risks and opportunities. Their broad membership base means that super funds have the interests of many not just a few,” Muller said.

Super funds are essentially universal owners of capital and this makes them interested in the long-term health of the economy, he said. Muller outlined a number of practical initiatives that superannuation funds could take in addressing the challenge of climate change.

He said super funds should support the reporting, rating and index measures in climate change policy, revise their portfolio by taking into consideration climate change risks and opportunities, and factor carbon pricing into their investment decisions.

Other initiatives suggested by Muller included looking at investments in clean technology and renewable energy, and upgrading the environmental performance of their buildings.

Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) executive officer Joanne Saleeba supported Muller’s view on the role of superannuation funds in climate change policy. ..
(27 Mar 2007)
See also Institutional investors to urge tough U.S. climate policy.

Putting carbon emissions in neutral

Mathew Murphy, The Age
CITY West Water will today announce that it will become the first carbon-neutral water authority in Australia.
Under the plan, the water company will commit to becoming carbon neutral by June 30, which will mean the equivalent of 8000 tonnes less greenhouse gas being released every year.
There are no plans to pass the cost of the scheme on to City West Water’s customers.
Managing director Anne Barker told The Age the outcome could be achieved through avoiding emissions, reducing energy use, using renewable energy and then offsetting any remaining emissions. ..

City West Water is one of three retail water businesses in metropolitan Melbourne owned by the Victorian Government.
(26 Mar 2007)
Is this a case of the lung cancer victim who quits smoking altogether or just switches to low-tar cigarettes? Melbourne’s water storages are in dire straits after years of drought.-LJ

The geriatric climate change imperative

Peter Curson, Online Opinion Australia
Much has recently been written about the potential impact of climate change on Australia and the world, including the possible health effects. But climate change is not going to take place in a social vacuum and it seems clear that some groups of Australians are likely to be more at risk than others.

There would seem little doubt that the rapid ageing of Australia’s population, the related increase in chronic illness, disability and medication-dependence, and the continuing retirement migration to warmer parts of the continent, loom large and will help define vulnerability to climate change in the future. ..

There are a number of things that we need to do. First, we need to appreciate the role of a changing climate on the aged, and we need to develop public education campaigns designed to draw attention to their increasing vulnerability.

Second, we need to develop long-term care and support structures designed to cope with an ageing population in a changing climate. Most of the 37,000 who perished during the European heat wave of 2003, for example, were elderly, either living alone or resident in severely short-staffed aged care facilities, most without air-conditioning. Would we do better in a protracted heat wave? ..
Peter Curson is Emeritus Professor in Medical Geography at Macquarie University and Adjunct Professor in The Centre for International Security Studies, at The University of Sydney.
(27 Mar 2007)