National attacks ‘corporate welfare’ in climate plan – except for $790m earmarked for agriculture
National leader Christopher Luxon said companies should cut emissions without any help from the government.
But this criticism does not apply to the agricultural sector – the only industry exempt from carbon pricing which pays various subsidies and receives $710 million.
Luxon was critical of the government’s emissions reduction plan released on Monday, which earmarks $650 million for a fund that helps companies decarbonize by subsidizing purchases of electric and other boilers.
He called it “corporate welfare”, saying companies should use their own money to decarbonise because they could anticipate a rise in the price of carbon through the emissions trading scheme.
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“The taxpayer should not be subsidizing these big companies to make emission reductions. Businesses should be able to do this now – they need to go on and continue the program, not wait for taxpayers’ money to subsidize them,” Luxon said.
The money for the funds does not come from the general tax but from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which polluting industries pay – just like drivers when they buy petrol.
Luxon said companies would get enough signals from the ETS to start cutting emissions on their own.
There is no need for ongoing corporate wellness. We have an ETS program that sends very clear messages and signals to businesses. »
“Companies need to continue with it by cutting emissions now.”
But Luxon said her criticism did not apply to agriculture, which receives $710 million from various program funds — although it does not contribute to the ETS, which pays for all of those expenses.
Luxon said National argues that the spending because agriculture does not yet have a technological pathway to decarbonize effectively, so more research is needed.
“We have to be able to develop that – I think we should support each other as New Zealanders to actually go out and do that work. It requires investing in research and development to try to find those ways.
Luxon said National remains supportive of the He Waka Eke Noa process, a collaboration between leading farm groups and the government to find a way to price farm emissions outside of the ETS.
The Groundswell protest group strongly opposed He Waka Eke Noa and groups such as DairyNZ and Federated Farmers who took part in the process.
The $650 million for businesses goes to the government’s GIDI fund, which invests alongside businesses.
So far, the fund has invested $68.7 million while companies have invested $117 million, for a total reduction of 7.45 megatonnes of emissions.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Monday the fund had a proven track record.
“What he has done is attract private capital and advance the work we need to reduce emissions from the way we heat our industries – we believe this is a partnership . We could sit on our hands and forever hope that the ETS on its own could do this job. It doesn’t happen. We must do better.
Luxon said National would announce its own plan to cut emissions before the election. It has supported the government’s overall program budgets.
But Luxon said he disagreed with several sub-targets of the emissions reduction plan, such as a reduction in vehicle-miles traveled or 50% of all energy from renewable sources by 2035.