New RMA climate change proposals increase cost and uncertainty

Proposals to expand the role of local councils into climate change mitigation under the Resource Management Act would add confusion, complexity and duplication, according to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) and Straterra.

“We support the drive to lower emissions but it’s important we do this in the most efficient ways at least cost to New Zealanders,” says PEPANZ CEO John Carnegie.

“Climate change should be addressed at a national level by the Government using more effective tools like the Emission Trading Scheme. Market-based policies like this are better because they apply directly to emissions and let people determine the most efficient ways to reduce emissions.

“Councils are not at all equipped to judge on the climate change effects of business activities, and there is also the risk of inconsistency between different regions.”

“These changes would open a can of worms that could delay all kinds of major projects and encourage litigation. This is the last thing we need as we rebuild our economy from the COVID-19 crisis,” says Straterra CEO Chris Baker.

“The committee has said the proposed changes will not come into force until 31 December 2021 to provide time for national direction on the policy. However, this just creates more uncertainty, killing off investment and jobs at the very time they are most needed.

“Unless we know what the national direction will look like and its effectiveness, it is too soon to press ahead with these proposals. Both the legislative amendment and proposed guidance and national direction should be presented together.

“It’s also very concerning these changes have been inserted so late in the select committee process with no opportunity for public consultation. It makes a mockery of the Resource Management Review Panel’s process when they have been considering submissions on this very issue.”