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Australia, NZ PMs non-committal on future role of agriculture

- Monday, August 24, 2009

While expressing a desire to make sure that Australia and New Zealand have emissions trading schemes that align, neither New Zealand PM John Keys or Australian PM Kevin Rudd gave any hints away about the role of agriculture at their press conference following a recent joint cabinet meeting between the leaders of the two nations held last week.

A transcript of the Press Conference related to agriculture and the ETS follows;
Did the two of you discuss carbon trading? And do you see a position where the two carbon emissions schemes will come together and there'll be a unified system? And do you think there's a case, given that both countries rely on livestock so much, that there's a case to exempt farmers from carbon trading systems?

PM:         On the question of carbon trading, we did discuss our respective emissions trading schemes. This is difficult and hard work in both of our economies and we understand that and are trying to get the balance right. Secondly, on the linkage of schemes, I think both the Prime Minister and I agreed that the importance that we attach to cap and trade schemes because of a range of factors, one of which is the possibility of international linkage. When the Australian carbon pollution reduction scheme was first canvassed, we indicated that subsequent to its implementation would be open to its linkage with other cap and trade schemes around the world. And that, of course, in time would include New Zealand as well. And so that's a process which our respective officials could work its way through.

Finally, on the question of agriculture, the Australian position is at this stage agriculture is not within our scheme. There are complexities which our friends in New Zealand are wrestling with as well. And we are therefore undertaking a further review in 2013 on the inclusion of agriculture with a view to the possibility of agriculture's inclusion in 2015. And that's where we stand on that. Did you want to add to that, John?

PM KEY:                No, I think that summarises it well. I mean, look, one overarching comment I'd make is that New Zealand has and Australia have, through CER, the most comprehensive trade agreement between two countries. We're making dramatic progress in terms of single economic market and it's never made sense to me for the two countries to have climate change policy that was divergent. I don't think that would make sense. And I think we've got to work as hard as we practically can to have schemes which are complimentary. Now, we need to work through those and we're in the process of redesigning our emissions trading scheme at the moment. It's still early days for us to comment on that over here.

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