I believe New Zealand has the potential to lead the world in its commitment to renewable energy.
On biofuels, the time has come to implement a sales obligation.
Biofuels can replace diesel or petrol, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. With domestic production they can also be positive for the current account.
The government has decided that a Biofuel Sales Obligation will be set at 3.4 per cent of the annual energy content of total annual petrol and diesel sales by 2012. This initial target is considered sufficient to encourage the uptake of biodiesel and the development of infrastructure for ethanol distribution.
The Government’s biofuels legislation has been dealt a major blow, with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment calling for it to be scrapped. …
But Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright today told the committee the bill had major problems and would possibly do more harm than good.
While biofuels had a big advantage over fossil fuels in that they absorbed carbon dioxide while they were growing — potentially lowering their emissions — some had a carbon footprint equal to or higher than fossil fuels due to high emissions from infrastructure and cultivation. …
To meet the mandatory requirements New Zealand would have to import biofuels, which in some cases were worse than fossil fuels.
Ms Wright said the growth of biofuel crops overseas could also result in the felling of forests to free up land and shortages in land for food production that would push up prices disadvantaging the world’s poor.
Ouch. Eight years of huge growth in greenhouse gas emissions, and the Government’s sole response has been we have developed some really good policy. That policy isn’t looking so flash now.