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Climate change inaction will be costly, Greens say

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Sept 20 NZPA - A poll suggesting climate change has slipped down the list of important issues for New Zealanders is not a reason to ignore it and risk further damage to the economy, the Green Party says.

Released today, the UMR poll done on behalf of the Greenhouse Policy Coalition (GPC), which represents some of the larger greenhouse gas emitters, said climate change rated bottom in order of importance to people out of a list of 10 common issues -- a drop from eighth out of nine issues in the same survey last year.

Those issues in 2010 were (in order of concern) cost of living, health, education, ethics in business, environment, effect of the economy on household, taxes, employment, standard of living compared with other countries and climate change.

The proportion of people agreeing that climate change was a serious issue fell from 42.6 percent last year to 36.3 percent, the survey showed.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty, jobs and the economy would naturally be at the top of people's minds.

He pointed out the poll was commissioned by a lobby group for big polluters and said it was set up to give an impression that taking action on climate change would cost jobs and money while inaction would cost nothing.

Dr Norman said climate change was contributing to more extreme weather events like the recent flooding around the country and unseasonal and destructive snow dumping in Invercargill.

"Doing nothing on climate change is very expensive and will damage our economy, due to these extreme weather events."

He said ways to address it included switching to clean technologies and pointed out that measure was supported by 66 percent of the poll respondents.

GPC executive director David Venables said the results of the survey reinforced the Government's decision to moderate the impact of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The survey found:

* 23.4 percent of people agreed New Zealand should reduce its emissions, even if it meant reducing the standard of living -- down from 34.9 percent last year;

* 38 percent disagreed that New Zealand should take part in a global emissions trading regime if it cost people $5 each a week -- up from 32.1 percent;

* 18.1 percent agreed New Zealand should cut emissions even if it costs jobs -- down from 24.3 percent;

* 45.1 percent agreed with the statement "controlling emissions is mostly about saving our planet -- we shouldn't be quibbling too much about money", down from 55.9 percent last year;

* 65.6 percent were in favour of switching to sustainable technologies even if there was a cost -- down from 78.3 percent;

* 32.3 percent gave a rating between six and 10 (10 being totally fair) when asked if putting a price on carbon was a fair way of reducing emissions -- down from 37.9 percent last year;

* 33.9 percent agreed with the statement "I feel fully informed about the ETS" -- up from 29.4 percent;

* 45.8 percent agreed that climate change was happening and caused by humans -- up from 44.2 percent;

* 32.7 percent felt there was evidence climate change was happening, but were uncertain whether humans were the cause -- down from 35.7 percent;

* 19.3 percent said the climate change problem effectively didn't exist -- up from 17.5 percent.

The poll of 503 New Zealanders aged 18 and over was conducted in late July and early August and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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