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Cold Water Poured On Act's Hope For Climate Change Inquiry

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gerry Brownlee. Pic: NZPA
Gerry Brownlee. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, Dec 11 NZPA - A senior minister has poured more cold water over ACT leader Rodney Hide's hopes of getting a parliamentary inquiry into climate change policy to look into the underlying science.

Parliament today approved a special select committee to look at climate change policy.

The National Government has put the emissions trading scheme (ETS) on hold while it conducted a complete review, with the intention of getting a new policy in place late next year.

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee today officially added to the committee's terms of reference: "Identify the central/benchmark projections which are being used as the motivation for international agreements to combat climate change; and consider the uncertainties and risks surrounding those projections."

Draft terms, released when National signed up ACT as a support partner in post-election negotiations, included an examination of the scientific claims underpinning climate change theory, but were then dropped in the version tabled in Parliament.

Select committees are officially masters of their own destiny, but Peter Dunne, who will chair the inquiry, said MPs were not going to start digging into the basic science.

Today Mr Brownlee indicated National MPs would be taking the same stance.

"There are those...who say we should start questioning the science. I want to make it abundantly clear that these terms of reference does not allow questioning of the science," Mr Brownlee.

National wanted an inquiry to look at New Zealand's unique position as developed nation heavily reliant on agriculture.

Mr Hide, who will sit on the committee, has said as far as he was concerned the committee will get to look at the issue of the science theory behind climate change.

Climate change sceptic Mr Hide said the reference to central projections, risks and uncertainties could allow examination of the science.

The 11-member special select committee is dominated by National and its support parties, which have six votes.

Terms include:

* looking at the merits of mitigation versus adaptation to a warmer climate;

* looking at the merits of an ETS, as opposed to a carbon tax;

* hearing views on how New Zealand's climate change stance could affect its international relations;

* requiring a comprehensive regulatory cost-benefit analysis;

* considering the impact of policy on households in light of the weak economy, New Zealand's international competitiveness and the actions of competing countries;

* considering the case for increased climate change research;

* considering the need for additional regulations if an ETS is retained;

* considering the timing of implementation.

Labour MPs were dismissive of the inquiry saying it was delaying tactic to avoid forming a policy on climate change.

The vote to set up the parliamentary inquiry passed by 68 votes to 52.

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