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Silence On ETS Talks Between National And Labour

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Sept 9 NZPA - Those taking part in attempts to gain agreement between National and Labour on an emissions trading scheme (ETS) are refusing to comment on progress.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith and his Labour shadow Charles Chauvel met last night in an attempt to build a grand coalition on the controversial climate change policy.

Mr Chauvel could not be contacted last night and Dr Smith's spokesman said they would not be conducting negotiations through the media.

Both parties agreed in principle to all sectors, all emissions ETS, but there remained large differences over crucial details.

Last night's talks were the first since Labour Leader Phil Goff wrote to Prime Minister John Key outlining areas where his party could not agree and calling on him to get involved.

It was understood the Government wanted to wait for a parliamentary review into the current ETS to be completed and to see if it could cut a deal with minor parties to amend the law.

Mr Key last week asked Dr Smith to restart talks saying his preferred option was a compromise between the two major parties.

A review report on the existing ETS, enacted by the previous government and put on hold by National, was released last week.

It set out 34 broad recommendations but Labour, the Greens, ACT and the Maori Party put in dissenting minority reports.

United Future leader Peter Dunne who chaired the review committee said the key to success for an ETS was long-term commitment from both major parties.

Labour had supported 32 of the 34 committee recommendations.

Areas of difference were around timing of entry of agriculture and for an intensity based approach or not.

Both parties agreed in principle to all sectors of the ETS, but National believed the version in the law now would cause too much harm to the economy.

It wanted an ETS closer in design to Australia.

Labour argued that National's version would not do enough to reduce emissions and both sides were haggling over a compromise.

An ETS would put limits on the amount of greenhouse gases different sectors of the economy could emit.

Those that exceed their limit would have to buy carbon credits from those who were under their cap.

The Government wanted to be able to take a finalised ETS scheme to the negotiating table at the next major international meeting on climate change in Copenhagen in November.

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