WELLINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The expansion of New Zealand’s carbon trading scheme, the only national market outside Europe, will be slowed to minimise costs to the economy if the ruling National-led government is returned to power in elections at the end of the month.
The centre-right party said it will adopt recommendations of a review released mid-September, which will see the energy, transport and industrial sectors get until 2015, two years later than planned, before they pay the full cost of emissions of NZ$25 ($20.25) a tonne of carbon.
“This approach slows the cost impacts on households and businesses but continues the progress needed to drive investment in renewable energy, clean technologies and forestry,” said Climate Change minister Nick Smith.
He also cast doubt on whether the economically vital agriculture sector, which accounts for around half of New Zealand’s emissions, would be included from 2015 as currently planned.
“National will review the position in 2014 and only include agriculture if new technologies are available and more progress is made internationally on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
The National Party, traditionally supported by business and the farming sector, will be re-elected with an increased majority and may not need any support from other parties after the Nov. 26 vote, according to the latest opinion polls.
A Reuters poll of five surveys has National with a lead of 23 percentage points over the centre-left Labour Party. For latest polls click on .
The policy made no mention of whether trading in contentious HFC carbon offsets will be banned as suggested by the review.
A re-elected National government would also take steps to link the New Zealand and Australian carbon markets after 2015.
Australia passed laws this week to impose a price on carbon emissions from mid-2012, with a carbon trading market to be put in place from mid-2015. (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Ed Davies)