Support for climate change commission

The country needs to tackle climate change with a special body to advise and lead policy action, including a comprehensive emissions trading scheme, the head of a top power company says.

Contact Energy chief executive Dennis Barnes said New Zealand needs to take the politics out of the climate change debate and move on beyond talking about technicalities.

He said action would be more effective with the establishment of a Climate Change Commission, which would provide expert, independent and objective analysis and advice, and help the transition to a low carbon economy.

The suggestions are part of the company’s submissions to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into a low carbon economy.

“What we think would help this along would be an emissions trading scheme to cover all sectors,” Mr Barnes said.

“I think the transition to a lower carbon future can be done economically but needs a change in behaviour.”

He said there would likely be resistance to change but decisions needed to be made, to move to greater renewable energy use to “decarbonise” the transport and manufacturing sectors, with greater use of electric vehicles and converting fossil fuel fired processes to low carbon electricity.

Mr Barnes said Contact Energy had halved its carbon emissions by cutting its gas use, including shutting down a gas fired power station, and investing in renewable power generation.