New Zealand repeals law that mandated use of biofuels

December 17th, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Dec 17 (DPA) New Zealand’s newly elected centre-right government Wednesday ditched a three-month old measure that would have forced oil companies to sell biofuels to combat climate change.The government, elected last month, repealed the controversial measure adopted by the ousted Labour Party-led administration in October, by 62 votes to 59 in parliament.

Two of the ruling National Party’s allied parties joined the opposition in voting against it.

The repealed law would have made oil companies put at least 0.5 percent of biofuels into their petrol and diesel and increase it to 2.5 percent in 2012.

The previous government introduced it as part of its policy to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The new conservative administration said New Zealanders should be able to choose whether they used biofuels, and their use should not be compulsory.

The National Party launched a major review of climate change measures - which Labour billed as pioneering - including rethinking an emissions-trading scheme, reversing a ban on new thermal-power generation, scrapping a fund of one billion New Zealand dollars ($550 million) to make houses more energy efficient and abandoning a plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee condemned the ban on new thermal-power stations as “totally unnecessary political symbolism that had dangerous consequences.” He said there were times when lake levels were low and the wind did not blow.

Former energy minister David Parker said the economic damage from scaling back Labour’s climate policies was bad enough, but it was small compared to the environmental damage it would do.

Tom McNicholl, managing director of Biodiesel Oils New Zealand, which invested 10 million New Zealand dollars in research and equipment to reduce reliance on oil, called the move “devastating.”

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