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Friday, December 4

New Green plan for jobs and more, healthier forests


New Zealand can create thousands of jobs and store millions of tonnes of carbon according to new research from the Green Party.

Planting 665,000 hectares of new forests and making existing forests healthier would generate an estimated 50,000 job years and store almost 34 million tonnes of carbon, according to the second instalment of the Green New Deal released today. The stimulus plan requires less than $500 million of government investment over the next ten years in forestry and the related areas of pest and wilding pines control.

“We have 150,000 Kiwis out of work and the world desperately needs to reduce its carbon emissions. There’s a bold Green New Deal response that can tackle both of these problems at the same time if our Government has the courage to act,” said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman on releasing the report.

“We can put thousands of New Zealanders to work over the next decade building a sustainable economy, and the Government would see a return on that investment over time.” The release of the 40-page report was more evidence of the Green Party’s renewed commitment to talking on economic issues, Dr Norman said.

In May, the Greens released their first stimulus package as a response to the global financial crisis, and Green MPs held town hall meetings around the country to share the economic approach with interested New Zealanders. The $323 million insulation funding agreed with the Government was part of that package.

A plan illustrating how New Zealand could take practical steps towards a low-carbon economy followed in August, demonstrating how the country could significantly reduce its emissions at little cost.

“This Green New Deal plan has a rural focus,” said Dr Norman. “Unemployment is particularly bad in places like Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay and investment in forestry and pest control would be a great boost to their rural economies.”

The latest Green New Deal package recommends investment and regulatory changes in the forestry industry that would create more than 36,000 job years over the next ten years while developing and diversifying New Zealand’s timber resources and expanding permanent carbon forests. Additional environmental benefits include flood and erosion control as well as improved water quality.

Enhanced ground-based pest control and stepped-up efforts to rid the high country of wilding conifers would generate a further 12,000 job years while protecting forests and related natural assets. It would also boost the fur industry and help protect hydro lake water levels.

Dr Norman said the National-led Government seemed short on new ideas and reluctant to take decisive action. “John Key’s Government has been slow to grasp the fact that the economy depends on the environment and we need ways to look after both. Mining our National Parks isn’t a good answer. Neither is the Government’s focus on cutting benefits rather than creating jobs.”

The Green New Deal report: http://www.greens.org.nz/greennewdeal