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Clean energy industry calls for carbon emission reductions

The Government is being urged to commit to an ambitious target for reducing carbon emissions of 25 to 40 per cent at this week’s critical international meeting on climate change.

Over 100 businesses representing the sustainable electricity industry, including New Zealand’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbines, have called on the Government to take the lead in the international clean energy revolution.

They want the Government to commit to a target of reducing carbon emissions from 1990 levels by between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020. The latest round of international negotiations on climate change targets takes place in Bonn, Germany this week as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In a joint letter to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Key, the industry leaders expressed their concerns that if New Zealand did not take a lead in the climate change debate then its key businesses in the clean energy sector would be forced offshore.

“As some of New Zealand’s leading renewable energy businesses we share President Obama’s view that the nation that leads the world in clean energy in the 21st Century will be the nation that leads in the 21st Century global economy,” said Brendan Winitana, Chairman of the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand.

“Our government needs to take bold decisions to provide certainty and attract private investment to the renewable electricity sector, as well as setting out a clear framework and timetable for action.”

New Zealand is already one of the worlds leading producers of renewable energy with 65 to 75 per cent of electricity coming from renewable sources. The business leaders said the industry had developed unique patented technologies that could lead the coming global revolution in energy production and help drive substantial growth and jobs in the New Zealand economy.

“Our sustainable electricity industry is world class, but we cannot take a lead unless the Government takes the lead,” said Barrie Leay, Chairman of Windflow Technology Ltd.

“We are concerned that if New Zealand takes a back seat then our businesses will have no domestic market to develop in and will be forced offshore to thrive, taking with them all the Kiwi ingenuity and innovation that could help drive our economy out of recession.”

The industry is already experiencing this with government-stimulated industry development in Australia, Asia and Middle Eastern countries. One of New Zealand’s largest research groups that pioneered unique solar power generation technology was recently forced offshore to seek resources in the United States.

The business leaders said New Zealand, more than any other nation, was perfectly positioned to take a lead in the sustainable electricity industry.
“Our established and emerging renewable energy businesses are on the cutting edge of the world’s clean energy industry,” said Andrew Booth, CEO of Solar City. “We need the Government to lead the climate change debate to build a platform for our industries here in New Zealand so that we can take a leading role in the multi-billion dollar energy revolution that is accelerating around the world.”

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