Every New Zealander over the age of 18 could receive a $250 yearly dividend under the Green Party’s new climate change policy.
A Kiwi Climate Fund would replace the Emissions Trading Scheme, put a charge on pollution and use the revenue to plant 1.2 billion trees across the country.
“The Fund’s remaining surplus will be returned to every New Zealander, aged 18 and over, every year as a dividend. We estimate this could be $250 per person in 2020,” said leader James Shaw.
He unveiled the policy at a campaign event in central Auckland, where he also laid down an indirect challenge for potential coalition partner, Labour.
“We say, tax pollution more, and people’s incomes less,” Shaw told a crowd of about 150.
The Greens hope to put $500 back in Kiwis’ pockets every year with the dividend scheme.
“We’re the first generation that will feel the effects of climate change, and the last that can stop it. We have a responsibility to act, and the Green Party has a plan to do it,” Shaw said.
The party has already announced its vision for New Zealand to be carbon-neutral by 2050.
“The Green Party’s first priority in government will be passing the Zero Carbon Act and to set up an independent Climate Commission, to reduce climate pollution to net zero by 2050,” he said.
1.2 billion trees would be planted on 1.1 million hectares of erosion-prone land across New Zealand.
Meanwhile, dividends from the Kiwi climate fund were expected to eventually reach up to $500 per person, per year. but the first payment was likely be $250 in 2020.
Farmers would not be exempt from reducing climate pollution.
The taxes to feed into the Fund would be made up of $40 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, $6 per tonne of nitrous oxide from agricultural sources and $3 per tonne of methane emissions from agriculture. But a $40 payment would be made for each tonne of carbon sequestered by tree planting.
Shaw had already announced a charge on agricultural emissions, starting in 2020, which the party estimated would reduce the average dairy farm’s profitability by less than 2 per cent, or less than 6 per cent when combined with the Green Party’s proposed nitrate levy on water pollution.
Farmers could reduce the cost by planting trees on their land.
“An independent Climate Commission will ultimately advise governments on the charge to put on emissions. By 2020 I expect the charge on carbon dioxide to be around $40 per tonne, and $6 and $3 per tonne for nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agriculture,” Shaw said.
“No farmer I’ve talked to wants their child to inherit a world with longer droughts and drier rivers. Agriculture can no longer be exempt from reducing climate pollution. Farmers need to be part of the solution.
“Global demand for low-emission food, fibre and material is going to boom and our farmers have the potential to become world-leading producers of sustainable high-value food and fibre.”
The Greens in Government would also seek to direct the Super Fund and ACC Fund to completely divest from fossil fuel companies.