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ETS go-slow doesn't satisfy business

The government's decision to slow down implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme isn't satisfying the business sector.

It says the scheme will still impose unacceptable costs on exporters and New Zealand should wait for other countries rather than go it alone.

Environment spokesman Nick Smith announced the ETS policy on Wednesday, saying times were hard and he had to balance the scheme's impact against the goal of a low-carbon economy.

It was to step up on January 1, 2013, to full obligation for the transport, electricity and industrial sectors, meaning they would have had to pay their share in carbon credits for the greenhouse gases they generate.

That's been changed to a three-phase step up starting on January 1, 2013, and on the same date for the next two years.

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly says there will still be a $638 million liability for the sectors in 2015 and average household costs will go up from $125 a year now to $330 because of higher power and fuel prices.

"There's still a lack of action from other countries to take part in emissions trading, so New Zealand businesses are already at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

"The other concern is that it only addresses the short term, up until 2015. This doesn't give businesses any certainty about the longer term impact of the ETS."

ExportNZ director Catherine Beard says New Zealand will still end up with a high cost scheme relative to its international trading competitors.

"Many of our trading competitors have accepted no international obligations to reduce emissions, even fewer have trading schemes," she said.