NZ emissions target likely to toughen


New Zealand’s emissions target is likely to toughen if the Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, gets his way.

Commenting on advice he received, Shaw says the current target is too weak to match the Government’s commitment to helping save the world and keep the world’s heating within 1.5 degrees celsius.

Shaw says conclusive advice from the independent Climate Change Commission will not hit his desk until February, however he is expecting to be told we need to do better.

Shaw says the independent Commission’s advice is not binding on the Government but that he is “absolutely committed” to following their advice.

“If there’s anything Covid taught us, it’s to follow the advice of the scientists. That’s why we pay them in the first place.”

Shaw said that with the election of Joe Biden, China, the EU and now the USA would soon have net zero emissions targets for greenhouse gases and their net-zero goals for all gasses are more ambitious than New Zealand’s’ 2050 target which allows emission of methane primarily from agricultural emissions.

Shaw described Chinese President Xi Jinping’s commitment to getting China’s carbon dioxide emission to net-zero by 2060 as “massive”.

As part of New Zealand doing better Shaw says the independent Climate Change Commission will suggest a firmer 2050 target for methane.

The Zero Carbon Act allows for a wide range of methane cuts by 2050 – anywhere between 24 and 47 percent. 

New Zealand makes three major greenhouse gases: methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

The Government’s Paris pledge bundles them as a single target, however, the independent Commission may also recommend unbundling methane from other gasses.

Unbundling the gasses could take the pressure of methane emissions, placing more New Zealand emphasis carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide; however, Stuff reports the split target might be a tough sell to our international trading partners who have all-gas targets.

Greenpeace’s Russell Norman remains critical of New Zealand’s efforts.

Norman says New Zealand was on trance to cut gross emissions by just 7% by 2030, which is much less than required to keep the world inside its safety zone.

He is calling on the Government to give the independent Climate Change Commission Reserve Bank-like powers to set binding carbon budgets similar to the power has over the official cash rate.

“Surely climate change is at least as important as inflation,” said Norman.


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