Climate change: Government releases New Zealand's emissions budget, National pledges to support
Since 1990 there has been a 76 per cent increase in transport emissions, now making up 16.7 per cent overall. Photo / Alex Burton The National Party supports greenhouse gas emissions budgets set today by the Government, continuing a run of cross-party collaboration on climate change. The budgets set limits on how much carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gasses the country can emit over three periods up to 2035, as part of a long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to under 1.5C. Next Monday the Government will unveil the Emissions Reduction Plan, which will show how these budgets will be achieved. This morning Climate Change Minister James Shaw described the budgets as a "sinking lid" on the path to zero emissions by 2050. National Party leader Christopher Luxon says they support the targets and budgets set today, continuing the cross-party support that got the Zero Carbon Act over the line back in 2019. "Climate change is a huge challenge. National is fully committed to emissions targets including net zero by 2050," Luxon said. National would support the budgets in the debate set for this Thursday in Parliament, he said. National had signed New Zealand up to the Paris Agreement and voted for the Zero Carbon Bill in 2019, which established emissions budgets and the Climate Change Commission. "Having agreed the net emissions pathway, the question now is how to bring down emissions," Luxon said. "We need effective policies if we are to deliver our ambitious climate change targets." Luxon said there were a "range" of approaches, and his party was committed to doing it "effectively and efficiently". Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the cross-party support was welcome but the proof would be in if National backed the measures required to meet those budgets, to be revealed in the Emissions Reduction Plan next week. He said although National had signed New Zealand up to the Paris Agreement in 2015 it had never matched its words with actions. The initial emissions budgets are set over three time periods. The first covers 2022-2055, allowing no more than 290 megatonnes to be released. At about 72MT a year this would be roughly two less than emitted over the past five years and just under 3MT more than projected, but in line with Climate Change Commission recommendations. The following five years, 2026-2030, would see ambition increase, with 305MT allowed or about 61 a year. This was about 20 per cent less than the five years to 2021. The third period, 2031-2035, allows for 240MT at 48MT a year, or a 35 per cent reduction on the five years to 2021. Shaw said these budgets would ensure New Zealand fully played its part in keeping global warming below 1.5C. The plan about how to meet these budgets would come out next Monday, May 16. Shaw said a permanent climate change board will be established to co-ordinate climate change policy across government. It will report to the Climate Emergency Response Group of Ministers chaired by the prime minister. The Government has said climate and health will likely be a major focus of Budget 2022. The latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory , released from the Ministry for the Environment, showed gross greenhouse gas emissions were down by 3 per cent between 2019 and 2020. This reduction was mainly due to fewer travel emissions, and reduced fuel use for manufacturing resulting from Covid-19 lockdowns. From 1990 to 2020 however gross emissions increased by 21 per cent. About 50 per cent of emissions came from agriculture, including 23.5 per cent from dairy cattle. Between 1990 and 2020, emissions from the sector increased by 17 per cent mainly due to an 80 per cent increase in the dairy herd and increase in use of synthetic nitrogen by about 693 per cent. The energy sector was the next largest at about 40 per cent of emissions, which had increased 32 per cent since 1990. This increase was largely due to a 76 per cent increase in emissions in the transport sector, which now made up 16.7 per cent of emissions overall. Act does not support the budgets and wants to get rid of the Zero Carbon Act altogether and focus on the Emissions Trading Scheme to lower emissions. Te Pati Maori meanwhile says the budgets are not ambitious enough. Plus, has Chris Hipkins finally found his mojo?