NZ climate emissions rising since Zero Carbon Bill introduced

Despite good work being done to tackle climate change, we still need to do much more, a leading climate scientist says.

The Government introduced its Zero Carbon Bill in May, but since then actual greenhouse emissions have continued to rise.

"Actual emissions are still going up, so we're not tackling the real problem," says Professor James Renwick of Victoria University.

He says it's promising that many local councils are declaring climate emergencies and awareness of the problems is increasing, but the time to sit by and do nothing has passed.

"I think we have to have that step before we do get to the action, but we need the action," Prof Renwick told The AM Show on Monday morning.

"It's all very well for local governments to declare emergencies, great stuff, but they need resources to make things happen. And I think it needs to be coordinated across the whole country."

The Government's Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill laid out a 30-year plan aimed at limiting global warming to no more than 1.5degC.

Prof Renwick said that although the Bill has the best of intentions, progress is frustratingly slow.

"It is taking a long time and that's the political process, I suppose. It's pretty frustrating. But the outline of the Zero Carbon Bill is in line with the science."

The Bill also aims at providing certainty to industries affected by climate change or which may be contributing to emissions.

Prof Renwick says the country needs to change the way it thinks about the economy if it is to successfully combat climate change. 

"We've got to decarbonise the economy. We've got to decouple economic growth, economic development from emissions of greenhouse gases."

Although that may mean job losses in some sectors, Prof Renwick is confident those loesses would be offset by more jobs in other industries.

"We're talking about working differently in the future so I don't know that there will necessarily be less jobs around but they'll be different jobs."

Prof Renwick admits meeting the goals is a "big ask" but says we have no choice but to get there.

"We've got to go for it because if we don't the consequences, the cost to the economy and society, will be just astronomical - so we really have to give it everything we've got."