Climate Change Commission's final advice: Rapid uptake of electric vehicles - at cost of more than 2000 mechanics

The Climate Change Commission has issued a stark warning to the Government in its final advice: "We are not on track."

New Zealand has committed to reaching net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 and reducing biogenic methane emissions between 24-47 percent by 2050 - but the Government's current policies won't get us there.

But Climate Change Commission chair Dr Rod Carr says transformational and lasting change is both necessary and possible, through rapid uptake of electric vehicles, changing farming practices, slashing use of fossil fuels, and growing more forests.

"Current Government policies do not put us on track to meet the commission's recommended emissions budgets or the 2050 targets. As a country, we need to fundamentally change our response to climate change," says Dr Carr. 

"Our advice reflects the position Aotearoa is in after years of short-term thinking and delay. Emissions will not reduce immediately - there is work to do first to lay the groundwork and the time to start that is now."

But the advice comes with some confronting realities, including the cost of electric vehicles replacing cars with internal combustion engines. Modelling shows that more than 2000 mechanics could be out of work by 2035. 

"Our recommended emissions budgets could see the number of mechanics reduce from about 17,700 in 2018 to 15,400 – 16,800 by 2035. This would mean that there would be 900 – 2,300 fewer motor mechanics in 2035 compared to in 2018."

Key points:

  • The Climate Change Commission says current policies do not enable New Zealand to achieve its net zero carbon emissions targets
  • It estimates that in 2050, the level of GDP could be around 1.2 percent lower than if we continued with the policies we have today
  • By 2100, methane will need to be reduced by 49-60 percent below 2017 levels
  • By the end of the third emissions budget in 2035, and if the Climate Change Commission's advice is followed, New Zealand could reduce its carbon emissions by 63 percent and biogenic methane by 17 percent, putting it on track to meets its targets
  • Reducing emissions from transport will require a rapid increase in electric vehicle sales so that nearly all light vehicles entering the country are electric by 2035
  • Road transport can be almost completely decarbonised by 2050 by increasing walking, cycling and public transport use, reducing travel by working from home, and by switching to low emissions vehicles
  • Low and medium temperature heat in industry and buildings needs to be decarbonised by 2050 through a switch away from coal, diesel and fossil gas to electricity and biomass
  • A target needs to be set so that 50 percent of all energy consumed comes from renewable sources by December 2035
  • The Climate Change Commission suggests changing the target for 100 percent renewable electricity to achieving 95-98 percent renewable electricity by 2030
  • Following the Climate Change Commission's advice could see the average household gas bill in 2035 by up to $300 a year for homes
  • Around 20,000 to 30,000 farm businesses will need to change management practices to meet the Climate Change Commission's advice
  • New native forests need to be established on steeper, less productive land to provide a long-term "carbon sink" - modelling shows 300,000 ha of native forests could cost between $5 billion and $15 billion
  • Modelling suggests that Pacific peoples could disproportionately experience greater job change as a result of our emissions budgets
  • Taking actions to meet the recommended emissions budgets could result in 2600 fewer jobs in the sheep, beef and grain farming sector by 2035 - 400 fewer job losses than would occur under current policy settings
  • Diverting about half a million tonnes of waste away from landfill between 2020 and 2023 could result in 230 to 345 new jobs
  • New jobs could be created by reusing and recovering waste materials that would otherwise go to landfill - for every job in landfilling, two to four jobs could be created in resource recovery
  • The Green Building Council estimates that more than 1000 jobs could be generated by bringing 120,000 homes up to healthy standards - by installing insulation and more efficient heating
  • The recommended emissions budgets could see the number of mechanics reduce from about 17,700 in 2018 to 15,400 - 16,800 by 2035, due to electric vehicle uptake
  • Modelling indicates that households which replace an internal combustion engine car with an electric one could save more than $1300 a year
  • Short-haul aviation - such as a trip from Wellington to Nelson - should begin to convert to new generation planes, such as electric planes, biofuel or nitrogen