New Zealand Emissions Reduction Plan discussion document released to public

To help reduce emissions, the Government is proposing cheaper public transport, a cap on building emissions, and tax incentives for clean cars, among a range of ideas. 

New Zealand's first ever Emissions Reduction Plan will set the direction for climate action through to 2035 and the Government is seeking feedback on proposals before the official plan is finalised in time for Budget 2022. 

The proposals aim to help the Government meet New Zealand's goals of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. 

The Zero Carbon Act requires all greenhouse gases - other than biogenic methane - to reach net zero by 2050. Biogenic methane emissions need to reduce to at least 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2030, and to at least 24-47 percent below 2017 levels by 2050. 

To help meet the targets, the Climate Change Response Act requires emissions budgets and emissions reduction plans to be drawn up. The budgets will set a limit on the amount of emissions allowed across a five year period. 

Emissions reduction plans set out the policies and strategies for achieving emissions budgets. A new plan must be published before each budget period, and can also look out to the next two budget periods.

New Zealand is far from on track. Between 1990 and 2019, gross emissions increased by 26 percent, mostly due to increases in methane from dairy cattle digestive systems and carbon dioxide from road transport.

"We are putting forward for discussion a range of ideas that would reduce our emissions and can also create jobs and new opportunities for Kiwi businesses and our economy," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

"We have the opportunity to build back differently after COVID-19 and the Emissions Reduction Plan will be a key component of our recovery."

Climate Change Minister James Shaw stressed that the discussion document is not the final Emissions Reduction Plan, but a way for the public to have their say. 

"The plan we release next year will need to set out future policy and regulatory change, as well as actions that can be taken by businesses, towns and cities, and every community. It will also set out how we make the transition in an inclusive and equitable way. The consultation marks the next phase in this work."

The consultation period is open until 11.59pm, November 24. The discussion document will be available on the Ministry of the Environment website. 

Some of the proposals:

  • A 20 percent target reduction on vehicle kilometres travelled by 2035
  • A 25 percent target reduction from freight transport by 2035
  • A target to have 30 percent zero emissions vehicles by 2035
  • Reduce public transport fares
  • A vehicle scrappage scheme to support low-income Kiwis to shift to low-emissions transport
  • Investigate how the tax system should be used to avoid disadvantaging clean transport options
  • Set a maximum CO2 limit for individual light petrol vehicle imports to tackle the highest emitting vehicles
  • Introduce measures to avoid New Zealand becoming a dumping ground for high-emitting vehicles rejected by other countries
  • Ensure additional highway and road capacity is consistent with climate change targets
  • Introduce congestion pricing 
  • Reduce fossil gas use in buildings, including capping the emissions from buildings
  • Set a date to end the expansion of fossil gas pipeline infrastructure and eliminate fossil gas in all buildings as recommended by the Climate Change Commission
  • Investigate a potential mandatory energy performance certificate or programme for commercial and public buildings