Analysis: What will be in Climate Change Minister James Shaw's plan to tackle climate change

Rough Sketch of climate change plan to be revealed.
Rough Sketch of climate change plan to be revealed. Photo credit: Getty Images

By Hamish Cardwell RNZ

Analysis - Climate Change Minister James Shaw will this morning sketch out roughly what will be in the government's plan to slash climate emissions.

At about 8 am Shaw is to deliver a speech to an invited audience in Wellington.

However, he will not set out specific policies that will be in the Emissions Reduction Plan - these will come when it is officially released sometime next week - about the time of this year's budget.

The government has said climate and health will likely be a major focus of Budget 2022.

In October last year, the government went to the public asking for ideas about how to make reductions, admitting it could not hit its targets without help.

At best, its plans get Aotearoa two-thirds of the way to hitting the 2022-2025 target - and at worst are only a third of what's needed.

The plan is a response to the Climate Change Commission's roadmap for how to get to net-zero emission by 2050.

The government said it broadly accepts the commission's plan.

It calls for progressively deeper emissions reductions - 15 percent by 2025 for long-lived greenhouse gases like CO2 - and up to 63 percent by 2035.

Late last year the government made an international pledge to halve emissions by the end of the decade - although critics say once accounting tricks are taken into account they've really only committed to about 20 percent in reductions.

Two-thirds of the savings will have to come from paying other countries to make cuts on our behalf.

Transport likely to be an emphasis

Emissions reductions in transport, energy and industry sectors will likely be a priority for the first emissions reduction period - from this year through to 2025.

The scale and speed of the cuts needed to hit the targets are bracing.

The commission said transport emissions must be slashed by 13 percent by 2030, and 41 percent by 2035.

The discussion document released in October said the distance travelled by private vehicles must drop 20 percent by 2035.

The emphasis will be on getting city dwellers out of their cars and into public transport, or walking and cycling if there is any hope of reaching the target.

E-vehicles will need to make up 30 percent of the fleet by 2035.

There will need to be a massive investment in mass transit in the large cities, with reduced public transport fees and increased congestion charging.

The Ministry for the Environment pulled together a succinct table on the commission's advice to the government which shows the staggering scale of the changes needed.

Some examples:

Cyclists' numbers must increase by half in three years and by 340 percent by 2035

Public transport use needs to go up 60 percent and 210 percent over the same timeframes.

By 2025, electricity generated from wind and solar needs to increase by 106 percent and 180 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, the government's work phasing out fossil fuel boilers for industrial heat and decarbonising the industrial sector will continue.

It intends to work towards a ban on organic material going into landfills without gas capture by 2030.

But there are a raft of other plans in the works.

There are few new plans for agriculture while work continues with the industry on the He Waka Eke Noa programme to cut emissions - with a decision expected by the end of the year.

Most of the plans to cut climate gases have compounding positive benefits - they often lead to better health and environmental outcomes.

The commission's modelled shows the cost to GDP in 2050 of reaching the net-zero target is a little over 1 percent, while doing nothing will cost about 2.3 percent.

Critics argue that letting the emissions trading scheme drive innovation and efficiencies is the best and cheapest way to cut emissions.

However, the commission and the IPCC say deeper cuts are needed if the world is to have any hope of limiting warming to below catastrophic levels.