Government to reveal Emissions Reduction Plan, how it will meet climate goals

By Anneke Smith for RNZ

The Government will today reveal its scheme - the Emissions Reduction Plan - to meet the country's very-first emissions budget.

Both Labour and National have committed to the first three budgets, which cap the amount of greenhouse gas New Zealand can emit over the next 15 years.

The budgets have been billed as New Zealand's first 'binding domestic framework' to guide a curbing of emissions, no matter who is in power.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said bipartisan support of the emissions budgets gives New Zealanders a sense of certainty on future climate change policy.

"One of the main reasons that it has taken us so long as a country to get started on the path of cutting our emissions is because climate change policy has been so politicised and so subject to the back and forth vagaries of the political cycle," he told a special parliamentary debate last week.

"But it is a generational challenge. It requires a level of consistency across governments and across decades and the critical thing about this framework is that the imperative is set and the direction of travel is clear."

The emissions budgets now serve as bipartisan climate goals but the National Party is already forewarning its support doesn't necessarily extend to the government's plan to meet them.

"I think the Emissions Reduction Plan will be quite a long list of initiatives that the government's come up with, some of them I suspect will be better than others," National's climate change spokesperson Scott Simpson said.

"So we will support the ends but that doesn't necessarily mean that we support the means because there will be some of those initiatives that, on analysis, will be more expensive, more costly and more impactful on people's lives, communities and businesses."

Simpson said National believed the taxpayer should not have to shoulder the financial burden of climate action alone.

"If we look at the United Kingdom and what's been achieved there, it's actually been business and the private sector that has done many of the innovative emissions-changing programmes that have been most effective.

"And I would expect that could potentially be the case in New Zealand. In fact, the business sector is in many respects already ahead of where the politicians are."

The ACT Party has already written the Emissions Reduction Plan off; arguing it is not necessary when the likes of the Emissions Trading Scheme is up and running.

"We won't support it because it's not necessary to reduce emissions. What ACT would do is actually make the emissions trading scheme better," ACT's climate change spokesperson Simon Court said.

"We would take the revenues from that scheme, which amounts to billions per annum, and give Kiwis $250 a year per person as an incentive to reduce emissions; a carbon dividend."

Te Pāti Māori is pessimistic about the Emissions Reduction Plan, having opposed the emissions budgets on the basis they don't go far enough.

Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said climate action had to be approached with "a sense of urgency" as there was limited time to make a difference.

"We would have expected to see something more ambitious, as far as the budgets and targets been set."

Te Pāti Māori has outlined its desire to see the government put a price on methane emissions, limit cow numbers and phase out synthetic fertilisers by 2025.

Ngarewa-Packer said while she would have to wait until the plan had been released to comment on it, what she had seen so far hadn't given her much hope.

"We saw a very pastel green approach to environment and I would have expected a party that's in government like this would have been a lot more progressive - a lot more."

The Emissions Reduction Plan will be released at midday.