Climate Change Commission releases latest draft advice to Government

The Climate Change Commission is calling for bold and urgent changes to Government emission reduction policies, saying the current measures don't cut it.

It made 19 recommendations in its latest draft advice to the Government released on Wednesday. It's meant to inform the Government's direction to achieve the emissions budget for 2026-2030.

The Climate Change Commission has made it crystal clear that more action is needed, otherwise New Zealand won't reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050. 

Some of the recommendations aren't too surprising - building more electric vehicle charging points, increasing renewable energy generation, better planning and funding for cycleways and public transport. 

However, the commission also said there is too much reliance on forestry to offset emissions.

They also want to see a shake-up of the Emissions Trading Scheme - the Government's key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions - saying it isn't fit for purpose.

"We do suggest incentives for forestry need to be different to incentives for reducing total emissions," said Climate Change Commission chair Rod Carr.

"By bundling them the way we have we are leading to both unintended consequences, in some cases socially unacceptable outcomes, but ultimately putting at risk actually achieving our target."

The proposed recommendations are what the commission considers the highest priority and the most urgent actions needed to achieve the 2026 - 2030 emissions budget and enable New Zealand to meet its emissions reduction goals. 

Carr said: "We need to pick up the pace, policy needs to be aligned with targets and budgets already in place."

He said the commission is also optimistic about opportunities but the current pathway of policy won't get us there. Intervention is needed to achieve the goals, he said. 

There will be a couple of months of public consultation on the report. The commission is encouraging people to read it and make submissions.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw welcomed the advice.

"We thank the Commission for its latest stock take of the highest priority actions needed to take us to net zero by 2050. The good news is that there is considerable alignment with much of the work we already have underway, and that schemes like the clean car discount are already making a difference.

"It is encouraging the Emissions Reduction Plan has laid the foundations to bring about transformative change. However, true climate progress can't be just about setting targets, we have to step up our actions with much greater urgency and scale if we are to achieve a net zero future.

"We also know we need multiple wins to get to net zero, so it is important we don't rely too heavily on carbon removals from forests to do all the heavy lifting. This is where existing work in decarbonising our state sector and industrial processes can really make a difference. We cannot delay delivering and extending these areas."