NZ’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw made a big announcement on 31 January 2021, about the release of Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on how the government can achieve its emissions reduction targets.
Ms Ardern holding the report says that “this is one of the most significant pieces of work that this government will undertake.”
She said that under her first term of office, they laid the groundwork for climate action, established the Zero-Carbon Act, and established ambitious targets to keep global warming to 1.5C. Her administration also created the Climate Change Commission to come up with a road map to achieve these goals.
Now that the commission has released the draft advice, Ms Ardern highlighted the draft’s conclusion that reaching the country’s emissions reduction goals are both achievable and affordable, which is “incredibly encouraging”, she says and dismissed claims in the past that climate actions are too expensive.
According to The Spinoff, the commission estimates the overall cost of meeting the carbon reduction targets at less than 1% of projected GDP, which at the onset looked small but in reality a costly program (Giovanetti, 2021).
The Climate Change Commission was established under the Climate Change Response (Zero-Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, which became law in November 2019. The Commission is created to provide independent advice to the government from experts to achieve its Zero Carbon Act targets and monitor its progress.
The cost of transition will affect some members and sectors of the community, according to the PM. Those affected will be the Māori communities, low-income earners, and others. Poorer households spend more of their income on goods that are likely to rise in price, such as petrol – which PM Jacinda emphatically said that the government is “acutely aware of and working hard to address in our policies”. The commission also called for targeted support to those who need it.
Shaw is optimistic about the report but admitted that these proposed actions “will be a challenge but if we rise to it, then the opportunity in front of us is huge” (Mcculloch, 2021).
A huge opportunity does not come without challenges and cost, and their impact will be felt differently for different sectors. So, how will these changes affect how we live and work in the next 15 years and beyond, here are some of them:
- Ban on gas hobs in new houses and no new gas or bottled LPG connections to homes after 2025. Gas and hot water system to switch to electric or biomass. By 2050, existing natural gas in buildings will be phased out.
- There will be no new or imported petrol and diesel vehicles as early as 2030, feebate or subsidy for EVs, more car-sharing and rental schemes for EVs, electrify major railway lines, and more working from home.
- No new coal boilers for manufactures ASAP, phasing out existing coal use. Biomass and hydrogen to replace fossil fuels
- No more coal-fired generation at Huntly by the end of the decade, large-scale wind and solar built in the early 2020s, geothermal power stations close before 2030
- Increased expansion of new native forests from 2021 and planting of native trees will stay high until 2050. Pine trees planting will taper off after 2030, more timber to replace steel and concrete.
- Herds will shrink by 15% and a small shift to horticulture. By 2035 milk solid production will increase slightly, but meat production would slightly fall.
- Create a circular economy where goods are reused instead of going to the landfill, which will reduce methane released from landfills.
- Import restriction on refrigerants and higher maintenance and disposal standards for it.
- Higher carbon price which will cost between $30 and $70 per tonne with increases each year.
Already, there are push backs from the sectors on the line to be affected by the upcoming transitions.
John Carnegie, head of oil and gas lobby group Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) says that he is not convinced that the future painted by the commission will come to pass, saying that oil and gas still has a role to play in NZ’s economy going forward. David Crawford of the Motor Industry Association says that the import ban for petrol and diesel cars is too ambitious and outpaces other countries and car manufactures. If NZ wants to move faster than the market, they will need some government assistance to do it. Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says that this will be tough for farmers to increase productivity while slashing the number of cows in half. He adds that the transition to EVs will be a barrier for farmworkers who can’t afford it and rely on their old petrol vehicles to do their work (Kronast, 2021).
NZ Transport Minister Michael Wood mentioned unspecified financial incentives for low-emissions cars. He tweeted on 28 January, “I’ve confirmed in-principle agreement to incentives that will accompany the Standard. Work is underway and I hope to make further announcements in the coming months.”
The draft advice is now open for consultation until March 14, and final advice will be released before May 31. The government has until December to decide whether to adopt the budgets.
To view the Climate Change Commission Draft, click the link below: