In December 2022, New Zealand released two major reports to the United Nations: “New Zealand’s Eighth National Communication” and “New Zealand’s Fifth Biennial Report.”
Both reports fulfil the country’s reporting obligation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It details the country’s emission reduction policies to meet international requirements and guide domestic climate actions. It takes stock of the climate change impacts in the country and efforts to reduce emissions, climate adaptation strategies, and support for developing countries.
Climate Change is already affecting New Zealand
Average global temperatures have risen to 1.1 C since the last century resulting in more hot days and lesser cold days. The year 2021 was the country’s hottest year on record. Climate change is also costing the nation. For example, droughts from 2007 to 2017 cost New Zealand around $720 million.
And as the planet continues to warm, climate change impacts and risks will continue to escalate.
James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change, New Zealand, in his foreword on the Eight National Communication report, says that New Zealand is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change, and the country has put the 1.5°C global warming limit into law as part of its Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act.
The Ministry for the Environment highlights the critical points of the two reports:
- New Zealand’s gross emissions are projected to decrease from 78.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e) in 2020 to 66.7 Mt CO2-e in 2035. The policies and measures we have implemented are essential drivers behind decreases across the key emitting sectors.
- Net emissions are projected to increase from 55.5 Mt CO2-e in 2020 to 63.8 Mt CO2 -e in 2025 before decreasing to 41.2 Mt CO2-e in 2035. Forestry is a strong driver of this trend, as net emissions are influenced by planting and harvesting cycles.
- New Zealand’s existing policies and measures are estimated to reduce net emissions by 30.7 Mt CO2-e in 2035, compared to taking no action.
- Both gross and net emissions are projected to be lower in 2035 than they were projected to be in the Fourth Biennial Report in 2019.
- New Zealand will meet its 2020 target to reduce gross greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels (pending expert review) through emissions reductions, contributions from forestry activities and international units.
- Significant progress has been made, and a framework was established to continue to cut emissions and build a climate-resilient future.
- New Zealand is committed to assisting developing countries to address climate change and has committed NZ$1.3 billion in grant-based climate finance between 2022 and 2025.
Emissions from agriculture accounted for 50 per cent of New Zealand’s total gross greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. The fact that the agriculture sector dominates New Zealand’s emissions makes it unique among other developed countries.
Methane accounts for 44% and nitrous oxide at 11% from nitrogen fertilizers use and livestock dung and urine. The next largest sector is energy (including transport) which produced 40 per cent in 2020.
New Zealand will start pricing agricultural emissions by 2025 to reduce emissions from the sector.
It also continues to invest in research to improve productivity while keeping emissions down and has announced the establishment of a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.
Two climate change reports to the United Nations were released. (2022, December 15). Ministry for the Environment. Retrieved from https://environment.govt.nz/news/two-major-reports-to-the-united-nations-released/
National Communication and Biennial Report 2022 snapshot. (2022 December 15). Ministry for the Environment. Retrieved from https://environment.govt.nz/publications/national-communication-and-biennial-report-2022-snapshot/
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