Climate Change Commission Report – Bigger task than what was initially anticipated

June 9, 2021

Today’s final advice to the Government from the Climate Change Commission reveals it hasn’t pulled any punches, but is willing to take a breather between rounds.

The Commission’s final advice sets out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 15 years and provides three different pathways the Government could follow to keep within the proposed emission budgets. The original estimate has been revised to reflect the latest science and the reality that New Zealand’s emissions are still increasing.

These revised estimates now mean that the Commission has set higher budgets to reflect the more significant challenge ahead. However, regardless of the size of the task ahead, the Commission has recognised that many of its recommendations, most notably in energy, heavy transport, and electric vehicles, were ambitious and may not be achievable.

The Commission stands by its overall recommendations, but has remodelled and adjusted the detailed recommendations. Overall, the Commission has New Zealand on track for net-zero carbon by 2050, but there are many hurdles to get over than initially proposed when it tabled its draft advice in March.

The Government has until 31 December to set the first three emissions budgets out to 2035 and release its first emissions reduction plan. The Government needs to move quickly, but not at the risk of impacting employment while industries adjust to practicing their professions in the new low emissions environment. Suppose Government chooses not to accept the Commission’s advice, in that case, it must publish an alternative plan for addressing climate change in New Zealand and reaching its targets that don’t involve just planting trees.

Starting in 2022, the Commission will begin monitoring how the Government’s emissions reduction plan is implemented, including how well New Zealand is tracking to meet the 2050 net-zero target.

Main recommendations:
  • Improve the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme to provide more substantial market incentives to drive low emissions choices.
  • Make sure all government policy and investment decisions support the transition to low emissions.
Transport (including heavy transport and EVs)
  • Provide affordable, reliable and convenient low-emission alternatives to high emission vehicles
  • Introduce measures to make sure vehicles entering the fleet are efficient and to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, including options to decarbonise heavy transport and freight.
  • Develop a national energy strategy to decarbonise the energy system and introduce measures to make sure the electricity sector is ready to meet future needs.
  • Accelerate the switch to low-emission fuels to process heat, drive energy efficiency improvements, and develop a plan to transform buildings to low emissions.
  • Reduce emissions from waste through measures that reduce the amount of water generated and increase resource recovery.

For further information and comment on the Climate Change Commission Report, contact Claire Edmondson, Chief Advisor, on 021 272 7879,