The Government has begun consulting on a discussion document titled Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future that will inform and shape New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan.

The Emissions Reduction Plan will set the direction for climate action for the next 15 years. It will also set New Zealand on a pathway to meeting the 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and biogenic methane targets by implementing policies and strategies for specific sectors, including: transport, energy, waste and f-gases, building and construction, and agriculture and forestry.

Our agriculture and transport sectors have the highest emissions profile and while the discussion document talks about an equitable transitions strategy, it may well come at a high cost, especially as New Zealand has already switched to importing most of its fossil fuel requirements instead of mining/extracting them locally. This may be attributed to the Government’s fixation with being seen as a world leader on addressing climate change and emissions reduction and to be seen as doing the right thing.

New Zealanders are set to be taxed more highly for the use of fossil fuels, despite inadequate alternatives in place. This will result in issues like higher fuel prices at the pump to higher electricity costs, affecting not only economic development due to increased costs of doing businesses, but also worsening health outcomes for poorer households unable to cope with increasing electricity costs, especially those who have fallen through the cracks of the housing crisis and may, for instance, be living in garages.

At 130 pages and with 114 questions the Ministry for the Environment wants feedback on, the discussion document makes for dense reading. The discussion document can be accessed here.

The September edition of InfraRead noted the Government had decided to push out the timing of a final emissions reduction plan by five months to the end of May 2022. We also speculated consultation would likely be on a consultation document rather than a draft Emission Reduction Plan. This is exactly what has happened – submissions are being sought on a consultation document and it is highly unlikely New Zealanders would get an opportunity to comment on a draft plan.

One could be forgiven to feel this consultation process is merely a tick-box exercise and that the responses/submissions will likely be themed and grouped, thus diluting the essence and impact of individual submissions. And with that, it is difficult to argue against sceptics who feel that New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan will not necessarily truly reflect what New Zealanders really think and want.

Infrastructure New Zealand will make a submission. If you would like to provide comments and feedback to be considered for inclusion in the submission, feel free to contact Azeem Khan at by 14 November.