Thursday, June 20, 2024

NZ to pull its weight on emissions target

New Zealand will significantly increase its contribution to the global effort to tackle climate change by reducing net greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have announced on the eve of the UN climate conference in Glasgow.

“New Zealand’s enhanced contribution to the global effort to fight climate change now represents our fair share, and is in line with what’s needed if we are to avoid the worst impacts of global warming on New Zealand,” PM Ardern said.

“Climate change is a priority for the Government because it’s a threat to our economy, our environment and our everyday lives. Lifting our commitment is an investment in a stable climate that will benefit us all in the future.”

Under the Paris Agreement each country adopts an international target known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). This sets out the contribution the country will make towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The updated NDC announced today is expressed as a target to reduce net emissions by 50% below gross 2005 levels by 2030. This equates to a 41% reduction on 2005 levels using what is known as an ‘emissions budget’ approach. 

New Zealand’s new NDC is consistent with the recommendations of the independent Climate Change Commission and will make a significant contribution towards international efforts to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“The improved NDC comes off the back of our increased investment in climate aid, especially in the Pacific and represents a big step up in New Zealand’s role in tackling climate change,” the Prime Minister said.

“While we are a small contributor to global emissions, as a country surrounded by oceans and an economy reliant on our land we are not immune to the impact of climate change, so it’s critical we pull our weight.

“The increased NDC is a big step towards ensuring New Zealand is doing everything it can to help tackle global climate change.

“Our new contribution complements the work the Government continues to do to build a prosperous, low carbon economy for New Zealand. This work is laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobs and supports our recovery from COVID-19,” Ms Ardern said.

Earlier this year the independent Climate Change Commission advised the Government that the NDC lodged by the previous Government in 2016 was not consistent with global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5˚C above pre industrial levels – a limit that is acknowledged the world over as the best chance we have of managing the climate crisis. 

“Two years ago we put the 1.5˚C global warming limit into our Zero Carbon Act. Today we’re upping our commitment to help keep the world on track to meeting it,” Minister Shaw said.

“This decade is make or break for the planet. To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the science shows we now have about eight years left to almost halve global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s eight years for countries to make the necessary plans, put in place policies, implement them, and ultimately deliver the cuts. 

“I am confident we can do it and in doing so open the door to a thriving world that is cleaner, healthier, and more equitable,” he said. 

Over the last 12 months countries all over the world have been coming forward with more ambitious targets to keep the world on track towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. New Zealand has now joined those nations. 

“The improved target we are announcing today brings New Zealand up to speed with other countries’ commitments. It is a huge improvement from where we were before,” Minister Shaw said.

“The Paris Agreement recognises that while countries need to take action at home, they can also work with other nations to cut emissions. That is why New Zealand’s new NDC goes beyond the domestic emissions budgets Cabinet has agreed to in principle. 

“To meet our new NDC the first priority will be to reduce emissions at home – and to do so in a fair and equitable way. This will be driven by the Emissions Reduction Plan we will publish next year.

“We will then add to this by working to reduce emissions in other parts of the world. The priority here will be to support developing countries in the Asia-Pacific to meet their Sustainable Development Goals. 

“What we see from other countries is that once emissions start to come down, it is possible to pick up the pace of change, while also cutting costs and creating new opportunities. We fully expect the same to happen in New Zealand. And so, as we start to work with other countries and cut our own emissions, I hope we can raise the bar for our NDC again in the future,” Mr Shaw said. 

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