No credible plan
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Yet New Zealand has no credible plan to meet its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A recent review conducted by the UN concluded that all of the policies that the Government currently has in place would together achieve at most one third of the emissions cuts required to meet its own 2020 target of 10-20% below 1990 levels.
Even meeting this target, to which the Government committed in Copenhagen, still falls well short of the 25-40% cut that is called for according to mainstream science. As the Ministry for the Environment graph shows below, New Zealand’s total emissions* are not predicted to fall at all through to 2020, even with all the current Government measures in place.
Since 1990, New Zealand’s total emissions have risen by about 20%. Conveniently a boom in commercial forestry plantations in the 1990s has allowed the Government to use the carbon uptake from this to “offset” the growth in our national emissions. But this is like taking out a loan, and that loan will have to be repaid when these trees come to be harvested. This is due to kick in before 2020, and by then forestry is projected to become a net source of emissions. The picture is even worse than the graph above tells.
The bottom line is that our Government is not committed to any plan to reduce emissions. In spite of formally agreeing at the last United Nations climate conference in Mexico last year that “developed countries should develop low-carbon development strategies or plans”, officials have since confirmed that the Government has no intention of doing so.
* Total (or gross) emissions are calculated by converting emissions of all greenhouse gases (including methane and nitrous oxide) into the single “currency” of carbon dioxide, based on how much extra heat they trap.