New Zealand’s post-2020 target – Weaker action for a less competitive economy Media Release

Jul 07, 2015 - 4:52pm

New Zealand has released a low initial post-2020 emissions reduction target, which risks the nation's competitive position by stranding its economy as the most pollution intensive in the developed world, The Climate Institute said today.

The announced target is 30 per cent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030, or 11 per cent below 1990 levels.

“Critically, by not doing its bit to help avoid a 2°C increase in global temperature, New Zealand is asking others to pick up its slack and do more," said The Climate Institute Deputy CEO Erwin Jackson.

"If it does not lift this initial offer, New Zealand will join Canada in a family of free riders."

Governments will gather in Paris in December to finalise the international framework through which nations will facilitate their carbon pollution reductions. In the lead up to Paris, all countries are expected to submit their initial post-2020 emissions reduction targets.

Already nations representing about 50 per cent of global emissions - China, US and the European Union - have announced their initial targets. Australia is expected to release its target in mid-July.

The Climate Institute's initial analysis of New Zealand's target suggests that:

+ New Zealand’s target is not a credible contribution to avoiding a 2°increase in global temperature above pre-industrial levels. To avoid  2°C, the global benchmark for advanced countries like New Zealand is a reduction of about 50 per cent by 2030. If it sticks to this target much more rapid reductions will be required for it to contribute fairly to avoiding 2°.

+ Based on current targets, New Zealand would be left with the most polluting economy of the advanced economies (Table 1 – emissions intensity of GDP, to allow comparison all indicators have been converted to 2025 levels). This will place New Zealand at an increasing competitive disadvantage as other nations continue to modernise and clean up their economies and as the race to a zero carbon global economy accelerates. (For comparison, Australia’s emissions intensity is currently around 640 t CO2e/GDP.)

+ On some metrics, the target is comparable to some of New Zealand’s international peers (see Table 1). On others the target is weaker than other advanced economies. Critically, the new 2025 target would be a significant reduction of emissions reduction effort after 2020. To meet its post-2020 target, New Zealand will need to reduce emissions at around 0.7 per cent per year. This is less than half the rate required to achieve its 2020 target (Table 1).

Table 1: New Zealand’s target, in 2025, compared to other nations and on different base years and metrics. Note all are converted all to 2025 numbers to allow comparisons.


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Susan Cavanagh, Media Manager, 02 8239 5299

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