Ministers announce changes to climate change committee’s terms of reference

Changes to the Terms of Reference for the Interim Climate Change Committee are intended to better prepare the Government to initiate meaningful change to key legislation, addressing the implications of a changing climate.

The changes were announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

When the interim committee was established in April last year it was intended findings would be delivered to the Independent Climate Change Commission.

The commission is expected to be established later this year.

The changes announced today mean the interim committee will deliver its two key reports, one on agriculture and the other on renewable electricity generation, directly to the Minister for Climate Change. This will allow the Government to consider the findings and act with necessary pace.

The committee’s findings will be based on in-depth analysis conducted over the past year, including testing with iwi/Māori and relevant sector representatives.

“This is a step forward, enabling more time for focused consultation with New Zealanders on important climate change legislation proposals,” says Mr Shaw.

“We know timing is tight. This is because now is our best chance to take action. These changes will set the foundations for New Zealand to move forward on ways to tackle the impact of our changing climate.”

Damien O’Connor says it is essential to get right the gradual transition to more sustainable agriculture and ensure that production values are sustained.

“The agriculture sector plays a critical role in helping New Zealand meet its emissions reduction goals, but we need to focus on making the goal posts clear,” he says.

“Policy decisions around agriculture need to be based on scientific advice and consultation so the sector has well-considered, effective and – most importantly – workable solutions.”

Megan Woods says this year is important for New Zealand’s climate change decisions.

“Significant and detailed research carried out to date in the energy sector will set the foundations for moving us towards an affordable, renewable future.

“The Interim Committee’s findings will enable the Government to map out the next steps about how it can move into an energy future that’s built on greater renewables while ensuring affordability and security of supply,” says Minister Woods.

James Shaw made  special mention of the primary sector.

He says it is important feedback on the Interim Climate Change Committee’s recommendations is sought from all New Zealanders, “including from the primary sector”.

“Our engagement on the Zero Carbon Bill and the NZ ETS has told us that certainty, direction and moving forward together towards a low emissions economy are what people want from us.”

The interim committee was appointed in April 2018 to deliver advice on how New Zealand could transition to a low emissions energy future and 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 in a normal hydrological year.

It was asked to deliver advice on how agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions would be practically addressed in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS), if a decision was made to include them.

In June last year, the interim committee noted that the NZ ETS would be one of the key focuses of its work and that the committee would consider a range of options to deliver emissions reductions.

The NZ ETS is New Zealand’s primary tool for reducing emissions and some farming landowners are already participating in it and taking advantage of tree planting to generate carbon credits.

Source:  NZ Government

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