Govt increases contribution to global climate target

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

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 per cent below gross 2005 levels by 2030. This equates to a 41 per cent 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.

Continue reading

Kicking the can on methane

There is a real risk that focusing on methane will mean we take our foot off the accelerator of CO2 reductions – where we’ve traditionally had a pretty poor record, Professor Dave Frame and Dr Adrian Macey contend in article published by Newsroom and republished on the Victoria University of Wellington website.

Dave Frame is Professor of Climate Change and Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at the university.

Dr Adrian Macey is an adjunct professor of the Institute and a fellow at the Institut d’études avancées de Nantes, France.

They write:

As 20,000 people get ready to converge on Glasgow for the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), there has been a flurry of reports and media coverage suggesting urgent action to reduce methane emissions is the best thing we can do for the climate right now.

A recent joint United States-European Union pledge on methane, which other countries are being encouraged to join, aims at a 30 percent reduction in methane by 2030. The argument is that because methane is very potent in the short term, reducing it now will give us a big hit on warming, or that it somehow buys time for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2). Continue reading

Government acknowledges carbon farming is not the silver bullet to address climate change

The acknowledgement by the Government that current policies will likely see too much carbon forestry planted, along with the opening up of a conversation for potential limits through the Emissions Trading Sceme, is being welcomed by Beef+Lamb NZ on behalf of sheep and beef farmers.

As AgScience reported yesterday, the Government has released a discussion paper, Transitioning to a low emissions and climate resilient future, which aims to help shape New Zealand’s emissions reduction plan.

B+LNZ says the paper notably contains a slight shift in how the Government is talking about the role of carbon-only exotic forestry in addressing climate change.

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that fossil fuel emissions must be reduced, rather than continually offset, to ensure a fair, equitable, and efficient transition to a low emissions economy,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“The discussion document indicates any decision on changing the ETS rules would come by the end of 2022. We’re concerned that’s not fast enough given the scale and pace of land conversion happening.

“What we need is urgent action to adjust the ETS to limit the amount of carbon forestry offsets available to fossil fuel emitters. New Zealand is the only country with a regulatory ETS that currently allows 100 percent carbon forestry offsetting. We will be putting forward potential policy solutions as part of this process.” Continue reading

NZ’s warmest June on record – why climate change research is regarded as critical

The June Climate Summary was published today, showing last month was the warmest June on record for the country.

The average temperature was 2.0°C above average, the 13th time this has happened since 1909.

Several records were broken with 24 locations having their warmest June on record.

The highest temperature was 22°C at Hastings on June 26 and Leigh on June 19.

Taranaki is still leading the sunniest location table.

The data were being posted at much the same time as AgResearch Research Director Trevor Stuthridge was describing the recently released advice of the Climate Change Commission as an endorsement of the research being done to support agriculture’s shift to lower emissions.

The Climate Change Commission was established to provide advice to the Government about the paths to meeting New Zealand’s climate change targets. Continue reading

Commission releases “achievable” blueprint for addressing climate change

Agriculture is among the sectors considered vital to a low emissions future for New Zealand in the Climate Change Commission’s blueprint for addressing climate change.  The Commission highlights the importance of further research into reducing agriculture biogenic methane emissions as well as the Government’s work to build the world’s only farm-level emissions measurement, management and pricing system.

The Commission’s final advice sets out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 15 years.

It also provides three different pathways the Government could follow to keep within the proposed emission budgets.

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office highlights these points: Continue reading

Climate Change Commission delivers final advice to Government

The Climate Change Commission has delivered its advice on how New Zealand can reach its climate target to Minister of Climate Change James Shaw.

The Commission will publish the advice on its website next Wednesday (9 June) once it has been tabled in Parliament.

The Commission can’t comment, provide copies or release the advice until then.

Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr says the Commission has met its obligations under the Climate Change Response Act in delivering the advice. Continue reading

Experts comment on the Climate Commission’s 15-year decarbonisation blueprint

The Climate Change Commission (as we posted yesterday) has outlined its advice on how New Zealand should reshape its economy to mitigate the climate crisis.

The report says current government policies do not put the country on track to meet its 2050 targets.

To achieve those targets, the report sets new emissions targets and recommends a transition to electric vehicles, accelerated renewable energy generation, climate friendly farming practices and more permanent forests, predominantly natives.

The draft proposal will be open for public feedback starting tomorrow until 14 March.

The Science Media Centre asked experts to comment on the report.  Here is the feedback – Continue reading

Farm organisations want Climate Change Commission to align domestic and international emissions targets

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change, RNZ reports.

DairyNZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand contend it makes no sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

For domestic policy purposes, the legislation sets a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide than for a short-lived gas like methane.

But its international commitment under the Paris Accords of 2015 treats all greenhouse gases the same. Continue reading

Government announces Interim Climate Change Committee

The Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, has announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

Work must start now on how sectors like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), he said.

And planning must begin now for the transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2035.

The Interim Climate Change Committee will undertake this work until the independent Climate Change Commission is established under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the commission, he said.

Mr Shaw said committee members have been chosen because of their expertise across key areas related to climate change: agriculture, agribusiness, climate change science and policy, resource economics and impacts, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo me ona tikanga Māori and Māori interests, international competitiveness, and energy production and supply.

Dr David Prentice, the Interim Committee Chair, was most recently the managing director of infrastructure firm Opus International Consultants.

He led his company through the Global Financial Crisis and has a sound understanding of economics and international markets.

Lisa Tumahai, the Deputy Chair, has significant governance experience and is Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. She is a person of significant mana and standing in the Māori community.

The other committee members are:

  • Dr Harry Clark, a New Zealand expert on agricultural greenhouse gas research;
  • Dr Keith Turner, former CEO of Meridian and professional director;
  • Dr Jan Wright, former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment;
  • Dr Suzi Kerr, an internationally renowned expert in the economics of climate change policy and emissions trading.

Source: Minister for Climate Change

 

Greenhouse gas data show dairy expansion has contributed to increased emissions

The latest inventory of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions shows that, as at 2016, there had been a 19.6 per cent increase in emissions on 1990 levels.

Methane from dairy cattle digestive systems and carbon dioxide from road transport were the biggest contributors to the increase. The agriculture and energy sectors contribute 49.2 per cent and 39.8 per cent respectively to New Zealand’s gross emissions.

The inventory gives a picture of how much human-generated greenhouse gas is being emitted into and removed from the atmosphere.

It shows there’s still much to be done to reduce emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, said Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Gross emissions in 2016 were 78.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – 2.4 per cent lower than 2015.

“Urgent action is needed, at a level not previously contemplated,” says Mr Shaw.

“We all need to be focused on the transition to a net zero emissions economy.

“That is why the Government is introducing the Zero Carbon Bill, which will set in law a bold, new 2050 emissions reduction target for New Zealand and establish an independent Climate Change Commission.

“The Commission will recommend interim emissions reduction targets and provide advice. It will look at how we transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2035.”

Expansion in the dairy industry has largely led to the fertiliser and methane increases in the agricultural sector.  More petrol and diesel vehicles on our roads are generating more emissions in the transport sector.

“One of the things the Commission will look at is whether and how agriculture comes into the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme. We’ll continue to invest in research and technology that can reduce agricultural emissions while increasing productivity and profitability for farmers,” says Mr Shaw.

“Other ways we are reducing emissions include the establishment of a Green Investment Fund which will direct investment towards low-emissions industries. We’ll move to electric vehicles – the Government’s own car fleet will be electric by 2025.”

The inventory shows the long-term emission rise is partly due to the increasing number of trees being cut down.

“The Government’s committed to planting one billion trees over the next 10 years,” says Mr Shaw.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.”

Key findings of the inventory:

  • New Zealand’s gross emissions have increased 19.6 per cent since 1990.
  • Methane from dairy cattle digestive systems and carbon dioxide from road transportation have contributed the most to this increase.
  • Between 2015 and 2016, gross emissions decreased by 2.4 per cent mainly from a decrease in the use of thermal fuels (coal and gas) and a decline in the number of sheep.
  • In 2016 the agriculture and energy sectors were the two largest contributors to New Zealand’s gross emissions, at 49.2 per cent and 39.8 per cent respectively.
  • The Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector offsets nearly one third of New Zealand’s gross emissions.    The LULUCF sector is where greenhouse gases from using the land (for forests, crops and pasture, for example) are monitored.  This is separate from the livestock emissions reported in the agriculture sector. It covers our use of soil, trees, plants, biomass and timber and is the only sector where carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere.
  • Net emissions have increased by 54.2 per cent since 1990 because of more trees being cut down and an increase in gross emissions.
  • In 2016, approximately 5099 hectares of new forest was planted and 4945 hectares deforested.

About the Greenhouse Gas inventory

Inventory data is NZ’s official GHG estimate, used for domestic and international reporting and for helping track progress towards targets. Data from the inventory will be used when the Government consults with New Zealanders about the upcoming Zero Carbon Bill.

Further information

Source: Minister for Climate Change