The announcement of a Glasgow climate change target of 50 per cent reduction by 2030 goes beyond New Zealand’s fair share and will cost the country billions of dollars, say National’s Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith and Energy and Resources spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.
“The previous National Government took a target of a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 to Paris in 2015, says Smith.
“At the time, National emphasised that, due to New Zealand having almost 50 per cent of our emissions from agriculture and having one of the highest levels of renewable energy in the world, this target was incredibly challenging for New Zealand to achieve.
“Labour has shown time and again it is good at making climate change pronouncements but poor on delivery. We have had a climate change nuclear-free moment, a climate emergency and now this target. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions are going up under Labour and record amounts of coal are being burned at Huntly to keep the power on.
“It is true that other countries have announced similar target numbers to this, but we need to consider that New Zealand already has high levels of renewable electricity production and higher levels of agricultural emissions. This makes a 50 per cent target much harder for New Zealand to achieve.
“The Government says it is following the science, but the latest IPCC report states methane need only reduce 0.3 per cent per year. This target goes miles beyond that.
“It is disappointing Labour hasn’t supported our farmers by reflecting this science and taking a split-gas target.
“To put the reduction of 50 per cent of emissions in just nine years in perspective, it requires New Zealand to reduce emissions by about 6 per cent per year, every year, from now until 2030.
“It is estimated that global fossil fuel use fell about 6 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid lockdowns, not only would New Zealand need to achieve this level of reduction next year, we would then have to double that reduction the following year, then another 6 per cent the next. And on and on it goes.
“What advice has the Government received on the ability for agriculture to meet such a target without large cuts in stock numbers? What advice has the Government received any sector of the economy can reduce emissions by 50 per cent in just nine years?
Kuriger says the target will cost the New Zealand economy billions.
“New Zealand is staring at a mountain of debt right now as we try to lift ourselves up out of Covid. So far it is actually our agricultural sector which has held the economy together. Trying to pay back the Covid debt at a time we cut cattle and sheep numbers is a scary thought.”
Smith says there are major concerns about Labour is likely to need to lean heavily into international carbon markets.
“National supports using global carbon markets to achieve our targets, but there is no sense in setting a target that over-reaches and simply signs New Zealand up to a huge bill as we buy units from overseas.
“Most Kiwis won’t thank the Government for signing them up to a huge carbon markets bill.
“National supports climate action. We are committed to a highly ambitious 30 per cent reduction by 2030. But a 50 per cent target raises huge questions the Prime Minister and the Minister for Climate Change need to answer.”