Welcome to the Earth.Org Global Sustainability Index, where Earth.Org examines the policies and actions regarding the environment of every nation on earth. Combining the most respected global indexes on pollution, climate change, policy, energy, oceans, biodiversity we have produced an overall Global Index, which will be updated annually. This is the Global Sustainability Index scorecard for New Zealand.
New Zealand passed the world’s second-ever Zero Carbon Act in November 2019, however it lacks the policies required to implement it. There is also no sign from the government that it intends to submit an updated, more ambitious NDC by 2020.
The Zero Carbon Act aims to achieve net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases, except for methane emissions from agriculture and waste, by 2050. Methane emissions from these sectors represent about 40% of New Zealand’s current emissions.
The Act does not introduce any policies to actually cut emissions but rather sets a framework. Laws in place since 2004 prevent planning bodies from considering the impact on the climate crisis of high-emitting projects when going through the consent process, allowing projects such as gas-fired power stations to proceed. The Act does not say whether these will be repealed. Coal consumption is also heavily subsidised and the transport sector has backed down on its electric vehicle program.
To reach the target, an Emissions Trading Reform Bill has been proposed, but it exempts the agriculture sector from a price on its emissions until 2025, when it was originally proposed to cover all sectors’ emissions.
- New Zealand’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) is to reduce emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
- The government declared the second-ever Zero Carbon Act in late 2019, but it is currently on course to miss its 2030 targets.
- There are no policies against high emission projects, and New Zealand is purchasing international units to allow itself emissions until 2050. International units allow a country to borrow from other countries’ budgets.
You might also like: Global Emissions (2016)
Biodiversity, Policy: Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G. (2019): Sustainable Development Report 2019. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
Oceans: Halpern, Benjamin S., et al. “An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean.” Nature 488.7413 (2012): 615-620.
Pollution: Wendling, Z. A., Emerson, J. W., Esty, D. C., Levy, M. A., de Sherbinin, A., et al. (2018). 2018 Environmental Performance Index. New Haven, CT: Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. https://epi.yale.edu/
Climate Change: Climate Change Performance Index; Jan Burck, Ursula Hagen, Niklas Höhne, Leonardo Nascimento, Christoph Bals, ISBN 978-3-943704-75-4, 2019
Energy: Enerdata –World Energy Statistics – Yearbook.World Energy Statistics