New Zealand urgently needs to increase its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it is to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. This is according to the country’s independent climate change commission, which recently delivered its draft advice to the prime minister on the steps that must be taken if New Zealand intends to tackle climate change.
What is Happening?
- The commission said that the nation’s progress on climate change “is not compatible with the country’s responsibilities under the Paris Agreement to contribute to global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels” and urged faster reduction of methane emissions from cows and other farm animals. It says, “Our analysis shows if policy stayed as it is now, Aotearoa would fall short of achieving the 2050 net-zero long-lived gas target by [6.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions]. Biogenic methane would reduce 12% below 2017 levels and fall short of the current target of 24-47%.”
- Other critical advice given includes a comprehensive move to electric vehicles, accelerated renewable energy generation, climate-friendly farming practices, more permanent forests- predominantly natives- and reducing livestock numbers by around 15% by 2030.
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Rod Carr, commission chair, said that while the plan for reform is ambitious, the government must take immediate and decisive action if it wants to avert the worst ravages of climate change, and transform New Zealand ’s economy and society. He adds however that “the good news is that our analysis shows there are technically achievable, economically affordable and socially acceptable paths for Aotearoa to take. But the government must move faster – and support business, agriculture and community to do the same.”
In a response statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “The positive news is that the government’s actions to date have laid much of the groundwork for the transition but that more is now required. The report demonstrates we have the tools we need to achieve our target, but calls on us to accelerate our work. As a government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions.
Ardern said her government asked the commission to review its emissions reduction commitments and whether they still met the obligations made under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“The Commission confirmed they are not and have recommended they be strengthened,” she said. “On that basis we will begin work to revise them this year.”
Ardern has previously described the threat of climate change as her generation’s “nuclear-free moment” and committed to net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases other than biogenic methane by 2050.
Featured image by: Flickr