Climate change pledge 'highly conditional'

Published: 08 Jul 2015 9:58am

The Government will take a highly conditional pledge to cut New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 11 per cent below 1990 levels — and therefore about 28 per cent from current levels — to the Paris climate conference in December.

The conference is intended to agree a global deal to curb emissions more ambitious and wide-ranging than anything international negotiations have yet been able to accomplish.

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said the target is expressed as a cut of 30 per cent from 2005 levels to make it more readily comparable to the approach of the United States and Canada.

The target covers all sectors and all greenhouse gases, so does not exclude agricultural emissions, but as the consultation document the Government put out foreshadowed it will be hedged with conditions.

Because of the importance of land use and forestry to New Zealand's emissions profile, acceptable rules about how those are to be accounted for are an important caveat.

The proposal specifically cites the "need to manage multiple objectives, including global food security".

Another condition attached to the 11 per cent target is unrestricted access to global carbon markets.

This would allow New Zealand to meet its target - 80 per cent of it, the modelling suggests - by the purchase of carbon credits which represent emission reductions which have occurred somewhere else in the world more cheaply than any options available within New Zealand.