“By committing to such a small reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it means other countries will have to pick up our slack, or we’ll get runaway climate change”, Green Party global climate negotiations spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham said, adding the target translates to an 11% reduction on 1990 levels.
Critics of the Government’s new target for reducing climate change say reaching 30% less emmsions than 2005 by 2030 is “achievable”, but shows New Zealand is not “pulling its weight internationally”.
Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser said he balanced public calls to slash the country’s emissions with a desire not to put “unfair costs” on particular sectors.
Global aid agency Oxfam has expressed disappointment with New Zealand’s emissions reduction target, claiming it doesn’t represent the nation’s fair share of the global effort required to tackle climate change.
Investments by cities in cleaner public transport, building insulation and better management of waste could cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and bring savings worth $US16.6 trillion ($22 trillion) by 2050, the report said.
The target was provisional until a new global agreement was ratified. The country also generates about 80 percent of its power from renewable sources.
Groser said while 16,000 submissions were received, the vast majority came from people who used the template of an environmental group.
“I think in 5-10 years we’ll be in a good position to reduce our emissions in both agriculture and transport”, he said.
He remained optimistic because investment in agricultural research was “beginning to bear fruit” and the cost of electric cars and hybrids was starting to fall.
Some criticised the rushed consultation period and the background data provided to submitters, which placed emphasis on the increased costs of a more ambitious target but provided fewer details about the costs of not combatting climate change.
In 2013 New Zealand’s net greenhouse emissions were 54.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt Co2-e), compared to 66.7 Mt Co2-e in 1990.
The report from the New Climate Economy, part of the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate, identifies ten economic opportunities that could close 96% of the gap between business-as-usual emissions and the level needed to stop risky effects of climate change.
Numerous report’s recommendations center around low-carbon initiatives. A large majority of stakeholders said they wanted any target to be underpinned by a domestic plan.
“This report highlights the huge opportunity countries now have to scale up climate action while also driving growth and development”, said Helen Mountford, Global Programme Director of the New Climate Economy.
Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Anders Crofoot said the new target was ambitious but in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which says reducing fossil fuel use will need to be the major focus to achieve this target.
The detailed rules and guidelines for national reduction targets are unlikely to be set until after the Paris meeting.
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