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Briefing paper

New Zealand faces a range of challenges in reorienting its energy infrastructure to address both climate mitigation and adaptation goals. These include ensuring that the shift to a decarbonised, distributed energy system is economically efficient, meets energy security needs and is socially just. Despite recent interest in low emission scenarios and mass participation of consumers, few studies have addressed questions around socio-economic, political and environmental impacts of more or less inclusive energy scenarios, how to co-ordinate, encourage or regulate participation of different energy consumers, or questions around appropriate governance or leadership. Worldwide, local and community energy has been integrated in regional development and energy poverty policies and programmes, often featuring a prominent co-ordination role by local government. New Zealand, by virtue of its small size, isolation and its legacy of large state-owned hydropower is unusual in that it has not featured high-level strategies or programmatic support for distributed energy or local energy innovation. This policy brief will argue that addressing New Zealand’s energy challenges will necessitate more proactive and inclusive policy co-ordination by government and regulatory authorities than that practiced since the late 1980’s.

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