This is a report about how New Zealand can maximise its contribution to reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases in the fight against catastrophic climate change. It is based on four assumptions:
- Climate change is real and potentially cataclysmic
- It is caused by human beings’ greenhouse gas emissions
- Only urgent action will deliver the world’s objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement
- Any New Zealand Government will want to at least meet New Zealand’s international obligations to reduce emissions – and ideally exceed them.
Sadly, the report finds that, as drafted, the New Zealand Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will make only a derisory contribution to reducing emissions. It would stop New Zealanders from supporting the best global programmes to fight climate change. In a phrase, the Bill is New Zealand failing to act. At the same time, the Bill is set to impose enormous costs on New Zealand families.
The report proposes three amendments to the Zero Carbon Bill that will give priority to emissions reduction and neutralise the Bill’s constitutional risk. These are:
- Require effective action by introducing an overarching objective for both the Minister and the Commission that requires exercising their powers for “effective and efficient” emissions reductions and removals.
- Remove section 5W to eliminate the domestic preference, allowing emissions reduction through the most effective combination of domestic and offshore mitigation.
- Remove sections 5ZD–5ZF to eliminate the requirement that the Minister for Climate Change plan emissions reduction. The Commission and the Minister will be free to prepare plans, and give effect to them by way of Acts of Parliament, the appropriate level of scrutiny for such far-reaching powers.