Government’s climate plan sees no role for agriculture
The government’s draft climate plan envisions an increased role for walking and cycling, but agriculture is not expected to contribute to further emission reductions over the next four years, reports Marc Daalder
Analysis: The government’s draft climate plan falls short of its own target of more than two million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Posted for consultation on Wednesday morning, the draft emissions reduction plan is more like a half-plan and a half-call for new ideas to cut emissions. The government accepted in principle the emission budgets proposed by the Climate Change Commission, with slight adjustments to take into account new data on projected emissions from the forestry sector.
Under the first of these budgets, which covers 2022 to 2025, New Zealand’s emissions would be capped at 292 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) – about 7.7 Mt lower than the projected levels over the next four years under current policies.
The new policies of the plan whose impacts on emissions have been calculated should contribute to reductions of between 2.6 and 5.6 Mt CO2e, leaving a gap of at least 2.1 Mt. This gap could be closed by proposals in the plan that have yet to be evaluated, through new policies resulting from consultation or through private sector efforts.
âGovernment policy will be crucial, as will the plans and strategies you develop to reduce emissions in your own organizations and communities,â Climate Change Minister James Shaw wrote in the introduction to the draft document.
Parts of the plan set out specific policy proposals, such as facilitating the conversion of road spaces into pedestrian and cycle corridors for councils. Others simply raise potential policies and ask for comment. Some of the more controversial recommendations of the Climate Change Commission, such as the 2025 ban on new gas infrastructure in buildings or the ban on the import of fossil fuel vehicles by 2035, fell into the latter category, the government not having taken a precise position on them should be implemented.
Carry the main objective
Overall, the plan expects emissions reductions from energy and industry to make the biggest difference over the next four years, with the transportation sector coming in second. Most of the document, however, focuses on transport, as policies in this area have to be defined many years before their full effects start to be felt.
As part of the effort to reduce transport emissions, the plan sets four objectives for 2035. These include reducing the distance traveled by cars and light vehicles by 20%, and increasing vehicles to zero. emission to 30% of the light fleet, reduce emissions from freight transport by a quarter and reduce the intensity of fuel emissions by 15%.
Most of them are in line with the commission’s trajectory to 2035, although the government has a more pessimistic view of the adoption of electric vehicles over the next 15 years. The main difference is in trying to compensate for this gap – the government’s focus on reducing vehicle kilometers by one-fifth contrasts with the commission’s expectation that distance traveled increases by 23% by 2035.
In order to achieve more ambitious walking and cycling rates, the government will review transport plans in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown to ensure they are aligned with the 20 reduction target. %. If not, plans could be revised to focus on high density development along public transport corridors and reallocate “significant amounts of road / street space to quickly provide more reserved lanes. to buses and separate safe lanes for bikes / scooters “.
Planning laws and regulations could be amended to ‘streamline’ public consultation requirements and ‘to make it easier for local government to reallocate road / street space … and create an expectation that it happens â.
New highways and road extensions will also be reviewed to ensure that they “are compatible with climate change targets and avoid inducing new trips by private motor vehicles”.
Along with reducing dependence on cars, the transport components of the plan focus on “adopting low-emission vehicles and fuels” and “decarbonizing heavy transport and freight”. The latter would be achieved primarily through the use of biofuels in trucks and shifting freight to low-emission alternatives like rail and cabotage. The plan also proposes to require that all new small passenger, cabotage and pleasure vessels be zero emissions by 2035.
While the plan does not take a position on a possible ban on imports of fossil-fueled vehicles, this policy (or something similar) is needed to offset three-quarters of the emissions reductions from the âadopt vehicles and vehiclesâ goal. low-emission fuels â. , which in turn contributes to just under a third of overall reductions in transport emissions by 2035.
Little emphasis on agriculture
Proposals in other sectors were less specific than in transport. The government is considering the commission’s recommendation to set a renewable energy target, but has not taken a position on the issue. In the buildings sector, the plan envisages capping emissions from buildings in operation and emissions from fuels used in the operation of buildings. It also offers financial incentives for low-emission buildings.
Regarding waste, which is responsible for 4 percent of the country’s gross emissions, more robust measures to capture methane from decomposing food have been proposed. Landfills that receive organic waste will need to have a gas capture system by 2027, which can then use that gas to produce energy or convert it to less harmful carbon dioxide. Landfills that are unable to install such systems will not be able to receive organic waste.
The plan also calls for a ban on food and green and paper waste from ending up in landfills by 2030.
Beyond the policies already in place for the agricultural sector, which accounts for 48 percent of New Zealand’s gross emissions, no further reductions are expected over the next four years. The agricultural cuts will come in the second (2026 to 2030) and third (2031 to 2035) budget periods, once the sector faces a price on emissions and as new technologies become available.
Outside of specific sectors, the plan hinted at the idea of ââa new fund to encourage New Zealanders to adopt low-emission behaviors.
âPromoting only one-off changes on a small scale risks having a short-lived impact. We need to drive deep, long-term systemic change to change behaviors on the scale needed. .
The government has also acknowledged the advice of the Climate Change Commission on the different roles of exotic and indigenous forestry in achieving net zero emissions by 2050. An increase in the price of carbon under the system. Emissions trading (ETS) “within current parameters can lead to more forestry rather than gross emissions reductions over the long term,” conceded the plan.
In its final opinion, the commission said exotic forest plantations, such as Radiata pine, should be reduced where possible. Rather, a long-term indigenous forest carbon sink should be established to offset emissions from sectors that are difficult to decarbonise even in decades to come, such as aviation.
The plan only promised “to examine this issue more closely and, if necessary, change the way forestry is treated under the NZ ETS”.
Any decision on changing ETS rules would come by the end of 2022, according to the plan. Although the government accepted the advice of establishing a long-term carbon sink, it said it could involve both native and exotic species.
Recognizing the financial barriers to planting permanent natives, the government said it would “make a broader set of changes to reduce the cost of planting native forests” by the end of 2023.
The consultation on the draft document ends on November 24. The government plans to release the final emissions reduction plan by the end of May 2022, in line with next year’s budget.