Monday, February 26, 2024

Commissioner urges new government to ease off gas

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Calls to encourage change in energy use come as coalition works to repeal electric car subsidy.
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Climate Change Commission chair Dr Rod Carr has urged the new coalition government to encourage change, remove barriers, and support investment that cuts climate pollution.

The commission has just released its final advice informing the government’s plan to meet New Zealand’s greenhouse gas reduction goals from 2026 to 2030. 

The report’s analysis shows NZ has made some progress but is not on track for meeting climate goals set for the end of the decade. 

With that, it says, comes the risk of missing out on benefits including new job creation and greater economic resilience.

The commission has made 27 recommendations to the government to focus on areas where critical gaps exist in current policy or where they need to be strengthened or accelerated.

They include calls for greater renewable solar and wind energy investment, supporting moves to swap fossil fuels for renewable energy in industry and encouraging households and businesses to switch to electric vehicles.

Farming also gets a reference from the commission in its recommendations, calling for a rapid rollout of low-emissions tech and practices on farms. A sorting out of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the role of forests has also been called for.

Emissions from the equivalent of 3.6 million cars need to be eliminated between 2026-2030, the equivalent to almost 80% of the country’s car fleet. 

About 40% of the cuts are expected to come from energy and industry. The calls come in the same week that the government is working to repeal the electric car subsidy and ditch the ute tax.

“The biggest opportunity is to replace fossil fuels like coal, gas and petrol with renewable energy, to power our industries, our buildings and our transport systems. 

“This is a critical step where, in many cases, investments made now in energy efficiency, electric vehicles and renewable energy will more than pay for themselves in the long term,” Carr said.  

From next year, the commission will independently assess and publicly report on how the country is tracking against emissions budgets as well as how well emissions reduction plans are being delivered. 

“Whatever the mix of policies the government decides on for the second emissions reduction plan, they must add up to meet our immediate climate goals and keep the country on the path to net zero,” Carr said.

The government has until the end of 2024 to consider the advice, consult on policies to meet the country’s emissions budgets and release the emissions reduction plan for 2026–2030. 

The commission’s report can be read here

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