New Zealand’s climate strategy – Andrew Fraser

New Zealand’s climate strategy – Andrew Fraser

In April Citizens’ Climate Lobby got underway in New Zealand with 13 members attending a Climate Advocate Training Workshop to start the Auckland group. 

CCL members Ron and Roberta Reilly from Hawaii and Paul and Mindy Thompson from Minnesota, who happened to be visiting New Zealand at the time, helped to promote CCL and to get the new organisation started.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby New Zealand aims to develop the Carbon Fee and Dividend policy for New Zealand and to promote it as a complementary measure to the existing emissions trading scheme (ETS).  They also hope to establish more CCL groups in other areas of New Zealand.

The New Zealand government is currently working on the Zero Carbon Bill as well as improvements to the ETS.  The Zero Carbon Bill will set a target of zero net emissions of greenhouse gases (other than methane from agriculture and waste) by 2050 as well as targets for reductions in methane from agriculture and waste.  The Bill will also establish an independent Climate Change Commission to advise the government on emissions budgets, policies, monitoring and adaptation.  There has been bi-partisan consultation on the Bill between the Green Party and the National Party although the National Party claims that some aspects of the final Bill, such as the separate arrangement for methane emissions, came as a surprise to them.

The Zero Carbon Bill provides a good opportunity for New Zealand to consider additional measures to help it meet its emissions targets.

The Green Party in New Zealand campaigned in the 2017 election with the promise of establishing a Kiwi Climate Fund to replace the ETS.  The policy involved putting a charge on climate pollution, including from agriculture, providing a guaranteed payment for people to plant trees, and returning all surpluses after payments to forest owners back to the population via a dividend payout.  We understand that remains the Green Party’s preferred arrangement but the realities of coalition government mean effort is now being put into improving the ETS rather than replacing it.  Citizens’ Climate Lobby New Zealand believes that the Carbon Fee and Dividend can work alongside the ETS, just as a number of European countries have carbon taxes in addition to the EU region-wide ETS.

Climate policy in New Zealand has historically placed heavy reliance on forestry sinks although in recent years carbon absorption into forests in New Zealand has declined.  Citizens’ Climate Lobby New Zealand believes that future New Zealand climate policy should put more emphasis on cutting fossil fuel emissions. 

No matter how successful the revised NZ ETS becomes, the outcome would be even better if New Zealand were to adopt an additional carbon price on fossil fuels and refrigerants using the Carbon Fee and Dividend.

Andrew Fraser is a CCL New Zealand member based in Auckland.