The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) released New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan consultation document last Wednesday. The document provides a framework for reducing emissions across the energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services sectors, through till 2035.
Essentially, the Government proposes a slower start to cutting New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions in this document. It wants to add two million tonnes to the carbon budgets that were proposed by the He Pou a Rangi/Climate Change Commission – who provide independent expert advice to the Government.
More worryingly, the document does not set out a clear plan for reducing agricultural emissions despite the fact that agricultural emissions account for 48% of New Zealand’s total emissions.
Our Seas Our Future (OSOF) policy coordinator, Gemma Coutts says the document has missed some crucial points where Aotearoa can make a real difference in reducing its carbon emissions.
“The He Pou a Rangi recommended that wetlands be protected and restored, but the consultation document doesn’t address this.”
“Wetlands are taonga for Aotearoa, they hold incredible value to tangata whenua and to our marine and coastal ecosystem, acting as natural filters,” explains Coutts. “Wetlands are known as “nature’s kidneys”, filtering sediment and nutrients before it flows into our marine environment, while also absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, and helping to regulate water flow during storms and floods.”
“In Environment Aotearoa 2019, the Government reported that 90% of our wetlands have been drained. The fact that this emissions reduction plan doesn’t address protecting our wetlands – or really anything to do with protection of our coastal and marine environment is concerning.”
“This document is a step in the right direction, but we can’t only focus on what’s happening on the whenua – there must be attention paid to our marine environment. It will take robust policy and leadership for Aotearoa to become a low-emissions and climate resilient motu, but we won’t get there if the Government keeps extending deadlines and increasing emissions budgets,” concludes Coutts.
How we meet our climate targets is left up for discussion in the Emissions Reduction Plan consultation document. This is our chance to have a say about how we would like to see Aotearoa reach its climate targets within the next 15 years.