Government leadership on climate change

Government leadership is vitally important as New Zealand transitions to a low-emissions economy, with everyday New Zealanders, businesses and communities also playing a part in reducing our carbon footprint.

On 16 May 2022, the Government released Aotearoa New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan (ERP) which contains targets and actions to reduce emissions.

Emissions budgets

The emissions reduction plan sets out what needs to be done to get us on track to meet our first emissions budget. The budgets are a sinking lid on our emissions and an important way of tracking whether New Zealand is meeting its longer-term targets and obligations in the Paris Agreement.

An emissions budget is the total quantity of emissions permitted during an emissions budget period. Each covers a period of five years – except the first emissions budget, which will cover the period 2022-2025 (four years).

Each emissions budget is a stepping stone to our ultimate target: net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (except biogenic methane*) by 2050.

(*The target for biogenic methane – that is, methane from biological sources which is far harder to reduce – is a 24-47% reduction by 2050).

Total emissions that can be released during each budget

(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gasses, Mt CO2-e)
By comparison, across one year (the year ending June 2021), New Zealand released 82.68Mt CO2-e into the atmosphere.

  • 290

    Emissions budget 1 (2022-2025)

  • 305

    Emissions budget 2 (2026–2030)

  • 240

    Emissions budget 3 (2031–2035)

What’s in the plan?

This first plan sets out the actions needed to meet the first emissions budget for 2022–25 and put us on track to meet future emissions budgets. These actions will affect every sector of the economy, including transport, energy and industry. It presents an opportunity to achieve a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy that benefits all New Zealanders.

Emissions reduction plan | Ministry for the Environment(external link)

Government investment

To help deliver the plan the May 2022 Budget funded a wide range of initiatives to support the plan and help us meet the first targets in the first emissions budget (due 2025). Initiatives funded include helping more New Zealanders buy electric vehicles, cleaner and more affordable public transport and co-funding for large emitters to transition to clean energy and clever technologies.

The Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been set up to support this transition with an initial $4.5 billion ‘down payment,’ supported by proceeds from the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme.

Summary of key Climate Emergency Response Fund initiatives - Budget 2022 - 19 May 2022(external link)

The role of EECA – the agency that backs Gen Less

EECA is running a range of programmes to help the country meet its targets. The new investment announced in the May 2022 Budget was the direct result of the roadmap laid out in the emissions reduction plan, four days earlier. These include:

Reducing Process heat emissions

The big boilers used in industrial processes powered by high-emitting fuel sources (like coal, diesel, and natural gas), make up about a third of New Zealand’s energy use. Sixty percent of process heat is fossil-fuelled, making supercharging the switch to clean energy a priority for reducing our national emissions.

Since 2020 EECA has administered the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund (GIDI). The Fund has been essential to accelerating industrial decarbonisation to help businesses contribute to New Zealand’s emission reduction goals. To date, 53 projects across 12 regions have received co-investment, which has then been matched by private funding.

As part of the recently announced CERF funding the Government has massively expanded the GIDI, investing another $650 million, to build on its success and expand the number and type of projects that receive investment. SMEs to New Zealand’s very largest energy users will be supported to make the switch to renewable energy, and more energy-efficient approaches in an accelerated time frame. Acting now and helping businesses overcome their investment hurdles is critical to mitigating the effects of climate change. Government support is in recognition of the public good – both for current and future generations.

Reducing transport emissions

EECA runs a range of programmes to reduce emissions from transport – the May Budget allocated another $15 million to fund projects that reduce emissions from the transport of freight. These projects will be used to demonstrate how freight and supply chain companies can reduce their carbon emissions, and will be available through EECA’s Low Emission Transport Fund (LETF) in 2023/24.

The LETF currently supports the demonstration of high potential and replicable solutions, and adoption of low emission transport technology, innovation and infrastructure to help accelerate the decarbonisation of the New Zealand transport sector. The LETF began at a time there were fewer than 2,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand, and government intervention was clearly required to drive adoption.

Healthier and more resilient homes

Following on from a commitment in the emissions reduction plan to more resilient homes, the Government has allocated a further $73 million for EECA’s Warmer Kiwi Homes programme. The programme helps with insulation and efficient heaters in lower-income homes – and contributes to healthier homes, without an increase in energy bills.

Supporting individual action

EECA will continue to educate and inspire New Zealanders to take positive climate action and live more with less energy through our Gen Less community.

What are 3 things I can do?

  1. 1

    Choose low-emissions transport

    Getting out of our cars is likely to be the biggest way we can reduce our personal carbon footprint. So, mix up the necessary car travel with low-emissions options such as walking, biking, taking the bus, working from home and car-sharing.

    Explore transport options

  2. 2

    Introduce more plant-based options into your diet

    Emissions from the typical Kiwi diet would drop if we incorporated a meat-free meal a week and now that there are so many plant-based food options out there, it could be time to experiment a bit more.

    Eat low carbon

  3. 3

    Buy better, shop less and shop local

    Understanding more about where your products come from and how to encourage brands you love to prioritise reducing their carbon emissions is a great way to use your consumer power for good.

    Shop sustainably

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