New Zealand’s Record not something to be Proud of

Cow emitting methane - New Zealand's record not something to be proud of

New Zealanders have a lot of things to be proud of, but unfortunately our climate change policy is not one of them. I’m here at the UN climate conference in Lima, Peru, where New Zealand is coming under serious criticism for our weak commitments and weaker results.

On Tuesday I sat through the Multilateral Assessment, a section of the negotiation process where developed countries are questioned on their policies and emission trajectories. I was pretty embarrassed by what I saw.

New Zealand faced some extremely tough questions from China, Sweden, Fiji, the EU, Portugal and South Africa. Many challenged us on why we are so off-course with our emissions, yet claiming that we’re on track to meet our 2020 target of a 5% reduction on 1990 levels.

Responses from our negotiators included low-carbon sheep, slightly more efficient car tyres and our Emissions Trading Scheme, which the World Bank has shown is the least effective in the world. The overall message was that we’re on track to meet our targets, somehow, despite our emissions actually rising.

The reality, from the Ministry for the Environment’s Briefing to the Incoming Ministers, is that our net greenhouse gas emissions are set to blow out by over 50% over the next decade, against our promised reductions. This is New Zealand’s growing emissions gap:

New Zealand Emissions - targets vs reality

It appears our Government’s plan is to plug the gap to 2020 with particular cheap foreign carbon credits, which probably represent less actual emissions reductions than the carbon in the paper they are printed on.

There’s another widening gap between “fast follower” New Zealand and the many countries making serious efforts to reduce their carbon pollution.

We ranked 43rd in the Climate Change Performance Index 2015 released on Monday here in Lima, with a ‘very poor’ grade on policy. And that was excluding agricultural emissions.

Our current climate policy is creating yet another gap between our beneficial clean, green image and the reality.

Extracted from – December 2014.

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