New Zealand Embassy The Hague, The Netherlands

2020 target balances economy & environment

Monday, 10/8/09

Climate Change Ministers Nick Smith and Tim Groser today announced an emissions reduction target range of 10 percent to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
In setting the target the Government has balanced economic opportunities with environmental responsibilities.

New Zealand’s target will be tabled later today at the latest round of international climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany. The commitment is conditional on a global agreement being secured that limits carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) to 450ppm and temperature increases to 2°C, effective rules on forestry, and New Zealand having access to international carbon markets.

“This target is internationally credible and both environmentally and economically responsible. It is an ambitious but achievable goal,” Dr Smith said.

“The target is going to be a big ask for New Zealand because our gross emissions are already 24% above 1990 levels. On top of this, half our emissions come from agriculture, which is unique amongst developed countries, and we already have one of the highest proportions of renewable electricity. While forestry planted in the 1990s is currently offsetting the increases in our gross emissions, the age of our trees means this will not be the case in 2020.

“This target carefully balances our environmental responsibilities with a realistic assessment of the economic costs. Achieving these emissions reductions will mean higher costs for consumers and businesses for petrol and electricity. However, a less ambitious target would undermine New Zealand’s clean, green environmental reputation.

“National campaigned on an amended Emissions Trading Scheme, which would be less costly than Labour’s. Changes to the scheme are being considered as part of a special Select Committee review.

“The 2020 target is also consistent with National’s campaign pledges of a long-term target of -50% by 2050, doing our fair share globally and aligning our climate change policies much more closely with Australia, The target range of 10-20% reduction from 1990 levels is comparable to Australia’s taking into account conditionality, different base years, our lower GDP, and our higher costs of abatement.”

Dr Smith said New Zealand would meet its 2020 target through a mixture of domestic emission reductions, the storage of carbon in forests, and the purchase of emission reductions from other countries.

Mr Groser said the 2020 target signals New Zealand’s commitment to securing a post-2012 global agreement to reduce emissions.

“New Zealand’s target is about New Zealand doing its fair share as a developed country in addressing climate change.

“The target range of -10% to -20% reflects that New Zealand is prepared to do more if other countries do likewise.

“Reaching a global agreement on emissions reductions post-2012 in Copenhagen is a huge challenge. This target, alongside other important initiatives like those on agricultural emissions research, is about New Zealand playing a constructive role in securing an international agreement.”

Dr Smith and Mr Groser thanked New Zealanders and organisations who had made submissions to the Government on the setting of the 2020 target.

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