Climate change: consultation on post-2020 target underway

The Government recently launched a public consultation regarding New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target. This target has the potential to affect all New Zealanders – both in terms of the country’s international reputation, and through the impact of particular policies, which will inevitably be imposed in order to achieve this target.

International background

The next United Nations Climate Change Conference is being held in Paris in December 2015, where parties will consider establishing a new international climate change agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (‘UNFCCC’). All countries are expected to announce the action that they will take on climate change policy prior to that conference. In particular, all countries have been asked to put forward a national emissions reduction target for the post-2020 period.

The Ministry for the Environment has therefore held a series of meetings around New Zealand to consult on the stance NZ will take at the Paris conference.

The consultation

Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser has called for public submissions regarding New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target. New Zealand currently has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020. The Minister has indicated that New Zealand will be expected to table a target that is more ambitious than this for the post-2020 period. Certainly the countries that have tabled their targets so far have been much more ambitious (the EU, France, USA).

The Ministry for the Environment Consultation Document sets out three objectives for New Zealand’s post-2020 target, being:

  1. It is seen as a fair and ambitious contribution – both by international and domestic audiences;
  2. Costs and impacts on society are managed appropriately; and
  3. It must guide New Zealand over the long term in the global transition to a low emissions world.

The Consultation Document asks the public to comment on these objectives. It also provides information and seeks comment on:

·         the nature of New Zealand’s current emissions and economy;

·         the costs associated with the emissions reduction target;

·         potential new opportunities for New Zealand in the climate change sector; and

·         how to take into account future uncertainties.

We note that the Government has also indicated that it will later undertake separate, future public consultation regarding the domestic policies to be implemented in order to achieve its post-2020 target.

Deadline and assistance

Submissions on the Consultation Document and NZ’s proposed target ahead of Paris, close on Wednesday 3 June 2015 at 5:00pm. If you are interested to know more about this consultation or would like assistance with preparing a submission, please contact one of our Senior Team.