Climate change: Te Pāti Māori want urgent transformative action

New Zealand’s first three emissions budgets, outlining how much greenhouse gases are allowed to be emitted, has been released.

File image of smoke stack.

It comes ahead of the soon to be released Emissions Reduction Plan.

While National is onboard, Te Pāti Māori says it is not good enough.

Te Pāti Māori's Debbie Ngarewa-Packer called New Zealand's emission track record "embarrassing", saying the party do not support the Government's proposed emissions budgets, "as we believe that they should be tighter and more ambitious".

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

“Te Pāti Māori are pushing for the Government to immediately put a price on methane emissions, phase out synthetic fertilisers by 2025, and put limits on cow numbers."

She and Rawiri Waititi met with Climate Change Minister James Shaw to make it clear, "Aotearoa needs more urgent and transformative action on reducing emissions".

"Aotearoa has the highest per capita methane emissions in the world. It’s embarrassing. The minister is giving farmers a free pass while punishing Māori through changes to forestry rules. Farmers need the support and incentives to transition to regenerative agriculture, not false hope that things can continue the way they are."

Shaw said there is "much more to do, but having these binding budgets in place is a critical part of our strategy to rapidly cut out the pollution that causes climate change".

New Zealand has a net-zero target by 2050.

"To keep all future Governments on track towards meeting the net-zero goal, the Zero Carbon Act established a system of five-yearly emissions budgets that would act as stepping stones towards the 2050 target," Shaw said.

The binding budgets announced "set out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 14 years". This must be met through domestic action.

2022–2025: 290 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gasses (72.4 megatonnes per year)

2026–2030: 305 megatones (averages 61 megatonnes per year) In principle.

2031–2035: 240 megatonnes (48 megatonnes per year) In principle.

The way New Zealand will reduce emissions will be announced on Monday, May 16, with Shaw saying the plan "requires nearly every part of Government to act to reduce emissions right across the country and to ensure all New Zealanders benefit from the transition".

National responds

National leader Christopher Luxon said his party supports the budgets announced on Monday, but said "every option" needed to be considered.

"Climate change is a huge challenge. National is fully committed to emissions targets including net zero by 2050.

“Having agreed the net emissions pathway, the question now is how to bring down emissions. We need effective policies if we are to deliver our ambitious climate change targets.

"While we share the Government’s commitment to lower emissions, there are a range of ways to achieve net zero and we need to consider every option."

National's website currently lays out a five point plan for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, outlining what it would do in Government.

The priorities for National at COP26 would have been, set a target for methane and long-lived gas pathways, look at new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions "rather than ask countries to cut food production", pursue carbon market agreements, demand more from large global emitters and embrace new technologies.

The last press release on climate change as the subject on the National Party website dates back to November 23 last year, titled, 'Farmers need say on greenhouse gas costs'.

Deputy Nicola Willis spoke on the Emissions Trading Scheme during her pre-Budget speech on Monday, saying: "New Zealand will need to put in place additional emission-reduction policies in the coming years to help reach our targets in ways that make the most sense for our economy and that as far as possible protect the living standards of New Zealanders".

"Just like with policies in every other area, emissions policies should be robustly analysed, include transparent measures for what they will achieve and be backed by credible, practical delivery plans.

"We think it’s entirely possible that despite its good intentions, the Government that dreamed up KiwiBuild may propose emission-reduction policies that don’t meet these basic tests.

"National will take a careful approach before committing to any specific new emission reduction initiatives the Government may announce in this Budget. If there are other policies that could deliver greater emission reductions for the same cost then decision-makers ought to clearly set out why they were rejected."

Asked for his thoughts on National's stance, deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he would be even more pleased when it comes time for the release of the emission reduction plan next week "to see whether or not National back those".

He said National had a "history of making claims about the kind of reduction they'd like to see and emissions but not backing it with action".