New Zealand's commitment to a sustainable future with the Zero Carbon Act
Zero Carbon Act NZ
The Zero Carbon Act sets out a comprehensive framework for transitioning New Zealand to a low-carbon economy and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The Act has three main objectives: getting to zero carbon, adapting to our changing climate, and supporting global climate action.
The Act will commit New Zealand to zero carbon by 2050 or sooner, and drive a fair and cost-effective transition. To achieve this goal, the government must set binding five-year ‘carbon budgets’ well in advance, and produce credible plans to meet these budgets.
The Zero Carbon Act proposes two key changes from the UK Act to suit New Zealand’s circumstances: the Firewall Principle and the Two Baskets Approach. The Firewall Principle means that the targets in the Act will apply to New Zealand’s domestic emissions only, creating a ‘firewall’ between domestic action and international carbon trading, to ensure our own zero carbon transition is on track. The Two Baskets Approach sets separate targets and pathways for long-lived greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) and short-lived greenhouse gases (mainly methane). Long-lived gases must go to net zero by 2050 or sooner (accounting for carbon sinks). Short-lived gases must be significantly reduced to sustainable levels, but not zero.
The Act also establishes an independent Climate Commission to guide the transition. The Commission will consist of 6-10 experts appointed by Parliament and will have two main functions: providing expert advice on targets, policies and climate risks, and holding the Government to account.
Adapting To Our Changing Climate
The Act will ensure a comprehensive national response to the impacts of climate change. Even if we limit global warming to less than 1.5°C, New Zealand faces significant challenges from rising seas, more frequent extreme weather events and other impacts. The Act requires the National Climate Risk Assessment to be prepared every five years with expert input from the Climate Commission. The Adaptation Programme will then be produced to address the identified climate risks.
Supporting Global Climate Action
Finally, the Act will ensure that New Zealand delivers on its international climate change obligations in a transparent manner. New Zealand has duties under the Paris Agreement to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, such as low-lying Pacific states. The Act requires annual reports covering international carbon trading, climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building to ensure that New Zealand is meeting its international obligations.
Key Elements of the Zero Carbon Act
Getting to zero carbon
Legally binding long-term targets
Pathway of five-year carbon budgets
Independent Climate Commission to guide the transition
Government must produce policy plans to meet carbon budgets
Two Baskets Approach
Adapting to our changing climate
National Climate Risk Assessment prepared every five years
Adaptation Programme produced to address the identified risks
Supporting global climate action
Annual reports on international carbon trading, climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building
The Zero Carbon Act provides a clear and stable path for New Zealand to transition to a low-carbon economy and adapt to the impacts of climate change. It is a vital step in the fight against climate change and will ensure that New Zealand plays its part in achieving a safe and sustainable future for all.
The Zero Carbon Act requires the government to set legally binding carbon budgets, which outline the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions New Zealand can produce over five-year periods. The first three carbon budgets must be established within 18 months of the act coming into force, with the aim of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The carbon budgets are designed to provide a clear pathway towards achieving zero carbon emissions, and to provide the government with a long-term framework to guide its decision-making. They will ensure that emissions reduction targets are met, and that the transition to a low-carbon economy is fair and cost-effective.
The Climate Change Commission will advise the government on the level of each carbon budget, taking into account a range of factors including:
The latest science on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions
The economic impacts of reducing emissions
Social and environmental impacts
New Zealand’s international climate change commitments
The latest trends in emissions and energy use
The carbon budgets will be divided into two categories: long-lived greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) and short-lived greenhouse gases (mainly methane).
Long-lived gases must be reduced to net zero emissions by 2050, taking into account carbon sinks such as forests and soil. Short-lived gases, which have a shorter atmospheric lifetime, must be reduced to sustainable levels, but not necessarily to zero.
In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Zero Carbon Act also requires the government to develop and implement a national adaptation plan to address the impacts of climate change. This includes identifying and managing climate risks and building resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The Climate Change Commission will undertake a national risk assessment every five years, which will identify the key risks to New Zealand’s economy, environment, and society from climate change. The government will use this information to develop an adaptation plan, which will outline how it will manage these risks.
The adaptation plan will also take into account the needs and interests of Māori, who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their close relationship with the natural environment. The government must consult with Māori when developing the adaptation plan and ensure that it aligns with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Global Climate Action
The Zero Carbon Act also requires the government to report annually on its progress towards meeting its international climate change obligations. This includes providing information on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, its participation in international carbon trading, and its support for mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries.
The government must also report on its efforts to transfer low-emissions technology to developing countries and to build their capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. This will ensure that New Zealand is doing its part to address the global climate crisis and support a fair and equitable transition to a low-carbon future.
Zero Carbon Act New Zealand
The Zero Carbon Act is a vital piece of legislation that will help New Zealand reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. It sets clear targets and provides a long-term framework to guide the government’s decision-making, ensuring that emissions reduction efforts are effective, efficient, and equitable.
The establishment of the Climate Change Commission will ensure that the government has access to expert advice on climate change issues, and that it is held accountable for its actions. The commission will play a critical role in guiding the government’s decision-making, ensuring that it takes into account the latest science and best practices in emissions reduction and adaptation.
By implementing the Zero Carbon Act, New Zealand can take a leadership role in the fight against climate change, demonstrating that it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining a thriving economy and society. The act will provide a clear pathway towards a sustainable future and help ensure that future generations inherit a world that is healthy,