Today, New Zealand’s Government opened consultation on our plan for a low carbon economy after 2020 – our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. This is the plan we submit to the United Nations before this year’s big Paris conference for how we’re going to cut our emissions after 2020.
“To understand what’s important to New Zealanders as we consider our national contribution, the Government has today issued a public discussion document. It poses questions for people to consider as they think about making their submission.”
There’s some good stuff. The video talks about the need to move to a low carbon economy (though not a zero carbon one, which the IPCC says we need by 2050).
But there’s still the same old weasel words and outs. It says we will ‘need to carefully balance the costs on New Zealand’s households and businesses with taking ambitious action to tackle climate change’ (Perhaps that’s why some businesses were first consulted with months ago?). We boast about our static but high renewable energy, and claim that it will be more expensive for us to cut our emissions than it will be for other developed countries.
“New Zealand wants to set a target which is environmentally credible and reflects our particular circumstances. But we also need to consider the possible impacts and costs to our economy,” says Mr Groser.
“Increasing our commitment after 2020 will be a big challenge, as nearly half of New Zealand’s emissions come from agriculture and 80 per cent of our electricity already comes from renewable sources. The easy gains have already been made. But we are expected to make a fair contribution to combating this global problem.”
We can do better. We haven’t made the easy gains or picked the low hanging fruit. We still subsidise fossil fuel extraction, build uneconomic and unsustainable motorways, and cite investment in low emission car tires and low emission sheep as meaningful climate action. Our environment does not exist within economic rules. Our economy exists within ecological rules. New Zealanders know the solutions. The Big Ask from Generation Zero lays out just the kind of plan we need. We know that 2015 is the year that the world sets course for a 100% renewable economy – and people all over the world are leading the way.
But, for too long, our Government has been the problem. They’ve stood in our way. It’s time for us to tell them to do what New Zealanders want and to reap the economic and diplomatic benefits of planning our transition to a smart, renewable economy.
This is, our Government says, ‘just the beginning of a conversation’ on our post 2020 climate plan. We have until 5:00 pm on Wednesday 3 June 2015 to submit. There are public meetings throughout May, and you can submit online or by post.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty about when we intend to submit our plan. Six weeks ago, one of our negotiators told stakeholders that we aimed to have it in by the next round of negotiations in Bonn from 4-15 June 2015. With submissions only closing on 3 June, that deadline looks to be out the window.