28 May 2015

The Road to Paris - New Zealand's Climate Change Target

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 28 May 2015

by Veronika Meduna

About 200 people attended the last climate change consultation meeting in Wellington this week.

About 200 people attended the last climate change consultation meeting in Wellington this week. Photo: RNZ / Veronika Meduna

Hundreds of people turned out for a meeting in Wellington this week, calling for stronger and faster action on climate change.

The meeting was the last in a series of government consultations, held by the Ministry for the Environment throughout the country to hear people's views on how New Zealand should manage its greenhouse gas emissions.

Many expressed frustration about the process itself as well as the government’s cost-benefit approach to emissions reductions, saying that the cost of doing nothing about climate change had not been taken into account.

People also raised specific issues about the consultation documents the ministry provided and the economic modelling used to estimate the costs of emissions reductions, including the fact that the document omits to mention New Zealand's current target, gazetted but not legally binding, to reduce emissions by 50 per cent relative to 1990 levels by 2050.  

Most speakers called for New Zealand to show leadership on climate change mitigation and to commit to an ambitious target of least 40 per cent reductions on 1990 levels by 2030.

The consultation process is part of the government's preparation for international negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which will be held in Paris in December this year to work out a new agreement that will determine the course of global climate change policy after 2020.

Ahead of the Paris meeting, countries are expected to signal how they plan to manage emissions and mitigate their impact on the climate. The European Union, the United States, China, Russia, Mexico, Norway and Gabon have already submitted their emissions reduction targets, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Recently, the EU, which has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030, with the longer-term goal of 80-95 per cent reductions by 2050, has called on New Zealand to join the endeavour.

Although the consultation process is now completed, there is still time to make a submission until June 3. The consultation documents and submission forms are available on the Ministry for the Environment website or through Generation Zero’s Fix Our Future campaign.

In the audio feature below, you can listen to what people had to say about how New Zealand should manage its emissions and the impacts of climate change.