19 Aug 2013

Govt scolded over climate change plans

7:00 am on 19 August 2013

The Government is being criticised by academics as lacking ambition on its latest targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

It says it will aim to reduce net emissions by 5% below 1990 levels by 2020.

However three climate change experts say 5% is not enough and the United States and European Union are far more ambitious.

Jonathan Boston and Ralph Chapman, both of Victoria University, and Alistair Woodward of Auckland University say a 5% reduction will never meet the agreed target of limiting global warming to two degrees centigrade.

"It's totally inadequate relative to what the inter-governmental panel on climate change has indicated the developed world should be seeking," says Professor Boston.

The Government says the target reflects New Zealand's unique national circumstances and balances the cost to New Zealand households and businesses.

The comment is an apparent reference to low emissions at the start date of 1990 and to large numbers of methane-emitting livestock.

The Government says 5% is an interim measure pending a hoped-for international agreement from 2020 for both developed and developing countries.