Government policies must add up to achieve climate goals

The Commission's final advice to inform the Government’s plan to meet Aotearoa New Zealand’s greenhouse gas reduction goal for 2026–2030 has been released.

12 December 2023

The Government needs to encourage change, remove barriers and support investment that cuts climate pollution, He Pou a Rangi Climate Change Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr says. 

The Minister of Climate Change today released the Commission’s final advice to inform the Government’s plan to meet Aotearoa New Zealand’s greenhouse gas reduction goal for 2026–2030

While the Commission’s analysis shows the country has made progress, it is not on track to meet its climate goals for the end of this decade. This risks missing out on benefits like new jobs, a more resilient economy and healthier communities. 

The Commission’s advice makes 27 recommendations to the Government, focused on areas where there are critical gaps in action, or where efforts need to be strengthened or accelerated. This includes: 

  • Build more renewable electricity, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, and ensure networks keep up with growing and variable demand 
  • Support moves to swap fossil fuels for renewable energy in heating and industry 
  • Retrofit buildings so they are healthier, more resilient, lower emissions and cheaper to run 
  • Avoid installing new fossil gas in buildings where there are affordable low emissions alternatives. 
  • Encourage households and businesses to switch to electric vehicles 
  • Make it easier for more people to choose public or active transport 
  • Prepare for the rapid roll-out of low emissions technologies and practices on farms 
  • Directly resource iwi/Māori efforts to reduce climate pollution    
  • Sort out the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and the role of forests 
  • Commit to how much climate pollution must be cut at its source 
  • Manage the impacts of climate policy on people, businesses and communities using existing policy options while a broader strategy is developed  

Between 2026–2030, the country needs to reduce its climate pollution by the equivalent of 43.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide – about the same as 3.6 million cars would produce in the same period.  Around 40% of the cuts are expected to come from energy and industry. 

“The biggest opportunity is to replace fossil fuels – like coal, gas and petrol – with renewable energy, to power our industries, our buildings and our transport systems. This is a critical step where, in many cases, investments made now in energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and renewable energy will more than pay for themselves in the long term,” Dr Carr says.  

The Commission’s analysis shows that by the 2040s, replacing fossil fuels with renewable electricity in areas like transport and heating could save businesses and households in Aotearoa New Zealand around $2 billion each year. 

“If we act now on reducing climate pollution, we can avoid additional costs and disruption as the country tries to catch up on its climate goals in the years ahead. For example, to meet our climate goals we need a big reduction in climate pollution from transport in the early 2030s, but this relies on more people replacing their petrol and diesel cars with EVs this decade.”  

The Commission’s advice is intended to inform the Government’s decisions about the policies it includes in its second emissions reduction plan. It has been informed by the views and evidence of thousands of New Zealanders, shared with the Commission since it was established, and by engagements focused specifically on this advice. 

“The Government has choices about how to meet the country’s climate goals. We all have a role to play, but policies that support reducing climate pollution provide clarity to businesses, communities and households and open up better choices for us all.”   

“While there will be opportunities, there will also be challenges. Support for people and communities will be important to ensure New Zealanders have what they need to navigate the changes the country needs to make. We are all in this together, so the Government needs to partner with iwi/Māori and collaborate with business and communities,” Dr Carr says. 

From next year, the Commission will independently assess and publicly report on how the country is tracking against emissions budgets as well as how well emissions reduction plans are being delivered. 

“Whatever the mix of policies the Government decides on for the second emissions reduction plan, they must add up to meet our immediate climate goals and keep the country on the path to net zero,” Dr Carr says. 

The Government has until the end of 2024 to consider the advice, consult on policies to meet the country’s emissions budgets and release the emissions reduction plan for 2026–2030. 

The full report, with supporting documents and further information, is available here:

2023 Advice on the direction of policy for the Government’s second emissions reduction plan