Review of the 2050 emissions target

Overview

To ensure that Aotearoa New Zealand’s emissions reduction target remains fit for purpose, we are required to review it every five years and advise the government of the day whether or not it should be changed.

There is no one ‘right’ target, or ‘right’ path to achieve the target – there are possible choices, each with associated consequences.

The Commission provides independent expert advice to help the Government determine the best choice for Aotearoa New Zealand under the current circumstances and the best estimates of how the future might play out.

We are currently doing our first such review, due by 31 December 2024. Read more.

Remit of our review

The emissions reduction target was set by Parliament to focus Aotearoa New Zealand’s efforts on climate action. It provides a consistent signal to government, businesses and communities so they can plan long-term action and investment. However, if it is no longer fit for purpose then it will lead the country on the wrong path.

To ensure that the target remains fit for purpose we are required to review it every five years, and provide independent expert advice on whether any changes should be made. We are doing the first such review now.

The bar for change is high – we can only recommend a change to the emissions reduction target if:

  • there has been or likely will be a significant change since 2019 in specific criteria (section 5T, CCRA), as they relate to climate change – eg if there is significant new evidence or a new global context for change, and
  • we are satisfied that this significant change justifies a change to the target.

If we consider that a change to the target is justified, we must advise the Government on how the target should be altered.

These could be changes to what the components are, what gases they apply to, when they have to be met by, and how much can be met in Aotearoa or paid for overseas.

Diagram showing the review of 2050 target is a 2-step process

It’s possible that different evidence will point in different directions. Our advice will include judgements on how to balance the evidence and impacts, related to the factors we are legally required to consider.

Find out more about our current review.