The government has released their first Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), aimed at outlining the key targets and actions required to reduce our impact on climate change, and pave the way for our collective efforts. The plan spans from 2022 to 2025 and will be the first of many released in the bid to reach net zero emissions by 2050. To facilitate the required changes in the ERP, the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will provide $4.5 billion, $2.9 billion of which will be spent over the next four years. The CERF is funded by revenue gained from the selling of carbon credits to our biggest polluters under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and will be used in initiatives across every part of government and every sector of the economy.
The here and now
New Zealand has seen an unparalleled array of natural disasters over the past few years – even recent months. Severe droughts have been followed by repeated flooding and storm damage, leaving crops and agriculture devasted, and the supporting land unstable. Transport congestion in our city centres have been at all-time highs – the only relief coming from pandemic-induced lockdowns. Alternative forms of transport do not have the reach, accessibility or ease with which to support its use and the cost of living only compounds these issues. The Emissions Reduction Plan seeks to provide direction in our collective effort to address and reduce these obstacles, and outlines initiatives we can expect to see rolled out for some of our highest-emitting sectors.
The most significant projects within the ERP were those that sought to address New Zealand’s transport emissions. Transport accounts for 17 percent of the country’s total gross emissions, and 39 percent of total domestic carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. The aim is to decarbonise transport through alternate forms such as walking, cycling or utilising trains and buses. To encourage the use of low-emission electric vehicles (EVs), the government has developed a $569 million scrap-to-replace scheme for low to middle income families to ‘scrap’ their old petrol vehicles in return for financial assistance to purchase an EV. If purchasing is not an option, a $20 million leasing scheme will be available. The Clean Vehicle Discount will also continue. With these combined projects, the hope is by 2035, 30 percent of our cars, vans and utes will be low-emission.
With regards to public transport, $350 million will fund the improvement of public access to walk and cycle ways, buses and trains. A completely decarbonised public transport bus fleet by 2035 will be funded with $40 million, with an extra $61 million going towards developing a sustainable and skilled workforce of bus drivers.
Freight transport emissions need to have reduced by 35 percent by 2035. Biofuels, hydrogen, zero-carbon trucks and zero-emissions shipping will be deployed to address this target along with $20 million.
The agriculture sector contributes 50 percent of New Zealand’s gross emissions, with approximately 94 percent of our nitrous oxide emissions and around 91 percent of our biogenic methane emissions stemming from this sector. Nitrous oxide, CO₂ and biogenic methane emissions all need to greatly reduce by 2050, with biogenic methane emissions specifically required to reduce by 10 percent by 2030 and be 24 to 47 percent lower in 2050.
A limit of 290 million tonnes by 2025 has been set as the total allowable greenhouse gas emissions from the New Zealand economy, alongside the introduction of an agricultural emissions pricing mechanism and the requirement for all farms to have emissions reports and mitigation plans by the same year.
A further $339 million will be added to research into alternative emission-reduction strategies in the agricultural space and a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is set to be established to further facilitate research into, and development of, emissions reduction technologies that will aid farmers in measuring and reducing their impact.
Manufacturing and Energy
By 2035, 50 percent of all energy needs to come from renewable sources. This includes those manufacturing industries that have a heavy reliance on fossil fuels to produce industrial heat. Government support for those industries that have this reliance is paramount during the next four years and efficient use of low-emission energy must be in place by 2050 to produce the materials and foods we need in the country.
Funding to reduce these heat-produced emissions is set at $652 million. Businesses will be subsidised to purchase and use lower-emissions manufacturing equipment and technology.
Green hydrogen (the result of using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen) may also be a future solution to reducing these emissions, particularly in industrial processes and heavy transportation such as aviation.
By reducing our emissions, a welcome by-product is that we often also reduce our cost of living. To ensure households can benefit from emission reduction efforts on their part, the government is providing funding in numerous areas. Funding for heating and insulation upgrades with Warmer Kiwi Homes will be introduced to help reduce energy bills and ensure homes are safe, warm and dry.
Kerbside collections for food scraps and organic waste will also be on the rise. The Hamilton City Council aims to reduce the amount of food waste each person sends to landfill by 10 percent by the year 2024 and by 2030, the goal is to have nationwide kerbside collection of food waste.
Education and supporting infrastructure around composting and resource recovery facilities will also be invested in.
Although the Emissions Reduction Plan will be the first of many, it provides a small glimpse into what sectors, businesses and households can expect to see in future initiatives in the effort to combat climate change.
If your business is wanting to reduce its own emissions, engage employees, strengthen stakeholder relationships, or become a leader in the sustainability space, Tadpole can help. Contact Allan Birch on 021 930 992 or email@example.com for a chat about the sustainability needs of your organisation.