New Zealand set to blow its carbon budget by 27%

The Government’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, released today, shows New Zealand is set to release 647.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2013 and 2020 – 137 million tonnes more than we are allowed under the Kyoto Protocol.

“Just a day after the Government released its Budget, we get confirmation that New Zealand is blowing its carbon budget,” says Forest & Bird’s Climate Advocate Adelia Hallett.

“Balancing the books on environmental limits like climate is even more important than balancing finances.”

The inventory also reveals that the agricultural sector continues to dominate New Zealand’s emissions profile, and is responsible for nearly 48% of emissions. It shows emissions from the sector have increased 16% since 1990 – largely due to dairy expansion and the clearing of forests.

“The latest data reinforces that we need to set robust carbon budgets that are independently overseen by a Climate Commission, a realistic carbon price, and ensure that agriculture is brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme.”

Ms Hallett says that even at the current New Zealand carbon price of $16.45 the country’s emissions are, in effect, a $2.3 billion liability.

“These are our debts, and New Zealanders need to know about them.”

Overall, 2015 emissions were down 0.1 per cent on 2014, due to lowered agricultural production caused by drought conditions and a drop in dairy prices.

“The only reason emissions have dropped slightly is because of drought, not because of anything we’ve done.”

“Relying on extreme weather events caused by climate change to bring down our emissions is ludicrous,” says Ms Hallett.

“We know that Government has given $1.7 billion worth of carbon credits to industry since the ETS started, and is throwing hundreds of millions of dollars towards irrigation schemes which will increase agricultural emissions.”

“These aren’t the actions of a country serious about reducing emissions and transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.”

“This is corporate welfare that taxpayers and the environment are paying for.”

“Our wildlife is already being impacted by the warming climate - yellow-eyed penguins are declining, mast years that produce additional food for introduced predators are becoming more frequent, and new pests and diseases such as myrtle rust are threatening our native forests."

“The last thing our already struggling native species need is runaway climate change, but that is where we are heading.”

  • New Zealand’s carbon budget – the amount of greenhouse gas emissions NZ can emit (between 2013 and 2020) is 509.9 million tonnes. Although New Zealand has not signed up to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and has set its pledge under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it has said it will abide by Kyoto rules.
  • The Government has given $1.7 billion worth of credits to industry since the ETS started. (Source: Answers to Parliamentary Written Questions from the Office of the Minister for Climate Change Issues).