- Date published:
4:44 pm, May 8th, 2019 - 40 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, Environment, farming, global warming, greens, labour, national, nz first, science - Tags:
The long awaited Zero Carbon bill has now been released.
From Henry Cooke at Stuff:
The Government’s flagship climate change policy will treat biological methane far more softly than all other greenhouse gas emissions – but still mandates a large reduction.
Governments will be mandated to reduce biological methane by at least 10 per cent by 2030 and between 24 and 47 per cent by 2050. All other emissions would be reduced to “net zero” by 2050 to limit global warming increases to 1.5C.
Despite the softer approach to methane, which mainly comes from agriculture, the Government has not managed to win the full support of the National Party, although the party is supportive of the main structure of the bill.
The overall change is welcome. The bill will aim for net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Again from Stuff:
The bill would set greenhouse gas emissions targets into law and force future governments to come up with plans to meet “stepping stone” targets on the way there, with an endpoint target of net zero long-lived emissions in 2050 and a large reduction in biological methane emissions – somewhere between a “provisional range” of 24 per cent and 47 per cent in gross reductions. The main enforcement mechanism each Government has is envisioned to be the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Biological methane emissions, which largely come from livestock belching, would need to be reduced by 10 per cent by 2030 from 2017 levels. The “provisional range” will be reviewed by the independent Climate Change Commission, which this bill sets up, in 2024.
All other greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide from power production and transport – would need to be reduced to “net zero” – meaning offsetting methods like forestry will be key.
National has reserved its position on the bill. So no consensus on this most important of issues. –0And the farmers are not happy. From DairyNZ’s website:
New Zealand is already one of the lowest emissions producers of dairy nutrition in the world but, right now, the dairy sector is responsible for 22.5 percent of all New Zealand’s emissions. We are committed to playing our part in addressing climate change for the emissions we produce on-farm.
The Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will put in place targets to reduce all greenhouse gases:
- Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide have to reduce to net zero by 2050.
- Methane has a 2030 target to reduce by 10%, and a provisional target of 24-47% reduction by 2050
DairyNZ does not support the provisional range for the 2050 methane reduction target. Throughout the select committee process this year we will be seeking an amendment to the 2050 target so that it is aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, of 10 – 22 per cent reduction in methane. When combined with our commitment on nitrous oxide to net zero, this is an equitable, yet ambitious and challenging target, that is grounded in science.
Greenpeace have the opposite concerns about the legislation, that it may not have sufficient power. Russell Norman said this:
Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says The Zero Carbon Amendment Bill has no ability to enforce its climate change targets.
The Bill, released today, aims to outline a framework for New Zealand to develop climate change policies that contribute to the effort under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees by 2050.
But Norman says the Bill will have little direct effect because it has specifically written out any mechanism that would hold any person or body to account for not adhering to it.
“What we’ve got here is a reasonably ambitious piece of legislation that’s then had the teeth ripped out of it. There’s bark, but there’s no bite,” he says.
“The Bill sends some good signals until you get to the section at the end that negates everything else you’ve just read. This section states there is no remedy or relief for failure to meet the 2050 target, meaning there’s no legal compulsion for anyone to take any notice.
“The most anyone can do is get a court to make a ‘declaration’ that the Government isn’t achieving its climate goals, but this declaration doesn’t make the Government actually do anything.”
He is referring to section 5ZJ of the Bill which says this:
(1) No remedy or relief is available for failure to meet the 2050 target or an emissions budget, and the 2050 target and emissions budgets are not enforceable in a court of law, except as set out in this section.
(2) If the 2050 target or an emissions budget is not met, a court may make a declaration to that effect, together with an award of costs.
(3) If a declaration is made and becomes final after all appeals or rights of appeal expire or are disposed of, the Minister must, as soon as practicable, present to the House of Representatives a document that—
(a) brings the declaration to the attention of the House of Representatives; and
(b) contains advice on the Government’s response to the declaration.
No doubt the boffins will be checking into this overtime. But the basic premise, that New Zealand should have reached carbon neutrality by 2050 is a worthy goal.
Let us hope that it can meet this goal. And that this will be sufficient.